Appellate court denies whistleblower status to former K-State researcher

In this file photo, fired Kansas State University researcher Joseph Craine consults with his attorney, Rod Olsen, during a faculty hearing on Craine’s grievance regarding dismissal. (File photo/The Capital-Journal)

DENVER — A researcher who contends Kansas State University fired him because he blew the whistle on alleged misconduct of other faculty members has now lost his latest challenges against K-State and a research agency.

 

An appeals court ruled Wednesday that the agency, the National Science Foundation, correctly decided that researcher Joseph Mitchell Cranie wasn’t entitled to whistleblower protection under law.

The Topeka-Capital Journal reported 11 months ago that the appeals court had instructed the science foundation to reconsider its previous decision against Craine, which judges determined to be inadequate.

Upon reconsidering, the science research agency again reached the conclusion that Craine’s allegation that an academic article by colleagues was “fraudulent” didn’t fall under whistleblower protections. The foundation concluded, among other things, that Craine violated K-State’s policy by making “false and malicious allegations” without first consulting university officials.

Craine challenged the foundation’s most recent conclusion, and this time, the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the foundation.

The article pertained to Konza Prairie, which is unplowed tallgrass prairie located just south of Manhattan. The National Science Foundation is the major sponsor of prairie grassland research coordinated by K-State.

Tenth Circuit Judge Nancy Moritz, of Topeka, was one of three judges of the six-state appeals court who issued Wednesday’s 29-page ruling.

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