ECU asks for OK to release firing details

jstancill@newsobserver.comJanuary 12, 2012 

— An East Carolina University official said Wednesday that the school is seeking consent from Paul Isom, former director of student media, to release confidential personnel information to describe the process that led to Isom's firing.

Isom was dismissed from his role as student media adviser last week, two months after The East Carolinian newspaper published nude photos of a streaker at an ECU football game. Free press and student rights groups have come to the defense of Isom in the past week.

A statement from ECU's attorney, Donna Gooden Payne, said ECU continues to disagree with statements by advocacy groups that connect the decision with a First Amendment issue.

"A fuller knowledge of the facts at hand will help distinguish between any personnel matter and the First Amendment," said Mary Schulken, ECU's director of public affairs.

Isom said he was not informed about the consent request before ECU released it to the media. He has said that when he was fired, he was given the vague explanation that ECU wanted to move in a different direction.

"If they have an explanation to provide to the rest of the world, show it to me first," he said in an e-mail. "I'll decide whether or not I'll waive my rights after I see their explanation. ... This is an insulting way to treat a member of the ECU community."

Isom still teaches a class at ECU as an adjunct faculty member.

Several groups have called for ECU to reinstate Isom, including the Student Press Law Center, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and the National Press Photographers Association.

Stancill: 919-829-4559

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