Dr. Burton’s Rebuttal of Chancellor Shields’ letter of suspension.

Chancellor Shields’ letter is in italics and the rebuttal is in standard font with bold header.


 Chancellor Shields’ Letter of Suspension:F

January 3, 2017


Dr. Sabina Burton

5768 Maple Glen Lane

Platteville, WI 53818


Dear Dr. Burton,


On December 19, 2016, I received the attached complaint from Interim Provost Elizabeth Throop and Interim Dean Melissa Gormley seeking your dismissal as a tenured faculty member at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.



Rebuttal of Dr. Burton:

Rebuttal to the complaint is in a separate document (Rebuttal-Throop-Gormley-complaint-12-16-16).

Dr. Burton was not given the complaint until Jan 4, 2017.   It seems unfair to withhold the complaint from her for that long.  Why wasn’t the complaint delivered to Dr. Burton on Dec 16, 2016? 



 Chancellor Shields’ Letter of Suspension:

I have reviewed the complaint and the attachments and I find that these allegations are substantial such that, if true, they would warrant your dismissal.




That is the same thing Shields wrote about the bogus charges Rice filed against Dr. Burton (Complaint-Rice-8-8-16)   (Rebuttal-Shields-Invest-8-16-16).  Shields dismissed Rice’s complaint on November 30, 2016 writing to Rice “I have concluded that your complaints do not warrant disciplinary action or further investigation.  I believe that your complaints result from personal misunderstandings, miscommunication, and personal animosity” (DebRice-Complaint808016).     A month later he suspends Dr. Burton using another bogus complaint against her as reason.   He is looking for any reasons, even fabricated ones, to fire Dr. Burton.  He wants her gone because she is a whistleblower who is exposing his corrupt actions in her attempt to gain fair due process.   He has ordered two previous sham investigations against Dr. Burton.  Dr. Burton believes he did so to accumulate a large pile of false accusations against her that can be presented to demonstrate her wrongdoing by sheer volume of allegations with no substance while denying her fair opportunity to rebut the false charges.  


Dr. Burton is not the only employee who has been threatened with job termination as a form of intimidation by Chancellor Shields’ propensity to fire employees.  Michael Gay is said to have intimidated an employee by quoting Chancellor Shields as saying “If people don’t think I won’t fire them, I fired my best friend” [UW-P 4584-4687] [4670].   


The charges in the complaint are not substantial at all.  If true they would amount to minor infractions of social etiquette and might warrant a small fine.  They are not true.   They are not substantial such that, if true, they would warrant Dr. Burton’s dismissal.   Chancellor Shields wants to dismiss Dr. Burton for reasons he is not willing to put in charges against her.  He wants her gone because she is a vocal advocate of students’ rights and because she has asked to be treated fairly.  


The Chancellor included in his suspension package an un-redacted copy of the very transcript he argues would warrant Dr. Burton’s dismissal if she were to have published it.  By including the transcripts in his suspension package he published it himself.   Will the Chancellor suspend himself?   This double standard demonstrates the Chancellor’s true motive has nothing to do with disclosure of allegedly confidential material but everything to do with Dr. Burton’s attempts to gain fair due process and her efforts to ensure safety for the students of UW Platteville.  


Dismissing Dr. Burton is not warranted.   Dismissing Chancellor Shields and Interim Provost Throop is warranted.




 Chancellor Shields’ Letter of Suspension:

  I am therefore initiating the dismissal process pursuant to Wisconsin Administrative Code chapter UWS 4 (copy attached).



Rebuttal of Dr. Burton:

 Wis Stat 19.85 (1)(b) says “The notice shall contain a statement that the person has the right to demand that the evidentiary hearing or meeting be held in open session.”  Wis Stat 19.85 also indicates that the same right applies to investigations.   The suspension letter was accompanied by notification of Dr. Burton’s rights which included UWS 4.06 which says that “The hearing shall be closed unless the faculty member under charges requests and open hearing, in which case it shall be open (see subc. V of ch. 19, Stats., Open Meeting Law).”


Dr. Burton would like the investigation meeting to be audio recorded by both parties.  She would like all meetings and investigations in this matter to be open.  She requests that all interviews concerning this matter be audio recorded and recordings made available to her in a timely manner.  She requests that all materials concerning this matter be made available to her in a timely manner.  She requests that her complete personnel file be shared with the investigator and not the file as it was maintained by HR director Crowley as it was shown to Dr. Burton on 12/21/16.  This is her personnel file as given to her (PersFile-12-21-16-pt1), (PersFile-12-21-16-pt2), (PersFile-12-21-16-pt3).    There are some major problems with Dr. Burton’s personnel record as shown here (PersFile-MajorProblems-12-31-16).   Dr. Burton’s DRB evaluation marks have also been tampered with.


 Dr. Burton requests that all meetings concerning this matter adhere strictly to the Wisconsin Open Meetings Law, including the requirement to advertise the meetings at least 24 hours in advance in the Exponent or Platteville Journal. 



Note: Wis Stat 36.13 (5) States “Procedural guarantees. Any person having tenure may be dismissed only for just cause and only after due notice and hearing. …. The action and decision of the board in such matters shall be final, subject to judicial review under ch. 227. The board and its several faculties shall develop procedures for the notice and hearing which shall be promulgated by rule under ch. 227.”





 Chancellor Shields’ Letter of Suspension:

As a result, I am instigating an investigation.





The word “instigate” is defined by Merriam-Webster as “to goad or urge forward : PROVOKE”


Shields didn’t use the word “initiate.”  By his own admission he is provoking Dr. Burton.   He has been doing this a long time but he finally admitted it.


Chancellor Shields has ordered two previous sham investigations against Dr. Burton and this is the third investigation he has ordered against her for bogus charges.   Both of the previous investigations were mishandled and the reports were withheld from Dr. Burton for illegitimate reason  (Barraclough_Report), (Barraclough_Report-Rebuttal), (DebRice-Complaint808016). 




The report that Chancellor Shields delivered to Dr. Burton seems is not signed.    There are many other problems with the biased “Roter report” as well.  (Rebutted in a separate document)





 Chancellor Shields’ Letter of Suspension:

  I will provide further information about the investigation as soon as possible.  I expect you to give your full cooperation to the investigator.


In addition, I have consulted with the Executive Committee of Faculty Senate regarding your alleged unprofessional behaviors including your involving students into your personal concerns and the broken trust your behavior has generated in your colleagues.



Rebuttal of Dr. Burton:

UWS 4.09 states “Pending the final decision as to his/her dismissal, the faculty member shall not normally be relieved of duties; but if, after consultation with appropriate faculty committees the chancellor finds that substantial harm to the institution may result if the faculty member is continued in his/her position, the faculty member may be relieved immediately of his/her duties, but his/her pay shall continue until the board makes its decision as to dismissal, unless the chancellor also makes the determinations set forth in s. UWS 7.06 (1) in which case the suspension from duties may be without pay and the procedures set forth in s. UWS 7.06 shall apply.”


The Chancellor consulted with only the Executive Committee but the statute says that he needs to consult with appropriate committees (plural).   He only consulted one very small, 3-person, committee but policy clearly demands that he consult more than one committee.


Employee Handbook Article VI:   states:  “The officers of the Faculty Senate shall consist of the chair, vice chair, and secretary, who shall together be the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate.”   So, the Chancellor consulted with three people in deciding to suspend Burton.   Exec Committee is comprised of:  Laura Anderson -Chair, College: LAE, Term Expires: 2018, E-mail: andersla@uwplatt.edu,    Mark Zidon - Vice Chair, College: BILSA, Term Expires: 2019, E-mail: zidon@uwplatt.edu, Benjamin V.C. Collins – Secretary College: EMS Term Expires: 2017 E-mail: collinbe@uwplatt.edu .  All of these people are under influence of Chancellor Shields so there exists significant conflict of interest.


List of members of Faculty Senate as of 1/19/17:  (FacSen-members-1-19-17).  Current list here: http://www.uwplatt.edu/faculty-senate/members


Laura Anderson’s involvement in this “consultation” is particularly problematic given her continuing inappropriate involvement in the appeal process (Hearing-5-25-17-Rebuttal), (AppealPanelViolations).   



Why didn’t Chancellor Shields consult the grievance committee?   Why didn’t he consult the entire Faculty Senate?  Dr. Burton had involved them at one point asking for their action.   Why just the three people comprising the Faculty Senate Executive Committee?   The Faculty Senate Executive Committee had not had any prior involvement with Dr. Burton’s issues so they are not an appropriate committee for Chancellor Shields to consult.  Did he consult all three of the members of the Fac Sen Exec Committee?   Did he convince them that substantial harm to the institution may result if Dr. Burton is continued in her position or did he go against their advice as he did when a hearing committee recommended that Dr. Gibson be retained?   Did he use the flawed letters of direction and flawed investigation reports from Barraclough and Burke to influence the Executive Committee even though he dismissed those charges?     Did he show them the letter of congratulations Chancellor Shields gave Dr. Burton in April 2012 shortly before the student sexual harassment incident (Shields-congratsSabina-4-30-12), [UW-P 000617]?   Did Chancellor Shields share with the Faculty Senate Executive Committee Dr. Burton’s rebuttals to the letters of direction and the charges against her?  If not, then his discussion was not “thorough” as required.



The Chancellor did not disclose what evidence he presented to the committee to convince them that the action of suspension was warranted.  Dr. Burton has not been given written evidence that the Executive Committee agrees with his action to suspend her.


Dr. Burton’s personnel record has been seriously tampered with so the committee was likely given inaccurate and incomplete information.  She requested her personnel record be corrected but her request was ignored.   Did Shields show the Executive Committee the extremely messed up personnel file (PersFile-MajorProblems-12-31-16)?  If so, his discussion was not thorough as Dr. Burton’s personnel file has been tampered with and does not contain rebuttals that she had requested be placed in it. 


Dr. Burton was not given opportunity to rebut the charges the Chancellor presented to the Executive Committee.  She does not even know what he told them.  The Executive Committee never talked to Dr. Burton about this.


The Executive Committee is subject to approval of the Chancellor therefore a conflict of interest exists.  Dr. Burton has made serious accusations against Chancellor Shields and his previous actions indicate that he wants to fire her for reasons not presented in the Dec 16, 2016 complaint.  This matter should have been addressed by authority over Chancellor Shields’ head and not by a committee with a significant conflict of interest.   The Faculty Senate Executive Committee is not an appropriate committee for him to have consulted.



What information was discussed with the Executive committee?  Did he use the flawed complaints and investigations against Dr. Burton without showing the Executive committee her rebuttals?  If they didn’t see her rebuttals the issue was not thoroughly discussed.



UWS 4.015 states “"Consult" or "consulting" means thoroughly reviewing and discussing the relevant facts and discretionary issues.”   Chancellor Shields did not thoroughly review and discuss the relevant facts and discretionary issues with the three people he claims to have consulted if he did not show them Dr. Burton’s rebuttals to the bogus charges.  


Did Shields talk to the three Executive Committee members about some periphery topic, without really discussing the suspension or charges like he did in his letter of 8-31-16 (ResponsetoChancellorLtr-8-31-16-a)?    If so, he did not thoroughly discuss the relevant facts and discretionary issues with them.


Chancellor Shields should have consulted the committee members of these grievance committees but he didn’t:

Burton v Caywood grievance  - Found in favor of Burton but then Shields ordered them to re-do findings  (Dkt 101-21).

Burton v Throop grievance – Found that Burton was right. (Dkt 53-17). 


The members of these committees would have been appropriate to discuss the issues as they had first-hand knowledge of events.




 Chancellor Shields’ Letter of Suspension:

  I have found that the requirements of Wis. Admin. Code (squiggly line) UWS 4.09 have been met; that is, I have found that substantial harm to the institution may result if you are continued in your position.




Chancellor Shields does not explain how Dr. Burton might substantially harm the institution if she is continued in her position.    


What substantial harm could come from her continuing to teach classes?  

1.       Her co-workers might feel uncomfortable because she has a recording device?   Everyone carries a recording device these days.   Law enforcement agencies are issuing cameras to record police officer’s actions but Dr. Burton can’t record an open department meeting because it will cause substantial harm?

2.      Confidential information could be leaked?   What about Dr. Caywood’s FERPA violations?  What about the damage that is done routinely by the administration’s actions to cover up their own corruption?   Dr. Burton is singled out for severe discipline for exposing corruption, not for sharing allegedly confidential materials.



Reasons why Dr. Burton should not have been suspended:


1.      Dr. Burton’s work record is flawless. She has very good student evaluations and has taken her teaching and service on committees very seriously. She has never discussed her legal problems or her hostile work environment in class.

2.      Dr. Burton has been denied the opportunity to defend herself in grievance hearings against character assassination and disciplinary actions based on fabrications. 

3.      Going public was her only chance of getting heard while facing termination.

4.      Complaints against Dr. Burton cite as evidence of wrongdoing her actions protected by the 1st Amendment.

5.      Dr. Burton has exposed corruption.  That is not harmful to the institution but healing.   Substantial harm comes to the institution by allowing severe systemic corruption to continue unchecked.  


Chancellor Shields suspended Dr. Burton immediately and said he was “instigating” [sic] an investigation to have her terminated. Dr. Burton is a tenured faculty member. Her side has not yet been heard. By demanding that she clear out her office under police presence, that she cannot enter the campus and by locking her out of her work account at uwplatt.edu he already acts as if he has terminated Dr. Burton.


Chancellor Shields overstepped his authority to suspend Dr. Burton.




09 May 2014 11:25:21  Dkt 43-4 BENSKY EXHIBIT BBBB – 001.  Dkt 41-54.  Dr. Caywood  violated  FERPA law and, after the infraction had been pointed out to him twice by Dr. Burton and once by Interim HR director Lohmann, Dalecki sent out a generic email to the department, as though he didn’t know it was Caywood’s papers, saying “as it turns out it violates FERPA to leave your student’s graded papers in the hallway.” (exhibit 586)  He didn’t even name Caywood as the person who violated the law.   Photos of Caywood’s tests in hall (exhibit ZZP) (exhibit ZZP-1) (exhibit ZZP-2)(exhibit ZZP-3)

Dr. Burton is being threatened with termination but Caywood was protected, kept on Chair salary even though he had been removed from the chair position and allowed to retire with full chair retirement benefits.  This is disparate treatment.



Substantial harm to the institution will result if Chancellor Shields and Interim Provost Throop are allowed to continue their corrupt practices and target good, quality, caring instructors like Dr. Burton.   The complaint, sham investigation and suspension are in direct response to Dr. Burton’s reports of unfair treatment.  Dr. Burton is being treated unfairly because she advocated for a student victim of sexual harassment and complained about the retaliation she received for her advocacy.   Shields is harming the institution by investigating Dr. Burton on trumped up charges rather than addressing the issues she brings to light.  Students are at risk in this corrupt environment.  



 Chancellor Shields’ Letter of Suspension:

  I am therefore relieving you of your duties immediately.



Rebuttal of Dr. Burton:

The Chancellor has not identified any abnormal reasons for relieving Dr. Burton of her duties.  This seems to be a violation of UWS 4.09.     Dr. Burton could continue to teach while this investigation continues.   She has not discussed her personal grievances in any of her classes.  There is no reason why she should be suspended.   No harm would come to the institution by allowing Dr. Burton to continue teaching.





 Chancellor Shields’ Letter of Suspension:

 Your pay will continue until a final decision is reached by the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System.


During this suspension, you are not to enter onto the UW-Platteville campus without permission to do so. 


Rebuttal of Dr. Burton:

What authority does Shields have to restrict Dr. Burton from entering UWP campus?   It does not seem to be in UWS 4.  This seems to be an abuse of power.  There is no reason why Dr. Burton should be restricted from entering campus.   This is harassment.  Dr. Burton has a daughter going to this school.   Chancellor Shields makes it look as though Dr. Burton is a physical threat but that is not even part of the bogus charges against her.   His response to the bogus complaint against Dr. Burton is excessive in many ways.  He has probably done so to exclude Dr. Burton from discussions that might bring about real and positive changes to the culture of the Criminal Justice department. 



 Chancellor Shields’ Letter of Suspension:

Please contact Human Resources Director Janelle Crowley if you need to come on to campus for any purpose.  You will be allowed to collect personal items from your office with an escort from Campus Police with reasonable notice and not later than January 18, 2017.  You must return to Dr. Crowley your keys, ID badge, key fobs, access cards, and any other UW-Platteville property in your possession, such as a computer.




Dennis J. Shields





The Chancellor’s tactic seems to be to accumulate a large confusing ball of bogus complaints against Dr. Burton, keep them away from her so she cannot address them, deny her requests to address them and to present them as factual to committees, investigators and hearing committees without allowing her to present rebuttals.  This is a violation of her due process rights.   Dr. Burton is a citizen of the United States of America, not North Korea.  Chancellor Shields is acting like a totalitarian dictator. 



Here is an example of how Shields breaks the law:

On 9-5-16 Dr. Burton wrote to the chancellor “I plan to bring 3 witnesses to make sure there will be a proper account of what is discussed.”  Shields wrote back “I am willing to meet with you, with the one stipulation that our conversation not be recorded by either of us, to discuss moving forward in a positive way.”    The Chancellor further elaborated “If you do plan to meet with me you can bring one person with you not three as you indicated. And there will be no recording. I have offered the meeting on my terms. If you do not want to accept those terms then we won't meet.”   This is a direct violation of  Wis Stat 19.85 (1)(b) which states: “The notice shall contain a statement that the person has the right to demand that the evidentiary hearing or meeting be held in open session.”  Even if this statute is not directly applicable to this informal meeting with the Chancellor his refusal to allow openness is a sign of a closed society bent on concealment rather than transparency.  If he had nothing to hide he would allow Dr. Burton to audio record the meeting.  



On Wed 11/9/2016 3:14 PM Dr. Burton wrote an email to the Chancellor’s office asking to meet (MtgRqst-11-9-16-ignored).    This request to meet was ignored.     


Chancellor Shields is covering up corruption. 


Chancellor Shields used similar arguments to deny Dr. Burton the mandatory “informal meeting” he was required to offer her as part of the dismissal process.