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New Cases and Developments

NACUA's Legal Resources staff summarizes current higher education cases and developments and provides the full text of selected cases to members. New cases and developments are archived here for up to 12 months.  Cases provided by Fastcase, Inc.

Selected Topics: Students Academic Misconduct
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Academic Misconduct; Admissions; Students; Due Process; Retaliation; Constitutional Issues

Isaacs v. Trustees of Dartmouth College (D.N.H. July 12, 2017)

Order granting in part Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss, dismissing certain claims sua sponte, and ordering Plaintiff to show cause. Plaintiff had attended the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine (USC) until he was dismissed after his first year for harassing a classmate. He was later awarded a medical degree by the American University of the Caribbean, Netherlands Antilles, and served the first three weeks of his residency at the University of Arizona (UA). After resigning from UA, he then applied for and obtained a residency at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC). Plaintiff’s application materials omitted attendance at USC and his aborted residency at UA from his application. After DHMC dismissed him for academic deficiency, inappropriate behavior, and falsification of reports, along with the misrepresentation on his application, Plaintiff sued the Trustees of Dartmouth College, DHMC, and others alleging substantive and procedural due process violations, conspiracy to deprive him of his civil rights, and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) retaliation, among other claims not adjudicated here. The court dismissed Plaintiff’s first three claims and ordered him to show cause why his ADA retaliation claims should not be dismissed with prejudice for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. 

7/14/2017
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Academic Misconduct; Equal Protection; Due Process

In re S. O. (Tex. App. Apr. 20, 2017)

Order granting Plaintiff’s petition for writ of injunction. Plaintiff was awarded a Ph.D. by the University of Texas at Austin. Subsequently, the University discovered potential academic misconduct and moved to conduct an internal disciplinary hearing to determine whether to revoke Plaintiff’s Ph.D. degree. Plaintiff filed suit, alleging that such action was an ultra vires act and violated her constitutional rights to due process and equal protection. The trial court ruled that Plaintiff’s claims were not ripe until the hearing had occurred and dismissed the case. Plaintiff appealed and filed a petition for writ of injunction seeking to prevent the University from holding a hearing until the appeals court reviews the trial court’s decision. The appeals court found that if the hearing were to take place, Plaintiff’s ultra vires claim seeking to enjoin the proceeding would become moot, and the parties would lose standing to litigate their claims. An injunction, the court concluded, was necessary to preserve the subject matter and the court’s jurisdiction over the underlying suit.
4/24/2017
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Due Process; Academic Misconduct; Students; Retaliation; Constitutional Issues

Horner-Neufeld v. University of Alaska-Fairbanks (Alaska, Jan. 20, 2017)

The University of Alaska Fairbanks dismissed Plaintiff from a Ph.D. program for failing to progress in her research. She filed suit, claiming that her advisors discriminated and retailed against her and that the university violated her right to due process and breached an implied contract by dismissing her from the program.  The superior court rejected her arguments, and the Alaska Supreme Court affirmed, reasoning that poor performance, not discriminatory animus, resulted in plaintiff’s dismissal. Also, Plaintiff provided no evidence that her advisors retaliated against her. Finally, the Court found that the University complied with its policies governing academic discipline prior to and while dismissing Plaintiff from the program.

1/23/2017
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Academic Misconduct; Athletics Compliance (NCAA & more); Students; Athletics & Sports

National Collegiate Athletic Association Public Infractions Decision Regarding Former California State University, Northridge Director of Basketball Operations (Dec. 7, 2016)

Public infractions decision by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) involving the former director of basketball operations at California State University, Northridge. The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions concluded that the former director completed coursework for ten student-athletes and submitted the coursework on their behalf for fraudulent academic credit. The University admitted that it failed to monitor the former director’s activities and to take adequate steps to investigate reports of misconduct when they first surfaced. The NCAA placed the University on three years' probation, fined the university $5,000 plus one percent of the men's basketball budget, imposed a five-year show-cause order on the former director, and vacated all wins for games in which the players involved participated. 

12/8/2016
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Athletics & Sports; Athletics Compliance (NCAA & more); Academic Misconduct; Students

National Collegiate Athletic Association Public Infractions Decision for the University of Notre Dame (Nov. 22, 2016)

Public Infractions Decision issued by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) regarding academic violations found to have been committed by a former student athletic trainer and football student-athletes. The athletic trainer completed coursework for the two athletes over a three-year period and provided other athletes with extra academic benefits, in violation of the institution’s academic honesty and integrity policies. Penalties include one year of probation, a $5,000 fine, a two-year show-cause order against the athletic trainer, vacation of team and individual records for the 2012 and 2013 football seasons, and disassociation of the athletic trainer. 

11/28/2016
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Disability Discrimination; Academic Misconduct; Retaliation

Thompson v. Ohio State Univ. (6th Cir., Jan. 26, 2016)

Unpublished opinion from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, affirming District Court's award of summary judgment to Ohio State University on Plaintiff's §1983 (Equal Protection), Title VI, and First Amendment Retaliation claims. Plaintiff alleged that she was subjected to discrimination based on her race, and retaliation based on protected speech, when the University suspended her for academic dishonesty. Regarding Plaintiff's §1983 Claim, the Court affirmed the District Court's award of judgment in the Defendant's favor because even though the professor who referred Plaintiff to a conduct board for academic dishonesty had only before referred African American students to the board (3 students in total), Defendant's non-discriminatory explanation, namely that the Plaintiff had plagiarized a portion of a paper, undercut the importance of Plaintiff's statistical proof and extinguished Plaintiff's argument of pretext. Regarding Plaintiff's Title VI Deliberate Indifference Claim, the Court, without ruling whether Deliberate Indifference was an actionable claim under Title VI, affirmed the District Court's award of judgment to the Defendant because OSU had conducted a thorough and fair investigation in response to Plaintiff's discrimination complaint. Finally, the Court affirmed the District Court's decision that Plaintiff had not pled sufficient causation to show a nexus between protected speech and her suspension from the University.
2/1/2016
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