Criminal justice teachers facing removal

There is a still hush flowing through the halls of the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice as two professors face possible removal from teaching classes.

“Professor Narayan Persaud and Phyllis Gray-Ray may be forced to step down from teaching upper-level courses in criminal justice if they are found to be teaching out of compliance with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools,” said Owusu-Ansah Agyapong, associate professor of criminal justice.

University officials want to be clear about the situation at hand. “Neither professor Narayan Persaud nor Phyllis Gray-Ray have been moved from teaching in the criminology department,” Agyapong said in a statement Thursday. “The decision is still pending and has to be made by the dean of arts and sciences, the provost and other college officials.”

University officials are not disclosing information about the situation because a thorough review is still being conducted, said Ralph Turner, dean of arts and sciences.

“There are allegations that the two professors may be removed from teaching criminology,” said Shandra Sheppard, 22, a criminal justice and accounting student.

Sheppard, along with other students, were informed Oct. 25 that the two professors might not be allowed to teach upper-level criminology, a course within the criminal justice department, according to a pending review by SACS.

“The thing that upsets us as students is that these two professors hold high accolades in the Department of (Sociology and) Criminal Justice and the community,” Sheppard said.

She, along with political science student Suzes Casseus and others, held a meeting in room 100 of the Benjamin L. Perry building Thursday evening to discuss the matter.

Prior to the meeting, 41 students responded, saying they would attend, said Casseus, 21, a junior political science student. The topics of the meeting included informing students of the issues, resources and consequences and information on the requirements of the SACS review in reference to the situation.SACS, according to its Web site, states that faculty members teaching baccalaureate level courses are required to have either a doctorate or master’s degree in their teaching discipline or a master’s degree with a concentration in their teaching discipline.

The issue with Persaud and Gray-Ray is that they have doctorate degrees in sociology rather than criminology, Agyapong said.

Therefore, the Florida A&M University SACS review may show they are not allowed to teach upper-level courses in criminology.

Students who have planned to take the professors’ upper-level criminology courses may face challenges.

“Students who wanted recommendations from these two professors, could possibly not be able to receive those highly credible recommendations,” said Whitney-Amanda Horsham, a senior psychology student minoring in criminal justice. “The department is waiting for a decision to be made,” Agyapong said.

“If they are removed from teaching criminology, the impact will be astronomical.”

Persaud has been teaching at the university for over 10 years, Agyapong said. Gray-Ray has been with the university for almost a year and a half.

“If the two are removed from teaching criminology, there will only be four professors left to teach the more than 500 criminal justice students at the university,” Agyapong said. Those four professors include Agyapong, Felicia Dix-Richardson, Keisha Long and Thomas Friedman.

“In a setting like FAMU, our decision has to be congruent with university requirements,” Turner said. “The professors were not told in January, when the review was conducted, that there would be any changes. Therefore, I do not want to make any premature statements,”

“We assume that the university, at this point, is going to continue to allow the professors to operate with their background experience. We have an accreditation office looking at our university, and we have to make sure that we are SACs compliant,” he continued.

Attempts to contact Persaud and Gray-Ray were unsuccessful at press time.