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Latest Cases and Documents


Religious Discrimination; Title IX: Documents on Office of Civil Rights Religious Exemption Requests
May 2, 2016

Documents listing institutions that have requested exemptions to Title IX based on religious affiliation were published by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR). Title IX does not apply to an educational institution that is controlled by a religious organization to the extent that application of Title IX would be inconsistent with the religious tenets of the organization.  OCR released three documents, the first listing institutions that requested religious exemptions and OCR’s responses prior to 2009, the second listing institutions that have requested religious exemptions and OCR’s responses from 2009 to the present, and a chart listing all institutions that currently hold a religious exemption and those that have a religious exemption request pending.


Taxes: Announcement on Limited Penalty Relief for Filers of Form 1098-T
May 2, 2016

Announcement 2016-17 by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) indicating that the IRS will not impose penalties on institutions for reporting the aggregate amount billed for qualified tuition and related expenses (Box 2) on 2016 Form 1098-T instead of the aggregate amount of payments received (Box 1). Section 212 of the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act (PATH Act) of 2015 eliminated the option for eligible educational institutions to report aggregate qualified tuition and related expenses billed for the calendar year. The announcement states that the penalties that would normally apply for failure to file correct information will not apply to institutions that reported the aggregate amount billed rather than the aggregate amount of payments received if it is shown that the failure is due to reasonable cause as opposed to willful neglect.


Online Learning: Comments by Six Higher Education Associations on the Proposed Teacher Preparation Regulations
April 29, 2016

Comments submitted by the American Council on Education, on behalf of itself and five other higher education associations, to the Department of Education regarding the distance education provisions in the proposed regulations for teacher preparation programs. The comments address three general areas of concern that the associations have regarding the treatment of distance education programs of teacher preparation in the Department’s Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, including TEACH Grant eligibility determinations, institutional burden in respect to state reporting, and a lack of clarity in certain key provisions.  


Research Misconduct & Conflict of Interest; Retaliation: Yuan v. Johns Hopkins University (Md. App., Apr. 27, 2016)
April 29, 2016

Opinion by the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland affirming the circuit court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s claim. Plaintiff, a former researcher at Defendant Johns Hopkins University, filed a wrongful discharge action against Defendant alleging that he had been terminated for reporting research-related misconduct, a type of reporting protected from retaliation under 42 U.S.C. § 289b and 42 C.F.R. Part 93. The Appeals Court concluded that the “broad language and complex nature” of the federal provisions providing grounds for Plaintiff’s claim of research misconduct undermined their utility as a basis for wrongful discharge since Congress, in using such language, intended for courts to adopt a deferential attitude toward institutions in the prevention and detection of research misconduct. Because these federal provisions on research misconduct did not set forth a clear public policy mandate, the Court refused to find a private right of action for a whistleblower to sue for damages.


Due Process; First Amendment & Free Speech; Gender Discrimination; Retaliation: Plouffe v. Cevallos (E.D. Pa., Apr. 27, 2016)
April 29, 2016

Plaintiff, a former tenure-track professor, sought redress against Defendant Kutztown University and various officials based on several causes of action. The Court concluded that Plaintiff’s complaints regarding a potential hire were not protected speech because Plaintiff was employed as a member of the search committee, at least in part, with the expectation that he might use internal grievance procedures to ensure that the committee fulfilled its stated purpose. On Plaintiff’s substantive due process claim, the dissemination to other potential employers of the fact that Plaintiff complained about the hiring was not “sufficiently stigmatizing” to implicate a liberty interest. As to Plaintiff’s gender discrimination claims under Title VII and Title IX, however, the Court found that disputes in the record required a jury to determine the outcome regardless of the weaknesses in Plaintiff’s claims. Finally, because the Court found in favor of Defendants on the underlying constitutional violations, it enter judgment in the individual Defendants’ favor on the section 1983 conspiracy claim in Plaintiff’s companion case, Plouffe v. Gambone.


First Amendment & Free Speech; Religious Discrimination: Faulkner v. University of Cincinnati (S.D. Ohio, Mar. 23, 2016)
April 29, 2016

Opinion by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio denying Defendant University of Cincinnati’s motion for summary judgment. The suit arose when Defendant issued a corrective action letter chastising Plaintiff for using religious references during presentations and forbidding him from doing so again during any future workplace interactions. Defendant pointed to its discriminatory harassment policy and an anonymous complaint from an employee who felt “uncomfortable” during his presentation to justify its action. The Court refused to grant summary judgment to Defendant on Plaintiff’s First Amendment claim, reasoning that this broad ban infringed on Plaintiff’s ability to exercise his faith. A mere claim of discomfort, the Court reasoned, did not amount to harassment on the basis of religious belief, conduct that could merit discipline. The Court also allowed Plaintiff’s claim that Defendant’s discriminatory harassment policy was unconstitutionally vague and overbroad to go forward after finding that Plaintiff was held to have violated the policy based solely on a listener's reaction to speech, not upon any objective standards either defined in the policy or articulated by the Defendants.


Litigation; Race, National Origin & Citizenship Discrimination; Retaliation: Szeinbach v. Ohio State University (6th Cir., Apr. 20, 2016)
April 29, 2016

Opinion by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Plaintiff sued Ohio State University (OSU) for discrimination and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. After a trial, the jury returned a verdict awarding her over $500,000 in damages, about $200,000 of which represented back pay to account for the higher income that Plaintiff allegedly would have earned in the absence of OSU's illegal conduct. However, because Plaintiff never interviewed for an allegedly open position at one university and never received an offer of employment from any other university, the Court concluded that the evidence she submitted on the back pay issue was wholly speculative and thus went "beyond the range supported by [Plaintiff’s] proof." It therefore held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in granting OSU's motion for a remittitur on the ground that Plaintiff had not presented an adequate factual basis for her proposed remedy.


First Amendment & Free Speech: McGettigan v. Di Mare (D. Colo., Mar. 24, 2016
April 29, 2016

Order by the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. Defendant President of Colorado State University terminated Plaintiff professor’s access to electronic resources at the University after he sent an e-mail to all faculty, staff, and students using harsh language to criticize Defendant University’s budget reduction plan and encouraging them to demonstrate against it. While Defendant claimed her actions were necessary due to safety concerns, the Court found that she failed to explain how terminating Plaintiff’s access to electronic resources helped prevent the possibility of violence. Because Defendant “offered only assertions of her motives without any demonstration of her interests or of the necessity for the actions she took,” the Court denied Defendant's motion to dismiss Plaintiff's First Amendment claim.


Technology Access: Supplemental Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Accessibility of Web Information and Services of State and Local Government Entities
April 29, 2016

Supplemental advance notice of proposed rulemaking on the accessibility of web in formation and services of state and local government entities was published by the U.S. Department of Justice. The Department is considering revising the regulations implementing Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to establish specific technical requirements that would make the services, programs, and activities that state and local governments offer to the public via the internet accessible to those with disabilities. This supplemental advance notice was released to solicit additional public comments on various issues relating to the potential application of such technical requirements to the websites sites of Title II entities and to gather information for preparing a regulatory impact analysis. The Department also issued a statement announcing the supplemental notice. Comments must be submitted on or before ninety days after the date of publication.


Online Learning: Comments Submitted by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities on Teacher Preparation
April 29, 2016

Comments submitted by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) on the supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking on Teacher Preparation Issues, which addresses teacher preparation programs provided online, that was published in the Federal Register by the U.S. Department of Education. The NAICU’s comments raise concerns on the definition of the programs affected, the data required to be exchanged among states to meet proposed accountability requirements, and the ability of states to veto a program’s grant eligibility, as well as the underlying proposed rulemaking from December 2014 that this supplemental rulemaking attempts to amend.


Grants, Contracts & Sponsored Research: Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2017
April 27, 2016

Legislation (H.R. 5054) introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representative Robert Aderholt (R-AL) appropriating funds for Agriculture, Rural Development, the Food and Drug Administration, and related agencies for the Fiscal Year 2017. The bill would fund various agricultural and food programs and services, including the Agricultural Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The bill totals $21.3 billion in discretionary funding, representing a decrease of $451 million from the Fiscal Year 2016 enacted level and $281 million below President Obama's budget request.


Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence; Title IX: Facchetti v. Bridgewater College (W.D. Va., Mar. 30, 2016)
April 27, 2016

Opinion by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia granting Defendants' motion to dismiss. Plaintiff filed suit against Bridgewater College, several of its employees, and a fellow student who admittedly sexually assaulted her in her dorm room. She alleged that Defendant College violated its own sexual misconduct policy in the advising, investigatory, and disciplinary processes surrounding the incident. In rejecting this argument, the Court held that the judicial standard of institutional liability for damages under Title IX, based on Supreme Court precedent, is not conclusively satisfied by claims that the institution violated its own policy; rather, the institution must be "deliberately indifferent" to the plaintiff's claim. The Court concluded that because the College promptly conducted an investigation, held a disciplinary hearing, and suspended the respondent after he was found responsible, its response could not be considered "indifferent."


Disability Discrimination: Redding v. Nova Southeastern University (S.D. Fla., Feb. 25, 2016)
April 26, 2016

Opinion and order granting in part and denying in part Defendant Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine's motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff, a student who required frequent hospitalizations and treatments for her Crohn's disease, was dismissed from the University's osteopathic medicine program. The Court held that Plaintiff was not a "qualified individual" entitled to challenge her dismissal under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or the Rehabilitation Act because she failed to meet the essential eligibility requirements for participation—namely, meeting attendance standards and passing her clinical rotations. However, the Court declined to grant summary judgment on Plaintiff's failure-to-accommodate claim because there existed a question of fact as to whether the institution's exam-makeup policy affected Plaintiff more negatively than others due to her illness, and as to whether her requested accommodations would have ameliorated the alleged negative impact.


Disability Discrimination; Due Process: Rajpal v. Regents of the University of Minnesota (Minn. App., Apr. 25, 2016)
April 26, 2016

Unpublished opinion by the Minnesota Court of Appeals affirming the district court's dismissal of Plaintiff's claim. Defendant University of Minnesota dismissed Plaintiff from its medical school after Plaintiff failed two clinical courses. Because Plaintiff produced no evidence establishing that she was qualified to continue as a medical student even with her proposed accommodations, the Court affirmed the district court's dismissal of Plaintiff's disability discrimination claim. The Court also held that Defendant complied with procedural due process requirements because it removed Plaintiff from its program only after informing Plaintiff of her poor performance, warning her that her failure of an additional course could lead to dismissal, granting her request to extend her graduation date, and providing her with a forum to contest her dismissal. Finally, it upheld the district court's dismissal of Plaintiff's substantive due process claim, citing Plaintiff's "complete lack of evidence" indicating that her dismissal was arbitrary or represented a substantial departure from accepted academic norms.


Accreditation: Letter from the Department of Education on Flexibility in Application of Accrediting Agency Review Processes
April 25, 2016

Letter from Department of Education Under Secretary Ted Mitchell to federally-recognized accrediting agencies on the application of accrediting agency review processes. The letter clarifies that these agencies have the flexibility to differentiate their reviews of institutions and programs, and encourages accreditors to use that flexibility "to focus monitoring and resources on student achievement and problematic institutions or programs."


Grants, Contracts & Sponsored Research: Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2017
April 25, 2016

Legislation (S. 2837) making appropriations for the Departments of Commerce and Justice, as well as science and related agencies, for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2017 was unanimously approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The bill, which was sponsored by Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), would provide a total of $56.3 billion in discretionary funding for the Departments of Commerce and Justice, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and NASA.


Accreditation: Letter from Senators to the Department of Education on Holding Accreditors Accountable
April 25, 2016

Letter to the Department of Education signed by twenty-four U.S. Senators urging the Department to strengthen its review process of accrediting agencies. Accreditors, the letter asserts, have often failed to establish standards that ensure sufficient numbers of students are completing their programs and are able to find employment in their field upon graduation. As both regional and national accreditors come up for renewal of recognition before the Department's National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, the Senators call upon the Department "to engage in a thorough and comprehensive review process to determine if the accreditors have and enforce sufficiently rigorous standards that examine student achievement and academic quality."


Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence; Title IX: Letter of Findings on the Title IX and Title IV Investigation of the University of New Mexico
April 25, 2016

Letter of Findings and a corresponding press release were issued by the Department of Justice on the investigation of the University of New Mexico's handling of student reports of sexual misconduct at its Albuquerque campus. The investigation, which began in December 2014, found that although the University had strengthened its response to sexual harassment and sexual assault over the past year, it remains out of compliance with Title IX and Title IV because students and staff lacked a basic understanding about reporting options, duties and obligations; and students who experienced sexual misconduct had difficulty accessing services. The Department set out a number of measures for the University to implement, including providing comprehensive training to students and faculty, revising its investigative practices and grievance procedures, and to investigate and respond to all allegations of sexual misconduct.


Financial Aid: Announcement by Federal Student Aid on 2014-2015 Perkins Loan Service Cancellation Reimbursement
April 25, 2016

Announcement issued by Federal Student Aid (FSA) on the Perkins Loan service cancellation reimbursement for 2014-2015. The announcement states that, because the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (Pub. L. 114-113) did not allocate funds for 2014-2015 Federal Perkins Loan service cancellation reimbursements, there will be no reimbursement payments issued this year. However, FSA will calculate the 2014-2015 reimbursement payment for which an institution would have been eligible to receive and maintain a record of that amount.


Disability Discrimination; Distressed & Suicidal Students: Sacchetti v. Gallaudet University (D.D.C., Apr. 20, 2016)
April 22, 2016

Opinion by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granting in part and denying in part Defendants' motion to dismiss. Plaintiffs filed suit against Gallaudet University in their individual capacities and as representatives of the Estate of their son, Gianni Manganelli, asserting Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) violations in addition to various common law tort claims. Gianni was a student at Defendant University when he committed suicide after a series of incidents in which he displayed agitated, disruptive, and aggressive behavior indicative of his mental health issues, of which the University was aware. The Court concluded that the Complaint failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted against the University under the ADA because Gallagudet, a federally chartered university, is not an "instrumentality" of the District of Columbia, and the fact that the Gallaudet Police were involved did not have any bearing on the matter.


Retaliation: McMullen v. Tuskegee University (M.D. Ala., Apr. 21, 2016)
April 22, 2016

Opinion and order by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama granting Defendant Tuskegee University's motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff, a former Director of Human Resources at Tuskegee, filed suit alleging retaliation after she was terminated from her position. Prior to her termination, Plaintiff had warned the University Vice President that firing another employee who had accused the Vice President of harassment might appear to be, or was in actuality, retaliation for the complaint. Upon concluding that the "manager rule"—which states that a management employee who, in the course of her normal job performance, disagrees with or opposes the actions of the employer is not engaging in protected activity—applied to the case, the Court held that Plaintiff failed to establish a prima facie case of retaliation because her advice was given in the context of her employment duties and thus not a protected activity.


Discrimination, Accommodation & Diversity: Report on Bridging the Research to Practice Gap by College Board and Education Counsel
April 21, 2016

Report entitled "Bridging the Research to Practice Gap: Achieving Mission-Driven Diversity and Inclusion Goals," was prepared and released by EducationCounsel LLC on behalf of the College Board's Access & Diversity Collaborative. The report reviews research findings on diversity in higher education for areas of strengths and weaknesses, suggests prospective research directions on the subject, and identifies policy and practice implications for institutions within the shifting political and legal landscape.


Athletics Compliance (NCAA & More): 2016 National and Sport-Group Academic Progress Rate Averages and Trends by the National Collegiate Athletic Association
April 21, 2016

National and Sport-Group Academic Progress Rate Averages and Trends, 2016, was published by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The report, which is released annually, uses a scoring system to measure Division I athletes' academic progress and retention on a 1,000-point scale. Teams must attain an annual score of 930 to remain eligible for pre- and postseason competitions. This year, the overall academic score was up one point from last year's score, and a total of 31 teams will be penalized for attaining scores below 930. A press release on the report is available here.


Due Process; Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence: John Doe v. Ohio State University (S.D. Ohio, Apr. 20, 2016)
April 21, 2016

Opinion by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio adopting the magistrate judge's report and recommendation that the Court deny Plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction. Defendant Ohio State University dismissed Plaintiff from its medical school after a conduct board hearing and appeal found Plaintiff responsible for engaging in sexual misconduct with another student. The Court agreed with the magistrate judge's finding that Plaintiff failed to demonstrate that he is likely to succeed on the merits of his due process claim despite concerns raised that "ha[ve] given [the] Court significant pause as to many of the practices that the university employs and the rules it has established to govern its investigative and disciplinary hearing process." Given Plaintiff's failure on what the Court called "the most critical factor"--the likelihood of success on the merits—the Court stated that it would decline to issue a preliminary injunction even if Plaintiff's irreparable harm and public interest objections were well taken.


Age Discrimination; Race, National Origin & Citizenship Discrimination; Sex Discrimination; Due Process; Retaliation: Chandrapual v. City University of New York (E.D.N.Y., Apr. 20, 2016)
April 21, 2016

Order by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York granting Defendants City University of New York's (CUNY) and individual officials' motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff, a forty-nine year old Guyanese woman of Indian origin, filed suit claiming that Defendants discriminated against her in allegedly attempting to deny her admission to the Queensborough Community College (QCC) nursing program, manipulating her grade on a final exam, denying her petition to retake the course, and failing to conduct a fair investigation into her complaints, all on account of her age, sex, race, and national origin. After finding that Plaintiff either failed to supply admissible evidence or that Defendants supplied legitimate non-discriminatory reasons for their different treatment of similarly-situated individuals on each of Plaintiff's claims, the Court granted summary judgment to Defendants.


Disability Discrimination; Race, National Origin & Citizenship Discrimination; Sex Discrimination: Rey v. University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine (W.D. Pa., Apr. 20, 2016)
April 21, 2016

Opinion by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania granting Defendant University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine's motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff, a female of Cuban descent, claimed that Defendant University discriminated against on the basis of her sex, ethnicity, and alleged disability when it dismissed her from its dental program. The Court held that Plaintiff's sex discrimination claim failed as a matter of law because Plaintiff's only evidence of direct discrimination--a comment made by a decision-maker about her recent wedding and the possibility of starting a family--was stated after it was recommended that Plaintiff be dismissed from the program. It also held that the evidence that Plaintiff had cumulative GPA below the academic minimum set forth in the student handbook was a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for her dismissal. Finally, because Plaintiff did not disclose her alleged severe panic disorder as a disability requiring an accommodation, the Court found that her disability discrimination claim also failed as a matter of law.


Equal Protection; Gender Identity & Sexual Orientation Discrimination: G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board (4th Cir. Apr. 19, 2016)
April 20, 2016

Opinion by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversing in part and vacating in part the district court's dismissal of Plaintiff's claim, and remanding the case for further proceedings. Plaintiff, a female high school student who identifies as male, alleged that Defendant school board impermissibly discriminated against him in violation of Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause by forbidding him from using the boys' restroom. On appeal, the Fourth Circuit concluded that the Department of Education's regulation permitting separate bathrooms for each sex is ambiguous with respect to transgender students because the term "sex" could be understood to refer either solely to biological sex or to both biological sex and gender identity. In light of this ambiguity, the Court held that the district court should have deferred to the Department's interpretation of that regulation, which would require schools to permit transgender students to use the facility that is consistent with their gender identity.

Financial Aid: Notice on Direct Loan, FFEL, Perkins, and TEACH Grant Total and Permanent Disability Discharge Application and Related Forms Revisions
April 20, 2016

Notice published by the U.S. Department of Education on a revision of the Total and Permanent Disability Discharge application and related forms. The application allows an individual who is totally and permanently disabled, as defined in Section 437(a) of the Higher Education Act, to apply for discharge of his or her Direct Loan, FFEL, or Perkins loan program loans, or TEACH Grant service obligations. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before June 20, 2016.


Enforcement of Nondiscrimination Laws; Title IX: Written Testimony from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education on Funding of the Office for Civil Rights
April 19, 2016

Written testimony submitted by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) to the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations on the funding of the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) for Fiscal Year 2017. In March, a group of twenty-two Senators sent a letter to the Committee urging it to increase OCR's funding from $102 million to $137 million. While FIRE insists that it supports OCR's goal of addressing sexual misconduct on college campuses, it expresses serious concerns about the manner in which the agency is pursuing that goal and asks that Congress "require OCR to abide by the rule of law" before increasing its budget.


Grants, Contracts & Sponsored Research: Senate Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2017
April 19, 2016

Legislation (S. 2804) introduced in the U.S. Senate by Lamar Alexander (R-TN) that would appropriate funds for energy and water development and related agencies for the Fiscal Year 2017. The bill would fund the Department of Energy Office of Science at $5.4 billion, representing an increase of $50 million from the agency's budget for the Fiscal Year 2016. The Senate Committee on Appropriations released a statement on the bill on April 14, announcing that the Committee had unanimously approved the bill.


Grants, Contracts & Sponsored Research; Technology Transfer: Comments to the Office of Management and Budget on Proposed Open Source Software Policy
April 19, 2016

Comments submitted by the Association of American Universities (AAU) and the Council on Government Relations (COGR) to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on the Administration's proposed policy to make public custom software developed with federal funds. Although the organizations commend the proposal's intent to improve access to custom software developed for the federal government and support the proposal to the extent that it will increase the use of such software and reduce administrative burdens, they express concern for portions of the proposal that they believe would actually increase administrative burdens, create ambiguity, and result in a loss of commercialization opportunities.


Sexual Misconduct; Title IX: Ross v. University of Tulsa (N.D. Okla., Apr. 15, 2016)
April 19, 2016

Order by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma granting Defendant University of Tulsa's motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff, a former student at Defendant University, claimed to be the victim of sexual misconduct by a male student-athlete who was later found not responsible for violation of the University's sexual misconduct policy based on insufficient evidence. In the Title IX suit that followed, the Court found that although Defendant knew of a prior accusation against Plaintiff's alleged attacker, this knowledge was not sufficient to provide actual notice of a substantial risk because the previous accusation involved a victim who was unwilling to file criminal charges or initiate a student conduct complaint, and who stated only that the alleged attacker "took advantage of" her. Furthermore, the Court found that even if Plaintiff could satisfy the knowledge of risk element, she still could not satisfy the deliberate indifference element because the University conducted an investigation, held a student conduct hearing, and issued written findings setting forth reasons for its decision in favor of the alleged attacker, all in accordance with Title IX requirements.


Sexual Misconduct; Title IX: John Doe v. Rector and Visitors of George Mason University (E.D. Va, Apr. 14, 2016)
April 19, 2016

Opinion by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Plaintiff was expelled from George Mason University (GMU) after it found him responsible for sexual misconduct and for sending electronic communications likely to cause distress. Plaintiff sued, and the Court found that the flaws in GMU's disciplinary process amounted to a deprivation of liberty without due process of law, and that the speech for which he was found liable was constitutionally protected. On the remaining issues regarding the appropriate remedy, the Court held that because Defendants wrongfully deprived Plaintiff of victory in his student conduct hearing through a defective appeal process, Plaintiff was entitled to have his victory restored, and that restoring Plaintiff to his rightful position would not unduly burden Defendants or do a disservice to the public interest. However, the Court refused to prohibit GMU from pursuing any new disciplinary charges against Plaintiff based on the complainant's allegations surrounding events other than those underlying Plaintiff's expulsion.


Government Relations: Notice on the Application Package for Strengthening Historically Black Graduate Institutions
April 18, 2016

Notice published by the U.S. Department of Education on the application package for the Strengthening Historically Black Graduate Institutions (HBGI) program. The program provides grants to assist institutions in establishing and strengthening their physical plants, development offices, endowment funds, academic resources and student services so that they may continue to participate in fulfilling the goal of equality of educational opportunity in graduate education. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before May 18, 2016.


Clery Act; Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence; Title IX: Letter from Senators Requesting Increased Funding of the Office for Civil Rights
April 18, 2016

Letter to leaders of the Senate Committee on Appropriations signed by twenty-two U.S. Senators urging the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education to increase the funding of the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR). The letter cites the extent of the problem of sexual misconduct on college campuses and the increased number of institutions under investigation for alleged Title IX violations in justifying its request to provide at least $137.7 million to OCR for Fiscal Year 2017, in addition to sufficient funding to employ eleven full-time personnel for enforcement of the Clery Act.


First Amendment & Free Speech; Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence: Letter to the University of Delaware from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education on the Right to Free Speech
April 18, 2016

Letter from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) to the University of Delaware (UD) regarding concerns for the expressive rights of students after an incident involving a UD police officer. The officer asked students to self-censor a “free speech” beach ball on which students were encouraged to write their thoughts after messages that potentially violated the University’s sexual misconduct policy appeared on the ball. FIRE’s letter urges UD to ensure its police respect the First Amendment rights of its students and to reform policies that threaten students’ free speech.


Financial Aid: Letter to House and Senate Appropriations Committee Leaders on the Pell Grant Program Surplus
April 18, 2016

Letter to the leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees from nineteen higher education associations expressing strong opposition to the use of funding from the Pell Grant program surplus for any purpose outside the program itself in the Fiscal Year 2017 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bills. Instead, the letter urges the committees to use surplus from the Pell Grant Program for the restoration of the Year-Round Pell.


Race, National Origin & Citizenship Discrimination; Retaliation: McGowan v. Board of Trustees of Metropolitan State University of Denver (10th Cir., Apr. 13, 2016)
April 14, 2016

Opinion by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit affirming the district court's grant of summary judgment to Defendant Board of Trustees of Metropolitan State University of Denver. The district court held that Plaintiff failed to establish a prima facie case of racial discrimination or retaliation. It further held that even if Plaintiff had made a prima facie showing, Metro State offered a legitimate reason for any adverse actions—Plaintiff's poor job performance—and Plaintiff failed to show that this reason was pretextual. The Tenth Circuit agreed and thus affirmed the district court's decision on this ground without addressing whether Plaintiff made a prima facie case of discrimination or retaliation.


Grants, Contracts & Sponsored Research: Letter from the American Council on Education to House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Department of Defense Research Funding for Fiscal Year 2017
April 14, 2016

Letter from the American Council on Education (ACE) to the leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Department of Defense requesting their continued support of funding for scientific research through the Department. The letter emphasizes the military and economic benefits that have been ensured by funding in the past and ask that the Subcommittees provide $2.53 billion for basic research programs, $13.4 billion for the Defense Science and Technology budget, and $2.9 billion for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.


Financial Aid; Disability Discrimination: Press Release by the Department of Education on Assisting Student Loan Borrowers with Disabilities
April 13, 2016

Press release issued by the U.S. Department of Education announcing a new process that will identify and assist student loan borrowers with disabilities. This new process uses data compiled by the Social Security Administration to identify federal student loan borrowers who also receive disability payments and are designated "Medical Improvement Not Expected" (MINE), which qualifies them for loan forgiveness under the Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) discharge program thanks to a change in Department regulations in 2013. Beginning on April 18, 2016, borrowers who were positively identified in the match will receive a letter explaining that the borrower is eligible for loan forgiveness and outlining the steps needed to receive a discharge.


Due Process; Race, National Origin & Citizenship Discrimination; Sex Discrimination: Rollins v. Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama (4th Cir. Apr. 11, 2016)
April 13, 2016

Unpublished opinion issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirming the district court's grant of summary judgment to Defendants. Plaintiff, a white male and former student, brought suit against the University of Alabama at Birmingham's Board of Trustees alleging race and gender discrimination after he was dismissed from the School of Dentistry for poor academic performance after completing two semesters. Noting that a student dismissed from a public educational institution for academic reasons is entitled to a lesser degree of procedural process rights than a student dismissed for disciplinary reasons, the Fourth Circuit held that the University engaged in the requisite "careful and deliberate" decision-making process before dismissing Plaintiff. It further upheld the district court's finding that Plaintiff was not able to point to any adequate, similarly-situated comparators to establish his race and sex discrimination claims.


Financial Aid: Letter from Under Secretary Ted Mitchell to Institutional Presidents
April 12, 2016

Letter from U.S. Department of Education Under Secretary Ted Mitchell to the chief executive officers of all Title IV participating institutions on student financial aid. The letter reminds leaders of higher education institutions of their fiduciary duty to taxpayers to ensure that the funds disbursed as student aid is appropriately safeguarded and that they comply with laws and regulations governing the administration of Federal student aid programs. It also highlights recent regulatory changes affecting student aid administration and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).


Due Process; Sexual Misconduct: John Doe v. Alger (W.D. Va., Mar. 31, 2016)
April 12, 2016

Opinion by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia granting in part and denying in part Defendants’ motion to dismiss. The Court concluded that Plaintiff John Doe, a former student at James Madison University (JMU), stated a viable procedural due process claim against Defendant JMU officials based on a property interest but not on a liberty interest. After initially being found not responsible for sexual misconduct against a fellow student, Plaintiff’s accuser appealed. The appellate board reversed the decision and suspended Plaintiff for five-and-a-half years. Plaintiff claimed that he was not allowed to appear before the appeals board; was not shown new evidence submitted by his accuser on appeal; was not given the names of the people hearing his appeal; and was not given notice of the appeals board’s meeting, all of which the Court found indicative of a due process violation.


Due Process; Sexual Misconduct: John Doe v. University of Southern California (Cal. Ct. App., Apr. 5, 2016)
April 12, 2016

Opinion by the California Court of Appeals affirming in part and reversing in part the trial court’s judgment. A student behavior appeals panel at Defendant University of Southern California (USC) found that while there was insufficient evidence indicating that Plaintiff John Doe committed a sexual assault during a group sexual encounter at a fraternity party, Doe had violated two sections of the student conduct code by “encourage[ing] or permit[ing]” other students to engage in nonconsensual contact with his female accuser and endangering her by leaving her alone in the bedroom when the involved parties dispersed. On appeal of the trial court’s rejection of Plaintiff’s fair hearing challenge, the Court  held that Plaintiff was not afforded a meaningful opportunity to defend himself because he was investigated for one conduct violation—engaging in nonconsensual sexual activity—but was disciplined for another—encouraging others and endangering the alleged victim.


Religious Discrimination: Complaint in Israel v. United States (N.D. Ind., Mar. 22, 2016)
April 11, 2016

Complaint filed by Hezekiah Isaiah Israel against the United States, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana, and the U.S. Secretary of Education, alleging that the customary names used to designate the days of the week, months of the year, and planets are rooted in the names of "pagan false gods and idols" in violation of the First Amendment. Plaintiff, who steadfastly obeys the biblical commandment that forbids the mentioning of gods other than the Judeo-Christian God, claims that he has suffered grievances in both his personal and professional life for refusing to speak the names of certain days and months, and points to the public school system as the responsible party. Plaintiff seeks a court order prohibiting the U.S government and public schools from using or teaching children to use the names of false pagan gods and idols in referring to the days, months, and planets, in addition to eliminating the use of the Gregorian calendar.


Foreign Students: Announcement on Petitions for H-1B Visas
April 11, 2016

Announcement issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on nonimmigrant, employment-based visas.  USCIS stated that it has received enough petitions for H-1B visas to meet the 65,000 cap for Fiscal Year 2017 as well as the 20,000 cap for petitions filed under the advanced degree exemption. The agency will use a computer-generated process, also known as the lottery, to randomly select the 85,000 H-1B petitions it will grant.


Faculty & Staff: Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession 2015-2016 by the American Association of University Professors
April 11, 2016

Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession for 2015-2016 was published by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). The Report indicates that inflation-adjusted full-time continuing faculty salaries increased by 2.7 percent between the 2014-15 and 2015-16 academic years, but that over the past four decades, the proportion of the academic labor force holding full-time tenured positions has declined by 26 percent and the proportion holding full-time tenure-track positions has dropped by 50 percent. “Higher education is at a crossroads,” the researchers conclude. Institutions can continue down the path of increasing reliance on contingent faculty positions and accept the negative consequences; or they can develop plans to convert part-time, non-tenure-track positions to full-time, tenure-track positions, as the AAUP urges.


Accreditation: Letter from State Attorneys General on the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools
April 11, 2016

Letter to the U.S. Education Department and the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) from thirteen state attorneys general asking that federal recognition not be renewed for the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS). The letter points out that institutions accredited by the Council have dismal graduation rates, low loan-repayment rates, and were not subject to effective oversight. “In the crowded field of accrediting failures,” the letter asserts, “ACICS deserves special opprobrium” due to its “fundamental lack of substantive oversight for student outcomes.


Freedom of Information & Public Record Laws; FERPA; Hazing: Knight News, Inc. v. University of Central Florida (Fl. Dist. Ct. App., Apr. 8, 2016)
April 11, 2016

Opinion by the Florida District Court of Appeal granting in part the motion for rehearing filed by Plaintiff-Appellant Knight News, Inc. (KNI) and withdrawing the Court’s previous opinion on the matter. The Court concluded that the trial court erred in failing to require Defendant-Appellee University of Central Florida (UCF) to reveal the names of student government officers purported to have engaged in hazing-related misconduct. Because the allegations of misconduct related to the students’ performance, election, and/or appointment as student government officers, the Court reasoned that their names did not qualify as “personally identifiable information” under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), given that Florida’s statutory scheme concerning university student governments put those students on notice that any discipline they received for duties-related misconduct could be publicly revealed.


Research Safety & Protection: Guide to Implementing a Safety Culture by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities
April 11, 2016

Guide to Implementing a Safety Culture was published by the Association for Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU). The Guide is designed to assist university presidents and chancellors in improving their institutional culture of research safety and encourages each institution to use the Guide in a manner that suits its unique institutional contexts and needs. The task force also released a companion website in conjunction with the Guide to make it more accessible and allow for the continued sharing of best practices and other information to improve safety at research universities.


First Amendment & Free Speech; Student Organizations; Trademark & Licensing: Gerlich and Furleigh v. Leath (8th Cir., Apr. 7, 2016)
April 8, 2016

Order by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eight Circuit denying Defendant-Appellants' motion for stay. Appellees, Plaintiffs below, were members of a student advocacy group supporting the legalization of marijuana, known as the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). They alleged that the Appellants, employees at Iowa State University, violated their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights by denying their application to use the University's trademark on pro-marijuana t-shirts. Citing political motivation as well as the Appellants' selective application of the policy, the district court found that the Appellants applied the institution's Trademark Policy in viewpoint-discriminatory manner in violation of the Constitution, and that the Appellants were not entitled to qualified immunity.

Race, National Origin, & Citizenship Discrimination: Hepburn v. Brown University (D.R.I., Apr. 7, 2016)
April 8, 2016

Memorandum and order by the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island granting Defendant's motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff, an African-American male, filed suit against his former employer, Defendant Brown University, alleging that Defendant terminated his employment as a mail clerk because of his race. Defendant insisted that Plaintiff was terminated for exhibiting rude and aggressive conduct toward his co-workers in a series of four incidents. The Court concluded that Defendant University "easily satisfie[d]" its burden of articulating a legitimate reason for Plaintiff's discharge, noting that Defendant repeatedly warned Plaintiff of the consequences of displaying aggressive and disrespectful behavior at work, and that Plaintiff continued this behavior pattern in spite of those warnings. Because Plaintiff failed to submit evidence to the contrary, the Court granted summary judgment to Defendant.


First Amendment & Free Speech; Retaliation: O'Brien v. Welty (9th Cir., Apr. 7, 2016)
April 8, 2016

Opinion by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirming in part and reversing in part the district court's dismissal of Plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a claim, and remanding the case for further proceedings. Plaintiff, a California State University student, alleged that various University employees violated his constitutional rights when they sanctioned him for violating the Student Conduct Code's prohibition on harassment and intimidation that poses a threat to others. Plaintiff had engaged in political advocacy on campus and was an outspoken critic of University faculty members and administrators. The Ninth Circuit panel held that the state regulation in question was not unconstitutionally overbroad or vague, and that the regulation supported imposing discipline for Plaintiff's conduct. However, it also held that Plaintiff's complaint alleged sufficient facts to state a plausible First Amendment retaliation claim against certain individual Defendants.


Academic Misconduct; Due Process: Gamage v. Nevada ex rel. Board of Regents of Higher Education ex rel. University of Nevada (9th Cir., Apr. 7, 2016)
April 8, 2016

Unpublished memorandum by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirming in part and reversing in part the district court's order granting summary judgment to Defendants. Plaintiff asserted that the district court erred, claiming that she raised genuine issues of material fact concerning whether she plagiarized a draft of her dissertation and that the district court failed to consider all the evidence supporting her claims. However, Plaintiff admitted that she violated the University of Nevada - Las Vegas's plagiarism policy in parts of her dissertation and that she made "mistakes." The Ninth Circuit held that Plaintiff "received more process than was due" and that, although she failed to take advantage of it, the district court afforded her an opportunity to take additional discovery as well as to supplement the record or amend her opposition after discovery closed. The Court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding that Plaintiff's action was frivolous or that her attorney multiplied the proceedings recklessly and in bad faith, though it vacated the sanctions awarded against his law firm in light of recent case law on the matter.


Taxes: Statement by Three Higher Education Associations on Connecticut Legislation to Tax Yale University
April 7, 2016

Statement by the Association of American Universities (AAU), the American Council on Education (ACE), and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) in response to legislation under consideration by the Connecticut General Assembly to impose taxation on Yale University. The associations explain that they are "deeply troubled" by the legislative proposal, asserting that universities, like other non-profits, are tax-exempt and should remain that way because they are dedicated to serving the public good through research and education.


Program Integrity & Gainful Employment: Announcement on Program Integrity and Improvement Early Implementation
April 7, 2016

Announcement published by the U.S. Department of Education on Program Integrity and Improvement. Under Section 482(c) of the Higher Education Act, the Secretary of Education is designating specific sections of the Program Integrity and Improvement regulations for early implementation, beginning on April 7, 2016. These sections include Section 668.2(b) (Retaking Coursework); Section 668.163(a)(I) (Depository account); and Section 668.163(c) (Interest-bearing depository account).


Program Integrity & Gainful Employment: Final Rule on Program Integrity and Improvement Corrections
April 7, 2016

Final Rule published by the U.S. Department of Education regarding corrections to the Program Integrity and Improvement regulations. The Rule implements corrections to errors made in the final regulations published to the Federal Register on October 30, 2015, which amended the cash management regulations and other sections of the Student Assistance General Provisions regulations issued under the Higher Education Act. Because the Rule involves regulatory changes that are necessary to correct errors and do not establish any new substantive rules, the Secretary of Education has determined that publication of a proposed rule is unnecessary.


Sexual Misconduct – Employment; Title IX; Retaliation: Shalom v. Hunter College of the City University of New York (2nd Cir. Apr. 6, 2016)
April 7, 2016

Opinion by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirming the district court's award of summary judgment in favor of Defendant Hunter College. The Court found that Plaintiff failed to raise a triable issue of fact on her sexual harassment claim after testifying that the alleged perpetrator never made a sexual advance toward her, and that her new claim—that the alleged perpetrator made "multiple implied sexual advances" toward her—could not be considered on appeal. It also held that Plaintiff's hostile environment claim failed because her supervisor's alleged comments about her dress and appearance were not "sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of [her] educational environment," especially given the supervisor's role in enforcing the dress code. Finally, it found that Plaintiff failed to establish that her supervisors' notation of her deficient performance was pretextual, and thus upheld the district court's finding on Plaintiff's retaliation claim.


Alcohol & Drug Abuse; Distressed & Suicidal Students: J.A.M. v. Nova Southeastern University, Inc. (11th Cir., Apr. 6, 2016)
April 7, 2016

Per curiam opinion by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirming the district court's order granting Defendant Nova Southeastern University's motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim. After experiencing five major depressive episodes involving alcohol consumption, repeated hospitalization, and subsequent leaves of absences followed by conditional reenrollment, Nova dismissed Plaintiff from its medicine program. The Court found that Plaintiff did not plead facts demonstrating that Nova's actions constituted discrimination under either the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or the Rehabilitation Act. The Court concluded that if Nova had discriminated against Plaintiff, it was based on his misconduct involving alcohol rather than his disability. Plaintiff was not an "otherwise qualified individual," the Court concluded, due to the fact that his mental disability rendered him unable to complete a full semester of the program without suffering a relapse despite Nova's repeated attempts to accommodate his disability. The Court also recognized that Nova was under no obligation to provide accommodations that would fundamentally alter the nature of its program, and that any further accommodations extended to Plaintiff would constitute such fundamental alteration.


Grants, Contracts & Sponsored Research: Statement by Two Higher Education Associations on the Promoting Biomedical Research and Public Health for Patients Act
April 6, 2016

Statement by the Association of American Universities (AAU) and the Council on Governmental Relations (COGR) in support of the Promoting Biomedical Research and Public Health for Patients Act (S. 2742) The bill would, among other measures, streamline reporting requirements across National Institutes of Health (NIH) institutes and centers. Both AAU and COGR support the legislation and are looking forward to assisting with moving the bill through the legislative process in order to "reduce unnecessary and costly regulatory requirements while ensuring accountability and proper government oversight."


First Amendment & Free Speech; Social Media: Letter from Free Speech and Higher Education Associations on Addressing Social Media Harassment
April 6, 2016

Letter from the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC), the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), the Association of American University Professors (AAUP), and the Student Press Law Center (SPLC) to the U.S. Department of Education regarding requests for guidance and remedies filed by Feminists United on Campus. The requests urge the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) to issue guidance concerning how institutions should address the use of anonymous social media websites and applications, and to pressure institutions to prohibit the use of campus wi-fi to view or post to these websites and applications. The letter states that "while such speech may be deeply disturbing to recipients, it may also be protected by the Constitution," and insists that OCR may not legally require institutions to punish or restrict protected expression.


Disability Discrimination; Family and Medical Leave Act; Retaliation: Graziadio v. Culinary Institute of America (2nd Cir., Mar. 17, 2016 )
April 6, 2016

Opinion by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirming the judgment of the district court in part and vacating and remanding it in part. Defendant Culinary Institute of America fired Plaintiff, allegedly for abandoning her job, after she took two terms of absence under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to care for her sick and injured sons. The second leave involved defective paperwork and a breakdown in communication. Plaintiff brought suit under FMLA and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), claiming that she had been wrongfully denied leave, retaliated against for taking leave, and discriminated against on the basis of her association with a disabled individual. The Appeals Court vacated the district court's grant of summary judgment to Defendants on Plaintiff's claims of FMLA interference and retaliation after finding that Plaintiff raised genuine disputes as to material fact, including the weakness of Defendants' explanation for her termination as well as the temporal proximity between Plaintiff's leave and her termination. However, it agreed with the district court's finding that Plaintiff did not produce evidence supporting a claim of discrimination under the ADA.


Gender Identity & Sexual Orientation Discrimination: Fabian v. Hospital of Central Connecticut (D. Conn., Mar. 18, 2016)
April 6, 2016

Opinion by the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut denying Defendant's motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff filed suit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, alleging that Defendant declined to hire her after she disclosed her identity as a transgender woman who would begin work after transitioning to presenting as female. The Court began by finding that Plaintiff's evidence was "easily sufficient" to give rise to an inference of discrimination—if in fact transgender discrimination was covered under Title VII—due to the factually-disputed nature of Defendant's proffered nondiscriminatory reasons for not hiring her. On the question of whether discrimination on the basis of transgender identity is recognized as discrimination under Title VII, the Court analyzed and ultimately sided with the Sixth, Ninth, and Eleventh Circuits' arguments in the affirmative. "Discrimination 'because of sex,'" the Court reasoned, "is not only discrimination because of maleness and discrimination because of femaleness, but also discrimination because of the distinction between male and female or discrimination because of the properties or characteristics by which individuals may be classified as male or female." It thus denied Defendant's motion for summary judgment on the matter.


Financial Aid: Notice of Annual Updates to the Income Contingent Repayment Plan Formula for 2016 Federal Direct Loan Program
April 5, 2016

Notice of annual updates to the Income Contingent Repayment (ICR) Plan formula for the 2016 Federal Direct Loan Program was posted by Federal Student Aid (FSA). Each year, the Secretary of Education announces updates to the ICR plan to give notice to Direct Loan borrowers and the public regarding how monthly ICR payment amounts will be calculated for the following year. The adjustments to the income percentage factors contained in this notice are effective from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017, for any borrower who enters the ICR plan or has his or her monthly payment amount recalculated under the ICR plan during that period.


Endowments & Gifts: Statement No. 81 on Split-Interest Agreements by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board
April 5, 2016

Statement No. 81 on split-interest agreements was issued by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB). Split-interest agreements are a type of giving agreement that donors use to provide resources to two or more beneficiaries. The Statement requires, among other things, that a government receiving resources pursuant to an irrevocable split-interest agreement recognize assets, liabilities, and deferred inflows of resources at the inception of the agreement. These requirements are effective for financial statements for periods beginning after December 15, 2016.


Disability Discrimination; Race Discrimination; Retaliation: Faki v. University of Alabama System (N.D. Ala., Apr. 4, 2016)
April 5, 2016

Opinion and order by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama granting Defendants' motion to dismiss. Plaintiff initiated a pro se employment discrimination case against Defendants University of Alabama System and University of Alabama at Birmingham College of Arts and Sciences. Defendants were held immune from employment discrimination claims brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Since Plaintiff complained only of disability discrimination in filing her complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Court also found that Plaintiff failed to exhaust her administrative remedies in terms of the alleged racial discrimination and retaliation. The Court thus dismissed the aforementioned claims but granted Plaintiff leave to amend her complaint with regard to allegations of disability discrimination under the Rehabilitation Act.


Copyright & Fair Use: Cambridge University Press v. Becker (N.D. Ga., Mar. 31, 2016)
April 4, 2016

Opinion by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia on remand from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. The case arose from the use of a program at Georgia State University that allows professors to make small excerpts of copyrighted books available to students enrolled in his or her class without paying royalties or other fees to the publisher. Plaintiff publishing companies asserted that the students' unpaid use of the excerpts infringed their copyrights, while Defendants claimed that the program was sanctioned under the doctrine of fair use. Upon revisiting its four-step fair use analysis in 48 cases of alleged copyright infringement using a fair use model specific to the nonprofit educational purpose of teaching and the nontransformative nature of the use, the Court found that no infringement took place in 41 of the cases.


Endowments & Gifts: Letters from Harvard University and Princeton University to Congress on Endowments Use
April 4, 2016

Letters from Harvard University and Princeton University in response to questions from members of the Senate Committee on Finance and the House Committee on Ways and Means on the nature and use of their respective endowment funds. Both letters explain that their endowments are not general funds but rather collections of funds donated for different purposes. The letters also describe how the universities use their endowments to support their core functions--including undergraduate student financial aid, faculty positions, library collections, research centers and labs, and many other educational purposes—at a time when research funds and student tuition and fees have declined as a percentage of each university's budget.


Grants, Contracts & Sponsored Research: Commercializing on Small Business Innovation Act of 2016
April 4, 2016

Legislation entitled the "Commercializing on Small Business Innovation Act of 2016" (H.R. 4783), sponsored by Representative Steve Chabot (R-OH), was approved by the House Small Business Committee. The bill would increase the set-asides for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs in the extramural research and development budgets of participating research agencies as part of a five-year reauthorization bill for the two programs. The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee will now consider the bill.


Grants, Contracts & Sponsored Research: Promoting Biomedical Research and Public Health for Patients Act
April 4, 2016

Legislation entitled the "Promoting Biomedical Research and Public Health for Patients Act" was introduced by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA). The bill would streamline reporting requirements across National Institutes of Health (NIH) institutes and centers, require directors at the agency's national research institutes and centers to be reappointed every five years, identify and eliminate unnecessary administrative burdens, and allow research universities and others conducting National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS)-supported clinical research to conduct later-stage clinical trials. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will mark up the bill on April 6.


Sexual Misconduct: John Doe v. Brandeis University (D. Mass., Mar. 31, 2016)
April 4, 2016

Opinion by the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts granting in part and denying in party Defendant Brandeis University's motion to dismiss. The case arose out of the University's finding that Plaintiff was responsible for sexual misconduct over the course of a long-term relationship between Plaintiff and his ex-boyfriend. Plaintiff sued on various contractual and tort-based theories. Although Brandeis, as a private university, is not subject to constitutional requirements of due process, the Court determined that it was required to treat its students with "basic fairness" in procedure as well as substance as a matter of contract. Applying that standard, the Court allowed Plaintiff's procedural defects claims to move forward. It further found the allegation that the University applied "novel notions of consent, sexual harassment, and physical harm" that are "at odds with traditional and legal and cultural norms and definitions" could constitute a breach of contractual right to basic fairness. However, it dismissed Plaintiff's cause of action based on estoppel and reliance, as well as his various tort claims.


Copyright & Fair Use: Comments by Three Higher Education Associations on the Notice-and-Takedown System for Internet Copyright Infringement
April 1, 2016

Comments submitted to the U.S. Copyright Office by the Association of American Universities (AAU), the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), and EDUCAUSE on the notice-and-takedown system for Internet copyright Infringement. The organizations report that their member institutions have observed sporadic, widespread spikes in the volume of Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA) violation notices over the last several years, as well as inaccuracies within the notices received. To remedy this situation, they urge the Office to advance measures that would hold those who misuse the notice-and-takedown system accountable in a manner that aligns with the burden that such misuse imposes on institutions, including colleges and universities.


Financial Aid; Online Learning: Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Teacher Preparation Regulations
April 1, 2016

Supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking published by the U.S. Department of Education regarding its December 2014 proposed rule on teacher preparation under Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Program regulations. In light of the questions raised over how the proposed State reporting requirements would affect teacher preparation programs and TEACH Grant eligibility when those programs are provided through distance education, the Department is considering revising the proposed regulations to clarify these areas. It has thus reopened the Teacher Preparation Issues proposed rule for thirty days to seek public comment on these specific issues only. The due date for comment submission is May 2, 2016.


Title IX: Doe v. University of Cincinnati (S.D. Ohio, Mar. 23, 2016)
April 1, 2016

Order and opinion by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio granting Defendant University's motion to dismiss. The University of Cincinnati's Administrative Review Committee found Plaintiffs John Doe I and John Doe II responsible for two separate incidents of sexual misconduct. In suing the University for alleged due process violations and gender bias, plaintiffs attempted to connect what they claimed were procedural disparities of the review process to gender bias through statistical evidence indicating that only men were ever investigated or disciplined by the University for sexual misconduct. The Court, however, found that these statistics were not evidence of Defendant's bias because other plausible explanations for the disparity existed. The Court also refused to buy plaintiffs' claim that men accused of sexual misconduct are "invariably found guilty" by the University disciplinary process, noting that in the case at bar, the Committee acquitted on of the plaintiffs on one of the counts against him.


Collective Bargaining: Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association (U.S., Mar. 29, 2016)
March 30, 2016

Order by the U.S. Supreme Court affirming the judgment below by an equally divided (4-4) vote. Plaintiffs—including nonunion member public school teachers and Christian Educators Association International—filed suit claiming that California's agency shop arrangement, which requires employees to join or make financial contributions to a union, violated their rights to free speech and association under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. In the rulings below, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's holding in favor of Plaintiffs, citing controlling U.S. Supreme Court and Ninth Circuit precedent rejecting the notion that the First Amendment bars unions from using nonunion member fees to fund causes that the nonunion members had not affirmatively consented to support.


Bankruptcy & Student Debt: In re Campbell (Bankr. E.D.N.Y., Mar. 24, 2016)
March 29, 2016

Opinion by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of New York denying Defendants' motion to dismiss. Plaintiff filed a petition for relief under Chapter 7 and sought to discharge the remaining balance on her $15,000 Bar Loan. The Court asserted that other courts' interpretation of the term "educational benefit" under 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(8)(A)(ii) as encompassing any loan relating in some way to education was overbroad, and instead found that the Bar Loan, as "a product of an arm's-length agreement on commercial terms," was not an "educational benefit" under the statute. And, because the Loan did not qualify under any exception to discharge set forth in § 523(a)(8), the Court held the Loan to be dischargeable.


Financial Aid: Notice of Request for Comments on Health Education Assistance Loan Program Regulations
March 29, 2016

Notice published by the U.S. Department of Education requesting comments on Health Education Assistance Loan (HEAL) program regulations. These regulations—which include requirements for reporting, record-keeping and notification –are designed to ensure that program participants follow sound management procedures in the administration of the program. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before May 31, 2016.


Collective Bargaining: Columbia College Chicago and Part-Time Faculty Association at Columbia College Chicago—IEA/NEA
March 28, 2016

Ruling by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that Columbia College Chicago violated the National Labor Relations Act by failing to bargain with a part-time faculty union about the effects of its unilateral decision to reduce the number of credit hours associated with certain courses and by setting unlawful preconditions to bargaining. Although the union's collective bargaining agreement stipulated that the College retained "all [its] rights, responsibilities, powers, duties, and authority inherent in the management of the College," the NLRB found that the College failed to establish that the effects of its decision were the "inevitable consequence of a permissible managerial decision," which would have justified the College's actions under NLRB precedent. It further held that even if the College had been able to justify its actions, alternative changes that would have warranted bargaining existed and should have been pursued.

Endowments and Gifts: Bray v. Fenves (Tex. App., Mar. 24, 2016)
March 28, 2016

Opinion by the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Appellate District of Texas affirming the trial court's judgment granting Defendant University's plea to the jurisdiction. In 1918, funds were bequeathed to the University of Texas at Austin to erect five statues of Confederate officers and officials on the campus grounds. After the statues drew controversy, the University President announced his intention to relocate some of the statues. The Sons of Confederate Veterans (SVC), led by member David Bray, filed suit seeking a declaratory judgment that the proposed relocations violated state law or that, under the terms of the will, the statues were required to remain on the campus' main mall. The Court concluded that Bray lacked individual standing because his pleading failed to allege a particularized injury and, because of this conclusion, that SVC could not establish associational standing to sue. It further held that there existed no binding conditions under the will that could be enforced by the named Plaintiffs.

Academic Misconduct; Disability Discrimination: Chenari v. George Washington University (D.D.C., Mar. 23, 2016)
March 28, 2016

Opinion by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granting Defendant University's motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff filed suit against George Washington University challenging its decision to dismiss him from its medical school for violating the Honor Code while taking a nationally-administered examination. Because Plaintiff did not present evidence indicating that there was no rational basis underlying the University's decision to dismiss him, the Court granted Defendant's motion for summary judgment on Plaintiff's breach of contract and covenant of good faith and fair dealing claims. The Court also granted summary judgment to Defendant on Plaintiff's Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) claims, finding that Plaintiff offered no evidence, beyond his own testimony, that he had ever brought his alleged disability to the attention of University officials or that he had requested an accommodation for his disability.


Retaliation: Mello v. Siena College (N.D. N.Y., 2016)
March 28, 2016

Opinion by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York denying Defendant Siena College's motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff was terminated from his employment at the College after he raised concerns regarding alleged gender inequity in the salaries paid to professors. Defendant argued that complaining to administrators rather than to a government authority did not constitute a protected activity and that the Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA) prohibits retaliation only after an employee has complained of a violation to a governmental authority. Citing the Second Circuit's holding that the "remedial nature of the FLSA warrants an expansive interpretation of its provisions," the Court disagreed with Defendant and held that Plaintiff had alleged facts plausibly suggesting that he engaged in protected activity under the FLSA when he made the complaint.


Due Process; Disability Discrimination; Race Discrimination; Sex Discrimination: Wije v. Texas Woman's University (E.D. Tex., Mar. 24, 2016)
March 28, 2016

Memorandum adopting the recommendation of the magistrate judge by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. Plaintiff Suran Wije's claims of sex-, disability-, and race-based discrimination stemmed from his dissatisfaction with a grade appeal in which he participated as a student at Defendant Texas Woman's University (TWU) during the spring of 2011. The Magistrate Judge entered a report and recommendation recommending dismissal of each of Plaintiff's claims against TWU and individual administrators in their official and individual capacities on Eleventh Amendment and qualified immunity grounds, as well as for lack of standing. He also recommended that Plaintiff's Section 504, Title VII, and Title IX claims be dismissed for failure to state a claim. The Court upheld the Magistrate Judge's recommendations.


Race Discrimination: Press Release by the Justice Department on Noose Incident at the University of Mississippi
March 25, 2016

Press release issued by the U.S. Department of Justice announcing that a second man, Austin Reed Edenfield, has pled guilty to one count of using a threat of force to intimidate African-American students and employees because of their race for tying a rope and Confederate flag around the neck of the James Meredith Statue at the University of Mississippi. The statue honors Meredith for being the University's first African-American student in 1962. In June 2015, Graeme Phillip Harris pleaded guilty to the same charge and was sentenced to six months in prison. Both men were students at the University of Mississippi at the time of the incident. The press release includes links to the factual basis for the charge and Edenfield's plea agreement.


Financial Aid: Notice of Request for Revision of Federal Perkins Loan Program Regulations
March 24, 2016

Notice issued by the U.S. Department of Education requesting a revision of the current approval of reporting and record-keeping requirements contained in Perkins Loan Program regulations. The Department is seeking to revise the current collection because of errors in previous burden calculations. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before May 23, 2016.


Due Process; Sexual Misconduct: John Doe v. Ohio State University (S.D. Oh., Jan. 22, 2016)
March 24, 2016

Opinion and order by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio denying Plaintiff John Doe's motion for temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. Doe, a student and student instructor at Defendant Ohio State University (OSU) moved for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against OSU regarding the initiation of disciplinary proceedings against him for alleged sexual misconduct. The Court held that Doe failed to show that he had a probability of success on the merits of his claim that OSU lacks jurisdiction to initiate disciplinary proceedings against him based on the fact the complainant in the matter, Doe's ex-girlfriend, is not an OSU student, and thus there is not a sufficient nexus between the alleged misconduct and Doe's status as a student and student instructor at OSU. The Court also found that because OSU had not yet initiated a true disciplinary process against Doe, his substantive due process claim against the University was unripe, and enjoining OSU from pursuing its normal disciplinary proceedings would undermine its ability to comply with procedural due process requirements.


Employment Separation, RIFs, ERIPs & Retrenchment; Tenure; Race Discrimination: Fernandez v. Board of Regents of the Nevada System of Higher Education (9th Cir., Mar. 23, 2016)
March 24, 2016

Plaintiffs-appellants Rangesan Narayanan and George Fernandez, former tenured faculty members at the University of Nevada, Reno, filed suit against the Board of Regents of the Nevada System of Higher Education and then-Provost Marc Johnson after they were terminated during a recent round of budget cuts at the University. The Court found that Plaintiffs failed to establish a prima facie case of national origin discrimination based on its conclusion that the individuals they identified as being similarly situated had materially different qualifications or held materially different positions at the University. Even assuming Plaintiffs established a prima facie case, the Court concluded that Defendants demonstrated that state-mandated budget cuts constituted legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for Plaintiffs' termination and that Plaintiffs failed to produce sufficient evidence to create a dispute of material fact as to whether the non-discriminatory reasons for the layoffs were pretextual.


Financial Aid: Report on Federal Financial Aid Policy and College Behavior by the American Council on Education
March 23, 2016

Report by the American Council on Education (ACE) on Federal Financial Aid Policy and College Behavior. The report sought to determine whether increases in financial aid have the unintended effect of raising college tuition. According to the data collected, many campuses do not change their tuition in response to changes in the supply of federal aid, and any links between tuition and federal aid policy are more likely to appear at colleges and universities that give very little institutional aid.


Due Process; Sex Discrimination; Tenure: Winter v. Pennsylvania State University (M.D. Penn., Mar. 22, 2016)
March 23, 2016

Order and opinion by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania dismissing Plaintiff Dr. Thomas Winter's complaint against Defendant Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) and eleven of its employees. Plaintiff was a tenured physics professor at Penn State who was terminated for "grave misconduct" after an investigation of a student sexual harassment complaint and hearing. The Court dismissed Plaintiff's allegations of procedural due process violations based on his theory of stigma to reputation because he failed to allege that Defendants made a false, stigmatizing statement or that the stigmatizing statement was made publicly. Similarly, the Court concluded that Plaintiff failed to set forth any denial of procedural safeguards to which he was constitutionally entitled, since advanced notice of a charge is not required under Third Circuit precedent and Plaintiff's complaints about hearing procedures lacked merit. Relying on Third Circuit precedent barring property interest claims grounded in tenured public employment and declining to recognize liberty-interest claims resting on reputational injury, the Court also dismissed Plaintiff's substantive due process claims. Finally, the Court held that Plaintiff failed to establish a prima facie case of employment discrimination under Title IX due to a lack of evidence suggesting gender bias was a motivating factor in his termination.


Race Discrimination; Retaliation: Ke v. Drexel University (3d Cir., Mar. 22, 2016)
March 23, 2016

Per curiam opinion by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirming the district court's granting of Defendant Drexel University's cross-motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff, an Asian American, was conditionally readmitted Drexel University College of Medicine (DUCOM) after being dismissed for poor academic performance. After failing to meet the conditions of readmission, the University's Promotion Committee voted to dismiss him. Believing his dismissal to be racially motivated, Ke filed suit against the University, alleging racial discrimination and retaliation. The Court found that Ke had not raised a genuine issue of material fact with respect to intentional discrimination since the only evidence that could have been construed as evincing racial animus were comments that were made by Ke's clinical supervisor, who was not involved in the decision to dismiss him from the program. The Court also affirmed the district court's finding that Plaintiff's retaliation claim had no merit because he did not allege that he had engaged in protected activity that could provide grounds for retaliation.


Disability Discrimination: Garcia v. City University of New York (N.Y.A.D., Feb. 23, 2016)
March 23, 2016

Order and opinion by the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York affirming the lower court's grant of summary judgment to Appellee City University of New York (CUNY). Appellant Minerva Garcia filed a disability discrimination claim against CUNY under the New York State Human Rights Law (HRL). Since CUNY is a public educational institution, the lower court held that Appellee did not qualify as an "education corporation or association" under the state HRL and thus dismissed the suit. The Appellate Division affirmed, adding that even if CUNY was subject to the state HRL, Garcia had failed to point to any medical evidence showing that she suffered from bipolar disorder, depression, or any other cognizable disability under either the state HRL or the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which is governed by the same legal standards as the state HRL.


First Amendment & Free Speech; Retaliation: Weinstein v. University of Connecticut (D. Conn., Jan. 21, 2016)
March 23, 2016

Decision by the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut granting Defendants University of Connecticut (UConn) and Dean P. Christopher Earley's motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff Luke Weinstein, a former professor and Director of the Innovation Accelerator at UConn, filed a First Amendment retaliation claim against UConn and Earley. After Weinstein spoke out against the Dean for alleged nepotism, the University declined to renew Weinstein's contract. The Court held that the University's interests in enabling the Dean to carry out his duties, as well as in limiting the potential disruption to the morale of the faculty, outweighed the value of Plaintiff's speech, and thus concluded that Defendants did not violate the professor's First Amendment free speech rights. The value of Weinstein's communication, said the Court, was limited because it affected a discrete number of individuals, while his criticism of the dean had the potential to undermine the dean's authority during a particularly sensitive time, namely, the redesign of the University's learning accelerator programs. Thus, the Court concluded that the University had a legitimate justification not to renew plaintiff's contract and granted summary judgment to Defendants accordingly.


Disability Discrimination: Choi v. University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (5th Cir., 2015)
March 23, 2016

Per curiam opinion by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirming the district court's dismissal of Appellant Jin Choi's complaint against Appellee University at Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Appellant Jin Choi, a former dental student at the University, was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) during his second year but did not inform the University of his diagnosis until he was dismissed from the dental program during his third year for failing to meet academic performance standards. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's conclusion that Choi alleged insufficient facts to show that his disability and consequential limitations were known to the University and its subsequent dismissal of Choi's Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) claim.


Disability Discrimination: Zimmeck v. Marshall University Board of Governors (4th Cir., Dec. 11, 2015)
March 23, 2016

Unpublished per curiam opinion by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirming the district court's dismissal of Plaintiff Stephanie Zimmeck's procedural and substantive due process claims and granting summary judgment to Defendant Marshall University's Board of Governors. Zimmeck, a former medical school student who allegedly suffered from depression, claimed that she was dismissed from the program due to her alleged disability. The district court held, and the Fourth Circuit affirmed, that because Zimmeck was not otherwise qualified for the University's medical school program, her dismissal could not have constituted disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Zimmeck had engaged in a substantial amount of unprofessional conduct that disqualified her from the program despite being given numerous opportunities to control her behavior or seek formal accommodation before being dismissed.


Disability Discrimination; Retaliation: Shinabargar v. Board of Trustees of the University of the District of Columbia (D.D.C., Feb. 1, 2016)
March 23, 2016

Opinion by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissing Plaintiff Nancy Shinabargar's complaint. Shinabargar filed suit against the Board of Trustees of the University of the District of Columbia (UDC), where the plaintiff formerly attended law school, and ten UDC employees. After three hearings regarding complaints that Shinabargar engaged in threatening and otherwise inappropriate conduct, UDC suspended her from its law program. Plaintiff, on the other hand, alleged that she was suspended in retaliation for both her repeated reports of plagiarism by professors and other law students and for her repeated requests for accommodations for her alleged disabilities. The Court held that Plaintiff failed to sufficiently plead a causal link between her protected activity of requesting accommodations for her disability and the university's adverse action of suspending her, as required to support her claim for retaliation in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.


Bankruptcy & Student Debt: In re Barrett (Bankr. N.D. Cal., Feb. 10, 2016)
March 23, 2016

Decision after trial by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of California. Plaintiff Kevin Barrett sought to discharge more than a quarter million dollars in student loan debt under Bankruptcy Code § 523(a)(8) on the ground that payment would constitute an undue hardship. The Court found Barrett entitled to a full discharge of his student loan debt. Despite his advanced degrees and two high-paying jobs over his 28 years of law practice, the Court concluded that he did not have the present ability to repay this debt out of his modest gross monthly income of $700 and had satisfactorily demonstrated it was unlikely that his situation would dramatically improve. Finally, the Court held that Barrett's failure to apply for an income-based repayment plan was insufficient, standing alone, to show that he had not made good faith effort to repay his student loans given his twelve years of repayments and active management of student loan debt.


Sexual Misconduct; Litigation: Cuba v. Pylant (5th Cir., Feb. 23, 2016)
March 23, 2016

Opinion by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit vacating and remanding the district court's denial of Defendants' motions to dismiss as moot in two parallel suits between Donald Cuba, a student at Southern Methodist University who was accused and later acquitted of sexual assault, and Julia Pylant, his alleged victim. In the first suit, Cuba sued Julia and her parents Donald and Leslie Pylant for malicious prosecution, defamation, and tortious interference with contractual relations. In the second suit, Julia sued Cuba for assault and battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The Pylants moved to dismiss both suits under the Texas Citizens' Participation Act. On an interlocutory appeal of the district court's failure to grant either motion, the Fifth Circuit held, among other things, that the private University's disciplinary hearing regarding an alleged sexual assault was not quasi-judicial in nature, and thus statements by the purported victim and her parents to University authorities accusing a student of sexual misconduct were not protected by absolute privilege.


Sexual Misconduct; Litigation: Eramo v. Rolling Stone LLC (W.D. Va., Jan. 25, 2016)
March 23, 2016

Opinion by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia granting in part and denying in part Plaintiff's motion to compel the production of documents by a non-party. Nicole Eramo, an Associate Dean of Students at the University of Virginia (UVA), filed several defamation claims against Defendants Rolling Stone LLC, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, and Wenner Media LLC, alleging that her reputation as an advocate and supporter of victims of sexual assault was destroyed by the article entitled, "A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA," which Defendants published in Rolling Stone Magazine and later retracted due to unsubstantiated claims and factual inaccuracies. During the discovery phase of the litigation, Eramo sought to compel "Jackie," the student subject of the article and non-party, to produce communications she had engaged in with the article's author and publishers, as well as communications between Jackie and UVA. The Court held these communications discoverable because they were relevant to the parties' claims and defenses, given that Eramo was asserting that the author and publishers negligently or recklessly disregarded red flags about the student's story. However, the Court limited Eramo's demand for all of Jackie's communications about the article to those communications regarding the article itself, minus any communications referring to the details of her alleged assault. The Court reasoned that those details were not relevant to the claims or defenses of the defamation action and were disproportionate to Eramo's need for information.


Admissions: In re Salvador v. Touro College (N.Y. Sup. Ct., Mar. 17, 2016)
March 22, 2016

Order and opinion from the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York, First Department, reversing the lower court's order and granting Respondent Touro College's motion to dismiss. Petitioner Leodegario Salvador, a masters student at the Touro College Law Center, filed suit against the College based on its refusal to grant him a degree in its foreign law school graduate program after discovering just days before his graduation that Salvador had not obtained a bona fide law degree from an accredited law school in the Philippines, as is required to enter the program. The lower court denied Respondent's motion to dismiss Salvador's claims involving breach of contract, fraudulent inducement, and negligent misrepresentation, but agreed to dismiss his negligence claim. On appeal, the Court dismissed Petitioner's remaining claims, holding that if an educational institution discovers that an admitted student does not meet its prerequisites for admission, the institution has the right to deny a degree to that student even if the discovery is made after the student has already completed the course work. The Court concluded that Salvador either knew or should have known about the eligibility requirements to obtain a degree from the College, which existed from the outset, and that his own actions prevented the College from discovering his ineligibility.


Retaliation: Lee v. Arizona Board of Regents (9th Cir., Mar. 21, 2016
March 22, 2016

) Unpublished order and opinion by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirming the lower court's dismissal of Petitioner Dr. Chunhye Kim Lee's complaint on res judicata grounds. Dr. Lee filed suit against the Arizona Board of Regents, the State of Arizona, Northern Arizona University (NAU), and certain individual employees of NAU, alleging whistleblower retaliation claims based on Lee's expression of concerns over a dean's academic credentials. The Ninth Circuit held that, although Petitioner's suit included some claims differing from those adjudicated in a 2010 action, all of the claims she alleged were either raised or could have been raised during her prior action because they all stemmed from alleged acts of retaliation for her expression of concerns regarding the same subject matter.


Sex Discrimination; Race Discrimination; Age Discrimination; Retaliation: Williams v. Florida Atlantic University Board of Trustees (S.D. Fl., Mar. 21, 2016)
March 22, 2016

Plaintiff Rozalia Williams, an African-American woman over the age of fifty-five, worked for FAU for over ten years until her termination in October 2013. She filed suit alleging that several of her superiors—including Senior Vice President of Student Affairs Charles Brown and Associate Vice President and Dean of Students Corey King—made derogatory comments and otherwise mistreated her due to her gender, race, and age. FAU later terminated Plaintiff for her handling of a security incident, which Plaintiff alleges was merely a pretext for discrimination. Based on the statute of limitations, the Court narrowed the time frame of the action to incidents beginning in February 2013, allowing Plaintiff's claims against FAU for race, gender, age discrimination, and retaliation to proceed. It also limited Plaintiff's Section 1983 claims against Brown and King to race and gender discrimination in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court dismissed her remaining discrimination claims on Eleventh Amendment grounds and dismissed her retaliation claims against all defendants.


Grants, Contracts & Sponsored Research: Concurrent Resolution Establishing Budgetary Levels for Fiscal Years 2017 Through 2025
March 21, 2016

Concurrent Resolution (H. Con. Res. 27) establishing budgetary levels for fiscal years (FY) 2017 through 2025 was proposed by U.S. House of Representatives Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-GA). The Resolution contains the congressional budget for the federal government for FY2016 and sets forth budgetary levels for FY2017-FY2025. Some of the major proposals that will impact higher education institutions involve cuts to overall discretionary spending under the Budget Control Act caps by $620 billion over the next decade. Within the reduced discretionary caps, the budget would increase defense discretionary spending by $267 billion and decrease non-defense discretionary spending by $887 billion over ten years. The House Budget Committee approved the Resolution on March 16 by a vote of 20 to 16.


Grants, Contracts & Sponsored Research: Statement by the Association of American Universities President on the Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Proposal
March 21, 2016

Statement issued by Association of American Universities President Hunter Rawlings on the Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Resolution proposed by U.S. House of Representatives Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-GA). The statement criticizes the Resolution's cuts to nondefense discretionary spending, which it argues could "devastate" federal investments in research and higher education, leading to an inevitable innovation deficit. Instead of cutting spending in these areas, the President Rawlings suggests that the solution to the nation's long-term fiscal issues involves entitlement and reform in a manner that "control[s] spending, raise[s] revenues, and protect[s] the most vulnerable in our society."


Grants, Contracts & Sponsored Research: Joint Fiscal Year 2017 Appropriations Requests by Higher Education Associations
March 21, 2016

Letter containing Fiscal Year 2017 appropriations requests was submitted to leaders of the U.S. House and Senate Appropriations Committees by a group of twenty-two higher education associations led by the American Council on Education (ACE). The letter asks that the leaders support "the critical programs under [their] authority that serve students, institutions, and researchers." Specific funding requests mentioned in the letter include funding for student financial aid, institutional support, and other higher education programs, as well as for research and technology programs at various federal scientific agencies.


FLSA & Categorization of Employees: Protecting Workplace Advancement and Opportunity Act
March 21, 2016

Legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman Tim Walberg (R-MI) entitled the "Protecting Workplace Advancement Opportunity Act." The bill was proposed in response to a Department of Labor's proposed rule entitled "Defining and Delimiting the Exemptions for Executive, Administrative, Professional, Outside Sales and Computer Employees" (80 Fed. Reg. 38516 (July 6, 2015)), which would more than double the salary threshold under which employees qualify for overtime pay. The Act would require the Secretary of Labor to nullify the proposed rule and conduct an economic analysis of small businesses, nonprofit employers, Medicare or Medicaid dependent health care providers, and small governmental jurisdictions in order to minimize the impact on such employers before promulgating any substantively similar rule involving the Fair Labor Standards Act.


Government Relations; Compliance Programs: Letter from Higher Education Associations on Identifying and Reducing Regulatory Burdens
March 21, 2016

Letter from the Association of American Universities (AAU), the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), and the Council on Governmental Relations (COGR) to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in response to its Request for Information (RFI) on regulations that should be modified, expanded, streamlined, or repealed. The letter's suggestions include modifying requirements for continuing review of research protocols for USDA-covered species, taking a more "risk-based approach" to inspections, and finding substitutes to the literature search as a means of identifying alternatives to animal models.


Program Integrity & Gainful Employment: Checklist for Cash Management Compliance by NACUBO
March 21, 2016

Checklist to assist institutions in complying with the U.S. Department of Education's revised cash management regulations (80 FR 67125) was released by the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) in conjunction with Tuition Management Systems. The checklist identifies key requirements of the new rules—including general provisions that apply to all Title IV institutions as well as institutions that have third-party servicer and banking arrangements--based on implementation date.


Cybersecurity: Congressional Research Services Report on Cybersecurity: State, Local, and International Authoritative Reports and Resources
March 21, 2016

Cybersecurity: Congressional Research Services Report on Cybersecurity: State, Local, and International Authoritative Reports and Resources (see attachment) Report by Congressional Research Services (CRS) on state, local, and international reports and resources addressing cybersecurity concerns. The report—which is intended to guide congressional staff covering cybersecurity policy issues--includes resources and studies from government agencies, think tanks, academic institutions, news organizations, and other sources on the subject.


Sex Discrimination; Retaliation: Burton v. Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System (W.D. Wi., Mar. 17, 2016)
March 21, 2016

Order and opinion by the U.S. District Court for the District of Wisconsin granting Defendant Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin summary judgment. Plaintiff Sabina Burton, an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville (UWP), advocated for a student who complained of sexual harassment by another professor and claims to have faced discrimination and retaliation as a consequence of her advocacy by UWP and three UWP employees. After holding that Burton's Title VII claim did not preempt Burton's Title IX retaliation claim, the Court found that no reasonable jury could conclude that either public criticism by Plaintiff's supervisors for her report of student harassment or their withdrawal of support for her efforts to develop a new curriculum constituted a materially adverse action under Title VII or Title IX. It also found that Burton did not engage in an activity protected under Title VII when she assisted the student because there was no employment relationship between Burton and the student, nor was Burton herself subject to harassment. Finally, the Court granted summary judgment to Defendants on Burton's retaliation claim, noting that "federal retaliation law does not impose liability for every slight that an employee experiences."


Race Discrimination: Maisha v. University of North Carolina (4th Cir. Mar. 17, 2016)
March 18, 2016

Per curiam opinion by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirming the district court's grant of summary judgment to Defendant University of North Carolina. Graduate student and Plaintiff Mackean P. Nyangweso Maisha's Title VI claim against the University was dismissed for being time-barred because he failed to establish a fixed and continuing practice of discrimination. The Appeals Court upheld the district court's dismissal upon finding that each alleged discriminatory event related to a discrete act and was not repeated by the individual actor, and that Maisha's general allegations of a pattern or practice of discrimination did not suffice to render these claims timely. The Court also upheld the district court's dismissal of claims against the individual Defendants named because Maisha's complaint did not allege sufficient facts to state a plausible claim that any of these parties violated a constitutional right.


Race Discrimination: Adrian v. Board of Supervisors for Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College (M.D. La., Mar. 15, 2016)
March 18, 2016

Ruling and order by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana granting Defendant Board of Supervisors for Louisiana State University (LSU) and Agricultural and Mechanical College's motion for judgment on the pleadings. Plaintiff David Adrian, a former student at LSU, alleges that he was subjected to racial profiling, unlawful stops, unlawful detainments, harassment, and racial discrimination by the LSU Police Department, administration, and faculty. After finding that Plaintiff failed to demonstrate good cause for extending the pleadings deadline, the Court held that Defendant is not a person under § 1983 because it is a state agency that is immune from suit in federal court and, consequently, that the Plaintiff failed to state a plausible claim for relief.


Faculty & Staff; Sex Discrimination: Earl v. Norfolk State University (E.D. Va. Mar. 17, 2016)
March 18, 2016

Opinion and order by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia granting in part and denying in part Defendants' motion for summary judgment. Lead Plaintiff Dr. Archie Earl, a long-time associate professor at Norfolk State University (NSU), filed an Equal Pay Act suit against NSU and several individual defendants, alleging that he and other male professors were paid unequal wages for performing substantially the same jobs under similar working conditions as female professors. Earl further alleged retaliation against him based on his efforts to lead the fight against salary inequities at NSU. The Court subsequently granted Earl's motion for conditional class certification and ten additional male plaintiff professors opted into the class, though four of these plaintiffs were later dismissed. Concluding that, after the completion of discovery, Plaintiffs' opposition to Defendants' summary judgment brief included "no clear statement of disputed facts and very limited evidence" to support the claims of four of the Plaintiffs, the Court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants as to those claims. However, it held that while Defendants may have a meritorious argument, either at the prima facie stage and/or the affirmative defense stage, as to one or more of the remaining Plaintiffs' claims, it failed to find that these arguments warranted a grant of summary judgment and thus allowed those claims to go forward.


First Amendment & Free Speech; Political Activity on Campus: Policy Statement on Political Speech on Campus by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education
March 17, 2016

Updated policy statement on political speech on campus was released by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). The statement distinguishes between the political expression of student groups, faculty, and staff at both public and private universities on-campus and the prohibition against such expression by colleges and universities that are tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.


Due Process; Employment Separation, RIFs, ERIPs & Retrenchment: Miller v. Mearns (6th Cir., Mar. 14, 2016)
March 17, 2016

Order and opinion by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirming the district court's grant of summary judgment to Defendant Northern Kentucky University. After being terminated from his position as the general manager of WNKU, Plaintiff Charles Miller filed suit alleging that the University and its various administrators violated his right to due process by firing him without a pre-deprivation hearing. The Sixth Circuit was not persuaded by Miller's argument that the district court erred by converting the University's motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment without providing "unequivocal notice" to the parties, finding instead that the University's motion to dismiss, despite its label, was functionally equivalent to a summary judgment motion. The Court further held that even if it were to consider Miller's claim de novo, dismissal of his complaint was appropriate because under Kentucky law, the express terms of a university's non-binding employment policies do not secure a contractual right to continued employment, and therefore, Miller had no constitutional property interest at stake.


First Amendment & Free Speech; Retaliation: Cleavenger v. University of Oregon (D. Or., Feb. 29, 2016)
March 17, 2016

Order by the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon denying defendants' alternative motions for judgment as a matter of law. Plaintiff James Cleavenger filed suit against the University of Oregon and several of his supervisors after he was terminated from his position as a public safety officer for the University, allegedly for engaging in protected speech. The speech at issue included complaints about not being afforded his rights under the Public Safety Officers' Bill of Rights, complaints concerning the legality of an order to only report felonies, and Cleavenger's filing of a lawsuit. Although Plaintiff's claim against the University was dismissed, the Court refused to grant summary judgment to the individual defendants on Plaintiff's § 1983 claim premised on First Amendment violations. A jury later found the remaining defendants liable for free speech violations and retaliation. The Court concluded that the jury's findings that Defendants took adverse employment action against Plaintiff and that Plaintiff's complaints were a substantial motivating factor in the adverse employment actions were supported by substantial evidence.


Conflict of Interest; Sex Discrimination; Retaliation: Simpson v. Vanderbilt (M.D. Tenn., Mar. 16, 2016)
March 17, 2016

Order and opinion by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee granting Defendant Vanderbilt University's motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff Jean Simpson was employed as a faculty member specializing in breast pathology at Vanderbilt University's School of Medicine until she was terminated for performing diagnostic breast pathology consults through an external corporation that she founded while continuing to work at Vanderbilt. Simpson filed suit, asserting that male employees who engaged in outside consulting were not terminated from their employment, that Defendant only took issue with her consultation work after she complaints of gender discrimination, and that Defendant's investigation and subsequent termination of her employment were retaliatory. The Court found Defendant entitled to summary judgment on Plaintiff's employment claims, concluding that Simpson failed to identify any similarly-situated male colleague to support a prima facie case of sex discrimination, and that even if she had, she was unable to demonstrate that her termination was a pretext for discrimination due to the fact that she violated University conflict-of-interest policies and made no effort to remedy her policy violations.


Freedom of Information & Public Records: ESPN, Inc. v. University of Notre Dame Security Police Department (Ind. Ct. App., Mar. 15, 2016)
March 16, 2016

Opinion by the Court of Appeals of Indiana reversing and remanding the case with instructions to enter judgment in favor of Plaintiff ESPN, Inc. and to determine which records Defendant University of Notre Dame is required to produce under the Indiana Access to Public Records Act (APRA). The suit began when ESPN and one of its reporters alleged that the private University and its campus police department violated the APRA by withholding police incident reports involving student athletes. While the trial court granted Defendant University's motions for dismissal and judgment on the pleadings, the Court of Appeals reversed, holding instead that the campus police department is a "law enforcement agency" under the APRA because it operates under the color of law to enforce Indiana's criminal code—a function that is essentially public as opposed to private—thereby making it subject to the Act. In its reasoning, the Court took note of the APRA's "general purpose of openness" as well as the dangers of restricting public access to important public documents when a private agency functions as a public one. In January 2016, however, State Representative Patrick Bauer introduced H.B. 1022, which would allow private university police departments in Indiana to withhold investigatory records and the name of the crime victim unless the victim authorized the release.


Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence; Title IX: Marshall v. Indiana University (S.D. Ind., Mar. 15, 2016)
March 16, 2016

Order granting in part and denying in part Defendants' motion to dismiss. While a student at Defendant Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), Plaintiff Jeremiah Marshall was suspended, expelled, and banned from all Indiana University campuses after being accused of sexual misconduct by a female student. The Court dismissed Plaintiff's due process and free speech claims, finding that Defendants complied with minimum due process requirements and that Plaintiff's claimed right to interview witnesses prior to an educational disciplinary hearing did not exist. Because Plaintiff failed to plead any particular facts to support a claim under the Fourth, Fifth, or Fourteenth Amendments, the Court dismissed his constitutional claim as well. However, the Court held that Plaintiff provided sufficient evidence to survive a motion to dismiss in regard to his claim of intentional gender discrimination, based on the fact that Defendants expelled him for allegedly committing a sexual assault but failed to even investigate a reported sexual assault committed against Marshall by a female student. It thus allowed his Title IX selective enforcement claim to proceed.


Gender Equity; Sex Discrimination: Settlement Agreement between the Office for Civil Rights and Erie Community College in Sex-Based Athletics Discrimination Case
March 15, 2016

Resolution Letter and Agreement released as part of the voluntary resolution of the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) investigation of women's access to athletic opportunities at Erie Community College in Buffalo, New York. The original complaint alleged that the College discriminated in its intercollegiate athletics program on the basis of sex by failing to "fully and effectively accommodate" the athletic abilities and interests of female students between 2011 and 2014. Among the terms of the settlement agreement, Erie has agreed to survey its female students to identify interest in sports programs that are not currently offered by the College, address any unmet interests identified by the survey by adding new programs during the 2016-2017 academic year, implement a nondiscriminatory procedure for requesting additional athletics programs, and provide a report to OCR by May 2016 on the steps it has taken and will be taking to ensure that it is fully accommodating the athletic interests of its female students.


Environmental Health & Safety: News Release by the Environmental Protection Agency on Oregon State University's Hazardous Waste Management
March 15, 2016

News release issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announcing that Oregon State University (OSU) has agreed to come into compliance with federal waste management requirements under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). In 2013, EPA inspectors found containers of hazardous wastes in OSU campus laboratories and other buildings that were not properly identified, managed, or stored, As part of the settlement, OSU pledged to implement a comprehensive training program on hazardous waste management, to pay $275,000 in penalties, and to comply with RCRA.


Disability Discrimination; Race Discrimination: Jackson v. Gallaudet University (D.D.C., Mar. 14, 2016)
March 15, 2016

Opinion and order by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granting in part and denying in part Defendant Gallaudet University's motion for partial dismissal of Plaintiff Simone Jackson's Amended Complaint. Jackson, a deaf woman from Jamaica who communicates using American Sign Language and Jamaican Sign Language, was terminated from her employment as a bus monitor for the University. Finding that occasional, vaguely derogatory comments by Jackson's supervisor relating to Jackson' Jamaican origin were not sufficient to demonstrate that the workplace had become so permeated with discrimination that they altered the conditions of her employment or created an abusive environment, the Court dismissed Jackson's hostile work environment claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. However, it found that Jackson had stated a claim for discriminatory termination under the Americans with Disabilities Act sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss by showing that the supervisor alleged to have made anti-Jamaican remarks had significant influence on the decision to terminate her.


Financial Aid: Statement by the Department of Education on Protecting Students from Predatory Higher Education Institutions
March 14, 2016

Statement released by the U.S. Department of Education announcing that the Department is considering proposals that would clarify how federal student loan borrowers who believe they have been defrauded by their institutions can seek relief and strengthen provisions holding higher education institutions accountable for their wrongdoing. These proposals, which are part of an ongoing negotiated rulemaking process that began in September 2015, include "borrower-friendly" processes for seeking and obtaining loan relief triggered by unscrupulous conduct by institutions and protection from mandatory arbitration provisions in enrollment agreements.


Sexual Misconduct; Title IX: Nungesser v. Columbia University (S.D.N.Y., Mar. 11, 2016)
March 14, 2016

Memorandum opinion and order issued by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York granting Defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Plaintiff Paul Nungesser, a student at Defendant Columbia University who was accused by fellow student Emma Sulkowicz of non-consensual sexual intercourse and later found not responsible by a University-sponsored investigation and hearing, filed suit against the University, its trustees, the University's president, and a professor for allegedly violating his rights under Title IX. Nungesser claimed that, by permitting Sulkowicz's activism and awarding her academic credit for her highly-publicized "Mattress Project" campaign to raise awareness of sexual misconduct on campus, Defendants discriminated against him on the basis of gender. The Court refused to conclude that Sulkowicz's accusations and the resultant harassment of Nungesser by his peers were motivated by Nungesser's gender simply because the triggering incident involved a sexual act. It further found that, even if Nungesser had pleaded facts sufficient to support a plausible inference of gender-based harassment, his Title IX claim would still fail because he did not allege harassment that was sufficiently pervasive and offensive enough to deprive him of access to the institution's educational opportunities. Despite the accusation and subsequent harassment, Nungesser did no miss any classes, his grades did not plummet, and he was able to graduate on time. Thus, the Court dismissed his claims against Defendants. The Court similarly dismissed Plaintiff's state law contract- and tort-based claims.


Corporate Responsibility: Financial Responsibility Composite Scores
March 14, 2016

Financial responsibility composite scores were released by the U.S. Department of Education along with a statement explaining the data. The scores were calculated based on audited financial statements submitted to the Department annually by higher education institutions to demonstrate that they are maintaining the standards of financial responsibility required to participate in Title IV programs. An institution's composite score reflects the overall relative financial health of the institution. A score greater than or equal to 1.5 indicates the institution is considered financially responsible, a score between 1.0 and 1.5 indicates that the institution requires additional oversight, and a score below 1.0 indicates that the institution is not financially responsible but may continue to participate in Title IV programs under provisional certification.


Taxes: Letter from Higher Education Associations Urging the Internal Revenue Service to Delay Changes in Reporting Requirements
March 14, 2016

Letter sent to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by fifteen higher education associations urging it to delay the implementation of changes to reporting requirements for IRS Form 1098-T. The changes are designed to allow institutions to report how much students paid rather than how much they were billed. The letter states that the vast majority of institutions represented by the signing associations do not have the ability to modify their software systems to meet the new reporting requirements within the time period specified. While the associations express strong support for the IRS's efforts to make it easier for students to claim education benefits and to ensure reporting accuracy, they contend that a rush to implement new reporting requirements "will be counterproductive to achieving these shared goals."


Foreign Students: Final Rule on Improving and Expanding Training Opportunities for F-1 Nonimmigrant Students with STEM Degrees and Cap-Gap Relief for All Eligible F-1 Students
March 10, 2016

Final rule published in the Federal Register by the Department of Homeland Security amending its F-1 nonimmigrant student visa regulations on optional practical training (OPT) for students with degrees in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) from accredited U.S. higher education institutions. The final rule allows F-1 STEM degree students pursuing twelve months of OPT in the United States to extend the training period by 24 months. The rule also includes "Cap-Gap" relief for any F-1 student who has filed a timely H-1B petition and request for change of status. The final rule will go into effect on May 10, 2016.


Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence; Title IX: Response Letter from Chairman Lankford to the Department of Education Regarding Title IX Sub-Regulatory Guidance
March 10, 2016

Letter from Senator James Lankford, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management, to Acting Secretary of Education John King responding to the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine Lhamon's February 17, 2016 reply to Senator Lankford's initial inquiry into the Department's authority to create binding, substantive regulatory policies without subjecting them to the notice-and-comment procedure. In his response letter, Senator Lankford states that Assistant Secretery Lhamon's reply "failed to assuage [his] concerns" regarding the Office for Civil Rights' (OCR) 2010 and 2011 Dear Colleague Letters (DCL), which he believes advance substantive policies rather than merely interpreting statements of existing law. He again calls upon OCR to clarify that the policies outlined by the DCLs are not required by Title IX and to "immediately rein in the regulatory abuses within the Department."


Age Discrimination: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. University of Louisiana at Monroe (W.D. La., Mar. 8, 2016)
March 10, 2016

Order and opinion by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana granting in part and denying in part the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commissions' (EEOC) motion for contempt. After filing age discrimination and retaliation-based suits against the University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM), the EEOC and the University's Board of Supervisors entered into a consent decree in which the Board agreed to issue and disseminate new hiring and anti-retaliation policies in addition to rescinding any policies subjecting employees to discipline for making false discrimination claims. The court found that the Board did not fully comply with all the provisions of the decree prior to the end of the compliance period but, based on Board member testimony, concluded that the Board did not refuse to comply with the decree but merely misunderstood some of its provisions. It thus granted EEOC's motion for contempt insofar as finding that the Board failed to timely comply with the decree but denied its motion for monetary sanctions and other relief.


Campus Police, Safety & Crisis Management: Emery v. Talladega College (N.D. Ala., Mar. 8, 2016)
March 10, 2016

Memorandum opinion by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama granting Defendant Talladega College's motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff Joshua Emery, a student at Talladega, filed suit claiming that the College negligently failed to provide for his safety; that Defendants committed promissory fraud by promising and subsequently failing to pay Emery's medical bills after the shooting; and that Defendants concealed information about the true prevalence of crime and violence at the College from prospective students. The court failed to find that a special relationship existed between the College and Emery to impose a duty on behalf of Talladega to protect Emery from a shooting that took place because the circumstances surrounding the incident were not foreseeable and because the shooter had not been identified as anyone associated with the College. It further found that Emery's promissory fraud claimed failed due to Emery's lack of reliance on the promise to pay medical bills in seeking treatment. Finally, the court held that the alleged deceit and misrepresentation regarding the prevalence of crime in the area was not a proximate cause of the shooting, and therefore could not provide a basis for relief.


Foundations & Affiliated Entities; Trademark & Licensing: Settlement Agreement between Baylor University and Baylor University Alumni Association
March 9, 2016

Settlement agreement entered into by Baylor University and the Baylor University Alumni Association (BAA) on a dispute arising from the alumni group's use of Baylor University's name and trademark. Under the settlement agreement, the University will continue to operate its own alumni group, the Baylor Alumni Network; the Baylor Alumni Association may continue to publish its magazine under its new name; and the Baylor Board of Regents will include three alumni-elected positions. Baylor University released a statement on the settlement.


Religious Discrimination: Announcement of New Interagency Initiative to Combat Religious Discrimination
March 9, 2016

Announcement issued by the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division regarding a new interagency community engagement initiative designed to promote religious liberty and challenge religious discrimination. Federal agencies, including the Civil Rights Division, will host a series of roundtable discussions that focus on protecting people and places of worship from religion-based hate crimes; combating religious discrimination; and addressing unlawful barriers that interfere with the construction of places of worship. The first roundtable, which will address religious-based bullying and harassment in schools, was the subject of Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Vanita Gupta's remarks delivered on March 8.


Research: Higher Education Unmanned Aircraft Systems Modernization Act
March 8, 2016

Legislation (S. 2626) introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) entitled the "Higher Education Unmanned Aircraft Systems Modernization Act." The bill would allow institutions of higher education to operate small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) for educational and research purposes. After being introduced on March 3, the bill was referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.


Research: Statement on the Higher Education Unmanned Aircraft Systems Modernization Act
March 8, 2016

Statement issued by the Association of American Universities (AAU) and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) in support of the Higher Education Unmanned Aircraft Systems Modernization Act (S. 2626). The bill would allow institutions of higher education to operate small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) for educational and research purposes, a measure that the statement calls "critical" to the work of institutions seeking to use sUAS in a variety of research and educational activities.


Race Discrimination: Assibey-Mensah v. Indiana University Board of Trustees (N.D. In., Mar. 7, 2016)
March 8, 2016

Opinion and order issued by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana granting Defendant Indiana University Board of Trustees' motion for summary judgment. George Ossei Assibey-Mensah, an African American originally from Ghana, asserted that his former employer, the Indiana University Board of Trustees, terminated his employment based on his race and his national origin. Although Assibey-Mensah's complaint alleged that the University treated similarly situated white employees more favorably, he failed to offer any evidence suggesting that his race or national origin played any role in his dismissal from the University. Defendant, on the other hand, offered legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for the adverse employment actions Plainitff complained of, including student reports of sexual harassment, questions about Plaintiff's full disclosure of student evaluations, copyright concerns raised by his copying and resale of textbooks, his failure to complete the tasks assigned to him on suspension, and his surreptitious reliance on junior faculty to do work he claimed as his own. Thus the Court found Defendant entitled to judgment as a matter of law.


Retaliation; Title IX: Varlesi v. Wayne State University (6th Cir., Mar. 7, 2016)
March 8, 2016

Opinion issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirming judgment entered according to a jury verdict in favor of Plaintiff. Tina Varlesi, a graduate student at Defendant Wayne State University (WSU), became pregnant before her final year of school. During her field work assignments that year, her supervisors made troubling remarks about her pregnancy and marital status. After receiving a failing grade and being denied her degree despite outstanding academic performance in prior years, Varlesi brought suit against WSU and various directors and staff members, claiming pregnancy discrimination in violation of Title IX in addition to retaliation. A jury found Defendants liable and awarded Varlesi $848,690 in damages. Upon finding no abuse of discretion by the trial court, the Circuit Court affirmed the judgment the trial court's denial of Defendants' various motions.


Sex Discrimination; Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence; Title IX: Tubbs v. Stony Brook University (S.D.N.Y., Mar. 4, 2016)
March 8, 2016

Opinion and order by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York denying Defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Plaintiff Sarah Tubbs filed suit against Defendants Stony Brook University and the State University of New York pursuant to 20 U.S.C. § 1681, claiming that they were deliberately indifferent to her allegations of sexual misconduct in violation of her rights under Title IX and that University Defendants were also deliberately indifferent in responding to prior sexual misconduct complaints. Relying solely on the Complaint, the Court held that Plaintiff sufficiently pleaded a plausible claim for deliberate indifference. Additionally, the Court allowed Plaintiff's systematic deliberate indifference claim to go forward under the heightened pleading standard--that a university have actual knowledge of sexual misconduct committed in a particular context or by a particular perpetrator--based on its findings that Defendants had knowledge of an increase in sexual misconduct on campus along with notice from the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) that University policies and responses to sexual misconduct were deficient.


Ethical Obligations of Higher Education Lawyers: Pennsylvania v. Spanier; Pennsylvania v. Curley; Pennsylvania v. Schultz (Pa. Sup. Ct., Jan. 22, 2016)
March 7, 2016

Three separate opinions by the Superior Court of Pennsylvania granting pre-trial motions to quash the testimony and dismiss criminal charges against of three senior administrators. Prior to and during their grand jury testimony, the Defendants consulted the university's general counsel. In each case, the Court found that the former general counsel did not adequately explain to each Defendant that the general counsel's representation of them was in defense of the university and that they would need separate counsel to defend them in their personal capacities. The Court also found that the former general counsel's testimony before the grand jury about communications with each of the Defendants violated the attorney-client privilege.


Collective Bargaining: Loyola University Chicago and Service Employees International Union Local 73
March 7, 2016

Decision and direction of elections issued by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for Region 13. The Service Employees International Union, Local 73, filed a petition to represent full-time and part-time English Language Learning Program (ELLP)/English as a Second Language (ESL) faculty members at Loyola University of Chicago. In applying the NLRB's revised standards for declining jurisdiction over faculty members of self-identified religious colleges and universities, as articulated in Pacific Lutheran University, 361 NLRB No. 157 (2014), acting Regional Board Director Paul Hitterman found no evidence that the instructors described performed a specific role in creating or maintaining the University's religious educational environment. He thus concluded that the Board had jurisdiction in the matter and ordered that a union representation election take place.


Sponsored Research: Comments on New Safeguarding Requirements in the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulations System
March 7, 2016

Comments submitted by the Association of American Universities (AAU) and the Council on Governmental Relgations (COGR) on new safeguarding requirements in the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulations System (DFARS). The DFARS modifications would implement requirements by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to expand safeguards on Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI). In their comments, AAU and COGR note an apparent contradiction between the revised 7008 and 7012 clauses on notification requirement and suggest that the Department of Defense clarify its intent. Additionally, AAU and COGR urge the Department to include a provision stating that projects determined to be fundamental research do not involve covered defense information subject to the safeguarding requirements.


Taxes: Letter to the Internal Revenue Service on Changes to Form 1098-T Reporting
March 7, 2016

Letter from the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regarding changes to IRS Form 1098-T reporting. On December 18, 2015, the Consolidated Appropriations Act amended the Internal Code to remove the option for colleges and universities to report amounts billed for qualified tuition and expenses. Due to the complexities involved in transitioning to the new methodology, NACUBO is requesting a delay in the implementation of changes to the reporting requirements. NACUBO also urges the IRS to develop guidance for filing institutions that accommodates the realities of tax year reporting of information that is tied to academic periods, and to publish web-based resources to assist taxpayers with the transition.


Copyright & Fair Use: Comments on Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act
March 4, 2016

Comments submitted by the Association of American Universities (AAU), the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), and Educause on Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Every three years, the Copyright Office considers potential limited exemptions to Section 1201's anticircumvention provisions and solicits comments on these provisions. The organizations submitting these comments believe that the anticircumvention provisions and the 1201 rulemaking process are substantively flawed and offer a series of proposals for reforming these provisions in order to improve flexibility, encourage rather than inhibit innovation, remove redundant administrative burdens, eliminate interference with legitimate fair use of copyrighted works, and protect copyright holders in a more meaningful manner.


Gender Discrimination; Religious Discrimination; Retaliation: Savage v. Southern Connecticut State University (D. Conn., Mar. 3, 2016)
March 4, 2016

Ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut granting Defendant Southern Connecticut State University's motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff Deborah Savage, a Jewish woman and tenured professor at Defendant University, claimed that she was subject to religious and gender discrimination throughout her ten-year course of employment, as well as retaliation for her complaints, in violation of Title VII. After holding that her complaints regarding incidents that occurred before March 2007 were time-barred, the Court concluded that Plaintiff failed to establish a prima facie case for either discrimination or retaliation. The adverse employment actions she alleged--including comments made by other employees, Defendant's refusal to allow her to teach certain classes, and Defendant's error in a student grade appeal proceeding that it later corrected--were not sufficiently adverse to constitute a material change in employment circumstances, and were either too minor or too disconnected to her gender or religious affiliation to support a hostile work environment inference.


Due Process; First Amendment & Free Speech; Retaliation: Meade v. Moraine Valley Community College (N.D. Ill., Mar. 3, 2016)
March 4, 2016

Memorandum opinion by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois denying both Plaintiff Robin Meade's and Defendant Moraine Valley Community College's motions for summary judgment. Meade was employed by the College as an adjunct faculty member and served as president of the Moraine Valley Adjunct Faculty Organization (MVAFO). The College terminated Meade's employment, allegedly in retaliation for her exercise of her First Amendment right to freedom of speech, after she penned a letter on behalf of MVAFO members criticizing adjunct faculty workplace conditions at the College. On remand from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, the district court denied Meade's motion, concluding that she failed to show that no reasonable trier of fact could find in favor of the College due to the fact that the letter touched on both matters of public and private concern. It also refused to grant the College's motion, reasoning that determining what portion of the letter, if any, was false and whether the College had reason to believe that Meade acted with reckless disregard for the truth involved determinations that could only be made by a trier of fact. Finally, the court found that there was insufficient evidence in the record to demonstrate that either party was entitled to prevail as a matter of law on Plaintiff's Section 1983 due process claims.


Due Process; Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence; Title IX: Prasad v. Cornell University (N.D.N.Y., Feb. 24, 2016)
March 3, 2016

Decision and order by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York granting in part and denying in part Defendant Cornell University's motion to dismiss. Plaintiff Vito Prasad filed a Title IX and breach of contract suit against Cornell for various alleged deficiencies in its investigatory and disciplinary procedures, which Plaintiff claimed unlawfully denied him due process and discriminated against him based on his gender. The Court found Plaintiff's Title IX erroneous outcome complaint sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss based on the "totality of the circumstances" described in Plaintiff's Complaint, including facts indicating a differential treatment of Plaintiff and the complainant during the adjudicatory process, a seemingly biased investigative report, a dramatic change in one investigator's position during the final weeks of the investigation, and the possibility that Cornell "invariably" finds male respondents accused of sexual misconduct to be responsible. However, the Court concluded that Plaintiff did not present a viable Title IX selective enforcement claim against Defendant due to the lack of allegations in the Complaint concerning whether female students were treated more favorably than males in similar circumstances.


Due Process; Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence; Title IX: Murray v. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (N.C. App., 2016)
March 3, 2016

Opinion and order by the North Carolina Court of Appeals dismissing Defendant University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's interlocutory appeal challenging the superior court's denial of its motion to dismiss. Plaintiff Jillian Murray, a student at Defendant University, sought a declaratory judgment that Defendant's sexual misconduct grievance procedure was unlawful for failing to equally allow both parties to have an attorney participate in a disciplinary proceeding involving allegations of sexual misconduct, as required under Title IX requirements. Defendant moved to dismiss based on mootness and sovereign immunity, among other grounds. On appeal, the Court held that Defendant failed to make any argument that the trial court's denial of its motion on mootness grounds affected a substantial right and that Defendant did not properly raise its sovereign immunity argument at the trial court level. Finding no basis for jurisdiction, the Court dismissed the appeal.


Due Process: Helm v. Eells (6th Cir., Mar. 1, 2016)
March 3, 2016

Plaintiff William Helm, a professor at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, was wrongly accused of academic plagiarism in September 2009, an accusation that led his employer to halt his pending promotion and to fail to renew his employment contract. Plaintiff filed suit against his former department chair and dean five years later, alleging various deprivations of due process. The district court granted Defendants' motion for summary judgment, holding that Plaintiff's claim that the failure to follow the University's academic misconduct policy was barred by the statute of limitations and that equitable tolling did not save Plaintiff's untimely complaint. It further held that Plaintiff failed to establish a protected liberty interest in his reputation or a protected property interest in his promotion and continued employment. On appeal, the Sixth Circuit affirmed.


Enforcement of Non-Discrimination Laws: Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Press Release on Procedures for Releasing Respondent Position Statements
March 2, 2016

Press release issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announcing that procedures have been implemented for releasing respondent position statements and obtaining responses from charging parties. During an EEOC investigation, the Commission may ask the respondent employer to submit a position statement and documents supporting its position, which it will submit to charging parties upon request and allow those parties to respond. The new procedures apply to all requests for position statements made to respondents on or after January 1, 2016.


Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence; Title IX: Doe v. Brown University (R.I., Feb. 22, 2016)
March 1, 2016

Memorandum and order issued by the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island granting in part and denying in party defendant's motion to dismiss. Plaintiff John Doe filed a Title IX gender discrimination and breach of contract claim against defendant Brown University after being suspended for sexual misconduct. The Court allowed plaintiff's Title IX erroneous outcome claim to proceed, finding that the possibility that the University ignored potentially exculpatory evidence was "sufficient to cast some articulable doubt on the accuracy of" the disciplinary proceeding's outcome. In reasoning that requiring a male student to "conclusively demonstrate, at the pleading stage . . . that female students accused of sexual assault were treated differently, is both practically impossible and inconsistent with the standard used in other discrimination contexts," the Court found that evidence existed to suggest that gender bias was a motivating factor behind the erroneous finding.


Guns on Campus: Wade v. University of Michigan (Mich. Ct. Cl., Nov. 13, 2015)
February 29, 2016

Opinion by the Michigan State Court of Claims granting defendant's motion for summary disposition. Defendant University of Michigan adopted an ordinance prohibiting firearm possession on University property but allowing the director of public safety to waive the prohibition "based on extraordinary circumstances." After being denied a waiver, plaintiff Joshua Wade filed a complaint alleging that the ordinance unconstitutionally infringes on citizens' rights to bear arms. Quoting District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), the Court asserted that the Second Amendment does not confer a right "to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever for whatever purpose," and added that Heller specifically identifies regulations prohibiting firearms in schools and governmental buildings as "presumptively lawful regulatory measures." The Court also dispensed with plaintiff's state law claim on the basis that the plain language of the Michigan statute at issue. It thus held that the University is allowed to enact and enforce an ordinance prohibiting the possession of firearms on campus.


Financial Aid: Press Release by the Department of Education on the Student Aid Enforcement Unit
February 29, 2016

Press release issued by the U.S. Department of Education announcing the formation of a new Student Aid Enforcement Unit within the Office of Federal Student Aid. The Unit will work with federal and state agencies to investigate and file actions against institutions that are alleged to have engaged in financial aid-related misconduct. It will consist of four groups--an Investigations Group, a Borrower Defense Group, an Administrative Actions and Appeals Service Group, and a Clery Group--and will be led by former Federal Trade Commission attorney Robert Kaye.


Affordable Care Act: Internal Revenue Service Notice 2016-17 on Student Health Care Coverage
February 29, 2016

Notice 2016-17 issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on February 5 regarding the application of certain market reforms to health reimbursement arrangements and employer payment plans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Questions have been raised about whether Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) subsidies are employer payment plans that run afoul of the ACA as interpreted in IRS Notice 2013-54. Notice 2016-17 asserts that while there are certain circumstances where institutions might violate the ACA in such a manner, the IRS is offering institutions temporary transition relief by allowing them to offer subsidies during a plan or policy year that begins before January 1, 2017.


Financial Aid: Dear Colleague Letter on Extension of the Federal Perkins Loan Program
February 29, 2016

Dear Colleague Letter issued by the Department of Education on February 17 regarding the extension of the Federal Perkins Loan Program. The Letter provides guidance to institutions on implementing the Federal Perkins Loan Program Extension Act of 2015, enacted on December 18, 2015, which allows current and new undergraduate borrowers to receive Perkins Loans through September 30, 2017. In addition, the Letter contains a list of additional disclosures required under the Extension Act.


Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence; Free Speech; Due Process: John Doe v. Rector & Visitors of George Mason Univ. (E.D. Va., Feb. 25, 2016)
February 26, 2016

Memorandum Opinion from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia granting Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment. After being found "not responsible" for sexual misconduct by a university hearing panel, an appeals' officer reversed the panel's decision and expelled the Plaintiff. In awarding judgment to the Plaintiff, the Court concluded that George Mason University ("GMU") had not adequately given the Plaintiff notice of all the charges against him, nor had GMU afforded Plaintiff an adequate opportunity to be heard. The Court also found that GMU deviated from its policies and procedures during the appeals' process. Regarding Plaintiff's Free Speech claim, Plaintiff's expulsion was also based in part on a text message that Plaintiff sent Roe in which he threatened to kill himself if she did not respond. The Court concluded that the speech was protected insofar as it did not constitute a true threat, fighting words, or other speech proscribed by Tinker.


Litigation: Ramsey v. Auburn Univ. & Kevin Yoxall (Miss., Feb. 25, 2016)
February 26, 2016

Decision from the Supreme Court of Mississippi affirming the judgment of the Circuit Court of Madison County that dismissed the case for improper venue. Plaintiff alleged that he sustained a back injury while working out in the weight room at Auburn University. He filed a tort action in Madison County, Mississippi against Auburn University and its Strength and Conditioning Coach. The Court affirmed the trial court's decision that venue was improper because the alleged act or omission did not occur in Madison County, nor was Plaintiff domiciled in Madison County at the time he filed the Complaint.


Defamation: Hosmane v. Seley-Radtke (Md. App., Feb. 24, 2016)
February 26, 2016

Opinion from the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland, reversing and remanding the judgment of the Circuit Court for Baltimore County based on an erroneous jury instruction regarding the burden of persuasion necessary to overcome a qualified or conditional privilege in a defamation lawsuit. The Court concluded that the trial court erred when it permitted a modification to the pattern jury instructions, that required a "clear and convincing" showing of malice in order to overcome the privilege. In remanding the case, the Court specified that the appropriate burden of persuasion was preponderance of the evidence.


Title VI, Race & National Origin Discrimination: Nkwuo v. Golden Gate Univ. (N.D. Cal., Feb. 23, 2016)
February 26, 2016

Decision from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, awarding Summary Judgment to Defendant Golden Gate University, and concluding that Plaintiff's dismissal from a graduate program was due to the fact that he twice failed a required qualifying examination, and not unlawful discrimination. Plaintiff failed to present any evidence, direct or indirect, of discrimination. The Court dismissed the remaining claims as meritless.


Compensation and Benefits: Regents of the Univ. of Cal., et al. v. Burwell (D.D.C., Feb. 22, 2016)
February 24, 2016

Memorandum Opinion from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, denying Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment and granting Defendant's cross Motion for Summary Judgment. Various colleges and universities brought suit against the Department of Health and Human Services challenging a 2005 Rule that altered the manner in which providers calculated the wage index for the purpose of receiving provider reimbursements under the Medicare Act. In granting the Secretary's Motion, the Court found that the Rule did not apply retroactively; the Rule was consistent with the objectives of the wage-index provision of the Medicare Act; the Rule was applied consistently across providers; and a reasonable basis underpinned the changes to the Rule.


Title IX; Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence; §1983: Samuelson v. Or. State Univ. (D. Or., Feb. 22, 2016)
February 24, 2016

Opinion and Order from the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, dismissing Plaintiff's Title IX claim against Oregon State University ("OSU") and §1983 claim against Defendant Reilly. In 1999, Plaintiff was sexually assaulted by a non-student at an off-campus party. Fifteen years later, after reading a newspaper article about a former OSU student, who in 1998 reported to University officials a sexual assault that bore the same indicia of Plaintiff's assault (same apartment, same alleged assailant), Plaintiff sued OSU alleging that the University consciously and deliberately subjected her to a hostile environment by failing to impose corrective action in the aftermath of the 1998 and 1999 assaults. The Court concluded that the statute of limitations barred any cause of action stemming from Plaintiff's claim that OSU exhibited deliberate indifference when she reported the assault. Even if it did not, the Court concluded that OSU could not be subjected to Title IX liability because it lacked meaningful control over either the location of Plaintiff's assault or the attacker himself because the assault was perpetrated off campus by a non-student. The Court also found that Plaintiff's discovery of the 1998 allegations did not restart the limitations period. Finally, the Court concluded that Defendant Reilly was entitled to qualified immunity with respect to the §1983 claim.


Litigation: Douglas v. Univ. of Pittsburgh & the Univ. of Pittsburgh Bd. of Trs. (W.D. Pa., Jan. 19, 2016)
February 23, 2016

Report and Recommendation from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania recommending that Defendants' Motion to Dismiss the University of Pittsburg Board of Trustees ("the Board") as a party to the action be granted. The Court concluded that the Board was a redundant defendant since the University of Pittsburg had already been named as a defendant in the action.


Title IX; Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence; Due Process: John Doe v. Ohio State Univ. (S.D. Ohio, Feb. 22, 2016)
February 23, 2016

Report and Recommendation from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, recommending that Plaintiff's request for a preliminary injunction be denied. Plaintiff Doe claimed that the Ohio State University violated his constitutional right to due process by dismissing him from a graduate program in Medicine and Business, after a university hearing panel found him responsible for sexual misconduct. Plaintiff alleged that the hearing panel was biased, in part by refusing to allow him to access to the complainant's academic records, and also by refusing to allow expert testimony. In denying the preliminary injunction, the Court concluded that the Plaintiff was not likely to prevail on the merits because the Constitution neither guaranteed the Plaintiff a right to cross examine witnesses nor a right to present expert testimony in a student disciplinary proceeding. The Court also concluded that the Plaintiff had not produced enough evidence of "irreparable injury" and that the public and private interests did not weigh more heavily in favor of one party over the other.


Litigation; Res Judicata: Slaughter v. Bd. of Supervisors of S. Univ. & Agric. & Mech. Coll. (La. App. 1 Cir., Feb. 18, 2016)
February 22, 2016

Decision from the State of Louisiana Court of Appeal for the 1st District, affirming trial court's judgment that the case should be dismissed with prejudice under the doctrine of res judicata. Prior to the lawsuit, Plaintiff, President of Southern University ("SU") had executed a settlement agreement extending his employment contract for two years in exchange for his agreement to release SU from liability for alleged retaliation. When the two year extension expired, and the Board declined to renew his contract for an additional period, Plaintiff filed this lawsuit. The Court affirmed the trial court's decision that the suit was barred by res judicata because Plaintiff failed to bring all claims related to the same transaction or occurrence in the initial proceeding.


Torts; Athletics: Sawhney v. Saint Mary's Coll. of Cal. (Cal. App., Feb. 18, 2016)
February 22, 2016

Decision from the Court of Appeal of the State of California affirming the trial court's award of summary judgment to the Defendant Saint Mary's College ("St. Mary's") on the issues of discrimination and retaliation, and reversing and remanding the trial court's award of costs and attorneys' fees to St. Mary's. Plaintiff, a St. Mary's Professor who had not published a single work since 2004, alleged that St. Mary's discriminated against him based on national origin and sex, and retaliated against him when the college denied his application for promotion with tenure and transferred him to the Philosophy Department. The Court agreed with the trial court's conclusions that Plaintiff's inferences of discrimination were too tenuous to raise a triable issue of fact, and that no causal connection existed between a 2005 complaint of retaliation and the adverse employment action, which occurred over 7 years later. On the issue of costs and attorneys' fees, the Court remanded the issue with instructions that the trial court consider "whether the action was objectively without foundation when brought, or if the Plaintiff continued to litigation after it clearly became so."


Torts; Athletics: Keel v. Palmer (Mich. App., Feb. 16, 2016)
February 22, 2016

Decision from the State of Michigan Court of Appeals affirming an award of summary disposition to Defendant Palmer on the grounds of proximate causation and governmental immunity. Plaintiff sustained an injury after falling from a cheerleading stunt. She alleged that Defendant Palmer, the coach of the cheerleading squad, was grossly negligent in her supervision of the team and caused her injury. The Court disagreed, concluding that Defendant Palmer had engaged in no behavior that could be deemed "grossly" negligent and thus was entitled to governmental immunity. The Court also opined from the record that a "timing" issue was the proximate cause of the injury, not any act or omission on the part of the Defendant.


Disabilities Discrimination: National Assoc. for the Deaf v. Harvard Univ. (Feb. 9, 2016)
February 19, 2016

Report and Recommendation from the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts recommending that Defendant Harvard University's Motion to Dismiss be denied. Plaintiffs alleged that Harvard failed to provide deaf and hard of hearing individuals equal access to audio and audiovisual content on its web site. The Court concluded that the Plaintiffs had stated claims under both §504 and the Americans With Disabilities Act, and that a stay in the proceedings would prejudice the Plaintiffs by extending the period of time during which the Plaintiffs must wait for a resolution.


Title IX; Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence: Response Letter from Catherine Lhamon to Chairman Lankford Regarding Title IX Sub-regulatory Guidance
February 19, 2016

Letter from Catherine Lhamon, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, to Senator James Lankford, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management, responding to Senator Langford's January 7, 2016 letter, inquiring about the Department's authority to "create binding and substantive regulatory policies" without subjecting the policies to the notice-and-comment procedure. Assistant Secretary Lhamon responded that the Department's authority derived from Title IX and the accompanying regulations, acknowledged that sub-regulatory guidance "does not have the force and effect of law," and reiterated that the Department's guidance is intended to "assist schools in understanding what policies and practices will lead OCR to initiate proceedings to terminate Federal financial Assistance (absent resolution by voluntary means)."


Litigation: Wiesenberg v. Univ. of Haw. (Haw. App., Feb. 16. 2016)
February 19, 2016

Order from the Intermediate Court of Appeals of the State of Hawaii, granting Defendant's Motion to Dismiss for lack of appellate jurisdiction because the time to file the appeal had expired.


Sex Discrimination; National Origin Discrimination: Szanto v. Coll. of S. Idaho, et al. (D. Idaho, Feb. 15, 2016)
February 19, 2016

Memorandum and Order from the United States District Court for the District of Idaho, partially granting Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. Plaintiff sued the College of Southern Idaho ("CSI") and a number of individual defendants for allegedly subjecting her to harassment and firing her from her job because she was a woman of Romanian descent. The Court dismissed allegations against Board members in their individual capacities because the Complaint did not identify any specific Board member actions that would support a finding of personal liability. The Court allowed the claims against CSI to proceed because Defendant CSI conceded that it was a proper party, and in so doing waived any claims of immunity.


False Claims Act: U.S. & Ill. ex rel. Edmondson v. Bd. of Trs. of Ill. E. Cmty. Colls. (S.D. Ill., Feb. 17, 2016)
February 19, 2016

Memorandum and Order from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, granting Plaintiff's Motion for a voluntary dismissal without prejudice. In granting Plaintiff's motion, the Court found that Plaintiff's right to seek dismissal outweighed the interests asserted in the College's opposition because (1) the litigation had not proceeded to an advanced stage; (2) the bulk of Defendant's efforts thus far pertained to an investigation by the United States and the State of Illinois, regarding whether or not to intervene, (3) discovery deadlines were still 9 months away, with a trial scheduled for 2017.


Contracts: Baird v. Owens Cmty. Coll., 2016 Ohio 537 (Ohio App., Feb. 16, 2016)
February 19, 2016

Opinion from the Ohio Tenth Appellate District reversing an award of summary judgment to the Defendant Owens Community College on Plaintiff's breach of contract claims and instructing the Court of Claims to examine whether appellee breached a contract when the nursing program lost accreditation and if so, to what extent the breach diminished earnings capacity or resulted in other economic loss.


Intellectual Property: Charest v. President & Fellows of Harvard Coll. (D. Mass., Feb. 16, 2016)
February 19, 2016

Memorandum and Order from the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, granting-in-part and denying-in-part Defendant's Motion to Dismiss various claims stemming from a dispute about royalty allocations for an invention discovered by the Plaintiff and some of his professors.


Athletics; FLSA: Berger v. Nat.'l Collegiate Athletic Assoc., et al. (Feb. 16, 2016)
February 17, 2016

Order from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, dismissing with prejudice Plaintiffs' claims against the NCAA and 123 member institutions. Plaintiffs alleged that they were entitled to minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") because of their participation as student-athletes on the University of Pennsylvania ("Penn") track team. The Court concluded that the Plaintiffs lacked standing to sue any defendant other than Penn, and with respect to Penn, that Plaintiffs' participation on an athletic team did not make them employees for FLSA purposes.


Free Speech: Letter from Bob Goodlatte, Chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary, to Various Colleges and Universities Regarding "Red Light" Rating from FIRE(Feb. 11, 2016)
February 17, 2016

Follow-up letter from Bob Goodlatte, Chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary, to various colleges and universities who received "red light" ratings from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education ("FIRE"), requesting a response to FIRE's allegations that one or more policies at the institution "clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech" in a manner that cannot be cured by applying the policy. The letter requests responses by February 25, 2016.


Disability Discrimination; Age Discrimination; FMLA: Epps v. Vanderbilt Univ. (M.D. Tenn., Feb. 11, 2016)
February 16, 2016

Report and recommendation from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, recommending that Defendant Vanderbilt University's Motion for Summary Judgment be granted-in-part and denied-in-part. Vanderbilt University Medical Center terminated plaintiff for performance concerns, five months after the Plaintiff initiated, though did not complete, and application for Social Security Disability Insurance and FMLA leave. She alleged violations of FMLA, ADEA, ADA, and the Tennessee Disability Act. The Court recommended dismissal of the ADEA and ADA claims because Plaintiff had not offered evidence suggesting that a younger employee, or a non-disabled employee, had been hired to replace her. The Court recommended that Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment on the FMLA issue be denied because the five-month period that elapsed between Plaintiff's request for FMLA leave, coupled with the circumstantial evidence Plaintiff offered (including an email from the hiring official inquiring, ""How many are out on FMLA?"), was enough to create a dispute of fact regarding whether Plaintiff's discharge was pre-textual.


Disability Discrimination; Employment: McGlashan v. Univ. of Wash. (W.D. Wash., Feb. 11 2016)
February 16, 2016

Order from the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington granting Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. Plaintiff alleged that the University of Washington discriminated against her by "firing" her for performance concerns and refusing to accommodate her request that she receive additional time to learn projects due to Epilepsy. Plaintiff also alleged that she was subjected to a hostile environment. The Court concluded that Plaintiff's disability discrimination claim was time barred because over three years had elapsed since the University denied her request for an accommodation. The Court awarded judgment to the Defendant on the hostile work environment claim because Plaintiff's unsigned affidavit was not enough to defeat summary judgment, but even if the affidavit had been signed, Plaintiff produced no evidence suggesting that the purported insults and harassment were motivated by her Epilepsy. The Court also concluded that Plaintiff's voluntary resignation was not a "constructive discharge."


Letter to 56 Colleges and Universities Regarding Use of Endowment Assets (Feb. 8, 2016)
February 16, 2016

Letter from Senators Orrin Hatch, Kevin Brady, and Peter Roskam to 56 private colleges and universities, seeking information on how colleges and universities use endowment assets to advance their charitable and educational missions.


Internal Revenue Service, Application of the Market Reforms and Other Provisions of the Affordable Care Act to Student Health Coverage (Feb. 5, 2016)
February 12, 2016

Notice from the Internal Revenue Service cautioning that premium reduction arrangements offered in connection with student health plans may, in some instances, violate the market reform provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Recognizing that schools may need additional time to adopt alternatives to existing premium reduction arrangements, the Departments of the Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services have agreed to provide temporary transition relief from enforcement for plan years or policies beginning before January 1, 2017.


Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence; Due Process; Litigation: John Doe v. Ohio State Univ. (S.D. Ohio, Feb. 11, 2016)
February 12, 2016

Order from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio denying non-party Jane Roe's Motion to Quash a Subpoena requiring that she appear to testify at a preliminary injunction hearing regarding Plaintiff's allegation that the Ohio State University violated his right to due process when it expelled him for sexual misconduct. Notwithstanding Jane Roe's argument that she would be traumatized if forced to face her assailant in court, the Court nonetheless concluded that her testimony regarding the process afforded to the Defendant during the Student Conduct hearing was necessary to further and protect significant interests.


Age Discrimination; Disability Discrimination: Zavaglia v. Bos. Univ. Sch. of Med. (D. Mass., Feb. 9, 2016)
February 11, 2016

Order from the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, dismissing Plaintiff's Age Discrimination in Employment (ADEA) claim with prejudice and his Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) claim without prejudice. The Court dismissed Plaintiff's ADEA claim because "stating age alone," without more, is not sufficient to state a claim under the ADEA. The Court granted leave for the Plaintiff to amend his ADA claim because it was unclear whether Plaintiff had exhausted his administrative remedies and could state an actionable claim in an amended complaint.


Litigation: Thomas v. Washington University (D. Miss. Feb. 8, 2016)
February 11, 2016

Memorandum and Order from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, granting Defendant Washington University's Motion to Compel Plaintiff to supplement answers to interrogatories. The Court reserved ruling on the issue of attorneys' fees because although the Defendant attempted to meet and confer with opposing counsel to resolve the discovery dispute, the Court deemed their efforts to be "minimal."


Litigation: Austin v. San Diego State Univ. (D. S.D.C. Feb. 8, 2016)
February 11, 2016

Order from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, denying as moot Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to file a Second Amended Complaint (SAC). San Diego State University (SDSU) published on its web site instructions for serving process on the university. Plaintiff did not follow these instructions and instead served an unauthorized party. Because Plaintiff had not yet served an authorized party, the Court denied as moot Plaintiff's Motion for leave to file a SAC.


Race Discrimination; Gender Discrimination; Hostile Work Environment; Retaliation: Frett v. Howard University (D.D.C. Feb. 5, 2016)
February 11, 2016

Memorandum and Opinion from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granting summary judgment to the Defendant. Plaintiff alleged that she was subjected to a discriminatory, hostile, and harassing environment when her boss allegedly criticized her, used a racial slur, micromanaged her decisions, and under-compensated her, and engaged in other purported misbehavior. She further alleged that she was subjected to retaliation after she filed an EEO complaint. The Court concluded that the isolated offenses on the record, even if true, did not amount to behavior that was so severe or pervasive that it created a hostile work environment. Regarding retaliation, the Court held that "no reasonable fact finder could infer from the record that Plaintiff's EEO complaint was the reason for any adverse employment action," since her placement on paid administrative leave during the pendency of the EEO investigation was consistent with Howard University's policies and her termination was pursuant to a Reduction in Force plan. Finally, the Court concluded that Plaintiff's unsubstantiated observations of race and gender discrimination were not enough to defeat summary judgment.


Arbitration: Mayes v. Univ. of Toledo, 2016 Ohio 326 (Ohio App., Jan. 29, 2016)
February 11, 2016

Affirming a decision from the Lucas County Court of Pleas dismissing Appellant's application to confirm an arbitration award because she neglected to file with the Court a copy of the arbitration agreement as required by the rules. The Court determined that the rules required strict compliance with the provisions related to the enforcement of arbitration awards and that Appellant's failure to follow the rules, namely by neglecting to file the arbitration agreement, warranted dismissal. The Court expressed no opinion on whether the Appellant had standing to sue, even though it was the Union, not the Appellant, who was a party to the arbitration.


Age Discrimination; §1983: Burdge v. Kustra (D. Idaho, Dec. 30, 2015)
February 11, 2016

Report and Recommendation to the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho, that Plaintiff's claims under the Age Discrimination Act be dismissed with prejudice. Plaintiff, a student at the University of Idaho, was deemed ineligible to receive a free meningitis vaccine from the University clinic because he was over the age of 55. He alleged that the eligibility rules subjected him to discrimination under the Age Discrimination Act ("the Act"), which prohibits programs that receive federal financial assistance from discriminating on the basis of age. He brought the action as a §1983 claim, in an effort to bypass the remedial scheme and relief limitations prescribed by the Act. The Court dismissed the action with prejudice, concluding that the Act itself was the sole enforcement mechanism of rights.


Public Records: Knight News, Inc. v. Univ. of Cent. Fla. (Fla. App., Feb. 5, 2016)
February 10, 2016

Affirming a decision from the Circuit Court for Orange County, concluding that the University of Central Florida properly refused to produce personally-identifiable, student disciplinary records pursuant to a public records request. The Florida Public Records Law exempts from disclosure records that are otherwise protected under FERPA. The Court concluded that student disciplinary records are "education records" and thus exempt from disclosure under state law.


Taxation: Wash. Cnty. v. Bd. of Trs. of the Univ. of Ark., 2016 Ark. 34 (Feb. 4, 2016)
February 10, 2016

Opinion from the Supreme Court of Arkansas affirming that the University, as an instrumentality of the State, was immune from ad valorem taxation. The University submitted applications for immunity from taxation, or in the alternative for an exemption from taxation, of certain parcels of property that were owned by the University. The Washington County Tax Assessor denied the applications. The Court concluded that because the University was an instrumentality of the State, and because property owned by the State is not taxable, that University was immune from ad valorem taxation.


Litigation; Attorney-Client Privilege: Owens-Hart v. Howard Univ. (D.D.C., Feb. 4, 2016)
February 10, 2016

Decision from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia concluding that the attorney-client privilege shielded from inquiry certain questions that sought to elicit information exchanged between a Howard University professor and the institution's counsel in preparation for a deposition.


Torts:  Morgan v. Kent State Univ., 2015 Ohio 5636 (Ohio Ct. Cl., June 19, 2015)
February 10, 2016

Decision from the Ohio Court of Claims, awarding summary judgment to the Defendant in a negligence action where the plaintiff sustained injuries during a karate class at the Kent State University Wellness Center. The Court found that the Plaintiff expressly assumed risk through a written waiver of liability.


Governance: Tishok v. Dep't of Educ. (Pa. Commw. Ct., Feb. 4, 2016)
February 9, 2016

Opinion from the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania dismissing a petition to appeal the Pennsylvania Department of Education's decision to allow Wilson College to amend its Articles of Incorporation to become fully co-educational. The Court concluded that the Petitioners, alumnae of Wilson College, lacked standing because they were not directly affected by Wilson's decision to become co-educational. Neither "the ties and devotion that alumnae feel for their alma mater" nor the fact that some of the Petitioners had made charitable donations to the College, amounted to "the type of actual, direct interest necessary to confer standing."


Contracts: Weston v. Cornell Univ., 2016 NY Slip Op 735 (N.Y. App. Div., Feb. 4, 2016)
February 9, 2016

Decision from the New York Court Appellate Division, modifying a decision from the New York Supreme Court to award summary judgment to the Defendant and dismiss Plaintiff's Breach of Contract Claim in its entirety. Plaintiff, who was dismissed from Cornell University after she was twice denied tenure, was initially appointed as an Associate Professor "with tenure," subject to the Defendant's review process. The Supreme Court held that the ambiguous language of the appointment created a dispute of fact as to whether the letter should be construed to "reflect[] an intent to assure plaintiff that she would be granted tenure." Although the Court agreed with the Supreme Court's analysis, the Appellate Division nonetheless modified the Order, reasoning that the parties had mutually modified the contract when in 2003, Plaintiff accepted an offer for extended appointment "without tenure."


Litigation: Theidon v. Harvard Univ. (D. Mass., Feb. 4, 2016)
February 9, 2016

Decision from the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, denying Defendant Harvard University's Motion for a Protective Order. This case arose when Plaintiff alleged that she was denied tenure because she made comments regarding Harvard's response to sexual misconduct allegations. Harvard sought a protective order to redact names and identifying information of various scholars who participated in Plaintiff's tenure evaluation process. In denying Harvard's Motion, the Court reasoned that the identities of the individuals who participated in Plaintiff's tenure evaluation process were essential to the Plaintiff's effort to acquire probative evidence regarding her discrimination and retaliation claims. The Court also granted-in-part and denied-in-part Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Discovery of electronically stored information.


ADA: Kirby v. S. Utah Univ. (D. Utah, Jan. 14, 2016)
February 9, 2016

Report and Recommendation to the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah Central Division, recommending that the District Court dismiss with prejudice Plaintiff's claim to recover damages from Southern Utah University for alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act because the Eleventh Amendment shielded the University from liability for damages.


Contracts: Fleming v. Kent State Univ., 2015 Ohio 5626 (Ohio Ct. Cl., Apr. 24, 2015)
February 9, 2016

Decision from the Court of Claims of Ohio, awarding liquidated damages and pre-judgment interest to the Plaintiff for Defendant's breach of contract. In this bifurcated proceeding, the Court had previously determined that Defendant Kent State University breached its contract with the Plaintiff by reassigning him from his position as Defensive Coordinator of the Kent State Football Team. The contract was for a fixed period of 28 months and contained a stipulated damages clause for early termination that required the Defendant to pay "the balance then in effect base salary due for the remaining term" if the Defendant initiated the termination. Applying Ohio law, the Court determined that the liquidated damages clause was valid and enforceable.


Title IX; Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence: Howe v. Pa. State Univ. Harrisburg (M.D. Pa., Feb. 2, 2016)
February 4, 2016

Decision from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, denying Plaintiff's Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order. The Plaintiff sought to enjoin Penn State from suspending him after he violated a no-contact order that issued pursuant to a sexual misconduct investigation. The Court concluded that especially in light of Plaintiff's criminal harassment conviction, Plaintiff was unlikely to succeed on the merits; Plaintiff had not demonstrated irreparable harm; and the issuance of an injunction would harm Penn State and would not be in the best interest of the public.


Disability Discrimination; Retaliation: Clark v. Oklahoma ex rel. Bd. of Regents of the Univ. of Okla. (W. D. Okla., Feb. 2, 2016)
February 4, 2016

Opinion from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, denying Defendant's Motion to Dismiss and allowing Plaintiff's disability and retaliation claims to proceed. The Court held that although Plaintiff did not check the retaliation box on the EEOC form, he had exhausted his administrative remedies insofar as he noted retaliation on an EEOC intake questionnaire and notified EEOC officials that he intended to bring an action that implicated retaliatory animus. The Court also concluded that even though Plaintiff's broken scapula was a temporary injury, it nonetheless qualified as a disability.


Sovereign Immunity: Olvera v. Univ. Sys. of Georgia's Bd. of Regents (Ga. Feb. 1, 2016)
February 4, 2016

Decision from the Supreme Court of Georgia, affirming that the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia was immune from liability in an action brought by a group of individuals, who sought a declaration that they qualified as in-state residents. The students were lawfully in the U.S. as beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. They sued the Board after being classified as out-of-state residents for the purpose of tuition charge differentials. The Court held that the Board was entitled to sovereign immunity since it had not waived immunity in actions concerning "interpretive rules."


First Amendment; Due Process; Tort Law: McPhaul v. Ball State Univ. Police, et al. (S.D. Ind. Feb. 1, 2016)
February 4, 2016

Opinion from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, granting in part and denying in part Defendant's Motion to Dismiss constitutional and tort claims arising out of alleged police brutality and the erasure of video footage. The Court dismissed the constitutional claims against Ball State based on Eleventh Amendment Immunity. The Court dismissed constitutional claims against any individual defendant who did not participate in the alleged misconduct that gave rise to the purported constitutional violation. The Court allowed Plaintiff's IIED and Defamation claims to proceed, even though the Plaintiff had not filed notice of the claim under the Indiana Tort Claims Act, because such notice "does not affect the jurisdiction of this Court when exercising its supplemental jurisdiction over the tort claims at issue pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a)."


Disability Discrimination: Sibner v. City Univ. of N.Y. & Brooklyn Coll. of N.Y. (N.Y. Sup. Ct., Jan. 22, 2016)
February 4, 2016

Decision from the New York Superior Court dismissing Plaintiff's employment discrimination claims in their entirety. After the Plaintiff took a leave of absence to recover from a car accident, he alleged that the College discriminated against him by refusing to assign him classes for the Summer 2010 term and rejecting his application to participate in the Early Retirement Incentive (ERI) Program. The Court concluded that the Plaintiff was not a "qualified individual" under federal discrimination law because he did not meet the eligibility requirements of the ERI program. Also, because he returned to work after the teaching schedules had been set for the 2010 Summer term, he could not argue that his omission from the teaching schedule was motivated by discriminatory animus. The Court dismissed the remaining claims because they were filed outside of the limitations period.


Retaliation: EEOC Seeks Public Input on Draft Proposed Enforcement Guidance on Retaliation and Related Issues (Jan. 21, 2016)
February 4, 2016

Invitation to submit comments on Draft EEOC Enforcement Guidance on Retaliation and Related Issues. The draft guidance defines concepts related to retaliation, offers examples of retaliatory conduct, and proposes best practices. The deadline to submit comments is February 24, 2016.


Retaliation; Due Process; Contracts; State Law Claims: Shinbager v. Bd. of Trustees of the Univ. of the District of Columbia, et al. (U.D.C. Feb. 1, 2016)
February 3, 2016

Opinion from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia granting Defendant UDC's Motion to Dismiss. Plaintiff, a former UDC law student, alleged that UDC retaliated against her by suspending her for making false accusations, acting erratically, and threatening to kill the President of the United States. In dismissing Plaintiff's retaliation claims (which were brought under the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, Title VII, and the First Amendment), the Court concluded that the Plaintiff failed to show a causal connection between a protected activity and her suspension because the officers who presided over her student conduct hearing were unaware that the Plaintiff had engaged in a protected activity. Regarding Plaintiff's Due Process claim, the Court concluded that the Plaintiff received ample process during the student conduct investigation. The Court dismissed Plaintiff's breach of contract claims because the UDC Student Handbook was not a contract. Finally, the Court dismissed all remaining claims, including claims that the University "violated ABA standard 512," unreasonably restricted Plaintiff's participation in school activities, and defamed her.


Due Process: Knox v. Trustees of Indiana Univ. (N.D. In., Feb. 1, 2016)
February 3, 2016

Decision from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, dismissing Plaintiff's Complaint. Plaintiff, a former police officer at Indiana University, alleged that he was deprived of a property interest when the university terminated his employment without affording him due process. The Court held that the Plaintiff did not have a constitutionally-protected property interest in his job, because he served at the will of the Board of Trustees.


Retaliation: Kulich-Grier v. Ohio State Univ. Wexner Medical Center (Court of Claims Ohio, Feb. 1, 2015)
February 3, 2016

Trial Decision from Magistrate Judge in the Court of Claims of Ohio, concluding the Plaintiff failed to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that OSU Medical Center (OSU) had retaliated against her after she disclosed to a fellow nurse her plan to file a Title VII law suit against OSU. OSU terminated the plaintiff for attendance problems. The Court concluded in a bench trial that Plaintiff failed to establish causation between the protected activity and the adverse employment action because the employee solely responsible for the employment decision was unaware that Plaintiff had engaged in a protected activity.


Negligence: Perryman v. Bellevue College (Wash. Ct. App., Feb. 1, 2016)
February 3, 2016

Opinion from the Court of Appeals of the State of Washington, affirming the trial court's decision to dismiss Plaintiff's tort claim for failing to establish cause-in-fact or proximate cause relating to injuries sustained during a college sponsored self-defense class.


Immunity: Liebling v. Columbus State Community College, et al. (Court of Claims Ohio, Jan. 27, 2016)
February 3, 2016

Decision from Magistrate Judge in the Court of Claims of Ohio that Defendants Johnson and Brown, Columbus State Community College employees, throughout all interactions with the Plaintiff, acted within the scope of employment without malicious purpose, bad faith, or a wanton or reckless demeanor. The Court therefore concluded that Defendants Johnson and Brown were entitled to statutory immunity.


First Amendment &Free Speech; Student Organizations; Trademark and Licensing: Gerlich and Furleigh v. Leath, et al. (S.D. Ia. Jan. 22, 2016)
February 3, 2016

Order by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa Central Division granting in part and denying in part Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment, granting in part and denying in part Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, and permanently enjoining Iowa State University from enforcing its Trademark Licensing Policy in a viewpoint discriminatory manner. Plaintiffs, members of a student advocacy group supporting the legalization of marijuana, alleged that the named Defendants, employees at Iowa State University, violated their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights by denying their application to use the university's trademark on pro-marijuana t-shirts. Citing political motivation, as well as the Defendants' selective application of the policy, the Court found that the Defendants applied the institution's Trademark Policy in a constitutionally-impermissible, viewpoint discriminatory manner, and further that the Defendants were not entitled to qualified immunity. The Court denied Plaintiffs' claims that the trademark policy was overbroad or unconstitutionally vague.


Discrimination; Retaliation: Jinadasa v. University-Hawaii (D. Haw., Jan. 25, 2016)
February 2, 2016

Opinion from the District Court for the District of Hawaii granting in part and denying in part Defendant's Motion to Dismiss. The pro se complaint raises multiple claims under the U.S. Constitution and federal law pertaining to discrimination based on sex, race, color, national origin, and pay equity, as well as retaliation claims, and a state law claim of IIED.


Title IX; Sexual Misconduct and Other Campus Violence: John Doe v. Ohio State Univ. (S.D. Ohio, Jan. 22, 2016)
February 2, 2016

Opinion from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, denying Plaintiff's request to enjoin a preliminary meeting with OSU officials to discuss allegations that he violated the Code of Conduct by posting nude photos of his ex-girlfriend to a public web site. The Court concluded that (1) the Plaintiff failed to show a strong likelihood of success on the merits; (2) no irreparable harm was likely to befall the Plaintiff; (3) an injunction would harm OSU insofar as it would limit the institution's ability to regulate student behavior; (4) an injunction would harm OSU because it would frustrate their ability to comply with Title IX guidance; and (5) an injunction would disserve the public interest.


Sex Discrimination (Pregnancy Discrimination): Laverty v. Drexel Univ. (E. D. Pa., Jan. 21, 2016)
February 2, 2016

Memorandum Opinion by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania granting Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. Plaintiff – a former employee of Drexel University – sued the University for violating Title VII and Pennsylvania state law by discriminating against her on the basis of sex and pregnancy. The Court concluded that the Plaintiff failed to establish a prima facie case of pregnancy discrimination because the Plaintiff offered no evidence to support an inference that her employer knew that she was pregnant. Even if she had, Plaintiff's job performance deficiencies were well-documented, and Plaintiff did not identify any evidence suggesting that her termination was motivated by pregnancy-based animus. The Court also dismissed Plaintiff's claim of sex discrimination because she could not establish that the University treated male employees more favorably than female employees.


Title IX; Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence: Spencer v. Univ. of New Mexico Bd. of Regents (D.N.M., Jan. 11, 2016)
February 2, 2016

Memorandum Opinion and Order by the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico denying Defendant's Motion to Dismiss. Plaintiff – a student at University of New Mexico – alleged that the university exhibited deliberate indifference in investigating an allegation of sexual misconduct. The Court held that the Plaintiff's complaint alleged sufficient facts to defeat the Defendant's Motion to Dismiss because the allegations, if true, could allow a reasonable jury to conclude that the university's response was "clearly unreasonable in light of known circumstances."


Due Process: Budd v. State Univ. of N.Y. At Geneseo (N.Y. App. Div., Nov. 20, 2015)
February 2, 2016

Memorandum and Order by Supreme Court of the State of New York Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department, affirming respondent, State University of New York at Geneseo's decision to expel the Plaintiff for violating the Code of Conduct. The Court rejected Plaintiff's due process arguments, concluding that the University substantially adhered to its published rules and guidelines and thus did not act in an arbitrary and capricious manner when it expelled the Plaintiff.


Race Discrimination, Retaliation: Hampton v. Snead State Cmty. Coll. (N.D. Ala., Jan. 29, 2016)
February 1, 2016

Opinion from the Northern District of Alabama dismissing Plaintiff's Title VII claims of race-based discrimination and retaliation. Although Plaintiff demonstrated that his lateral transfer from Head Basketball Coach and Athletic Director to Academic Support Services Academic Coordinator was an adverse employment action, he could not (1) identify a similarly situated comparator or (2) demonstrate that the transfer was motivated by race since he "admitted to engaging in the bulk of the conduct Snead State cited as justification [for the transfer]." These two deficiencies were fatal to the Plaintiff's discrimination claim. The Court also dismissed the retaliation claim because 9 months was too long in time to demonstrate temporal proximity between his internal claim of discrimination and the adverse employment action.


Disability Discrimination, Race Discrimination: Rosales v. Bd. of Regents of the Univ. of Okla. (W.D. Okla., Jan. 29, 2016)
February 1, 2016

Unreported opinion from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, granting in part and denying in part Defendant's Motion to Dismiss. The Court dismissed Plaintiff's disability claim because the Plaintiff failed to exhaust administrative remedies and plead facts sufficient to show that at the time he was terminated from his position, he was qualified, with or without accommodation, to perform the essential duties of the job. The Court allowed plaintiff's race and national origin discrimination claims to proceed because the allegation that "non-Hispanic employees who were injured on the job were not terminated" was sufficient to "nudge his claims across the line from conceivable to plausible."


Litigation: Huntsinger and Evans v. Idaho State Univ. (D.C. Idaho Jan. 28, 2016)
February 1, 2016

Unreported opinion from the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho, awarding $33,677.84 in attorneys' fees to Plaintiff Evans for prevailing on the merits of her due process claim against Idaho State University. Plaintiff claimed that the University violated her due process rights in the course of investigating an allegation of academic dishonesty. Pursuant to a TRO that was issued in the early stages of the lawsuit, the Defendant proposed an amended appeals' process, which was adopted by the Court. Because the litigation "modif[ied] the defendant's behavior in a way that directly benefit[ted] the plaintiff," Plaintiff was entitled to recover reasonable attorneys' fees.


False Claims Act: U.S. & Mass. ex rel. Willette v. Univ. of Mass. (1st Cir., Jan. 27, 2016)
February 1, 2016

Decision from the First Circuit Court of Appeals, affirming District Court's decision that the University of Massachusetts Medical School is an arm of the State and thus exempt from claims under the False Claims Act.


Disability Discrimination, Race Discrimination: Hawthorne-Burdine v. Oakland Univ. (E.D. Mich., Jan. 27, 2016)
February 1, 2016

Granting Defendant Oakland University's Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative Motion for Summary Judgment, on Plaintiff's race, disability, and age discrimination claims. The Court dismissed Plaintiff's ADA and ADEA claims (for monetary damages) on the grounds of Eleventh Amendment Immunity. The Court dismissed Plaintiff's ADA claim for equitable relief because she did not satisfy the Ex Parte Young exception. The Court dismissed Plaintiff's ADA claims against 28 named defendants in their individual capacities because the ADA does not imposed individual liability. The Court dismissed Plaintiff's race discrimination claims because she did not identify a similarly situated comparator, and even if she had, she could not demonstrate that the Board's decision not to renew her contract was predicated on a racially-motivated pretext, since she had not published in a decade and since she had been disciplined for confrontational behavior, verbal abuse, and threats.


Disability Discrimination, Retaliation, Academic Misconduct: Thompson v. Ohio State Univ. (6th Cir., Jan. 26, 2016)
February 1, 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.


Student Athlete Issues: In re Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n Student-Athlete Concussion Injury Litig. (N.D. Ill., Jan. 26, 2016)
February 1, 2016

Decision from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois provisionally granting parties' Joint Motion for a Preliminary Approval of Amended Class Settlement and Certification of Settlement Class. This class action matter arose when former collegiate athletes filed lawsuits over the NCAA's management of concussion-related risks over a period of years. The NCAA entered into settlement negotiations with the plaintiffs in an effort to resolve all claims. A number of plaintiffs were able to reach an agreement with the NCAA, but some Plaintiffs objected, and the Court ultimately refused to approve the initial settlement proposal. The parties submitted an Amended Settlement Agreement, but again, some plaintiffs objected. It is this Amended Settlement Agreement that is before the Court. The Court has preliminarily approved a proposed Amended Settlement Agreement, subject to certain modifications, including (1) a limitation on the scope of the settlement class's release of class-wide personal injury claims, (2) modification to the notice program, and (3) modifications to the manner in which settlement funds are utilized.


Student Conduct: Rockwell v. William Paterson Univ. (N. J. Super. App. Div., Jan. 25, 2016)
February 1, 2016

Opinion from the Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division, affirming public university disciplinary board's finding that the Plaintiffs had violated the Hazing provision of the Student Code of Conduct by engaging in "cult-like" activities. The Court denied as moot plaintiffs' request that sanctions of disciplinary probation and housing suspension be reversed, since the probationary and suspension period had already expired. The Court rejected plaintiffs' Procedural Due Process claims because the record showed that the University afforded the students more process than was required by the Constitution. Finally, affording deference to state university judicial decisions, the Court rejected plaintiffs' argument that the board's findings were arbitrary, capricious, and unsupported by sufficient, credible evidence.


Title IX: John Doe v. Hazard and Simpson, (E. D. KY, Jan. 15, 2016)
February 1, 2016

Opinion from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky holding that the Younger Abstention applied when a student sought to stop an on-going Title IX sexual misconduct disciplinary hearing. The Younger Abstention is a legal doctrine that prevents federal courts from interfering with pending state judicial proceedings. The Court, concluding that the student conduct proceeding at issue was "state proceeding" under the doctrine, granted the Defendants' Motion for an Abstention. The Court also dismissed Defendant Simpson in her individual capacity based on qualified immunity.


Higher Education Authorization Act, Financial Aid: Servicemember Higher Education Protection Act (Dec. 15, 2015)
February 1, 2016

Legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representative Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) titled the "Servicemember Higher Education Act" to provide increased access and protection for members of the armed forces in Higher Education. The Act includes provisions altering the current Higher Education Act of 1965 to improve loan deferment for borrowers on military leave, provide for improved disability determinations, and allow for public service loan forgiveness.


Student Athlete Issues: NCAA releases Report on Mental Health Best Practices for Student-Athlete Mental Wellness
February 1, 2016

The Sports Science Institute at the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) published a Best Practices for Understanding and Supporting Student-Athlete Mental Wellness. The publication's Best Practices are designed to provide athletics and sports medicine departments with recommendations for supporting and promoting student-athlete mental health. Best practices identified in the report include protocol development for mental health emergencies with student-athletes, pre-participation mental health screening, and creating health–promoting environments that support mental well-being and resilience.


Athletics Compliance: NCAA Changes Basketball Eligibility Rules
February 1, 2016

Announcement by the National Association of College Athletics (NCAA) adopting a proposal that changes the date by which a student must remove his name from the NBA draft. The proposal enables students to attend multiple NBA draft related events while retaining NCAA eligibility. The flexibility embedded in the rule is designed to assist college basketball players make better informed decisions on pursuing professional basketball.


Healthcare, HIPAA, Compliance: Department of Health and Human Service's Office of Civil Rights and University of Washington Medicine Enter Resolution Agreement
February 1, 2016

Settlement entered into between the University of Washington and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to resolve a HIPAA security breach stemming from unsecured electronic protected health information. HHS determined that UW Medicine failed to implement policies and procedures to prevent, detect, contain, and correct security violations. The University agreed to pay $750,000 as part of the resolution and enter into a corrective action plan set forth by the HHS.


Age Discrimination, Retaliation: Smith v. Bd. of Supervisors for S. Univ. (M.D. La., Jan. 12, 2016)
February 1, 2016

Ruling by the U.S. District Court of Middle District of Louisiana granting defendant's motion for summary judgment on Title VII Retaliation and Age Discrimination Claims. Plaintiff- a former employee and legal advisor to the President of the Southern University System (SU) – sued the University following her employment discharge, claiming the University violated Title VII and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA). To support her Title VII claim, the plaintiff alleged that the University fired her in retaliation for testifying at a TRO hearing pertaining to Title VII litigation. The Court held that, though she did in fact engage in a "protected activity" under Title VII's "participation clause", she could not establish temporal proximity, since two years separated the testimony and the employment termination. With respect to the Plaintiff's ADEA claim, the Court concluded that the University's proffered reasons for her termination – (1) budgetary pressures and (2) that the plaintiff's replacement was more qualified – were sufficient to show that no reasonable jury could conclude that the University's explanation was pretext for terminating the plaintiff due to her age.


Due Process: Anyadike v. Vernon Coll. (N.D. Tex., Jan. 11, 2016)
February 1, 2016

Order by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas Wichita Falls Division denying Plaintiff's Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). Plaintiff – a former student at Vernon College's Licensed Vocational Nursing (LVN) Program– filed a complaint against the College alleging §1983 claims (Due Process), Title VI claims, and §1981 claims. The claims arose from the Plaintiff's dismissal for violating the LVN attendance policy. The Court denied Plaintiff's Motion on the grounds that the Plaintiff failed to establish that he had a substantial likelihood of success on the merits and irreparable harm.


First Amendment & Free Speech; Due Process: Thomas v. Del. State Univ. (3rd Cir., 2015)
January 28, 2016

Opinion by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on September 21, 2015 affirming the district court's summary judgment order for defendants. Plaintiff – a former employee of Delaware State University and member of American Federation of State and County Municipal County Employees Local 1007 (Union) – sued the University following her termination from employment. The University terminated her employment after learning of the plaintiff's plea agreement in a criminal case. The plaintiff brought claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deprivation of due process and First Amendment rights. The court of appeals, agreeing with the district court, held that the plaintiff received the required procedural due process because the University provided the plaintiff with notice of its intent to terminate her contract as well as an opportunity to be heard. The court also ruled that her First Amendment claim was correctly dismissed, because her speech, which was related to "working conditions and other issues in union members' employment," was unprotected as it did not touch on a matter of public concern.


Sexual Misconduct and Other Campus Violence: Statement from Justice Department on Understanding the Threat of Sexual Violence on College Campuses
January 27, 2016

Statement by Vanita Gupta, Head of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, commenting on the Department's report titled, "Campus Climate Survey Validation Study Technical Report." Gupta's comments emphasize the significance of the report's findings and the Justice Department's approach to addressing sexual assault.


Sexual Misconduct and Other Campus Violence: Florida State University Settles Lawsuit with Erica K. Kinsman
January 27, 2016

Settlement agreement reached between Florida State University and Erica K. Kinsman. Kinsman sued the University alleging violations of Title IX resulting from the University's alleged failure to respond to her allegations of sexual assault by another student. The U.S. District Court for The Northern District of Florida Tallahassee Division denied the University's motion to dismiss the complaint. Under the agreement, Florida State University does not admit liability and will pay $250,000 for Kinsman's alleged damages and $700,000 for Kinsman's attorney fees.


Age Discrimination: Evans v. Vanderbilt Univ. Med. Ctr. (M.D. Tenn., 2016)
January 27, 2016

Memorandum by the U.S. District Court Middle District of Tennessee Nashville Division granting defendant's motion for summary judgment on January 12, 2016. Plaintiff – a former nurse at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) – sued the University alleging violations of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The plaintiff filed this action following her termination by the University for violating VUMC's controlled substances and medication administration policies on multiple occasions creating a risk of patient harm. Citing the gravity of the plaintiff's conduct and her inability to produce evidence showing that the University terminated her due to her age, the court granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment.


Guns on Campus: AAU Board Expresses Support for Research on Gun Violence and Gun Safety
January 22, 2016

Announcement by the Association of American Universities Board of Directors stating its concern with gun violence in America the importance of conducting research to evaluate how the country can address this issue. AAU's Board also expressed its backing of President Obama's recent directive to the Justice Department and the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security to conduct research on technology that can improve gun safety. Lastly, the Board asks that Congress act to remove its prohibition on federally funded public health research on gun violence.


Diversity: Pipelines, Pathways, and Institutional Leadership: An Update on the Status of Women in Higher Education
January 22, 2016

As infographic brief from the American Council on Education's Center for Policy Research and Strategy. The brief, using data and descriptive statistics, seeks to illuminate patterns of bias to help increase the number of women in higher education leadership. Also included are action steps recommended by the University of Denver's report, Benchmarking Women's Leadership in the United States.


Sexual and Other Campus Misconduct; Gender Discrimination; Retaliation: Settlement Agreement between the University of Colorado and Kimberly Parker
January 22, 2016

Settlement Agreement reached between the University of Colorado and former employee Kimberly Parker. Following the University's decision to terminate Parker's employment, she sued the University claiming she was terminated in retaliation for filing a sexual harassment complaint against a University Professor. Under the settlement agreement, the University admits no liability, will pay Parker $80,000 and costs related to mediation, and will assist Parker in finding a job.


Sexual Misconduct and Other Campus Violence; Government Relations: Remarks by Department of Justice Campus Climate Survey Validation Study Technical Final Report
January 22, 2016

Principal Deputy Director Bea Hanson of the Office on Violence against Women provided an overview and summary posted on the Department of Justice's website regarding the Campus Climate Survey Validation Study (CCSVS) Final Technical Report – a key deliverable of The White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. Deputy Director Hanson explains the results of the survey while also noting the report demonstrates that schools can successfully conduct valid and reliable campus climate surveys and that the report includes a set of best practices to assist in designing/implementing a climate survey. Lastly, Deputy Director Hanson detailed the measures being taken by the Department as well as initiatives to provide resources on the CCSVS study.


Athletics: Comment Request; Campus Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act (EADA) Survey
January 21, 2016

Notice from the Department of Education proposing an extension of information collection related to annual data on college athletics. The Department seeks to use the data collected from institutions to increase transparency in college athletics for students, prospective students, parents, employees, and the general public. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before March 21, 2016.


Financial Aid: Federal Perkins Loan, Federal Work Study, and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant Programs; 2016-2017 Award Year Deadline Dates
January 21, 2016

Announcement by the Department of Education providing the deadlines for the submission of applications, reports, waiver-requests, and other documents for the Federal Perkins Loan, Federal Work Study and Federal Supplemental Grant Programs. These requests can be submitted through the Fiscal Operations Report and Application to Participate (FISAP) at the eCampus-Based Website: https://cbfisap.ed.gov.


Title IX: Letter From Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights on Educational Institutions with Religious Exemptions under Title IX
January 21, 2016

Letter from Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine Lhamon responding to a December 18, 2015 letter from Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) which expressed concern about discrimination against LGBT students and requests greater transparency from the Office of Civil Rights with respect to the waiver process under Title IX. Assistant Secretary Lhamon's reply notes the increase in requests that the Department has received for Title IX religious exemptions and that the Office of Civil Rights is currently in the process of preparing institutions' requests for Title IX waivers and the Department's responses for posting on the Department's website.


Title IX: Letter from Representative Jackie Speier to the Department of Education on Title IX Violation disclosure for Faculty/Staff members
January 21, 2016

Letter from Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA) to Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine Lhamon requesting that the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) clarify whether universities that find a Title IX violation by faculty or staff are required to disclose the results of their investigation to other educational institutions.


Employment Separation: McGlashan v. Univ. of Wash. (W.D. Wash., 2016)
January 21, 2016

Order by the U.S. District Court Western District of Washington at Seattle granting defendant's motion for partial summary judgment on January 14, 2016. Plaintiff – a former University of Washington employee – sued the University for breach of contract following her termination from employment. The University argued the plaintiff was precluded from bringing the claim because she failed to exhaust the administrative remedies as set forth by her Union's Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). The court concluded that the plaintiff's failure to appeal the Union's decision not to arbitrate her grievance – a necessary step in the CBA's administrative remedy process – was sufficient evidence to show that as a matter of law, the plaintiff's claims for breach of contract must fail for having not exhausted the administrative remedies available to her.


Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence; Due Process: Lambraia v. State Univ. of N.Y. At Binghamton, 2016 NY Slip Op 246 (N.Y. App. Div., 2016)
January 21, 2016

Memorandum and Judgment by the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York on January 14, 2016 confirming State University of New York at Binghamton's (SUNY) disciplinary determination. Petitioner – a student at SUNY – received a two-year suspension following an investigation and hearing by the University. The proceedings began after a student at Cornell University notified SUNY that the petitioner sexually assaulted her. Following the investigation and hearing, which included testimony from the victim, petitioner, and witnesses, SUNY determined that the petitioner violated the Code of Student Conduct and imposed a two year suspension. The petitioner argued against SUNY's findings and claimed he was denied due process. The court rejected these claims, finding that SUNY's determination was supported by substantial evidence and that, although the Conduct board did not immediately release certain internal documents used to make its determination, SUNY sufficiently detailed its factual findings, the testimony, and evidence that it relied upon in its determination.


Employment Separation: Arizona State University Reaches Settlement Agreement with Professor
January 20, 2016

Settlement Agreement reached between Arizona State University ("ASU") and Professor Matthew Whitaker. The University demoted and then placed Whitaker on probation following a finding of plagiarism by a University-commissioned investigation. Under the terms of the settlement agreement, neither party admits to wrong-doing or liability. ASU will continue to pay Whitaker's salary of $153,500 and benefits in addition to $25,000 to cover Whitaker's attorney's fees.


Financial Aid: President Barack Obama Proposes to Increase Pell Grant Funding
January 20, 2016

Announcement by Acting Secretary of the Department of Education, John King Jr., of President Barack Obama's intention to expand Pell Grant funding as part of his upcoming budget proposal. Acting Secretary King added that the changes to the Pell Grant program would provide an additional $ 2 billion in Pell Grants for the 2017 fiscal year.


Discrimination; Employment Separation: Feather v. Univ. of Cent. Okla. (W.D. Okla., 2016)
January 19, 2016

Order by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma granting defendant's motion to dismiss on January 13, 2016. Plaintiff – a former employee at the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) – sued the University in state court alleging, among other claims, that UCO discriminated against him due to a physical impairment. The state court granted the University summary judgment on each claim. Following the state court's decision, the plaintiff filed suit in federal district court asking that the court remand the case, arguing the state court's ruling was incorrect and denied him due process. Citing the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, the district court held that the plaintiff was barred from bringing his claim to a federal court to "undo the state court judgment" because appellate jurisdiction over such claims belongs to the U.S. Supreme Court.


Employment Separation, RIFs, ERIPs & Retrenchment: Morton v. Vanderbilt Univ. (6th Cir., 2016)
January 19, 2016

Opinion by U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit on January 6, 2016, reversing district court's judgment. The Plaintiffs – a group former employees of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center – sued the University claiming the University violated the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) by failing to provide employees the required 60 days written notice prior to a mass lay off. The district court agreed with the plaintiffs holding that the University "terminated" a prior group of employees without adequate notice resulting in a "mass layoff" – violating the WARN Act. On Appeal, the Sixth Circuit determined the district court erred in ruling the University "terminated" the prior group of employees. The University's actions toward those workers did not fall within the WARN Act's definition of "terminate" because, at the time of notice, the employees continued to be paid and accrue benefits. Consequently, the University's actions did not constitute a "mass layoff" or trigger any WARN Act provisions.


Financial Aid; Due Process; Equal Protection; Discrimination: Alston v. Pa. State Univ. (M.D. Pa., 2016)
January 19, 2016

Order from the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania on January 7, 2016, fully adopting the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation ("Report") in full and dismissing the complaint. Plaintiff – Alson Alston, a former law student at Pennsylvania University's Dickinson School of Law ("PSU") – sued PSU claiming violations of substantive due process, procedural due process, equal protection, disability discrimination, and state tort law. The plaintiff's claims stem from his requests to obtain additional financial aid to take care of his elderly mother. The court dismissed plaintiff's substantive and procedural due process claims for failure to articulate a fundamental or protected interest to trigger the protections of substantive or procedural due process, noting that the pleadings indicated that the process by which plaintiff sought additional financial aid was interactive and sufficiently met procedural due process's minimum mandate. The equal protection and discrimination claims failed because the complaint lacked supporting factual allegations. Lastly, the court declined to exercise pendant jurisdiction over the state claims having dismissed all the federal claims.


Cybersecurity; Online Learning: Report on the "Top 10 IT Issues for Colleges and Universities"
January 14, 2016

Report released by EDUCAUSE outlining the primary issues that higher education institutions should expect in 2016. Report includes interviews with IT professionals at member institutions on the topics facing colleges and university and offers advice on how to effectively address IT issues on a University level.


Program Integrity: Report on Trends in College Spending: 2003-2013
January 13, 2016

Report by the Delta Cost Project at the American Institutes of Research detailing spending at colleges from 2003 – 2013. Using information compiled by U.S. Department of Education's Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), the Trends in Spending report centers its observations on the flow of money and purchasing power at colleges and universities.


Program Integrity: Notice of Comment Request for Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)
January 13, 2016

Notice issued by the U.S. Department of Education proposing an extension for an existing information collection. The Department was granted an emergency clearance to allow for a revision in the data collected as part of Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). The comment request is in response to a change in the Government Accounting Standards Board's (GASB) reporting standards that also impacts institutions reporting in IPEDS. As part of the emergency clearance, questions were added to assess the changes institutions' pension liabilities as result of the GASB change. Interested parties are invited to submit comments on or before February 11, 2016.


Discrimination: House Passes Federal Intern Protection Act of 2016
January 13, 2016

The Federal Intern Protection Act of 2016 (H.R. 3231) passed the House of Representatives by unanimous vote. The legislation seeks to guarantee unpaid federal government interns receive protection against race, gender, age, and other forms of discrimination.


Financial Aid; Athletics & Sports: Letter from the Office of Civil Rights to the National Women's Law Center and Women's Sports Foundation
January 13, 2016

Letter from Catherine Lhamon, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, to the National Women's Law Center and Women's Sports Foundation regarding treatment of full cost of attendance athletic financial aid awards dated November 12, 2015. This letter reiterates standards provided previously regarding Title IX compliance in the award of athletic financial assistance with the exception of a footnote stating that post-eligibility financial aid and summer school aid is no longer excluded from the overall financial aid calculation so long as the aid was awarded in a non-discriminatory manner.


Diversity: American Council on Education Launches Moving the Needle Campaign to Achieve Higher Education Leadership Gender Parity
January 13, 2016

Announcement by the American Council on Education of national campaign asking presidents of colleges, universities, and related associations to commit to helping achieve the goal that by 2030, half of U.S. college and university chief executives are women. One hundred nine presidents and chancellors have joined the campaign as inaugural signers.


Athletics Compliance: NCAA Committee on Infractions: University of Louisiana at Lafayette Public Infractions Decision
January 12, 2016

Decision by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Committee on Infractions related to its investigation of NCAA violations by the University of Louisiana Lafayette (ULL). Following the investigation of the ULL's football program, the Committee found that a former assistant football coach violated NCAA rules. According to the Committee, the assistant coach helped recruits obtain fake test scores and committed unethical conduct by providing false and misleading information. The Committee accepted ULL's self-imposed sanctions and added additional penalties, including a $5000 fine, two-year probation, and other recruiting limitations.


Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence; Title IX: Letter from Senator James Lankford on the Department of Education's Authority to Issue the 2010 and 2011 Dear Colleague Letter
January 12, 2016

In a letter to Acting Secretary of the Department of Education, John B. King, Jr., Oklahoma Senator James Lankford questions the Department's use of "Dear Colleague" letters to create substantive and binding regulatory policies without being subject to the notice-and-comment procedure. Lankford specifically mentions the Department's "Dear Colleague" letters on harassing and bulling (DCL 2010) and sexual violence (DCL 2011) as examples of such overstepping by the Department. Further, Senator Lankford asks the Department to clarify the statutory and legal authority underpinning DCL 2010 and DCL 2011.


Higher Education, Financial Aid: Congressional Research Service Report on Unauthorized Aliens, Higher Education, In-State Tuition, and Financial Aid
January 12, 2016

Report from the Congressional Research Service on the legal landscape surrounding unauthorized aliens and access to higher education. The report discusses the limitations of the application of Plyler v. Doe in higher education. The Report examines federal laws along with measures taken by states to restrict or grant access to higher education for unauthorized aliens - primarily through eligibility for in-state tuition and financial aid. The Report concludes with trends to expect in the upcoming year.


Guns on Campus: Memorandum to University of Texas System Regarding Concealed Carry on Campus
January 12, 2016

Report by the University of Texas System working group to the University of Texas System Chancellor and Presidents outlining its recommendations on the implementation of Senate Bill 11 in Texas and concealed-carry on campus. The Report examines the law, pointing out campus locations where firearms are excluded by law or rule, other locations where exclusion is recommended, and other suggestions that should be considered in the creation of campus carry policies. The report is in not binding, but intended to be used as a tool to help UT Campus Presidents build effective policies concerning handguns on campus.


Discrimination; Title IX; Athletics: Consent Decree and Order Approving Settlement in Moshak v. the University of Tennessee
January 12, 2016

Consent Decree and Order by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee at Knoxville on January 4, 2016 approving the settlement agreement reached between the University of Tennessee and three former employees of the University's women's athletics program. The employees filed a complaint alleging they were compensated less than employees in the men's program for no other reason than their sex and/or affiliation with women's athletics. The complainants also alleged that they were retaliated against by the University and suffered from adverse employment decisions. As part of the settlement the University admits no liability and agrees to pay $750,000 and attorney's fees.


Employment Separation: Settlement Agreement between Southern Oregon University and the Oregon Bureau of Labor Industries
January 12, 2016

Settlement agreement between Southern Oregon University and the Oregon Bureau of Labor Industries stemming from a wage claims dispute affecting 325 workers who were part of a University construction project. The Bureau demanded payment from the University in December 2014 for unpaid prevailing wages pursuant to Oregon law. Under the terms of the agreement, the University has agreed to pay $2.5 million in unpaid wages to the group of workers but does not admit any guilt or liability.


Title IX: Moore v. Piedmont Bus. Colls., Inc. (M.D. Tenn., 2016)
January 12, 2016

Memorandum and Order by the U.S. District Court Middle District of Tennessee Nashville Division denying defendant's motion to dismiss plaintiff's amended complaint on January 6, 2016. Plaintiff – a student at Piedmont Business Colleges, Inc. F/K/A Miller Motte Technical College (Miller Moite) – sued Miller Moite under Title IX alleging Miller Moite negligently mishandled her case after she was sexually assaulted. The defendants sought to dismiss the plaintiff's amended complaint, arguing that it was missing important elements. Denying the defendant's motion, the Court ruled that, although the amended complaint continued to lack certain details, the plaintiff presented sufficient allegations to allow the action to proceed.


Health Care & Insurance - Affordable Care Act: Comment on the Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2017
January 11, 2016

Comment submitted by a group of ten higher education associations to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on the agency's annual rule that sets out policy for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (Pub. L. 111-148). The comment expresses support for the proposed regulations that would permit insurance issuers to establish separate risk pools for student health insurance coverage, in addition to the proposed exemption of student health insurance coverage from the general actuarial value requirements under Section 1302(d) of the ACA, stating that the proposals "will help ensure that students and their families have sufficient information about the value and benefits offered in a [Student Health Insurance Coverage] plan to make informed decisions about a student's health insurance coverage." The comment concludes by urging the agency explore ways to prevent insurance issuers from passing the costs of these requirements onto colleges and universities.


Employee Benefits & ERISA: Exposure Draft on Fiduciary Duties Issued by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board
January 11, 2016

Exposure draft on fiduciary activities was issued by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB). The would establish criteria for identifying and reporting fiduciary activities of all state and local governments. Under the proposed criteria, public institutions with single-employer defined benefit pension plans or other post employment benefit (OPEB) plans subject to the requirements of Statements 67 and 74, respectively, will have fiduciary fund reporting requirements on the pension or OPEB trusts. Interested parties are invited to comment on the draft by March 31.


Government Relations: Annual Report to Congress on College Credit Card Agreements
January 11, 2016

Annual report to Congress by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) on agreements between credit card issuers and institutions of higher education. The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act (Pub. L. 111-24) requires CFPB to submit a report to Congress every year detailing agreements between credit card issuers and colleges and universities, as well as certain affiliated organizations. The report includes data from credit card issuers on the number of credit card accounts covered by these agreements, the amount of payments made by the issuers to institutions, the number of new accounts opened, and any memorandums of understanding between the issuers and institutions. According to the most recent report, the number of agreements is down 65 percent from 2009, when CFPB began tracking such agreements, and payments from card issuers to institutions have decreased nearly proportionately.


Government Relations: Safe Student Account Toolkit
January 11, 2016

Safe Student Account Toolkit was released by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to assist colleges and universities in entering arrangements with banks to provide institution-sponsored financial accounts. The toolkit includes a scorecard that institutions can opt to include in requests for proposals from potential banking partners, as well as an administrator handbook designed to guide college and university officials in selecting these accounts. The scorecard and handbook include certain minimum protections outlined in the U.S. Department of Education's cash management rules, which were finalized in October 2015.


Tax: Announcement on Limited Penalty Relief for Filers of Form 1098-T
January 11, 2016

Announcement issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that it will not penalize institutions that timely file or furnish 2015 Forms 1098-T with missing or inaccurate taxpayer identification numbers (TINS) during 2016. Section 6050S(a)(1) requires eligible educational institutions to file information returns (Form 1098-T) with the IRS, which must contain the TINs of any individuals enrolled at the institution. The penalty relief is limited to the 2015 returns required to be filed by eligible educational institutions by February 29, 2016 or, if filed electronically, by March 31, 2016.


Admissions; Program Integrity: Alaburda v. Thomas Jefferson School of Law
January 8, 2016

Order by Superior Court of California, County of San Diego Central denying defendant Thomas Jefferson School of Law's (TJSL) motion for summary judgment on December 28, 2015. Plaintiffs – three TJSL graduates – sued asserting fraud, negligence, negligent misrepresentation and other state law claims stemming from their alleged reliance on TJSL's inflated employment figures in deciding to attend TJSL. Rejecting TJSL's argument that the plaintiffs' could not show that the alleged misrepresentations were a material, substantial factor in their decisions to attend TJSL, the court noted the plaintiffs' explicit declarations that they would not have attended the law school if they knew of the inflated employment figures. The court concluded that "representations regarding employment statistics [are] material misrepresentations to applicants for law school" and that "reasonable reliance is an inherently factual inquiry."


Discrimination: Sharp v. Kean Univ. (D.N.J., 2015)
January 8, 2016

Order granting motion to dismiss by U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey on December 28, 2015. The plaintiff—former head coach of the women's basketball team at Kean University – sued the University, NCAA, and other individuals asserting violations of state and federal laws, including Title IX, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and 42 U.S.C § 1985, following the University's decision to demote her after an NCAA investigation found that the plaintiff and the University violated NCAA regulations. The court dismissed each of the plaintiff's claims with prejudice and declined to exercise jurisdiction over a counterclaim for unpaid legal fees by the plaintiff's lawyer. Specifically, the court held that the plaintiff failed to sufficiently allege Title IX or § 1983 and § 1985 violations against the University and that the Title IX claim against the NCAA failed as a matter of law because of its inapplicability to individuals and non-federally assisted organizations.


Employment Separation: Traster v. Ohio N. Univ. (N.D. Ohio, 2015)
January 7, 2016

Memorandum Opinion and Order from U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio Western Division entering judgment for defendant Ohio Northern University (ONU) on December 18, 2015. Following ONU's decision to terminate his employment for violating its sexual harassment policy, the plaintiff—a former tenured law professor—sued ONU alleging the University breached his employment contract by applying the faculty dismissal process prescribed by the University Handbook instead of the process described in the Law School's Bylaws. Rejecting the plaintiff's argument, the court concluded that the University Handbook, as incorporated by the contract's "applicable rules" catch all provision, controlled. The court further held that ONU's decision to suspend Traster without making a particularized finding that his continued presence posed a threat of immediate harm to others was a "nominal, trifling or technical departure from the terms of the contract but not a breach of the contract."


Employment Separation; Discrimination: Rao v. Gondi (N.D. Ill., 2015)
January 7, 2016

Memorandum Opinion and Order by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division denying defendants' motion to dismiss on December 30, 2015. Plaintiff – a former tenured professor at University of Illinois – resigned from the University as a result of a plagiarism investigation initiated and directed by Defendants Dr. Sarah Rusch and Dr. Dmitri Azar. After the investigation commenced, the University informed Rao that if he did not resign then the University would terminate his employment and the plagiarism allegations would likely become public. Soon thereafter, the plaintiff resigned and sued the University as well as Azar and Rusch for claims including discrimination, retaliation, denial of due process and equal protection under 42 U.S.C. 1983. Rusch and Azar moved to dismiss the due process and equal protection claims, arguing that Rao did not have a property interest in his employment and that he voluntarily resigned. The court denied the motion to dismiss and held Rao alleged sufficient facts to plead violations of his due process rights resulting from constructive discharge or coerced resignation.


Accreditation: In re Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges
January 6, 2016

Decision by Department of Education (Department) Acting Secretary John B. King on January 5, 2016. The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) appealed the Department's 2014 Decision Letter finding ACCJC noncompliant with certain criteria for recognition as an accreditor. The Secretary agreed with the 2014 Decision Letter's findings and ordered that it be adopted as the agency's Final Decision. As part of the order, ACCJC will continue to be recognized by the Department pending the submission of a compliance report within 12 months.


Race Discrimination: Kobaisy v. Univ. of Miss. (5th Cir., 2015)
January 6, 2016

Order by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued on September 1, 2015 affirming the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of defendants. The plaintiff– a former research scientist at the University of Mississippi – sued the University and individual defendants, alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil Acts Right of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, §1983, and claims under state law after the University's denied her request to be reinstated to her former position following her return from medical leave caused by injuries she sustained during an explosion, which left her permanently partially disabled and unable to work in her prior capacity. The district court dismissed all claims against the University and held that the individual defendants were entitled to summary judgment on the remaining claims because, the Court summarized, "[the plaintiff] could not establish a prima facie case nor show that the proffered legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for the failure to reinstate [] were pretextual." The plaintiff appealed the district court's summary judgment ruling on her claim for national origin discrimination. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision, adopting its reasoning in full.


Faculty and Staff: Settlement Agreement between the University of Colorado and Daniel Kaufman
January 5, 2016

Settlement agreement reached between The University of Colorado and Professor Daniel Kaufman. Kaufman sued the University after being placed on leave and barred from campus in response to his reported threats and disruptive behavior. The federal district court dismissed all the Kaufman's federal law claims but declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction on the professor's state law claims of defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Under the settlement agreement, the University does not admit liability and will pay Kaufman $25,000 as partial reimbursement of attorney's fees.


Financial Aid: U.S. Department of Education Updates Cash Monitoring List on December 1, 2015
January 5, 2016

Announcement from the U.S. Department of Education (Department) that it has published an updated list of institutions subject to Heightened Cash Monitoring (HCM). The Department also published lists in March 2015 and June 2015. HCM is a step that the Department's Federal Student Aid office can take with institutions to provide additional oversight on financial or federal compliance issues.


Discrimination: Dear Colleague Letter on Discrimination and Harassment Based on Race, Religion, and National Origin
January 4, 2016

Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) from Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to educational leaders emphasizing the need to ensure that schools and institutions of higher education are free from discrimination and harassment on the basis of race, religion, or national origin. The DCL suggests methods of engaging in exchange of ideas while also maintaining a safe environment for students and provides governmental resources on bullying and harassment and resources on how education stakeholders can promote a more positive school climate.


First Amendment & Free Speech; Due Process: Oyama v. University of Hawaii (9th Cir., 2015)
January 4, 2016

Opinion by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on December 29, 2015 upholding the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendant University of Hawaii. The University denied secondary education candidate Mark L. Oyama's application to become a student teacher, a prerequisite for recommendation to Hawaii's teacher certification board, based on statements he made regarding sexual relationships with minors and students with learning disabilities. The Ninth Circuit held that the University did not violate Oyama's First Amendment right to freedom of speech because its decision "related directly to defined and established professional standards, was narrowly tailored to serve the University's core mission of evaluating Oyama's suitability for teaching, and reflected reasonable professional judgment." In addition, the Court concluded that the University provided adequate procedural protections in denying Oyama's application and therefore neither the University nor its agents violated Oyama's procedural due process rights.


Collective Bargaining: University System of New Hampshire Board of Trustees v. Dorfsman (N.H., 2015)
January 4, 2016

Opinion by the New Hampshire Supreme Court on December 23, 2015 affirming the superior court's decision to vacate an arbitrator's decision that appellants University of New Hampshire and its Board of Trustees (UNH) had violated their collective bargaining agreement by terminating respondent Associate Professor Marco Dorfsman. After Dorfsman admitted to altering a colleague's student evaluations, UNH determined that this conduct constituted an act of "moral turpitude" within the meaning of the collective bargaining agreement and terminated Dorfsman. An arbitrator agreed with UNH that Dorfsman's conduct constituted an act of "moral turpitude" but remanded the matter after concluding that Dorfsman's termination did not comport with principles of just cause. The trial court held that the arbitrator had exceeded its authority under the collective bargaining agreement. In upholding the trial court, the state Supreme Court held that because the contract specifically allows dismissals for moral turpitude and because the arbitrator did not contest that the altering of evaluations met that standard, there was no basis to question the University's decision. "In rejecting UNH's chosen penalty for moral turpitude," the Court wrote, "the arbitrator substituted his views of the proper industrial relationships for the provisions of the contract. The arbitrator may not rewrite the labor contract in such a way."


Contract Administration; Construction Projects: Contract Design Grp., Inc. v. Wayne State Univ. (6th Cir., 2015)
December 23, 2015

Order from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit on December 16, 2015, reversing in part the district court's decision and remanding for further proceedings. Plaintiff – Contract Design Group (CDG) – was a contractor for Wayne State University (WSU). In 2008, concerned with CDG's compliance status with state labor laws, WSU suspended and ultimately terminated its contract with CDG. At trial a jury found for CDG on claims for procedural due process, accounts stated (awarding $200,000), and breach of contract (awarding $250,000). On appeal, the Sixth Circuit held that district court erred in denying WSU's motion for judgment as a matter of law. Under Michigan law, plaintiff's claims for accounts stated and breach of contract merged and the trial court erred in permitting double recovery on these claims. The court also reversed the denial of WSU's motion for a new trial or remitter, holding that remittal was the more appropriate than a new trial. Defendants other arguments on appeal were denied.


Collective Bargaining; Employment Separation: N. New Mexico Fed'n of Educ. Emps. v. N. New Mexico Coll. (N.M. App., 2015)
December 23, 2015

Order from Court of Appeals of the State of New Mexico on December 14, 2015 reversing the Northern New Mexico College Labor Management Relations Board's (Board) Decision and Remanding for further proceedings. Northern New Mexico Federation of Educational Employees (Union) filed suit against Northern New Mexico Community College (College) with the Board (Board) alleging that the College's terminated of two Union employees in retaliation for participating in union-related activities. The court reversed the Board's grant of the College's motion to dismiss and remanded for further proceedings, citing the Board's failure to address the complaint's allegations of retaliatory termination.


False Claims Act: Kreipke v. Wayne State Univ. (6th Cir., 2015)
December 23, 2015

Opinion by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit on December 4, 2015 affirming the district court's decision to grant defendant's motion for dismissal. Plaintiff – a former Assistant Professor at Wayne State University (WSU) – brought a qui tam action for alleged violations of the False Claims Act (FCA) in addition to a defamation claim under Michigan state law. The plaintiff alleged that WSU deliberately engaged in a scheme to defraud the federal government in order to inflate the funding that the University received for various federal grants and contracts. Upholding the lower court's analysis, the Sixth Circuit held that WSU is an 'arm of the state' and, thus, not a 'person' subject to liability under the FCA. It placed heavy emphasis on the fact that "any judgment against WSU will be paid out of the state's tax revenues." The court further affirmed the district court's denial of the plaintiff's motion to amend his defamation claim due to its futility.


Disability Discrimination; Race Discrimination: Rose v. Seton Hall Univ. (D.N.J., 2015)
December 23, 2015

Order by the U.S. District Court District of New Jersey granting defendant's motion to dismiss the complaint on December 15, 2015. Plaintiff – a former student in Seton Hall University's Physician Assistant program – sued the University asserting claims under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, The Rehabilitation Act, and the Sherman Antitrust Act. The plaintiff's claims stemmed from his allegations that the University's Program director altered the plaintiff's transcripts, resulting in his dismissal from the program. The plaintiff filed suit in 2013 against the University, over 12 years from the date of his dismissal. Citing the plaintiff's delay in filing the suit, the court held that each of the plaintiff's claims were time-barred and granted the University's motion to dismiss.


Employment Separation; Race Discrimination: Wiltse v Delta Cmty. Coll. (Mich. App., 2015)
December 23, 2015

Order by State of Michigan Court of Appeals on December 15, 2015 affirming trial court's decision to grant defendant Delta College's motion for summary disposition. Delta College terminated plaintiff Michael Wiltse – the college's former Director of Public Safety at Delta College – after Wiltse admitted to violating Delta's confidentiality policies by sharing details of an investigation into a professor's relationship. Wiltse sued Delta alleging violations of the state Whistleblowers' Protection Act (WPA) and state law discrimination claims. The court dismissed his WPA claim because his disclosure of the details of the professor's investigation did not fall under any category of protected activity. Wiltse's discrimination claims also failed since he was unable to allege sufficient evidence to give rise to an inference of unlawful discrimination.


Discrimination; Sex Discrimination: Dear Colleague Letter on Voluntary Youth Service Organizations
December 22, 2015

Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) released by the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights outlining the circumstances under which Title IX permits school districts to provide significant assistance to "voluntary youth service organizations" whose membership is limited to students of one sex. The DCL notes that this guidance also applies to postsecondary institutions.


Collective Bargaining: Amicus Brief by Six Higher Education Associations in The New School and Student Employees at The New School – Sens UAW
December 21, 2015

Amicus brief submitted to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) by six higher education associations (the American Council on Education (ACE), the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the Association of American Universities (AAU), the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU), the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR), and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) in the case of The New School and Student Employees at The New School – Sens UAW. The brief asserts that a decision in favor of the petitioners "will unsettle fundamental relationships in higher education in the U.S. and adversely impact the ways in which universities address basic issues in graduate student education," in addition to interfering with academic freedom and intruding upon the relationship between professors and their students.


Due Process: Kadakia v. Rutgers (3rd Cir., 2015)
December 21, 2015

Order by the U.S. Court of Appeals on December 3, 2015 affirming the district court’s order granting summary judgment in favor of defendant. Plaintiff – a former student at The State University of New Jersey (Rutgers) – sued Rutgers alleging violations of his substantive and procedural due process rights following his dismissal from a joint degree program at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (RWJMS). After receiving an academic warning for failing three courses and subsequently failing two portions of a clerkship, RWJMS notified the plaintiff that the Academic Standing Committee (ASC) was considering his dismissal. At his dismissal hearing, the plaintiff presented a statement and responded to questions, but the committee ultimately dismissed him due to his persistent academic difficulties and for exceeding the number of failed courses permitted under the Academic Rules and Regulations. In affirming the district court’s decision, the court of appeals held that, even assuming plaintiff had a substantive due process right to continued enrollment in the RWJMS program, “his challenge nonetheless fails because he was dismissed for legitimate academic reasons.” The court further held that the plaintiff received greater procedural due process than is required under the circumstances.


Financial Aid: Legislation Extending the Federal Perkins Loan Program
December 21, 2015

As part of the Higher Education Extension Act of 2015, Congress passed legislation temporarily extending the authority of higher education institutions to make loans to new borrowers under the Federal Perkins Loan Program through September 30, 2016. Institutions will be able to disburse Perkins Loans through March 31, 2018. President Barack Obama signed the bill into law on December 18, 2015.


Financial Aid: Notice of Intent to Establish a Negotiated Rulemaking Committee on Federal Student Aid - Request for Additional Nominations
December 21, 2015

Notice of a request for additional nominations for the negotiated rulemaking committee on federal student aid was issued by the U.S. Department of Education. The Department announced its intention to establish a negotiated rulemaking committee on October 25, 2015, to prepare proposed regulations for the Federal Student Aid programs authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and solicited nominations for individual negotiators. This notice requests additional nominations for negotiators who represent specific stakeholder constituencies, including state higher education officers, two-year public institutions, as well as national, regional, or specialized accrediting agencies, to serve on the committee. Nominations must be received on or before December 28, 2015.


Program Integrity: Notice of a Request for New Information for the Educational Quality through Innovative Partnerships Project
December 21, 2015

Notice of a request for a new information collection package for the Educational Quality through Innovative Partnerships (EQUIP) project was published by the U.S. Department of Education. The package would provide for a series of questions that are components of the selection process for EQUIP, a new Federal Student Aid experimental site project designed to to improve the Department's understanding of how to increase access to high quality, innovative programs in higher education, which will provide guidance for future policy measures. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before January 20, 2016.


Racial Discrimination: Statement by the Association of American Universities on the Importance of Student Diversity
December 21, 2015

Statement issued by the Association of American Universities (AAU) Board of Directors on behalf of AAU's member universities on the importance of student diversity at research universities. The statement reaffirms the Association’s "commitment to achieving a diverse student body through a comprehensive process using race as one of many factors in making individual admissions decisions." It also points to research showing successful outcomes for underrepresented minority students who benefit from admissions policies designed to create diverse student bodies.


Athletics: O'Bannon v. National Collegiate Athletic Ass'n (9th Cir., 2015)
December 18, 2015

Order by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on appellee Edward O'Bannon's petition for rehearing en banc issued on December 16, 2015. O'Bannon filed a class-action suit alleging that the National Collegiate Athletic Association's (NCAA) amateurism rules constituted an unlawful restraint of trade in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit vacated the district court's judgment and injunction insofar as it required the NCAA to allow its member institutions to pay student-athletes up to $5,000 per year in deferred compensation, but upheld the district court on all other matters. The Ninth Circuit denied appellees' petition for rehearing en banc.


Employment Separation: Smith v. Bd. of Supervisors for the Univ. of La. Sys. (E.D. La., 2015)
December 18, 2015

Order by the U.S. District Court Eastern District of Louisiana denying defendant’s motion for summary judgement on December 11, 2015. Plaintiff – a former tenured Associate Professor at the University of New Orleans (UNO) – sued the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System asserting due process and breach of contract claims. The plaintiff alleged that after moving abroad to teach in Brazil, UNO’s Dean of Business pressured him into resigning from the University. He further alleged that these actions by the Dean breached the contract created between the plaintiff and the University when he was granted tenure and denied him due process. The Court held that the promotion to tenure created a contract and also denied the defendant’s motion for summary judgment because the plaintiff sufficiently demonstrated that disputed material facts existed with respect to his breach of contract and due process claims.


Government Relations; Financial Aid: Letter to Colleges from Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Credit Card Agreements
December 18, 2015

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) sent letters to 17 colleges and universities warning them that they may have violated the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act (“CARD Act”) by not properly disclosing their credit card agreements with financial institutions. In the letter, the CFPB notes that it has not made any determinations and urges the institutions to reconsider their approach to public disclosure on this issue.


Sexual Misconduct; Relationships with Local Law Enforcement: DOJ Guidance on Identifying and Preventing Gender Bias in Law Enforcement Response to Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence
December 18, 2015

Guidance issued by the U.S. Department of Justice designed to help law enforcement agencies (LEAs) prevent gender bias in responding to incidents of sexual assault and domestic violence. The guidance aims to examine how gender bias undermines LEA response to sexual assault and domestic violence. It also lays out a set of principles that, if implemented, aim to prevent gender bias from undermining efforts to keep victims safe and hold offenders accountable.


Student Conduct: Robinson v. Nev. Sys. of Higher Educ. (D. Nev., 2015)
December 18, 2015

Order from the U.S. District Court of Nevada on December 15, 2015, adopting in part the Magistrate Judge’s report. Plaintiff – a former nursing student at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) – sued the University after being dismissed from UNR’s Nursing School. The plaintiff filed an objection to the Magistrate Judge’s dismissal of her claims for breach of fiduciary duty, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and fraud. The district court agreed with the Magistrate’s report on the claims of fiduciary duty and fraud, noting that the plaintiff failed to establish that any fiduciary relationship existed between the parties and that he had not stated any facts to support a claim for breach. However, the court held that the plaintiff’s claim for breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing should proceed because the plaintiff’s complaint sufficiently stated that there was a contractual relationship between him and the University and alleged facts supporting bad faith behavior by the University.


Financial Aid: Announcement of the Availability of the Revised Pay As You Earn Plan
December 17, 2015

Announcement of the availability of the Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) Plan for eligible Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program borrowers was issued by Federal Student Aid (FSA). The REPAYE Plan caps a student loan borrower's monthly payment amount at 10% of the borrower’s discretionary income and is available to all Direct Loan borrowers regardless of income or when they took out their loans. Eligible Direct Loan borrowers can be placed on the REPAYE Plan beginning on December 17, 2015.


First Amendment & Free Speech; Racial Discrimination: Nwaubani v. Grossman (1st Cir., 2015)
December 17, 2015

Order by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit issued on November 25, 2015. Chidiebere Nwaubani, the director of the African American Studies Program at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth and tenured Associate Professor in the University's History Department, filed suit against University Chancellor Divina Grossman pursuant to 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 for alleged violations of his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights stemming from the University's decision to terminate him. Nwaubani filed his original complaint on in October 2013, then later filed two amended complaints in January 2014 and March 2014 along with a separate motion for preliminary injunction requesting that the district court order the ongoing termination proceedings be halted and that he be reinstated. On June 18, 2014, the University terminated Nwaubani. The district court consolidated Nwaubani's trial over his First and Fourteenth Amendment claims with his separate request for an injunction to end the termination proceedings and reinstate him, then denied Nwaubani's motions to reconsider its order. The First Circuit held that Nwaubani failed to show that the district court's order could effectively be challenged only through immediate appeal because Nwabani had been terminated by the time the district court issued its order, meaning that any damage to his property interest in continued employment at the university had already occurred. It thus dismissed his interlocutory appeal for lack of jurisdiction.


FMLA Discrimination; Disability Discrimination: Johnson v. Del. Cnty. Cmty. Coll. (E.D. Pa., 2015)
December 17, 2015

Order granting in part, denying in part, defendant’s motion to dismiss by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on December 9, 2015. Plaintiff – a former custodial employee of Delaware Community College – injured his knee and was diagnosed with a torn meniscus. The plaintiff informed the College that he was unable to work and submitted notes from his physician excusing him from work. In response, the College placed him on FMLA leave for 12 weeks. At the end of his FMLA leave, the plaintiff needed surgery but failed to inform the College of the change in his status. As a result, the College terminated the plaintiff for not returning at the end of his scheduled leave. The plaintiff then sued the College for FMLA and ADA violations. Citing the plaintiff’s injury, physician’s note, and the College’s lack of communication with the plaintiff after he was on leave, the court held that the complaint alleged sufficient facts to sustain the claims for disability discrimination as well as FMLA interference and retaliation. The court dismissed the plaintiff’s claim for ADA retaliation because he failed to request an accommodation until after he had been terminated by the College.


Sex Discrimination: Sanning v. Bd. of Trs. of Whitman Coll. (E.D. Wash., 2015)
December 17, 2015

Order by the U.S. District Court Eastern District of Washington denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss complaint on December 9, 2015. Plaintiff – Dr. Lee Sanning – sued the Board of Trustees of Whitman College asserting multiple claims of discrimination. Plaintiff alleged that the College treated him improperly during an investigation into his relationship with another doctor and treated him differently based on his sex. This differential treatment allegedly led to a process which violated the College’s Grievance Policy and ultimately led to the plaintiff’s termination. The court held that the plaintiff alleged sufficient facts to survive the defendant’s motion to dismiss.


Athletics: McNair v. Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n (Cal. App., 2015)
December 16, 2015

Opinion by Court of Appeal of the State of California Second Appellate District Division Three on February 6, 2015 affirming in part and reversing in part the lower court’s decision. Plaintiff – former University of Southern California (USC) assistant football coach Todd McNair – filed a lawsuit alleging multiple causes of action including defamation and interference with contract against the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) after the NCAA published the results of its investigation into whether a student-athlete received improper benefits while playing for USC. The NCAA’s published investigation report stated that the plaintiff had knowledge of the NCAA violations and attested falsely concerning his knowledge. The NCAA filed a special motion to strike the plaintiff’s complaint under California’s anti-strategic lawsuits against public participation (anti – SLAPP) statute. The lower court denied the motion and held that the plaintiff had met his burden and demonstrated a probability of prevailing on the merits of his causes of action. The court of appeal reversed part of this decision, ruling that the plaintiff could not meet his burden on his claims for interference with contract and economic advantage because the plaintiff’s contract expired on its own terms and the plaintiff had not shown that there was any existing contract or coaching job prospects the NCAA had knowledge of and interrupted. The court of appeal, however, affirmed the lower court’s holding that the plaintiff demonstrated a probability of prevailing on the merits of his defamation causes of action.


Financial Aid: Protecting Our Students by Terminating Graduate Rates that Add to Debt Act
December 16, 2015

Legislation (H.R. 4223) introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representative Judy Chu (D-CA) entitled the "Protecting Our Students by Terminating Graduate Rates that Add to Debt (POST GRAD) Act." If enacted, the legislation would reinstate the authority of the Secretary of Education to make Federal Direct Stafford Loans to graduate and professional students. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workfor ce.


Litigation; Title IX; Faculty & Staff - Discrimination: Waters v. Drake (S.D. Ohio, 2015)
December 16, 2015

Order granting motion to compel documents from Defendant by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio Eastern Division on December 8, 2015. Plaintiff – former Director of the Ohio State Marching Band, Jonathan Waters – sued The Ohio State University asserting a Title IX claim and alleging that the University applied different standards and procedures in his termination than it did with similarly situated female employees. During discovery, the University withheld various documents from the plaintiff as protected under the attorney-client privilege. These documents included correspondence between the University Counsel and its public relations firm as well as communications between non-lawyers that copied the University’s counsel. The court held that the communication between the public relations firm and University counsel did not fall under the attorney-client privilege; however, the court also said the University did not have to produce them because they were not relevant to the plaintiff’s claim under Title IX. With respect to the correspondence between non-attorneys, after inspecting the documents in camera, the court held that the “communication cannot be insulated from discovery just by sending a copy of it to a lawyer.” Because the documents did not involve elements of the attorney-client relationship the court found that they were not privileged and ordered their production.


Search and Seizure; Student Conduct: Kittle-Aikeley v. Claycomb (8th Cir., 2015)
December 16, 2015

Order reversing and remanding case for dismissal by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit on April 13, 2015. Defendants, members of Linn State Technical College (Linn State), appeal this case following the district court’s decision on remand granting plaintiffs – student Michael Barrett and named individuals – a permanent injunction against the use of a mandatory drug-testing policy for students at the college while allowing the policy for certain programs. Linn State is a public institution in Missouri that specializes in offering technical degrees, with an emphasis on technical and vocational programs that are not traditionally offered at vocational schools. After instituting a school-wide a drug-testing policy for students with the purpose of providing a, “safe, healthy and productive environment for everyone who learns and works” at the College, plaintiffs sued the university alleging that the drug-testing policy violated the Fourth Amendment. On appeal, the court weighed the Fourth Amendment concerns of a suspicionless drug testing program and concluded that given the unique nature of the Linn State’s educational mission, which was preparing students for a workplace with technologies and equipment that by their nature create numerous risks, the drug-testing program was a reasonable and effective means of addressing the institution’s interest in providing a safe learning environment. The court determined that this was sufficient to permit a school-wide policy, reversing the district court’s permanent injunction restricting the policy to only to certain programs.


Student Discipline: Hess v. Bd. of Trs. of S. Ill. Univ. (S.D. Ill., 2015)
December 16, 2015

Order by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois on cross motions for summary judgment granting defendant’s motion and denying plaintiff’s motion on December 9, 2015. Plaintiff – a former student at Southern Illinois University – filed suit against Defendant Southern Illinois University and several individual employees in their official capacities alleging that in expelling him, the University and the individual defendants violated his due process property interest and liberty interest. The University suspended the plaintiff on an interim basis after the police charged him with attempted murder and other crimes related to a fight at an off-campus location. Following a full disciplinary hearing, the University expelled the plaintiff for Student Conduct Code violations. The court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment after finding that the plaintiff was not entitled to any property interest under law as a student in secondary education and that the University’s disciplinary process and decision- making did not meet the constitutional standard of “shock the conscience.”


Gender Identity & Sexual Orientation Discrimination; Title IX: Videckis v. Pepperdine University (C.D. Cal., 2015)
December 15, 2015

Order issued by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on December 14, 2015 denying defendant Pepperdine University's motion to dismiss. Haley Videckis and Layana White, two former college basketball players at Pepperdine, claimed that they were harassed and discriminated against by their coach and other University officials on the basis of their perceived sexual orientation. The Court held that the plaintiffs stated an actionable Title IX claim under the theory of sexual orientation discrimination, concluding that "sexual orientation discrimination is not a category distinct from sex or gender discrimination" and that such a distinction "is illusory and artificial." It added that even if Title IX does not cover sexual orientation discrimination, the actions alleged plausibly constitute prohibited gender stereotype discrimination under the gender nonconformity theory. Finally, the Court held that the plaintiffs had stated a straightforward claim of sex discrimination under Title IX, in line with a recent Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) decision holding that sexual orientation discrimination is covered under Title VII and will be treated the same as other sex discrimination claims under Title VII. "If Plaintiffs had been males dating females, instead of females dating females," the Court stated, "they would not have been subjected to the alleged different treatment." It thus denied Pepperdine's motion to dismiss the plaintiffs' Title IX claims.


Intellectual Property: Comment by Four Higher Education Associations on the Proposed Open Licensing Requirement for Direct Grant Programs
December 15, 2015

Comment signed by the Association of American Universities (AAU), the Association of Public Land-grant Universities (APLU), the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM), and the Council on Governmental Relations (COGR) on recently proposed changes to the open licensing requirement for direct grant programs. The Department of Education's proposal would require recipients of Department grants to license all copyrightable intellectual property to the public. The organizations express concern that the changes would limit the ability of higher education institutions to transfer educational technologies to the private sector, would frustrate the government’s commercialization initiative, and would jeopardize the quality of any derivatives of the educational tools developed with Department funding. They also question the Department's legal authority to issue the open licensing requirement in the first place.


Program Integrity: Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions
December 15, 2015

Notice issued by the Department of Education announcing its semiannual agenda of federal regulatory and deregulatory actions. Pursuant to federal regulations, the Secretary of Education is required to publish a semiannual agenda of federal regulatory and deregulatory actions to encourage more effective public participation in the regulatory process.


Sexual Misconduct: Report on State Legislative Developments Addressing Campus Sexual Misconduct
December 15, 2015

Joint report released by Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA) and the Education Commission of the States (ECS) containing in-depth analyses of state legislation designed to address campus sexual misconduct. The report identifies four primary policy themes embedded in the twenty-two actions that state have undertaken during the 2013-2015 legislative sessions. It also presents key issues for higher education and political leaders across the states to consider as they continue to deliberate the merits of proposed policy actions on the subject.


Sexual Misconduct; Title IX: Karasek v. Regents of the University of California (N.D. Cal., 2015)
December 14, 2015

Order by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on defendant Regents of the University of California's motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim issued on December 11, 2015. Plaintiffs Sofie Karasek, Nicoletta Commins, and Aryle Butler claimed that the University responded with deliberate indifference when they reported their alleged sexual assaults to University officials. Plaintiff Butler alleged that she reported repeated sexual assaults by a researcher and frequent guest lecturer affiliated with the University's research center, but that University officials failed to undertake an investigation or otherwise respond. She was forced to drop several classes in fear of encountering the guest lecturer. A reasonable jury, the Court held, could conclude that the potential for further encounters between Butler and her attacker could create an environment sufficiently hostile to deprive her of access to educational opportunities provided by the University, and therefore that Butler's Title IX cause of action could proceed. Plaintiff Karasek claimed that the University was deliberately indifferent in its response to her report that she was sexually assaulted by another student but did not include details to establish the purportedly insufficient length of time taken by the University to respond to her complaint. Plaintiff Commins alleged that the University did not respond to her complaint of sexual assault by a fellow student on a club trip for over eight months and did not discipline the student beyond probation despite having found him responsible. However, she did not allege that the University's failure to discipline the student rendered her vulnerabile to further harassment. The Court granted the University's motion to dismsiss pursuant to the latter two plaintiffs' claims, leaving them sixty days to amend their complaint.


Athletics: Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n Athletic Grant-In-Aid Cap Antitrust Litig. Martin Jenkins v. Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n (N.D. Cal., 2015)
December 11, 2015

Order by District Court of Northern California granting plaintiffs’ joint motion for class certification on December 4, 2015. Plaintiffs — student athletes who played Division I football and men’s and women’s basketball — sought class certification in two separate suits against the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Plaintiffs’ suits challenged the restrictions set by the NCAA on the amount student-athletes may be compensated. The Plaintiffs alleged that the NCAA’s cap on the grant-in-aid (GIA) that students may receive is in violation of federal antitrust law and sought injunctive relief. As an initial matter, Defendants argued that the case was moot because the plaintiffs were no longer eligible to participate in NCAA sports. The court, noting that, “[s]ome claims are so inherently transitory that the trial court will not have even enough time to rule on a motion before the proposed representative’s individual interest expires,” applied the “inherently transitory” exception to mootness and rejected defendants’ argument. Defendants also argued that the plaintiffs not meet the adequacy requirement for class certification because there were members of the class who had an interest in the maintenance of the current GIA structure due to the “substitution effect” and the “economics of superstars.” The court disagreed, finding that defendant’s theories relied on speculation and lacked sufficient support to show an intra-class conflict. After reviewing the remaining procedural requirements, the court granted the plaintiffs’ motion for class certification and certified three separate classes.


First Amendment & Free Speech; Retaliation: Abreu-Velez v. Bd. of Regents of the Univ. Sys. of Ga. (11th Cir., 2015)
December 11, 2015

Decision by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on December 7, 2015 affirming the district court’s order grant of Defendant’s motion to dismiss. Plaintiff – a former employee of Emory University and Georgia Regents University – filed suit against the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, Emory University, and Georgia Regents University. Plaintiff alleged that defendants retaliated against her for voicing her concerns about the legality of clinical trials she was working on while at Georgia Regents University. Georgia Regents fired the plaintiff in 2004 shortly after voicing concerns that some of the clinical trials violated state and federal law. In 2005, Emory University also fired the plaintiff for allegedly making a racist remark to a colleague. The plaintiff alleged that the defendants conspired to “attack” her as a result of her continued complaints related to the clinical trials at Georgia Regents University. The trial court dismissed the plaintiff’s retaliation claims under the Georgia Whistleblower Act (GWA) and the federal False Claims Act (FCA) as being time-barred. The plaintiff’s ¬¬§ 1983 claim for a First Amendment retaliation claim was also dismissed because the plaintiff failed to establish a nexus between the alleged “attacks” and her speech. The Circuit Court affirmed and also dismissed the § 1985(3) claim (which the trial court did not discuss in its opinion), explaining that the plaintiff’s alleged “class of whistleblowers” is not the type of class protected under § 1985(3).


Student Discipline: Mahaffey v. William Carey Univ. (Miss. App., 2015)
December 11, 2015

Judgment by the Court of Appeals of the State of Mississippi on December 8, 2015 affirming the trial court’s decision to grant the Defendant’s motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff – a former student at the College of Osteopathic Medicine (COM) at William Carey University – filed a suit alleging breach of contract after being dismissed by the University. On numerous occasions during his time at the University, COM staff warned the plaintiff about his behavior and ultimately placed him on probation after he attempted to enter a surgical room without permission. He later violated the terms of his probation and the university dismissed him from the COM and denied his appeal of the dismissal. At the trial court level, the court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that the plaintiff failed to show any disputed material facts related to the disciplinary actions. Further, the court of appeals held that the university’s decision was not arbitrary and capricious even though it deviated slightly from the procedures in the student handbook.


Accreditation: Compliance Report on the Accrediting Commission For Community and Junior Colleges
December 10, 2015

Compliance report by the Accreditation and State Liaison division of the U.S. Department of Education on the Accrediting Commission For Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC), an accrediting agency that oversees the accreditation of California community colleges. The report's authors recommended that the Department extend the ACCJC's recognition to allow the accreditor to submit a compliance report within the next twelve months. However, they also recommended that the Department revoke ACCJC's existing federal authority to approve certain four-year degree programs at the state's community colleges and to deny its request for broader authority to approve bachelor’s degree programs.


Free Speech: Levin v. Univ. of Mass. (Mass. App., 2015)
December 10, 2015

Memorandum and Order by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Appeals Court affirming lower court’s decision to dismiss plaintiff’s complaint on December 2, 2015. Plaintiff – an employee of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst – was excluded from teaching at the University’s graduate level after making comments to a colleague that questioned a student’s academic credentials and demonstrated prejudice against individuals from the People’s Republic of China. The University’s decision to revoke the professor’s teaching privileges was based on his statements being “inconsistent with the fundamental values of this University expressed in its non- discrimination policy.” Plaintiff filed suit alleging that the University violated his right to free speech under the Massachusetts Declarations of Rights and the Massachusetts Civil Rights Statute. The lower court dismissed the complaint, stating that the plaintiff’s speech was not protected by either the Declaration of Rights or the First Amendment because the statement was not made in a setting which would tend to concern the community and, further, was not made in his capacity as a citizen. On appeal, the plaintiff waived his state civil rights claim, pursuing only the free speech claim and arguing that that the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights afforded more protection for his speech than the First Amendment. The University contended that the plaintiff’s waiver of the state civil rights claim entitled the University to dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on the grounds of sovereign immunity. The court agreed, noting that the Declaration of Rights did not create an independent cause of action.


Employment Separation: Frierson v. Univ. of Chi., 2015 IL App (1st) 151176-U (Ill. App., 2015)
December 10, 2015

Order by the Appellate Court of Illinois First Judicial District Third division affirming the trial court’s decision to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint on December 2, 2015. Plaintiff was Director of Financial Aid at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine. The University terminated the plaintiff from her position following an evaluation from her supervisor which cited numerous deficiencies in her work product as well as mistakes made by the plaintiff that “negatively impacted [the university’s] reputation” and the supervisor’s later recommendation of termination. Upon being terminated, plaintiff brought suit for defamation (which was time-barred at the time of filing) and tortious interference. The lower court dismissed the tortious interference claim with prejudice because the plaintiff could not plead the elements of the claim she asserted. The appellate court agreed with the lower court, noting that the plaintiff’s failure to allege with specificity that her supervisor’s actions were taken “without justification or maliciously” was fatal to her claim.


Public Records: Energy & Env't Legal Inst. v. Ariz. Bd. of Regents, an Educ., Non-Profit Corp. (Ariz. App., 2015)
December 10, 2015

Memorandum decision by the Arizona Court of Appeals Division Two on lower court’s decision, affirming in part and vacating and remanding in part. Plaintiff – the Energy and Environmental Legal Institute – brought suit against the Arizona Board of Regents, among others, seeking disclosure of certain e-mails from two University of Arizona professors. After providing the plaintiffs with a portion of the emails they requested, the Board withheld certain emails, “to protect either the confidentiality of information, privacy of persons, or a concern about disclosure detrimental to the best interests of the state.” Pursuant to Arizona law, the plaintiff filed a special action, requesting that the lower court compel the Board to release the emails. The lower court denied the plaintiffs request, holding that upon review the Board did not abuse its discretion or act arbitrarily or capriciously in withholding the records. On appeal, the Arizona court of appeals determined that the lower court used the incorrect standard in arriving at its decision to deny the disclosure of the records. The court’s role is to determine whether a denial of the request for records was the correct decision and whether the records must be produced. As such, the review must be de novo. The appeals court vacated and remanded that portion of the decision for further proceedings under the de novo standard.


Age Discrimination: Free Speech; Retaliation: Hill v. Bd. of Trs. of the Univ. of the Dist. of Columbia (D.D.C., 2015)
December 7, 2015

Memorandum opinion and order by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granting in part and denying in part Defendant’s motion to dismiss on November 24, 2015. Plaintiff, Seabern Hill, worked in various capacities for the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) for 38 years. In 2010, plaintiff was demoted to a less significant position within a different department. Two years later, the plaintiff discovered that student interns within his office were allowed to access student records, which was a violation of DC privacy laws. After reporting this matter to his superior and being ignored, the plaintiff informed an outside official within the government. Shortly thereafter, the plaintiff was terminated from his job. After obtaining a Right to Sue letter from the EEOC, the plaintiff brought this suit against UDC alleging age and gender discrimination as well as a claim under § 1983 for retaliation against his exercise of free speech. Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint. The court dismissed the plaintiff’s gender discrimination claim because the plaintiff failed to file a charge based on gender discrimination to the EEOC and, thus, had failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. The court, however, denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss the age discrimination and § 1983 claims. Noting the Circuit’s liberal pleading requirements for employment discrimination, the court held that the plaintiff had pled sufficient facts to give rise to a claim of age discrimination. With respect to the § 1983 claim, the court held that under a Garcetti and Pickering analysis of the plaintiff’s speech, the facts alleged were sufficient to survive the motion to dismiss stage.


Authorizations and Regulations - Accreditation: Letter from Higher Education Groups to the Department of Education on Differential Accreditation
December 7, 2015

Letter from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), American Council on Education (ACE), and Association of American Universities (AAU) to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on differential accreditation. In their letter, the organizations express support for differential accreditation, which would allow the U.S. Department of Education to apply varying levels of scrutiny to different institutions. They add that, according to independent legal analysis, the Department has the authority to implement differential accreditation unilaterally.


Disability Discrimination; Race Discrimination: Khan v. Midwestern Univ., an Ill. Corp. (N.D. Ill., 2015)
December 7, 2015

Memorandum Opinion and Order by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division granting in part and denying in part Defendant’s motion for judgment on the pleadings on November 30, 2015. Plaintiff, Ayesha Khan, was enrolled in Midwestern University’s medical program. After becoming pregnant she suffered from a variety of related medical conditions and asked for accommodations. Soon after informing her professor of her pregnancy and its complications, the plaintiff asked to postpone her final exam when she arrived late and was experiencing anxiety, nausea and light-headedness as a result of her pregnancy. Her request was denied and she subsequently failed the course and was dismissed from the program. Khan filed suit against the University claiming racial discrimination under Title VI and disability discrimination under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act for failure to provide reasonable accommodations during her pregnancy. The University filed a motion for a judgment on the pleadings. Citing the conclusory nature of Khan’s allegations, the court dismissed plaintiff’s Title VI claim alleging that the University acted discriminatorily when refusing to provide her with reasonable accommodations because she was of “American of Indian descent.” In response to the Section 504 claim, the University argued that the Khan did not have a ‘’disability’’ as defined by the statute because her condition was temporary and that she not plead facts sufficient to show that any limitation she suffered was substantial. The court rejected the University’s position noting that the relevant regulations stated that “[t]he effects of an impairment lasting or expected to last fewer than six months can be substantially limiting.” Finding that the plaintiff had sufficiently pled that her limitations were substantial, the court placed heavy emphasis on the documentation she provided to the University from her physician in support of her allegations.


Discrimination; Title IX: Marshall v. Ohio Univ. (S.D. Ohio, 2015)
December 7, 2015

Opinion and order in the United States District Court Southern District of Ohio Eastern Division granting defendant’s motion to dismiss on November 17, 2015. Plaintiff, Michael Marshall, a student at Ohio University, sued the University and two employees after being suspended for a semester following a disciplinary hearing and finding of sexual harassment. Marshall alleged that the University and its employees violated Title IX, as well as his substantive and procedural due process rights pursuant to § 1983. Using the Yusaf framework, the court analyzed plaintiff’s claim of Title IX gender bias in the disciplinary proceeding under two standards: erroneous outcome and selective enforcement. The court ruled that Marshall’s claim under erroneous outcome must fail citing, among other things, that Marshall did not allege facts sufficient to cast doubt on the accuracy of the hearing and that there was no doubt cast as to whether he violated the University’s conduct policy. The court also rejected the selective enforcement claim because Marshall failed to allege either facts demonstrating the University targeted male violators but not female violators or that the penalty imposed was due to his gender. The court also declined to broaden two other Title IX standards — archaic assumption and deliberate indifference —to Title IX claims related to gender discrimination in disciplinary proceedings. In addition, the court dismissed the § 1983 claims. The court rejected Marshall’s substantive due process claim, pointing out that his right to continue his education was not a fundamental right, and therefore, was not subject to strict scrutiny. It further held that a semester long suspension did not shock the conscience. On the issue of procedural due process, Marshall failed to allege any facts that if true would establish that he was deprived of fairness in the proceedings. Lastly, the court determined that the individual defendants were entitled to immunity in their capacity as actors of the state.


Employment Separation: Frazier v. N.C. Cent. Univ. (N.C. App., 2015)
December 7, 2015

Decision by the Court of Appeals of North Carolina affirming trial court’s dismissal of plaintiff’s complaint on November 17, 2015. North Carolina Central University terminated its head football coach following his multiple arrests and legal issues, and the coach (plaintiff) then sued the University for breach of contract. The University moved to dismiss the complaint arguing that the plaintiff had failed to exhaust his administrative remedies under North Carolina’s Administrative Procedure Act (APA) by choosing not to pursue judicial review of the University’s decision. The trial court agreed with the University’s position and granted the motion to dismiss. On appeal, the court rejected the plaintiff’s argument that the APA was inapplicable, noting that the plaintiff’s contract did not explicitly state that the APA did not apply. It also rejected plaintiff’s claim that the prescribed administrative remedies were not adequate since they could not provide for the damages he was seeking. The court agreed with the lower court that the complaint failed to adequately allege this claim.


Faculty and Staff; Age Discrimination: Lohrasbi v. Bd. of Trs. of the Univ. of Ill. (C.D. Ill., 2015)
December 7, 2015

Opinion and Order granting Defendant’s Renewed and Revised Motion for Summary Judgment on November 28, 2015. In 2011, the plaintiff, a professor at the University of Illinois at Springfield of Iranian heritage, made an offhand reference to machine guns. After an investigation of the remarks, the University decided to serve the plaintiff with a notice of trespass and to not bestow the status of Professor Emeritus to the plaintiff despite having previously informed the plaintiff that it planned to do so. In January 2013, the plaintiff signed a charge of discrimination and was issued a Right to Sue letter by the EEOC that same month. The plaintiff subsequently filed a complaint in the district court alleging that defendant’s adverse employment actions were discriminatory on the basis of race and national origin and in violation of Title VII. The University argued that the plaintiff’s Title VII claim was time-barred because he filed his charge with the EEOC in 2013 – beyond the statutory limit of 300 days from the alleged adverse employment act, which occurred in 2011. Plaintiff claimed that his filing was timely since the actions of the defendant were continuing violations; each day he was being denied the benefits associated with being a Professor Emeritus he was suffering from an adverse employment act by the University. The court rejected plaintiff’s argument, conceding that the exact date the school made the decision to deny granting him emeritus would be difficult to identify. However, it was clear that the latest that the decision had been made was when the plaintiff retired in 2011 and was not granted emeritus status. It was from that moment when the 300 day limit to file a charge with the EEOC began to run, making his current suit time barred. The court also determined that the plaintiff did not provide evidence permitting a claim of equitable tolling.


Practice of Higher Education Law - Freedom of Information & Public Record Laws: Lieberman v. Aronow
December 7, 2015

Opinion by the Connecticut Supreme Court affirming the judgment of the trial court dismissing plaintiff Jay Lieberman’s appeal from the decision of the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission issued on December 8, 2015. Defendant Michael Aronow sought the release of reports relating to the resolution of a formal grievance alleging misconduct against a University of Connecticut Health Center faculty member under the Connecticut's Freedom of Information Act. The Commission concluded that the reports did not constitute a ‘‘record of the performance and evaluation’’ within the meaning of the Act's disclosure exemption for such records and, therefore, that the University Health Center was required to disclose the reports. Plaintiff Lieberman's appeal was subsequently dismissed by the trial court. The Connecticut Supreme Court refused to establish a "bright line test" that would exempt records containing any form of performance evaluation from public disclosure, reasoning that adopting this sort of rule "would make the exception so broad that it would threaten to swallow the general rule of disclosure under the act, as it applies to university faculty and professional staff members.” It thus affirmed the trial court's dismissal, holding that the reports did not fall within the exemption from disclosure contained in the Act.


Students - Financial Aid: Second Report of the Special Master for Borrower Defense to the Department of Education
December 4, 2015

Second report of the Special Master to the U.S Department of Education regarding student loan borrower defense issues. The report covers the Department's progress in granting defense and relief to student loan debtors who attended closed institutions, details on such claims that are currently under review, the standards under which relief has been granted to these borrowers, and the development of additional rules under which further relief may be granted.


Due Process: Raymond v. Board of Regents of University of Minnesota
December 2, 2015

Memorandum opinion and order by the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota granting the defendants' motion to dismiss on October 20, 2015. Rodney Raymond, a student at the University of Minnesota, was fired from his job at the University after an investigation found that just cause existed to discipline him for violations of University policy. Raymond filed suit against the University and its Board of Regents, both individually and in their official capacities, based on alleged due process violations during the investigation and subsequent hearing. The Court dismissed Raymond's Section 1983 claims against the University as well as those against the Board of Regents, insofar as they sought damages, after finding that they were entitled to immunity under the Eleventh Amendment. However, the Court held that Raymond's claims against the Regents in their official capacities for prospective injunctive relief were not similarly barred and that Raymond successfully alleged conduct that would provide a basis for injunctive relief. Yet because Raymond was afforded notice, an explanation of the employer's evidence, an opportunity to present his side of the story, and an opportunity for review, the Court held that both the pre- and post-termination processes were adequate to survive due process challenges and that Raymond failed to meet exhaustion requirements. It thus dismissed his remaining claims.


FLSA: Dunn v. Sederakis
December 2, 2015

Opinion and order by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York granting defendants' motion to dismiss on November 2, 2015. Plaintiff Ayshea Dunn, an employee of the City College University of New York (CCNY), filed suit against CCNY's human resources personnel and her supervisor, alleging retaliation under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Dunn claimed that, after she complained orally about unpaid compensation for overtime work hours to her her supervisor and human resources personnel, defendants retaliated against her. On remand, the district court held that these oral complaints were not sufficient to put the defendants on notice that she was asserting a violation of her rights under the FLSA, and thus they did not amount to “protected activity” as required to support an FLSA retaliation claim.


Gender Discrimination: Knapp v. Ruser
December 2, 2015

Memorandum and order from the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska granting the defendants' motion for summary judgment on November 10, 2015. Plaintiff Patricia Knapp, a female instructor at the University of Nebraska, filed a gender pay discrimination suit against the University Board of Regents and the Director of the clinical program at the University’s law school, alleging that her male colleagues were hired for better-paying positions than she was. The Court ruled, however, that Knapp failed to identify any similarly situated male instructors who were treated differently than her. While she was hired for a non-tenure-track position, the male comparators she identified were hired for tenure-track positions that required academic research and community service that were not requirements for the instructor’s position. Thus, she could not establish a prima facie inference of discrimination under Title VII or the Equal Pay Act.


Sexual Misconduct: Letter to the Office for Civil Rights by the Foundation for Individual Rights on Affirmative Consent Standards
December 1, 2015

Letter sent to the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) regarding affirmative consent, or "yes means yes" standards. The letter urges OCR to ask that colleges and universities to avoid using affirmative consent standards, which require participants in sexual activity obtain "unambiguous and demonstrable" consent throughout a sexual encounter, in their sexual misconduct policies. FIRE argues that such standards violate the due process rights of students accused of sexual misconduct by failing to give students proper notice of what is required of them and impermissibly placing the burden of proof on the accused.


Copyright & Fair Use: Notice of an Extension of the Comment Period on the Amendment of the Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards
November 30, 2015

Notice published in the Federal Register by the U.S. Department of Education extending the comment period on the amendment of the uniform administrative requirements, cost principles, and audit requirements for Federal awards. On November 3, 2015, the Department published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) amending these requirements and principles in order to require that all Department grantees awarded direct competitive grant funds openly license to the public all copyrightable intellectual property created with Department grant funds. That NPRM established a comment period beginning on November 3, 2015, and closing on December 3, 2015. The Department is extending the public comment period for fifteen days so that it will now close on December 18, 2015.


Program Integrity: Final Regulations on Program Integrity in Regard to Admissions Recruiters' Compensation
November 30, 2015

Final regulation published by the U.S. Department of Education providing additional information about the final regulations issued on October 29, 2010 regarding program integrity improvement measures involving recruitment-based compensation. The original regulations implementing the statutory ban on enrollment-based compensation to recruiters of students (20 U.S.C. 1094(a)(20)) do not contain a ban on graduation-based or completion-based compensation, yet the Department issued final regulations banning compensation to an educational institution's recruiters of students based on the students' graduation from or completion of educational programs offered by the institution. After reconsidering its interpretation in light of the decision in Association of Private Sector Colleges & Universities v. Duncan, 681 F.3d 427 (D.C. Cir. 2012) and the district court's 2014 decision on remand, the Department has now decided that it will not interpret the regulations to forbid compensation for recruiters that is based upon students' graduation from or completion of educational programs.


Cybersecurity: Report on Cybersecurity Legislation, Hearings, and Executive Branch Documents
November 25, 2015

Report issued by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) entitled, "Cybersecurity: Legislation, Hearings, and Executive Branch Documents." The report summarizes congressional hearings, federal legislation, and executive branch policies designed to address cybersecurity vulnerabilities since April 2011.


Faculty & Staff – Discrimination; Race Discrimination: Jones v. Bd. of Supervisors of the Univ. of La. Sys. (E.D. La., 2015)
November 25, 2015

Order denying defendant’s motion to dismiss by the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Louisiana on November 14, 2015. Plaintiffs – two former employees for Southeastern Louisiana University – asserted various employment discrimination claims against the University for sexual and racial harassment, wrongful termination and retaliation including a 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3) claim for conspiracy to create a hostile work environment. Defendants motion to dismiss argued that the § 1985(3) claims were time barred because the plaintiffs brought the action after the applicable one-year statute of limitations. As an initial mater, the court concluded that the plaintiffs alleged sufficient facts to invoke §§ 1981 and 1983 claims even though they did not specifically reference those statutes in the complaint. Thus, the primary issue before the court was the length of the statute of limitations for the underlying § 1981 claim and whether that statute of limitations extended to the §1983 and §1985(3) claims. It concluded that a four year statute of limitations applied to the underlying § 1981 claim based on Congress’s passage of a “catchall” four-year statute of limitations in 1990 for actions arising under post-1990 statutes, and the 1991 amendment to § 1981 to permit claims of racially hostile work environment. The court further reasoned that this statute of limitations applied to the § 1983 and § 1985(3) claims, rejecting defendants arguments that the state law statute of limitations applied.


Faculty & Staff – FMLA; Disability Discrimination: Davis v. Temple Univ. Hosp., Inc. (E.D. Pa., 2015)
November 25, 2015

Memorandum opinion in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania granting summary judgment in favor of defendant on November 16, 2015. Ms. Davis – a former supervisor at Temple University Hospital – suffered from a variety of medical conditions and as a result took medical leave from her job over seventeen times from 2005 – 2013. Following a patient complaint, the university suspended Ms. Davis and transferred her to a new department. Subsequently, the university terminated Ms. Davis for theft when she removed a cot from her old office. Although Ms. David maintained that the cot was not university property, she did not tell anyone this until her unemployment hearing. Ms. Davis sued for the university for ADA, and Pennsylvania Human Rights Act violations and for interfering with her FMLA rights and retaliation. The court granted summary judgment in favor of the university on all claims. Focusing largely on the fact that Ms. Davis did not tell anyone the cot was not university property until well after her termination, the court held that there was insufficient evidence to permit a jury to reasonably find for Ms. Davis on any of her claims.


Financial Aid: Letter from Members of Congress to the Department of Education on Perkins Loan Program Guidance
November 20, 2015

Letter to the U.S. Department of Education signed by fifty-eight members of Congress on the potential issuance of guidance on the reimbursement of federal capital contributions to the Federal Perkins Loan Program, which expired on September 30. The letter asks the Secretary of Education to refrain from issuing guidance to institutions on the reimbursement of their federal capital contributions because, as the letter claims, existing departmental guidance "is sufficient for schools and further actions may undermine the future viability of this critical program."


Foreign Students: Comments on the STEM Optional Practical Training Program Proposed Rule
November 20, 2015

Comment letter from twelve higher education associations to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regarding its proposed rule for the STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT) program. The letter commends the Department for taking steps to finalize the rule before the deadline imposed by Washington Alliance of Technology Workers v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which vacated the current OPT rule. It also expresses support for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s efforts to "mitigate court-created uncertainty" and to make improvements to the program.


Faculty and Staff; Discrimination: Kaufman v. Univ. of Colo. at Boulder (D. Colo., 2015)
November 20, 2015

Motion to dismiss amended complaint by defendants, granted in part, denied in part by the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado on November 5th, 2015. The University of Colorado excluded Plaintiff – a current professor– from campus for 12 weeks and required him to undergo a risk assessment after a series of reported threats and disruptive behavior. Plaintiff alleged that he was humiliated by the exclusion, which was reported in a local newspaper, and sued the University of Colorado and two University employees for retaliation and discrimination under the Rehabilitation Act. The court dismissed the claims with prejudice citing the plaintiff’s failure to show a causal connection. Additional claims against the defendant employees were also dismissed with prejudice and the court declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state law claims of defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.


Staff; Discrimination: Boyd v. Broome Cmty. Coll. (N.D. N.Y., 2015)
November 20, 2015

Decision and order on November 10th, 2015, by the U.S. District Court, Northern District of New York granting defendant’s motion to dismiss certain claims in an employment discrimination action. Plaintiff – a former manager at Broome Community College (BCC) who was terminated in January 2013 – alleged that defendants BCC, the Board of Trustees, and the President discriminated against him under Title VII, ADA, ADEA, New York Human Rights Law, and the Rehabilitation Act, among other claims. Defendants moved to dismiss all claims made against President and Board of Trustees in their individual and official capacity, arguing the claims were redundant in light of the plaintiff’s suit against the defendant BCC. Moreover, Defendants argued that claims under Title VII, ADA, ADEA, and the Rehabilitation Act did not give rise to individual liability. The motion also sought to dismiss the Plaintiff’s ADA claim in total for failure to allege sufficient facts. The court agreed and granted the dismissal on the claims included in the defendant’s motion. The remaining claims against defendant BCC under Title VII, the Rehabilitation Act, ADEA and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims were not included in the motion to dismiss and consequently survived the court’s order.


Staff; FLSA: Parker v. Prairie View A&M Univ. (S.D. Tex., 2015)
November 20, 2015

Order by U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas, granting in part, denying in part defendant’s motion to dismiss on November 10th, 2015. Plaintiff – a former videographer for Prairie View A&M University – brought suit against the University as well as its Athletic Director, Ashley Robinson, in both his individual and official capacity. Plaintiff asserted that while under the employment of the University, Robinson required the plaintiff to work 70-80 hours a week and would not compensate him for overtime worked. Citing the University’s policy of complying with the FLSA, plaintiff sued seeking damages for failure to pay minimum wage, failure to pay overtime, breach of contract and failure to keep adequate records. The court, noting that both the University and Robinson (in his official capacity) were entitled to sovereign immunity, dismissed all claims against the defendants on that basis. However, the court refused to dismiss the FLSA violation claims against Robinson in his individual capacity.


Constitutional Issues; Due Process: Sanchez v. Ariz. Bd. of Regents (D. Ariz., 2015)
November 20, 2015

Order by the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona granting defendant’s motion to dismiss on November 10th, 2015. Plaintiff – a student at the Arizona State University – sought a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction alleging that the disciplinary proceedings that resulted in his suspension from the university were unconstitutional. In granting the motion to dismiss, the court applied the “Younger abstention,” which determines when federal courts must refrain from exercising jurisdiction based on the “strong federal policy against federal-court interference with pending state judicial proceedings.” Because the university’s disciplinary system constituted an “ongoing state judicial proceeding,” implicated important state interests, and provided sufficient opportunity for Plaintiff to raise constitutional challenges, the court held that Younger applied and precluded the court from exercising jurisdiction.


Contract Administration: Langenkamp v. Olson
November 19, 2015

Summary order issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on October 15, 2015. Plaintiff Lucinda Langenkamp, who had been hired as a non-tenured clinical instructor for a twelve-month-per-year position at New York University (NYU), was terminated after two months of employment. She filed suit against her former employer for alleged breach of contract, arguing that the NYU Faculty Handbook granted her the right to a disciplinary hearing before termination and the right to appeal an adverse decision to the chancellor. The lower court dismissed her claim on the grounds that she was an at-will employee and that she had no entitlement to the protections of the Handbook. While the Second Circuit agreed that Langenkamp’s termination, standing alone, did not breach the parties’ employment contract, it held that her complaint plausibly alleged a breach of contractual protections in the Handbook because NYU’s offer of employment confirmed that the provisions of the Handbook were contractual and because Langenkamp detrimentally relied on the protections of the Handbook by relocating to New York and signing a twelve-month lease in anticipation of employment for the entire duration stated in the contract. Accordingly, the Court remanded the case back to the trial court to determine whether the plaintiff had been denied the rights stated in the Handbook.


First Amendment & Free Speech; Retaliation: Alvez Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia
November 19, 2015

Order and opinion by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit issued on October 29, 2015. The case arose after five psychologists of the Georgia State University (GSU) Counseling Center submitted a written memorandum to the Counseling Center’s director and the director’s supervisor criticizing the director’s leadership and management, which they claimed “created an unstable work environment” and prevented the staff from being effective in their work. Soon afterward, the director laid off all of the staff psychologists and outsourced their services for purported budgetary reasons. The five psychologists who had signed the memo filed suit, alleging that they were fired in retaliation for complaining about the program’s leadership and that their speech--as citizen speech on a matter of public concern--was protected by the First Amendment. The University responded by asserting that the speech was not protected by the First Amendment because it related to “ordinary job duties” and was an internal complaint about the Center’s director. In upholding the district court's grant of summary judgment to the University, the Eleventh Circuit held that while the memo made some “vague and sweeping references” to matters of public concern, the majority of it discussed the employees’ personal grievances and frustrations with their supervisor. As such, it was not protected First Amendment speech.


Race Discrimination; Sex Discrimination; Retaliation: Chen v. City University of New York
November 19, 2015

Plaintiff Ya-Chen Chen, a Taiwanese woman and former assistant professor of Asian Studies in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at the City University of New York (CUNY), brought suit against her former employer and four of its employees for allegedly discriminating against her on the basis of her gender, race, and national origin in violation of Title VII and the New York Human Rights Act, and for allegedly retaliating against her for a complaint that she filed against those employees, by failing to renew her year-to-year employment contract. The district court granted summary judgment to CUNY and its employees on all claims after finding that Chen produced no evidence that the University’s stated reason for not renewing her contract—her abrasive treatment of a student and other incidents leading to complaints by professors regarding her “over-aggressiveness and lack of tact”—was a pretext for discrimination. The Second Circuit affirmed, holding that, based on the evidence presented, no reasonable jury could find that either CUNY’s or the employees' actions were motivated by a desire to discriminate or retaliate against Chen.


Financial Aid: Protecting Our Students and Taxpayers Act of 2015
November 18, 2015

Legislation (S. 2272) introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Jack Reed (D-RI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) entitled, "Protecting Our Students and Taxpayers (POST) Act of 2015." Currently, the federal 90/10 rule bars for-profit colleges and universities from deriving more than 90 percent of their revenue from the U.S. Department of Education’s federal student aid programs. The Act would re-instate the original ratio of 85/15 and change the definition of what counts as federal revenue so that it includes all federal funds. It would also increase penalties for noncompliance and would allow only actual student payments to be counted as revenue for the purposes of the rule.


Athletics; Disability Discrimination: Class v. Towson University
November 16, 2015

Opinion by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued on November 13, 2015. Gavin Class, a Towson University student and Division I football player, collapsed with exertional heatstroke during practice. After his recovery, Class returned to classes at Towson University and attempted to return to the football team. Applying its “Return-to-Play Policy,” however, Towson University refused to clear Class to play because the Team Physician concluded that allowing Class to participate presented an unacceptable risk of serious reinjury or death. Class filed suit against Towson, alleging that its decision to exclude him from the football program amounted to a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The district court agreed with Class, concluding that Class’ proposed accommodations were reasonable and that that the University had violated the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act by refusing to allow him to play. It entered judgment against Towson University and issued a permanent injunction prohibiting the University from preventing Class from participating in the football program. The Fourth Circuit reversed. "While we recognize that the question of whether Class had a disability, as defined by the Acts, is a close one," the Court stated, "we nonetheless conclude that Class was not 'otherwise qualified' to participate fully in Towson University’s football program because the University reasonably applied its Return-to-Play Policy." In giving due deference to the University's judgment on Class' ability to participate in the football program, the Fourth Circuit upheld the University's decision and vacated the district court's injunction.


Tax: Revised Internal Revenue Service Form 1098-T
November 16, 2015

Revised version of Form 1098-T was released by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The revised form implements a recent statutory change that allows colleges and universities to certify that they have met the regulatory requirements for soliciting student taxpayer identification numbers (TINs) at least once during the year. The IRS has added a check box for filers to certify that they have complied with these solicitation requirements, instructing filers that if they are not able to obtain the student's taxpayer identifying number through the use of Form W-9S, Request for Student's or Borrower's Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification, or other substitute form, to check the box.


First Amendment & Free Speech: Settlement Agreement between the University of Illinois and Steven Salaita
November 13, 2015

Settlement agreement between the University of Illinois and Steven Salaita was approved by the University Board of Trustees. Salaita filed two lawsuits against the University after it revoked his tenured-job offer at the Urbana-Champaign campus. As part of the settlement, the University has agreed to pay Salaita $600,000 in addition to $275,000 in legal fees, and Salaita will drop his pending legal claims against the University. The agreement also stipulates that Salaita "neither seek nor accept employment at the university now or in the future.” The University released a written statement announcing that it "believes that reaching a settlement with Dr. Salaita is the most reasonable option to fully and finally conclude all of the pending issues."


Guns on Campus: Joint Statement by Four Higher Education Groups on Campus Carry Laws
November 13, 2015

Joint statement issued by four higher education groups (American Association of University Professors, the American Federation of Teachers, the Association of American Colleges and Universities, and the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges) criticizing state "campus carry" laws that permit people to carry concealed weapons on campus. The statement asserts that colleges and universities consider the presence of concealed firearms on campus as incompatible with their educational missions. "College campuses are marketplaces of ideas," it states, "and a rigorous academic exchange of ideas may be chilled by the presence of weapons."


Gainful Employment: Notice of Request for Comments on the Recent Graduates Employment and Earnings Survey Standards and Survey Form
November 13, 2015

Notice of request for comments issued by the U.S. Department of Education on the Recent Graduates Employment and Earnings Survey (RGEES) Standards and Survey Form. The RGEES form was developed by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) to support gainful employment (GE) program evaluations and can be used in a debt-to-earnings (D/E) ratio appeal under the GE regulations as an alternative to the Social Security administration earnings data. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before December 14, 2015.


Freedom of Information & Public Records Laws: Schick v. Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia
November 13, 2015

Opinion by the Court of Appeals of Georgia. David Schick, a student journalist at the University of Georgia, filed a lawsuit against University system leaders after they delayed and withheld records he had requested related to the University’s $25 million budget shortfall and subsequent staff layoffs. The trial court found, among other things, that the Board was entitled to withhold certain documents under a state Open Records Act exemption for "law enforcement, prosecution, or regulatory agencies in any pending investigation or prosecution of criminal or unlawful activity" based on “the Board’s unique situation and wise use of resources." Schick appealed, and the Court of Appeals held that the trial court erred by finding that the exemption applied to the case. It determined that the trial court's order contradicted the intent of the legislature in passing the Open Records Act and noted that, according to the state supreme court, “any purported exemption from disclosure under the Open Records Act must be narrowly construed." It thus reversed the trial court's order and remanded the case for reconsideration of whether Schick is entitled to an award of attorney fees.


Sexual Misconduct; Title IX: Butters v. James Madison University
November 12, 2015

Memorandum opinion by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia issued on November 6, 2015. Plaintiff Sarah Butters filed a Title IX claim against defendant James Madison University (JMU), alleging that while she was a student at JMU and on a spring break trip in March 2013, she was sexually assaulted by three male JMU students, a recording of which was subsequently disseminated to other JMU students. Butters asserted that she complained to JMU about the assault and the continued dissemination of the recording, and that JMU failed to redress the situation adequately. JMU moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, arguing that while Butters first elected not to initiate a formal complaint after making JMU officials aware of the assault and the recording a few weeks after the incident, once she filed a formal complaint in January 2014, the University undertook an investigation, conducted disciplinary proceedings, and ultimately imposed sanctions on all three men involved. The Court determined that even in the absence of a more formal complaint by Butters, JMU’s initial failure to conduct any investigation or take any action after learning about the assault and the existence of the video amounted to more than “a sheer possibility" that the defendant acted unlawfully. It thus denied the defendant's motion to dismiss.


Sexual Misconduct; Title IX: Takla v. Regents of the University of California
November 12, 2015

Plaintiffs Nefertiti Takla and Kristen Hillaire, female graduate students at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), filed suit against the Regents of the University for allegedly failing to adequately respond to reports of sexual harassment by a male professor, Gabriel Piterberg. In Takla's case, UCLA settled her harassment complaint through an internal Early Resolution process and later concluded an investigation of the alleged harassment without making any formal findings. Takla filed a Title IX suit against the University. UCLA moved to dismiss, arguing that Takla was not subject to any further harassment after she had complained about the professor and therefore that she failed to satisfy the deliberate indifference element of the claim. The Court noted, however, that a plaintiff is not required to show further harassment as a way of demonstrating the University's deliberate indifference and thus denied UCLA's motion. Glasgow also alleged that she had been sexually harassed by Piterberg but that when she informed other faculty members of the harassment, she was informed of the results of Takla's case and asked not to pursue the matter. Glasgow filed suit against UCLA, claiming that the University was vicariously liable for the negligent supervision, training, and retention of Piterberg by multiple employees, who could have prevented the harassment that occurred after she filed her report. The Court dismissed her claim after finding that, under California law, UCLA was immune from vicarious liability arising from its employees’ discretionary acts.


Gainful Employment: Gainful Employment Operations Manual
November 11, 2015

Gainful Employment Operations Manual was posted by Federal Student Aid. The updated manual contains guidance regarding implementation and compliance with each aspect of the gainful employment regulations, including disclosures, debt measures, and challenge operations.


Veterans: Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Education Relief and Restoration Act of 2015
November 11, 2015

Legislation (S. 2253) introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and ten bipartisan co-sponsors entitled the "Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Education Relief and Restoration Act of 2015." The Act would provide veterans affected by closures of educational institutions certain relief and restoration of their educational benefits. Specifically, it would expand the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) authority to restore the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits of veterans who are affected by the permanent closure of postsecondary educational institutions. Currently, the VA cannot fully restore a veterans’ benefits if an institution he or she attended permanently closes.


Program Integrity: Request for Comments on the Study of Enhanced College Advising in Upward Bound
November 10, 2015

Notice of request for comments issued by the U.S. Department of Education on the collection of information on Enhanced College Advising in Upward Bound. The study will test the effectiveness of providing Upward Bound projects with a professional development package and tools to provide semi-customized college advising to students participating in the program. This notice, which represents the second of two information collection requests that will be submitted to the Office of Management and Budget on the study, requests approval for the remaining data collection activities, including a project survey, a follow-up student survey, and administrative records. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before December 10, 2015.


Race Discrimination: Coleman v. Bd. Of Supervisors of La. State Univ. & Agric. & Mech. Coll. (M.D. La., 2015)
November 9, 2015

Ruling granting defendants’ motion to dismiss by the U.S. District Court, Middle District of Louisiana on November 5, 2015. Plaintiff – a former employee of Louisiana State University – brought suit against LSU and certain LSU employees (Defendants) alleging racial discrimination in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The court dismissed the claims against LSU as precluded by sovereign immunity. As to the claims again the LSU employees, the court held that sovereign immunity applied to the § 1983 complaint because the employees acted in their official capacity and were not “persons” under § 1983. The court also dismissed the plaintiff’s § 1981 claim because such claims can only be brought through a § 1983 action (which the court had already dismissed) and it dismissed the claims against the defendants acting in their individual capacity for failure to plead facts in support of those claims.


Faculty & Staff - Discrimination: Turner v. Jackson State Univ. (5th Circ., 2015)
November 9, 2015

November 5th, 2015 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirming the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Jackson State University. Plaintiff — a former assistant professor at Jackson State University — alleged retaliation and sex discrimination under Title VII as well as First and Fourteenth Amendment violations after being denied tenure by the University and terminated at the expiration of her contract. The district court dismissed all claims except plaintiff’s Title VII retaliation claim, and subsequently granted summary judgment in favor of Jackson State on the retaliation claim. On appeal of the grant of summary judgment, the Fifth Circuit concluded that Jackson State provided a legitimate business justification for plaintiff’s termination — she did not submit an application to extend her contract and she was not recommended for tenure — and there was not an issue of material fact as to whether this justification was pretext.


Age Discrimination: Wells v. Regents of the Univ. of Cal. (N.D. Cal., 2015)
November 9, 2015

Motion to dismiss amended complaint by defendants, granted in part, denied in part by the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California on November 5th, 2015. Plaintiffs – a group of current and former employees of Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, – alleged that, in response to pressure from the Regents of the University of California, the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab implemented a plan to force out older employees. The plaintiffs’ second amended complaint asserted age harassment and retaliation claims under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Court granted defendant’s motion to dismiss claims made by certain plaintiffs on the basis that they did not meet the age requirement necessary to bring the claim. The court also granted defendant’s motion to dismiss all plaintiffs’ claims related to Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress but granted two plaintiffs leave to amend. It denied, however, the motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ harassment and retaliation claims under the FEHA for failure to exhaust administrative remedies.


Faculty & Staff - Discrimination: Brown v. Univ. of Ill. (N.D. Ill., 2015)
November 9, 2015

Memorandum opinion and order granting defendant’s summary judgment in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Division on November 5th, 2015. Plaintiff – a former manufacturing engineer employed by the University of Illinois – alleged that the University violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act through retaliatory discharge, discrimination based on age, national origin, race, religion, and disparate pay. Because plaintiff failed to make arguments in support of the majority of his claims, the court waived all claims with the exception of racial discrimination in support of his disparate treatment. In granting summary judgment on the retaliatory discharge, the court weighed the plaintiff’s low employment evaluations and the university’s budget cuts and found that plaintiff had not produced evidence to permit a reasonable inference that but-for his filing of an earlier EEOC charge he would have kept his position. Under similar reasoning, the court also granted defendant’s motion for summary on the racial discrimination and disparate pay claims.


Sex Discrimination: Tryboski v. Pa. State Univ. (Pa. Super Ct. 2015)
November 9, 2015

Order by the Superior Court of Pennsylvania on November 9th, 2015 upholding the trial court’s order granting Pennsylvania State University (Penn State)’s motion for summary judgment. Appealing pro se, the Appellant – a former graduate student at Penn State – brought suit alleging sexual discrimination under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA) after being dismissed from her graduate program for not meeting the program’s requirements. Appellant claimed that her dismissal from the graduate program resulted from gender discrimination by her advisor. In reviewing the record, however, the court found that Appellant failed to create a genuine issue of material fact as to whether her advisor’s actions were a pretext for discrimination. The court, therefore, concluded that the trial court did not abuse its discretion or commit an error of law and affirmed the order granting summary judgment.


Accreditation: Press Release by the Department of Education on the Obama Administration's Accreditation Agenda
November 6, 2015

Press release issued by the Department of Education regarding the Obama administration's accreditation agenda. The press release announces a series of executive actions aimed toward improving accreditors' and the Department's oversight activities and moving toward a new focus on student outcomes and transparency. The Department is also offering several legislative proposals to guide Congress in improving and reforming accreditation.


Accreditation: Settlement between Westwood College and the Illinois Attorney General
November 6, 2015

Settlement reached between Westwood College and the Attorney General of Illinois. The Attorney General sued the College in 2012 for allegedly making a variety of misrepresentations and false promises to students regarding the accreditation status of its criminal justice program. Under the terms of the agreement, the College has agreed to forgive the institutional student-loan debt of the program's graduates but does not admit any guilt or liability.


Age Discrimination; Disability Discrimination: Allain v. Bd. of Supervisors of the Univ. of La. Sys. (W.D. La., 2015)
November 6, 2015

Order granting motion to dismiss in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana - Monroe Division issued on October 29, 2015. Plaintiff asserted claims under Title VII, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and a state law breach of employment contract claim. The court had previously dismissed the Plaintiff's ADA and Title VII claims. The court analyzed the remaining ADEA, FMLA, and breach of contract claims under Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity. Citing case law, the court that Congress did not abrogate the states’ immunity from suits under the ADEA nor the provision of the FMLA under which plaintiff brought her claim. The Plaintiff's state law claim was also barred under sovereign immunity.


Contracts: Pearson v. Walden Univ. (S.D.N.Y., 2015)
November 6, 2015

Order on Motion to Dismiss granted in part and denied in part by the U.S. District Court of the Southern District in New York on October 30, 2015. Plaintiff, a former student at Walden University (Defendant), alleged that a breach of contract and negligence of the Defendant faculty and Staff caused her to incur over $200,000 in student loan debt. Plaintiff sought one million dollars in damages. Defendant moved to dismiss. Noting the deference that New York shows in reviewing university academic decisions, the court stated that it limits judicial review to determining only whether the institution abided by their own rules and acted in good faith or whether the action was arbitrary and capricious. Here, the court concluded that Plaintiff made no allegations suggesting arbitrary or capricious behavior on the part of the Defendant and dismissed the breach of contract claims. The court concluded that the Plaintiffs claim in negligence, which sought $163, was not subject to the same deference as the breach of contract claim and that the Plaintiff's allegations were sufficient for further proceedings.


Employment Separation: Fernandez v. Coastal Bend College
November 6, 2015

Order by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas issued on November 3, 2015. Plaintiff Belinda Fernandez filed suit against her former employer, Defendant Coastal Bend College (CBC), alleging that CBC violated her right to free speech in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by firing her after she spoke out publicly against certain CBC breaches of safety protocols. After finding that Fernandez's pleading "did not articulate what actual information or argument was presented to the CBC Board of Directors during her grievance hearing, how CBC's inaction demonstrated deliberate indifference, or how any such inaction was the moving force in her termination," the Court held that Fernandez's complaint was formulaic and did not rise above being speculative. It therefore granted the defendant's motion to dismiss with respect to the issue of municipal liability. It further held that CBC was immune from exemplary damages due to the plaintiff's failure to address the argument in her complaint and dismissed this claim as well.


Employment Separation: Tate v. Univ. Med. Ctr. of S. Nev. (D. Nev., 2015)
November 6, 2015

Order by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Order denying in part and granting in part defendant’s motion for summary judgment in U.S. District Court, District of Nevada issued on November 4, 2015. Plaintiff - a former employee of the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada - brought suit against the University, its trustees and certain medical staff (Defendants) under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff alleged a violation of his procedural due process rights, breach of contract, and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing under the Health Care Quality Improvement Act of 1986 (HCQIA). Defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that they were immune from damages under HCQIA, suing the trustees was redundant, and the medical staff could not be held liable for damages for the breach of contract claim. The court accepted the latter two arguments and granted summary judgment as to the trustees and medical staff, dismissing those parties from suit. As to Defendant’s immunity claim, however, the court denied the motion for summary judgment. It found both that § 1983 claims are excluded from immunity under HCQIA and that a material dispute of fact existed as to whether the plaintiff voluntarily resigned.


Guns on Campus: Fla. Carry, Inc. v. Univ. of Fla. (Fla. App., 2015)
November 6, 2015

Court of appeals in the 1st district of the State of Florida issued a decision on October 30, 2015 affirming trial court's summary judgment order. Appellant, Florida Carry Inc, originally brought suit against University of Florida challenging UF's prohibition of firearms in university housing and in parked vehicles on UF property under Florida Law and under Constitutional Law. The court affirmed the judgment stating that under Heller the Supreme Court expressly stated that the Second Amendment right is not unlimited and that laws prohibiting arms from places like schools was not in doubt. In its analysis of Florida state law and case law, the court also agreed that UF did not preempt the state's authority by enacting a prohibition on firearms policy from residences and motor vehicles on campus.


Litigation: Nambiar v. Regents of the Univ. of Cal. (Cal. App., 2015)
November 6, 2015

Unpublished opinion in the Court of Appeal of the State of California Third Appellate District issued on November 4, 2015 affirming the trial court’s denial of a special motion to strike by the Regents of the University of California (Defendants). Plaintiff - a chemistry professor at University of California, Davis - sought an injunction to prevent the Defendants from destroying compounds from the plaintiff’s lab, which were seized after they were deemed a safety hazard. Defendants filed a special motion to strike under California Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16 (called an anti-strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP) motion). The court affirmed the trial court’s denial of the special motion to strike because Defendants failed to meet the threshold burden of an anti-SLAPP motion that the acts identified by Plaintiff were taken in furtherance of a right of petition or free speech. Although the Defendants’ actions – the abatement process associated with closing and emptying Plaintiff’s lab – were an official proceeding subject to anti-SLAPP motion, Plaintiff’s claims did not arise from those proceedings but were merely prompted by the abatement process.


Research: Comments by the Association of American Universities and the Council on Governmental Relations on the Interim Defense Acquisition Regulations System Rule
November 5, 2015

Comment released by the Association of American Universities (AAU) and the Council on Governmental Relations (COGR) on the Interim Defense Acquisition Regulations System (DFARS) Rule. The Comment expresses two main concerns with the interim rule: that the rule imposes substantial compliance burdens on institutions who handle controlled defense information, and that the rule does not include a clear exemption for fundamental research funded by the Department of Defense. The two organizations urge the Department and the Office of Management and Budget "to recognize the burden and cost implications of the new requirements and to provide assurance that they are not applied inappropriately."


Employment: Genetic Information and Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA)
November 3, 2015


A proposed rule issued by the EEOC provides guidance on the circumstances under which employers that offer employee wellness programs as part of a group health plan may offer limited incentives to employees when an employee's spouse provides information about current or past health status as part of participating in the wellness program. The objective of the proposed regulations is to clarify that GINA does not prohibit employers from offering limited inducements as long as “the provision of genetic information [is] voluntary and the individual from whom the genetic information is being obtained provides prior, knowing, voluntary and written authorization.” Interested parties are invited to submit comments by December 29, 2015.


Intellectual Property: Open Licensing Requirement for Copyrightable Works
November 3, 2015


Notice of Proposed Rulemaking by the Department of Education to establish an open licensing requirement for copyrightable works created using funds from direct competitive grants programs. The proposed regulations “would allow the public to access and use copyrightable intellectual property created with direct competitive grant funds for any purpose, provided that the user gives attribution to the designated authors or copyright holders of the intellectual property.”


Accreditation: Ivy Bridge University, LLC v. Higher Learning Commission
November 2, 2015


Order by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. In 2007, plaintiff Ivy Bridge, a California company, entered into a joint venture with Tiffin University, an accredited university based in Ohio, to create an online degree program. Defendant Higher Learning Commission (HLC), a regional accreditor for a group of states that includes Ohio but does not include California, reviewed the partnership between Ivy Bridge and Tiffin. Upon review, HLC issued a very negative report on the partnership and allegedly threatened Tiffin with sanctions if it did not completely sever its ties with Ivy Bridge, then made similar threats against two other Ohio universities after Ivy Bridge sought to partner with them. Ivy Bridge filed suit against HLC, arguing five claims for relief based on theories of contractual interference and breach of contract, negligent interference with prospective business interests, and unfair competition under California state law. HLC moved for dismissal of each claim for lack of personal jurisdiction and improper venue. The Court held that Ivy Bridge failed to make a prima facie showing of specific personal jurisdiction over HLC because HLC's allegedly tortious conduct was not purposefully directed at California and because Ivy Bridge's claims did not arise out of HLC's California-related activities. It thus granted the defendant's motion to dismiss for lack of specific jurisdiction and denied the motion to dismiss for improper venue as moot.


Affirmative Action: Amicus Brief by Thirty-Eight Higher Education Organizations to the U.S. Supreme Court on the Second Hearing of Fisher v. University of Texas
November 2, 2015


Amicus brief submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court by thirty-eight higher education organizations on the Court's upcoming rehearing of Fisher v. University of Texas (Fisher II). Abigail Fisher, an unsuccessful applicant to the University of Texas at Austin (UT), originally filed suit against the University in 2008, claiming that its race-conscious admissions policy was inconsistent with Grutter v. Bollinger. In Fisher I, the Supreme Court reaffirmed Grutter, holding that obtaining the educational benefit of a diverse student body is a compelling interest that can justify narrowly tailored consideration of race in admissions. It then remanded the case to the Texas district court to consider whether UT's admissions policy complied with the narrow-tailoring requirement of Grutter. Both the district court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld the policy, and the case is now back in the U.S. Supreme Court for reconsideration. The organizations' amicus brief emphasizes the state's interest in fostering student diversity, which the brief argues is compelling due to the benefits that diversity brings to students' educational experience. “Although selective higher education institutions express student body diversity in various ways based on their respective educational missions," the brief asserts, "their basic objectives are the same--to admit and support a cohort of students whose ‘chemistry,’ individually and collectively, fosters exceptional learning.” The brief also focuses on the need for colleges and universities to craft their admissions policies and to build student bodies free from judicial interference. Additional amicus briefs were submitted by the Association of American Law Schools, and a group of four admissions organizations, and a group of thirty-eight small, private institutions expressing similar sentiments.


Collective Bargaining: Trustees of Columbia University and Graduate Workers of Columbia-GWC, UAW
November 2, 2015


Supplemental decision and order of the Regional Director of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for Region 2 regarding the petition of graduate students at Columbia University to form a union. The Regional Director originally dismissed the petition administratively in February after finding that graduate students are not employees within the meaning of the National Labor Relations Act based on the Board's decision in Brown University. Upon rehearing, the Regional Director affirmed the original dismissal of the petition, concluding that she remains "constrained by Brown."


Employment Separation: Raymond v. Bd. of Regents of the Univ. of Minnesota
November 2, 2015

Memorandum opinion and order by the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota issued on October 20, 2015. Plaintiff Rodney Raymond filed suit against the University of Minnesota and the members of its Board of Regents--both individually and in their official capacities--for allegedly violating his due process rights based on his liberty interest in his good name and reputation, as well as his property interest in his employment at the University. The University fired Raymond after a hearing found him guilty of sexual harassment. Raymond later withdrew from a post-termination panel hearing "based on the futility of the process and its inherent unfairness and bias towards him, and because of the University's bad faith in its dealings with him." The Court dismissed the claims against the University after concluding that it is a state agency and therefore not subject to suit. In terms of the claims against the Board for injunctive relief, the Court held that the pre- and post-termination processes were sufficient to satisfy due process because the plaintiff was provided with notice of the charges against him, an explanation of the evidence upon which the charges were based, and an opportunity for a post-termination proceeding. It therefore dismissed the claims against the Board.


Financial Aid: Final Regulations on Direct Grant Program Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements
November 2, 2015


Final regulations adopted by the U.S. Department of Education on uniform administrative requirements, cost principles, and audit requirements for federal awards. On December 19, 2014, all federal award-making agencies published a joint Interim Final Rule (IFR) in the Federal Register, implementing the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards (Uniform Guidance). The final regulations give regulatory effect to the OMB guidance and supplements that guidance for the Department of Education. They are also designed to reduce administrative burden as well as the risk of waste, fraud, and abuse for the funds awarded by the Department through grants and cooperative agreements.These regulations will go into effect on December 2, 2015.


Financial Aid: Notice of Comment Request on the Perkins Discretionary Grant Performance Report
November 2, 2015


Notice issued by the U.S. Department of Education requesting comments on the revised form and instructions for the Perkins Discretionary Grant Performance Report. The Department has designed a new Performance Report form because the existing form is not compatible with the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE) Division of the Academic and Technical Education (DATE) discretionary grant program's new Perkins Information Management System. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before January 4, 2016.


Guns on Campus: Florida Carry, Inc. v. University of Florida
November 2, 2015


Opinion by the Florida Court of Appeal. Appellant Florida Carry, Inc., a nonprofit corporation whose members “seek to protect and exercise their right to keep and bear arms,” sued the University of Florida (UF) in 2014, challenging UF’s prohibition of firearms in university housing and certain policies which, according to the appellant, prohibited firearms in vehicles parked on UF’s property in violation of Florida state law and the state constitution. The trial court found that there existed no actual case or controversy in need of adjudication and granted summary judgment in favor of the University. The appeals court affirmed the lower court's ruling. "Given the factual nuances that can exist in the firearms-on-campus debate, and the lack of a clear, justiciable controversy on the sparse record presented," the Court asserted, "judgment in favor of the University is the correct result and would thereby avoid the difficult statutory interpretation questions for which no clear construction exists." The Court also concluded that this result "avoids having to make abstract judgments about how those statutes might fare under constitutional scrutiny."


Title IX: Letter of Findings for the Department of Education’s Investigation of Township High School District 211 (District)
November 2, 2015

Letter of findings issued by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in which OCR concluded that the District violated a transgender student’s rights under Title IX by prohibiting her from using the girls’ locker room. OCR noted that by denying the student access to the girls’ locker room in favor of providing her with a separate, private changing facility, the school “subject[ed] her to different rules of behavior and different treatment on the basis of sex.” OCR concluded that the District could have taken measures to satisfy its Title IX obligations as well as protect any student privacy concerns. Under the terms of the letter, the school district has 30 days to enter an agreement with OCR or face enforcement actions which include loss of federal funding.


Financial Aid: Notice on the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study Data Collection for 2015-2016
October 30, 2015


Notice of request for comments issued by the U.S. Department of Education on the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS) student data collection for 2015-2016. The data collection, which is being submitted to the Office of Management and Budget for review and approval, is for the ninth cycle in the series and will be conducted from January through September 2016. Data will be collected from roughly 2,000 institutions and 128,000 students. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before November 30, 2015.


Financial Aid; Program Integrity: Final Regulation on Program Integrity and Improvement
October 30, 2015


Final regulation published by the U.S. Department of Education on program integrity and improvement. The regulation amends the cash management regulations and other sections of the Student Assistance General Provisions regulations to grant the Secretary of Education the right to establish a method for directly paying credit balances to student aid recipients. The regulation also establishes two different types of arrangements between institutions and financial account providers, which distinguish those arrangements between an educational institution and a third-party servicer ("tier one (T1) arrangements") from those between an educational institution and a financial institution/entity that offers and markets financial accounts directly to students (“tier two (T2) arrangements”). Finally, the regulations clarify how previously-passed coursework is treated for Title IV eligibility purposes and streamline the requirements for converting clock hours to credit hours.


First Amendment & Free Speech: Alves v. Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia
October 30, 2015


Opinion and order by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Appellants -- clinical psychologists and former full-time staff employees at the Georgia State University (GSU) Counseling and Testing Center -- were terminated in 2012 through a purported reduction-in-force effort. The appellants filed suit against the University and two of its officials, alleging that they were fired in retaliation for submitting a memorandum to the University complaining about what they perceived to be poor leadership within and mismanagement of the Center. The district court rejected appellants’ First Amendment argument and granted summary judgment to the appellees, finding that the appellants’ memorandum constituted employee speech on an issue related to their professional duties. The Eleventh Circuit Court affirmed after concluding that both the form and the context of the memorandum indicated that it contained private employee grievances that did not relate to a matter of public concern.


First Amendment/Student Affairs: Milward, et al v. District Board of Trustees of Valencia College, Florida
October 30, 2015


Order granting motion to dismiss with prejudice in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida – Orlando Division. Plaintiffs — former Sonography Program students at Valencia College — sued the college and several employees. The plaintiffs alleged First and Fourth Amendment violations and a civil conspiracy arising out of the Sonography Program’s policy of having students perform transvaginal ultrasound probes on each other. The court dismissed the claims against Valencia College under Eleventh Amendment immunity, and dismissed the § 1983 First Amendment, Fourth Amendment and civil conspiracy claims against the individual employees. In its First Amendment analysis, the court found that the Plaintiffs complaints to Defendants did not constitute protected speech and cited the Hazelwood line of decisions.


Online Education/Copyright: Exemptions to DMCA Circumvention Provision
October 30, 2015


Pursuant to a statutory rulemaking proceeding in Section 1201(a) of the DMCA, the Librarian of Congress has issued the 2015 edition of exemptions to the DMCA’s circumvention provision. Many of the 2012 exemptions on circumventing technological protection measures have been renewed for higher education institutions. The Rule also grants the DMCA exemption to massive online open courses (MOOCs), creating the opportunity for professors to use copyrighted video for the purposes of teaching MOOCs.


Sexual Misconduct: Doe v. Pennsylvania State University
October 30, 2015


Order by U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Plaintiff, a student at Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) and a Syrian national, was suspended for two semesters after he was found responsible for sexual misconduct. The student filed suit against Penn State, claiming that its use of a single-investigator model violated his due process rights. The Court granted a temporary restraining order prohibiting Penn State from enforcing the student's suspension. It concluded that the plaintiff had adequately demonstrated that he was reasonably likely to succeed on the merits of his claim "in light of the potential inadequacy of the procedure afforded him by the University during a disciplinary hearing," and that he would likely suffer "immediate, irreparable harm" if the sanctions were enforced due to his status as an immigrant and the potential for his deportation to Syria, which is currently in the midst of a civil war.


Student Loans: REPAYE Plan and Reduction of Student Debt Burden
October 30, 2015


The Department of Education issued final regulations that amend regulations governing the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program, Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program, and Direct Loan cohort default rates (CDR). Among other things, the regulations: (1) amend the Direct Loan Program to implement the Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) plan, (2) amend the Student Assistance General Provisions to expand circumstances under which an institution may challenge or appeal a draft or final CDR based on the institution’s participation rate index , and (3) amend the FFEL Program to require guaranty agencies to inform borrowers rehabilitating defaulted loans of repayment options and streamline the process of identifying individuals who may be eligible for benefits under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. Regulations related to the REPAYE Program go into effect in December 2015. All other regulations, with the exception of the CDR appeals process implementation, will be effective July 1, 2016.


Collective Bargaining: The New School and Student Employees at the New School-SENS/UAW
October 23, 2015


Order issued by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on the petitioner's request for the review of a regional director's dismissal of a representation petition filed by by Student Employees at the New School, SENS/UAW. The union seeks to represent "all student employees who provide teaching, instructionally-related, or research services . . . at the Parsons School." The Board voted three-to-one to grant the petitioner's request, noting that it "raises substantial issues warranting review." Board Member Philip Miscimarra dissented, stating that, rather than arguing that the Regional Director’s supplemental decision departed from existing law, that her decision on a substantial factual issue was “clearly erroneous,” or that she committed “prejudicial error” in any of her rulings or in the conduct of the hearing, the petitioner's sole rationale for requesting review is to overturn the Board's 2004 ruling in Brown University, which held that graduate students are not employees entitled to collective bargaining rights.


Age Discrimination; Disability Discrimination; Free Speech: Epstein v. Suffolk County
October 22, 2015


Memorandum and order issued on August 26, 2015 by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Plaintiff Steven Epstein, a tenured professor and former director of the Suffolk Community College honors program, filed suit against the County of Suffolk, Suffolk County Community College, and various College officials, alleging that the defendants instituted a "discriminatory and retaliatory campaign" against him during the 2011-2012 school years based upon his age, disability, and in retaliation for making statements concerning the disparity of resources afforded to the three college campuses, the allegedly racist overtones of the College's advertisements, and the racially-disproportionate demographic makeup of the honors program and the disparate impact of its admissions criteria. The Court granted the defendants' motions to dismiss each of these claims. In regard to his disability discrimination claim, the Court concluded that Epstein did not plausibly allege that he is disabled or that the College regarded him as being disabled. The Court also found that Epstein failed to plead that he is a member of a protected class, as is required for a claim of age discrimination, because his complaint was devoid of any suggestion as to his age and because the mere allegation that “a younger individual” was appointed to the coordinator position was insufficient to support an inference of age discrimination. As to his retaliation claim, the Court concluded that, even assuming that Epstein had plead sufficient facts, his claim would nonetheless fail because he did not satisfactorily demonstrate that he was speaking as a citizen on a matter of public concern due to the fact that his speech was inherent to his role as a professor, a means to fulfill his responsibilities as director of the honors program, and undertaken in the course of performing his job.


Financial Aid: United States ex rel. Oberg v. Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency
October 22, 2015


Order and opinion issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Dr. Jon H. Oberg filed suit against the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) under the False Claims Act (FCA), 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729-33, alleging that from 2002 through 2006, the defendant fraudulently claimed hundreds of millions of dollars in federal student-loan interest-subsidy payments to which it was not entitled. Under the "arm-of-the-state" analysis used in the Eleventh Amendment context, the Court concluded that even though PHEAA was established by Pennsylvania, it is not an “arm of the state,” and therefore subject to civil liability under the FCA, because it is financially independent of the state, generates its own commercial revenue, and makes its own fiscal and policy decisions. The Fourth Circuit thus reversed the district court’s order granting summary judgment in favor of PHEAA and remanded for further proceedings on the merits of Oberg’s FCA claims against PHEAA.


Financial Aid: Notice of Comment Request on the Fiscal Year 2016 Educational Opportunity Centers Program Grant Applications
October 22, 2015


Notice of request for comments issued by the U.S. Department of Education on applications for grants under the Educational Opportunity Centers (EOC) Program. The Department is requesting a reinstatement of the Program with changes to the application for grants, as the previous EOC application expired in March 2014 and a new application will be needed for the Fiscal Year 2016 competition for awards. The Fiscal Year 2016 application will incorporate new competitive preference priorities and remove the previously-used invitational priorities. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before November 23, 2015.


Racial Discrimination: Rahn v. Board of Trustees of Northern Illinois University
October 22, 2015


Order and opinion by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit issued on September 23, 2015. Gregory Rahn, a white visiting professor at Northern Illinois University (NIU), alleged that his employer and its officials engaged in reverse discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when it failed to hire him for a tenure-track assistant professor position based on his race and instead chose to hire Dr. Gary Chen. Conflicting testimony indicated that the Dean of the College of Engineering, Promod Vorha, may have stated during a search committee meeting that he would not hire a white man into the department if qualified minority candidates were available. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants, holding that Rahn had failed to contest the defendants’ claim that it had a non-pretextual reason for hiring Chen that was unrelated to race. Rahn appealed. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, holding that the defendants set forth a legitimate reason for choosing Chen based on the metric evaluation of his qualifications, that no evidence in the record contradicted the claim by NIU that Chen was more qualified for the position than Rahn, and Rahn had waived any argument that the University's reason for hiring Chen was pretextual. In regard to the alleged statement by Vohra, the court determined that Rahn had been eliminated from the pool of applicants before Vohra had a chance to select his preferred candidate, so the statement was not direct evidence “without resort to inference” that the hiring decision was based on his race.


Research: Call to Action to Congress on Renewing the Federal Commitment to Scientific Discovery and Innovation
October 22, 2015


Call to Action issued by leaders of American industry, higher education, science, and engineering urging Congress to enact policies and make investments that will ensure the United States remains the global leader in scientific innovation. The Call to Action implores Congress to take such steps as ending sequestration's cuts to discretionary spending caps and providing steady, sustained funding to scientific research; making a strengthened federal research and development tax credit permanent; increasing funding of programs that promote student achievement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields; among others.


Veterans: Report by the Department of Veterans Affairs on Overpayments under the Post-9/11 GI Bill
October 22, 2015


Report by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on overpayments made under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Overpayments most often occur when the VA pays benefits based on a student's enrollment at the beginning of the academic term and the student later drops one or more classes, or withdraws from the institution altogether. The report identified $416 million in Post-9/11 GI Bill overpayments during the fiscal year of 2014, affecting approximately one in four veteran beneficiaries and about 6,000 postsecondary institutions. The report offers recommendations for effectively communicating program policies to veterans, improving enrollment verification processes, and providing college and university officials with a minimum level of training to reduce overpayments.


Athletics: Press Release Announcing the Addition of the Pac-12 Student-Athlete Leadership Team to the Pac-12 Governing Council
October 21, 2015


Press release issued by the Pac-12 Conference announcing that the Conference will include the ac-12 Student-Athlete Leadership Team (SALT) in its formal governance process. SALT will be made up of two student-athletes from each institution (total of 24), with 12 members attending every Pac-12 Council meeting. According to the press release, the Pac-12 is the first major conference to formally integrate the student-athlete perspective into its official voting governance structure.


Collective Bargaining: East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania v. Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties
October 21, 2015


Opinion by the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania. Dr. John Freeman, a former assistant professor at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania, was denied tenure by the University President. Freeman appealed the decision through his union, and the case eventually went to arbitration. The arbitrator determined that the President had violated terms of the collective bargaining agreement by unilaterally denying Freeman tenure without reviewing the recommendations of the Department Chair or the university-wide Tenure and Promotion Committee, and by improperly consulting with the Provost before issuing her decision. The University challenged the arbitrator's decision in court. The Court found that the agreement “prescribes a detailed procedure by which faculty committees and department chairpersons are to submit written tenure recommendations to the president within specific time frames," and that the President cannot make a decision without first considering those recommendations, unless they are submitted outside the specified time limits. The Court also rejected East Stroudsburg’s claim that limiting the President’s authority to make employment decisions would violate public policy. It thus affirmed the arbitrator's order that Freeman be reinstated and allowed to reapply for tenure.


Immigration: Department of Education Resource Guide on Supporting Undocumented Students
October 21, 2015


Resource Guide created by the U.S. Department of Education to assist state and local efforts to support undocumented students at the secondary and postsecondary education levels. The Department compiled the resources, tips, and questions and answers contained in the Guide based on a review of research and recommendations from stakeholders to "help educators, counselors, and others support student academic and social success, and to work collaboratively with youth and their families to find creative ways to finance college costs."


Immigration: Dear Colleague Letter on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Process
October 21, 2015


Dear Colleague Letter from Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to college and university leaders providing information on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) process and access to higher education for undocumented youth, including those who have received DACA. The Letter includes links to resources from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on requesting DACA, navigating the DACA process, and assisting undocumented students (including DACA recipients) in applying to college. An enclosure to the Letter, the Resource Guide: Supporting Undocumented Youth, provides information to assist educational institutions in supporting undocumented students at the secondary and postsecondary education levels.


Compliance: Study on Costs of Federal Regulatory Compliance at Postsecondary Institutions
October 19, 2015


Study conducted by Vanderbilt University on the cost of federal regulatory compliance at higher education institutions. The findings of the study indicated that the cost of federal compliance varied from 3 percent to 11 percent of total nonhospital operating expenditures at the 13 institutions studied, and that these costs were largely driven by the extent of research and the scale of expenditures at a given institution. Based on the results from the 13 sample institutions, the researchers estimated that the total cost of federal regulatory compliance across the entire U.S. higher education sector is approximately $27 billion.


Accreditation: Updated Guidelines for Determining Qualified Faculty under the Higher Learning Commission's Criteria for Accreditation
October 20, 2015


Updated guidelines for determining qualified faculty under the Higher Learning Commission's (HLC) Criteria for Accreditation and Assumed Practices were released by the Commission. The guidelines, which were revised on October 1, 2015 based on the adoption of policy revisions by HLC's Board of Trustees on June 26, clarify HLC's expectations regarding the minimal faculty qualifications required for institutions accredited the Commission. The revised guidelines are designed to ensure that faculty members have appropriate expertise in the subjects they teach.


Financial Aid: Announcement on Determining a Student’s Eligibility for a Direct Subsidized Loan when the Remaining Eligibility Period is Less than One Year
October 20, 2015


Announcement issued by Federal Student Aid in response to questions about how an institution determines whether a student is eligible for a Direct Subsidized Loan when the student's Remaining Eligibility Period is less than one year, and, if the student is eligible, for what period and in what amount. The announcement explains the special considerations that an institution must take into account under such circumstances.


Financial Aid: Notice of Comment Request on the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System 2015-2016 Pension Liabilities Update
October 20, 2015


Notice of request for comments issued by the U.S. Department of Education regarding the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System's (IPEDS) 2015-2016 pension liabilities update. The Department is requesting an emergency review due to the changes to the reporting standards for pensions implemented by the Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB), which require unfunded pension liabilities to be included in financial statements as of 2015. To accommodate this change, the National Center of Education Statistics (NCES) is proposing the addition of a new screening question and three new fields related to the unfunded pension liabilities to the IPEDS Finance survey. For the emergency processing, comments are requested on or before November 10, 2015. For the regular clearance processing, interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before December 21, 2015.


Program Integrity: Letter from the Department of Education to ITT Educational Services, Inc.
October 20, 2015


Letter from the U.S. Department of Education to ITT Educational Services, Inc., identifying the stricter financial oversight and reporting requirements to which ITT will be subject in order to continue participating in Title IV programs under its current heightened cash monitoring status. The Department cited federal fraud allegations against two ITT officers and the company’s “failure of the general standards of financial responsibility” to justify the enhanced oversight and reporting requirements.


Taxes: Fiscal Year 2016 Work Plan of the Tax Exempt and Governmental Entities Division of the Internal Revenue Service
October 20, 2015


Fiscal Year 2016 Work Plan of the Tax Exempt and Governmental Entities (TE/GE) division was released by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The Work Plan identifies the areas in which the Service will focus enforcement activities in the coming year. According to the document, the Federal, State, and Local Governments division (FSLG), which oversees public colleges and universities, announced that it will be conducting compliance projects to address employment tax issues that arise out of early retirement incentive plans, and to address worker classification issues.


Financial Aid: Letter Regarding the Reaffirmation Agreement for Direct Loan and Federal Family Education Loan Programs
October 19, 2015


Letter issued by Federal Student Aid providing information about a new, standardized Reaffirmation Agreement for use by lenders and loan servicers in the Direct Loan and Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) programs. Loan holders, servicers, and postsecondary institutions are encouraged to begin using the new form immediately and may not provide any other reaffirmation agreement to borrowers after March 30, 2016.


International Students: Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the Extension of the Optional Practical Training Program for International Students in STEM Fields
October 19, 2015


Notice of proposed rulemaking published by the Department of Homeland Security that would extend the optional practical training (OPT) program for international students at American universities with degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. Specifically, the proposed rule would allow F-1 STEM students who have elected to pursue 12 months of OPT in the United States to extend the OPT period by 24 months. This 24-month extension would replace the 17-month STEM OPT extension currently available to certain STEM students. The rule would also increase federal oversight of STEM OPT extensions by requiring employers to implement formal mentoring and training plans, adding wage and other protections for STEM OPT students and U.S. workers, and allowing extensions only to students with degrees from accredited schools. Comments must be received by the Department on or before November 18, 2015.


Program Integrity: Notice of Comment Request on the Educational Quality Through Initiative Partnerships Experimental Sites Initiative
October 16, 2015


Notice of request for comments issued by the U.S. Department of Education on its Educational Quality through Initiative Partnerships (EQUIP) Experimental Sites Initiative. The EQUIP project is intended to advance the Department's understanding of how to best increase access to high-quality, innovative programs in higher education. The Department is requesting a new information collection package to provide for a series of questions that will become components of the selection process for a new Federal Student Aid experimental site project. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before December 15, 2015.


Gainful Employment: Announcement of the Release of the Updated National Student Loan Data System Gainful Employment User Guide
October 16, 2015


Announcement of the release of the updated version of the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) Gainful Employment User Guide. Updates to the Guide include the addition of Chapter 5 to provide high-level information about the Gainful Employment (GE) Completers List, a list of students who completed a GE program during the applicable cohort period.


Financial Aid: 2015 Annual Report of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Student Loan Ombudsman
October 15, 2015


Annual report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) on federal student loan borrowers. The annual report, issued pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, analyzes complaints submitted by consumers from October 1, 2014, through September 30, 2015. During this period, the CFPB documented a 23 percent increase in the number of borrowers making complaints about both federal and private loans. Additionally, the report found that at least 30 percent of borrowers who have loans under the Federal Family Education Loan Program are delinquent in repaying their debt or have already defaulted, and 95 percent of borrowers with federal loans made by private lenders are not enrolled in income-driven repayment plans. The report concludes with a discussion supporting the Bureau’s recent recommendation that policymakers pursue industry-wide standards for student loan servicers.


Financial Aid: Student Loan Relief Act of 2015
October 15, 2015


Legislation (S. 2099) introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) entitled the "Student Loan Relief Act of 2015." The bill is designed to establish a mechanism that would allow borrowers of federal student loans to refinance their loans and receive a lower interest rate than the federal rate, and to amend the Internal Revenue Code to extend the exclusion for employer-provided educational assistance to employer payment of interest on certain refinanced student loans.


Sexual Misconduct; Title VII; Title IX: Jenkins v. University of Minnesota
October 15, 2015


Memorandum opinion and order issued by the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota. Plaintiff Stephanie Jenkins filed suit alleging sexual harassment and several tort law claims against defendants Ted Swem, Dr. David Andersen, and the University of Minnesota. Jenkins alleged that while she was conducting research for her Ph.D. program with the University, Swem, a scientist from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) who was collaborating with the University on Jenkins’s research project, made repeated unwanted sexual advances toward her, and that when she reported this conduct to her adviser, Andersen, neither Andersen nor others at the University took steps to remedy the situation. Each defendant filed a separate motion for summary judgment. The Court found that neither Anderson nor the University acted with deliberate indifference to Jenkins’s concerns because they took steps to investigate the claim, changed her work assignment and office location, and supervised later meetings between Jenkins and Swem. It therefore granted Andersen’s and the University's motions for summary judgment on the plaintiff's Title IX claim. In regard to Swem's motion, the Court found that he was not entitled to qualified immunity on Jenkins’s sexual harassment allegation because Jenkins’s complaint adequately stated a hostile work environment claim and her right was clearly established at the time of Swem’s conduct. However, the Court granted Swem’s motion in part as to the plaintiff's common law tort claims, finding that although Jenkins demonstrated a viable claim for assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress, she did not make the requisite showing to maintain a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress. Finally, because the Court concluded that a genuine issue of material fact remains as to whether Swem affected the conditions of Jenkins’s employment, for which the University may be vicariously liable, the Court denied the University’s motion for summary judgment as to Jenkins’s Title VII hostile work environment claim.


Sexual Misconduct; Title IX: Salau v. Denton
October 15, 2015


Order by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri. Plaintiff Ahmed Salau, a student at the University of Missouri, was expelled after a disciplinary hearing found him responsible for "nonconsensual sexual contact" and other violations of the University's code of conduct. After Salau opted not to participate in the hearing, he sued the University and various University officials, alleging that they had discriminated against him on the basis of sex in violation of Title IX. The Court dismissed his after determining Salau had "unquestionably failed" to allege any facts that suggested gender bias on the part of university officials. “Even if the University treated the female student more favorably than the Plaintiff, during the disciplinary process," the Court asserted, “the mere fact that Plaintiff is male and [the alleged victim] is female does not suggest that the disparate treatment was because of Plaintiff's sex." The Court also dismissed the plaintiff's due process claim, noting that the plaintiff "was afforded adequate procedural rights by Defendants by way of notice of the charges, identification of the violations charged, and an opportunity to present his case even though he refused to participate."


Financial Aid: Net Price Calculator Improvement Act
October 15, 2015


Legislation (S. 2150) introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Al Franken (D-MN). entitled the "Net Price Calculator Improvement Act." The bill is intended to make technical improvements to the Net Price Calculator system so that prospective students may have a more accurate understanding of the true cost of college. These improvements include enacting minimum requirements for net price calculators maintained by institutions of higher education as well as the development of a universal net price calculator by the U.S. Department of Education. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.


Sexual Misconduct; Title IX: Tsuruta v. Augustana University
October 14, 2015


Order by the U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota. Plaintiff Koh Tsuruta, a student at Augustana University, was accused of rape and sexual assault by a female classmate. Tsuruta sued the University on Title IX grounds after it refused to postpone his hearing until the criminal charges he was also facing had been resolved, seeking a preliminary injunction that would force the University to delay his hearing. The Court determined, however, that the plaintiff did not demonstrate "likelihood of success on the merits," one of the elements necessary for a court to grant a preliminary injunction. The Court held that Tsuruta could not succeed on an "erroneous outcome" cause of action, since an outcome had not yet been determined, nor could he succeed on a "selective enforcement" cause of action because he failed to allege or show that the University had treated a female student in sufficiently similar circumstances to his own more favorably. It further held that Tsuruta's claim would likely fail due to a lack of specific allegations of gender as a motivating factor behind the University's conduct. "The fact that males are more often the subject of disciplinary proceedings stemming from allegations of sexual assault," the Court concluded, "does not suggest that those proceedings are tainted by an improper motive." The Court therefore refused to grant the preliminary injunction.


FERPA; HIPPA: Comments from Higher Education Associations on the Draft Dear Colleague Letter Regarding Student Medical Records
October 13, 2015


Letter signed by a group of eight higher education associations to the U.S. Department of Education expressing concern about the draft Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) the Department sent to institutions regarding the handling of student medical records. The letter asserts that the draft DCL goes beyond the “reasonable scope” of reminding postsecondary institutions of their obligations to protect students’ privacy under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) by including standards from the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) which, the letter argues, would “result in significant confusion in the handling of education records." The associations encourage the Department to reconsider its inclusion of HIPAA standards in the DCL, adding that if the Department is considering making the changes outlined, it should do so through a formal regulatory process.


Program Integrity: Notice of Comment Request on Student Right-to-Know Student Assistance General Provisions
October 13, 2015


Notice of request for comments issued by the U.S. Department of Education on the Student Assistance General Provisions of the Student Right-to-Know (SRK) information collection. Under 34 CFR 668.41, participating institutions are required to provide certain information to all enrolled students, prospective students prior to their enrollment, and the institution's employees. This information includes the graduation rates of its certificate- or degree-seeking, first-time, full-time undergraduate students. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on this information collection on or before November 12, 2015.


Research: Scientific Research in the National Interest Act
October 13, 2015


Legislation (H.R. 3293) entitled the "Scientific Research in the National Interest Act" was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX). The legislation would require the National Science Foundation (NSF) to award federal funding for basic research and education in the sciences through a new research grant or cooperative agreement only if it makes an affirmative determination, justified in writing, that the grant or agreement promotes the progress of science in the country, is worthy of federal funding, and meets certain other criteria. The House Science, Space, and Technology (SST) Committee approved the Act on October 8 by a voice vote.


Campus Safety: Comment Request on the Annual Fire Safety Report
October 9, 2015


Notice of request for comments issued by the U.S. Department of Education regarding annual fire safety reporting. This request is to extend the current approval of reporting requirements contained in Department regulations (34 CFR 668.49), which require institutions to collect statistics on fires occurring in on-campus student housing facilities and to publish an annual fire safety report containing these statistics as well as the institution's policies regarding fire safety. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before December 8, 2015.


Program Integrity: Response on College Scorecard Data Inaccuracies
October 9, 2015


Response from the U.S. Department of Education to an inquiry submitted by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) on reporting data inaccuracies in the College Scorecard. The Department stated that institutions may correct at any time the data produced as part of the College Scorecard project from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) using the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) revisions process. However, because earnings data is collected from tax records, it cannot be altered until the following round of earnings data is collected and posted. The response also indicated that the Department is still determining the update schedule and will work with institutions to improve reporting and data quality.


Student Safety: Regents of the University of California v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County
October 9, 2015


Order and opinion issued by the Court of Appeal of the State of California. Katherine Rosen, a student at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), suffered severe injuries after she was attacked by another student, Damon Thompson, during a chemistry laboratory (Thompson was later found not guilty for the attack by reason of insanity). Several months before the attack, UCLA had treated Thompson for symptoms related to schizophrenia disorder, including auditory hallucinations and paranoid thinking. Rosen filed a negligence action against the Regents of the University of California and several UCLA employees, claiming that the defendants had breached their duty of care by failing to take reasonable measures that would have protected her from Thompson’s allegedly foreseeable conduct. The trial court denied the defendants' motion for summary judgment, concluding that the defendants owed Rosen a duty of care based on her status as a student and, alternatively, as a business invitee onto campus property. On appeal, the Court voted 2-1 to reject each of Rosen's six theories as to why UCLA had a legal duty to protect her from Thompson's allegedly foreseeable violent actions and granted defendants’ petition for writ of mandate. "We find no basis to depart from the settled rule that institutions of higher education have no duty to their adult students to protect them against the criminal acts of third persons," the Court held.


Accreditation: Higher Education Innovation Act
October 8, 2015


Legislation (S. 2111) introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) to establish an alternative, outcomes-based accreditation process. The bill would amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to create a voluntary authorization pathway, enabling higher education institutions that meet certain standards for offering high-quality education and have a proven track record of successfully helping students graduate, obtain jobs, and pay back their student loans to obtain accreditation. The authorization process would be metrics-based as opposed to the existing input-focused accreditation process. The bill was referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.


Endowments and Gifts: In re. Paul Smith's College of Arts & Sciences
October 8, 2015


Decision and order by the Supreme Court of the State of New York. In 1928, Phelps Smith bequeathed the remainder of his estate to the establishment of a higher education institution under the condition that it be "forever known as 'Paul Smith's College of Arts and Sciences'." Petitioner Cathy S. Dove, President of Paul Smith's College, sought a court order allowing the College to be released from this naming restriction so that the institution could be renamed "Joan Weill-Paul Smith’s College" in return for a $20 million gift from Joan and Sanford Weill. The petitioner argued that the naming restriction "nearly fatally impedes the ability of Paul Smith's to seek large gifts from a single donor in order to make the investments it needs to remain viable." The Court, however, failed to find that any changes in circumstances--including decreasing enrollment, changes in the demographics of the student body, and a drop in revenue--rendered the administration of the charitable trust according to its literal terms "impractical, or wasteful, to such a degree that it frustrate[d] the charitable purpose of the bequest of Phelps Smith." It thus denied the petition. President Dove released a statement in response to the decision expressing disappointment with the outcome along with appreciation for the "enduring connection" that the College's community feels to the institution and its traditions.


Sexual Misconduct; Title IX: Office for Civil Rights Resolution Letter and Agreement with Harvard University, Harvard Law School
October 6, 2015


Resolution Letter and Agreement regarding a Title IX complaint filed against Harvard University and Harvard Law School was released by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR). OCR determined that the Law School's current and former sexual harassment policies and procedures failed to comply with Title IX's requirements for prompt and equitable response to complaints of sexual harassment and sexual assault; that the Law School did not ensure that individuals implementing the policies and procedures were adequately trained; and that the Law School improperly used a “clear and convincing” evidence standard of proof in its Title IX grievance procedures in violation of Title IX. The Law School signed an Agreement with OCR to address these issues. OCR also issued a press release announcing the Resolution Letter and Agreement in which Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon congratulated the Law School for "committing to comply with Title IX and immediately implement steps to provide a safe learning environment for its students."


Competency-Based Education: Audit Report on the Evaluation of Competency-Based Education Programs
October 5, 2015


Final audit report released by the U.S. Department of Education on how the Higher Learning Commission could improve its evaluation of competency-based education programs to help the Department ensure that the programs are properly classified for Title IV purposes. The report concluded that the Commission did not establish a system of internal control that provided reasonable assurance that institutions’ classifications of delivery methods and measurements of student learning for competency-based education programs were sufficient for such purposes. To address this failure, the report offers several recommendations for steps that the Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education should take in regard to policy and procedure revisions, consistent application of procedures, and reviews of previously-proposed programs, among others.


FERPA: Comments submitted by NACUA on the Draft FERPA Dear Colleague Letter issued August 18, 2015
October 5, 2015


In response to concerns expressed by members, the NACUA Board voted to make an exception to its Policy on Public Policy Issues that permits NACUA, in rare circumstances, to submit comments on proposed guidelines that relate directly to NACUA’s mission and member concerns. Specifically, NACUA’s comments expressed concern that FERPA should not be interpreted to give institution counsel greater or less access to student medical records than they have under other confidentiality laws that currently define those boundaries and warn that importing HIPAA standards into FERPA guidelines is likely to result in greater confusion rather than greater clarity and would require institutions of higher education to develop detailed HIPAA expertise so they could comply with FERPA. Finally, NACUA's comments express appreciation to FPCO for using a process that provided opportunity for public input regarding the DCL prior to its final issuance.


Veterans: Comment Request on Readmission for Servicemembers
October 5, 2015


Comment request notice posted by the U.S. Department of Education on a request for an extension of the current information collection regarding the readmission of student servicemembers. Department regulations include requirements under which institutions must readmit service members with the same academic status they held at the institutions when they last attended or where accepted for attendance. Current regulations require institutions to charge readmitted service members the same amount that those students were charged for the academic year during which they left to fulfill a service requirement for the first academic year of their return. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before December 4, 2015.


Financial Aid: Announcement of the Non-Renewal of the Perkins Loan Program
October 2, 2015


Announcement issued by Federal Student Aid informing institutions that Congress did not take action to extend the Perkins Loan Program, which expired on October 1. As a result, institutions are instructed not to make Federal Perkins Loans to new borrowers after September 30, 2015, and to follow the guidance provided in the Dear Colleague Letter GEN-15-03 to wind down the program.


Financial Aid: Report on Strengthening the Student Loan System
October 2, 2015


Report on strengthening the student loan system to protect borrowers was released by the U.S. Department of Education. The report provides statutory, regulatory, and administrative recommendations from the Department, developed in consultation with the Department of the Treasury and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, to help protect student borrowers and to promote the quality and affordability of higher education. President Barack Obama ordered the report in March 2015 as part of his announcement of his administration's Student Aid Bill of Rights. The Department also issued a press release in conjunction with the release of the report.


Sexual Misconduct; Title IX: Resolution Letter and Agreement in the University of Virginia Title IX Investigation
October 2, 2015


Resolution Letter and Agreement released by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) regarding OCR's investigation of alleged Title IX violations by the University of Virginia (UVA). OCR found UVA to be in violation of Title IX on a number of counts. Prior to the conclusion of the investigation, the University entered into an agreement with OCR to continue to implement its revised policies and to notify OCR of any proposed policy revisions; to ensure that agreements with student organizations clearly state that sexual harassment, sexual violence and retaliation are prohibited; and to establish an education and prevention program about the institution’s policies and procedures regarding sexual misconduct. The University has also agreed to conduct regular training of all members of the UVA community on issues related to sexual misconduct and Title IX; to develop and implement a system for tracking and reviewing all reports, investigations, interim measures, and resolutions of student and employee sexual misconduct; to ensure that such reports are adequately, reliably, promptly, and impartially investigated and resolved; and to reexamine complaints filed between 2011 and 2014. The Department issued a press release in conjunction with the release of the Resolution Letter and Agreement.


Athletics: O'Bannon v. NCAA
October 1, 2015


Opinion by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Plaintiff Edward O'Bannon filed a class-action suit alleging that the National Collegiate Athletic Association's (NCAA) amateurism rules constituted an unlawful restraint of trade in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act. The district court held in favor of the plaintiffs and permanently enjoined the NCAA from forbidding its member institutions from giving student-athletes scholarships up to the full cost of attendance at their respective schools and up to $5,000 per year in deferred compensation. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit panel concluded that the district court's decision was "largely correct." After holding that it was not precluded from reaching the merits of the plaintiffs’ Sherman Act claim, the panel analyzed the plaintiff's claims under the Rule of Reason and held that the NCAA’s rules had "significant anticompetitive effects within the college education market in that they fixed an aspect of the 'price' that recruits pay to attend college." The Court further held that the NCAA's rules "served the procompetitive purposes of integrating academics with athletics and preserving the popularity of the NCAA’s product." While the panel found appropriate the district court's decision to allow NCAA member institutions to give scholarships up to the full cost of attendance, it found the district court’s other remedy--allowing students to be paid cash compensation of up to $5,000 per year--to be improper. The panel thus vacated the district court’s judgment and permanent injunction insofar as they required the NCAA to allow its member institutions to pay student-athletes up to $5,000 per year in deferred compensation; it affirmed the rest of the district court's judgment and injunction.


Free Speech; Retaliation: Gomez v. Allbee
October 1, 2015


Order issued by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa on plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction. Plaintiffs Jessica Gomez, Alexis Huscko, and Anthony Trujillo--three student journalists at Muscatine Community College (MCC)--sued the College and several College administrators in their individual capacities for allegedly infringing upon their First Amendment right to free speech and for retaliating against the journalism program. The Court held that the students did not demonstrate a likelihood of success in showing that the defendant administrators’ comments about some of the articles had a chilling effect on the journalists, since those administrators had no control over the paper. It also held that the students did not demonstrate a likelihood of success on their retaliation claims. Furthermore, the Court found it unlikely that the defendants' removal of the paper's full-time faculty adviser in light of budget constraints, the purported cuts to the paper's funding, or the changes to the fall course schedule would cause irreparable harm to the paper. The Court thus denied the plaintiffs' request for preliminary injunction.


Accreditation: Comment Request on the Secretary of Education's Recognition of Accrediting Agencies
September 30, 2015


Comment request issued by the U.S. Department of Education on information collected to inform the Secretary of Education's recognition of accrediting agencies. The information collected--which consists of petitions, reports, and accreditation notifications--is required to determine if accrediting agencies comply with or are comparable to the Secretary's criteria for recognition. It is also used to allow the Secretary to make determinations on new, extensions of, and continuing recognition of accreditation statuses. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before November 30, 2015.


Financial Aid: Announcement of the Official Three-Year Cohort Default Rates for the Fiscal Year 2012
September 30, 2015


Announcement by the U.S. Department of Education stating that the official three-year cohort default rates were delivered to both domestic and foreign institutions on Monday, September 28 through the eCDR process. A three-year cohort default rate is the percentage of a school's borrowers who enter repayment on certain Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program or William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program loans during a particular federal fiscal year and default or meet other specified conditions prior to the end of the second following fiscal year. According to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, the three-year national cohort default rate is 11.8 percent. The Department also released a summary of the fiscal year 2012 official 3-year cohort default rates by state and by institution type, as well as a briefing on the national default rates.


Financial Aid: Joint Statement of Principles on Student Loan Servicing from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Departments of Education and the Treasury
September 30, 2015


A Joint Statement of Principles on Student Loan Servicing was released by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the U.S. Departments of Education and the Treasury. The statement was developed as a roadmap to "improve student loan servicing practices, promote borrower success, and minimize defaults." It outlines the CFPB's and the Departments' commitment to ensure that student loan servicing is consistent, accurate, actionable, accountable, and transparent. The release of the statement coincides with the release of a report by the CFPB, which contains recommendations for addressing harmful servicing practices identified through responses to a CFPB public inquiry launched in May 2015.


Athletics: National Collegiate Athletic Association Public Infractions Decision Involving Southern Methodist University
September 29, 2015


Public infractions decision regarding violations by Southern Methodist University (SMU) was released by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). After conducting an investigation of allegations against the University, the Division I Committee on Infractions panel found that SMU committed multiple violations, including academic fraud, unethical conduct involving head coach control in the men’s basketball program, and unethical conduct and recruiting violations involving the men’s golf program. The penalties imposed include three years of probation, a postseason ban for the men’s basketball and golf teams, scholarship reductions, recruiting restrictions, a vacation of certain men’s basketball wins, the disassociation of a booster, and a suspension of thirty percent of the men’s basketball season for the head coach.


Financial Aid: Dear Colleague Letter on Perkins Loan Excess Liquid Capital
September 29, 2015


Dear Colleague Letter released by Federal Student Aid reminding institutions that participate in the Federal Perkins Loan Program that they are required to return the federal portion of any excess liquid capital in their Perkins Loan Revolving Fund to the Department of Education. Excess liquid capital is the amount of the Fund’s “Cash On Hand” that is in excess of the institution’s estimated immediate needs. The letter includes instructions and worksheets for institutions to use to calculate their excess liquid capital.


Financial Aid: Letter of Support for House Bill to Extend Perkins Loan Program and Letter to Senate Leaders Urging an Extension of the Perkins Loan Program
September 29, 2015


Letters from the American Council on Education (ACE) and nineteen other higher education organizations in support of legislation that would extend the Perkins Loan Program through October 2016. The letter in support of H.R. 3954 praises the bill for "allowing the merits of the program to be considered within the context of the ongoing reauthorization of the Higher Education Act" and states that an extension of the program "is a necessary step to ensure that the over 500,000 students who receive an average of $2,000 in aid through this program are not unduly harmed." The letter to Senate leaders, addressed to Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, urges them to extend the Perkins Loan Program, and asks that the Senate pass legislation “as the House has proposed that would guarantee that the future of the Perkins Loans program is determined through careful debate, and not as the result of an arbitrary deadline."


Financial Aid: Higher Education Extension Act of 2015
September 28, 2015


Legislation (H.R. 3594) introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representatives Mike Bishop (R-MI) and Mark Pocan (D-WI) to temporarily extend the federal Perkins Loan program. The program is currently set to expire on October 1. The Act would extend the program for an additional year and limit the number of years that current recipients may receive Perkins loans.


Free Speech; Title IX: Yeasin v. University of Kansas
September 28, 2015


Opinion and order by the Kansas Court of Appeals. In 2013, a Johnson County District Court issued a final protection of abuse order against plaintiff Navid Yeasin, a former student at the University of Kansas (UK), forbidding him from contacting his former girlfriend and fellow UK student for one year. During this period, Yeasin posted a series of "puerile and sexually harassing" tweets on his Twitter account, later acknowledging that they discussed his former girlfriend and therefore violated the protection order. Although Yeasin did not post the tweets on campus or at a University sponsored or supervised event, Yeasin was found to have violated of the University's Student Code and sexual harassment policy and was expelled. After exhausting his administrative remedies, Yeasin filed suit against the University, claiming that his expulsion violated his First Amendment right to free speech. In it's defense, the University argued that Title IX mandates that it take disciplinary action against Yeasin because his posts created a hostile education environment for one of its students. On appeal of the district court's holding in favor of Yeasin, however, the Kansas Court of Appeals rejected this argument. The Court held that, based on the Student Code's language, it's provisions apply only to conduct that occurs on campus or at University sponsored or supervised events, and therefore that the University had no authority to expel Yeasin.


Financial Aid: Higher Education Extension Act of 2015
September 25, 2015


Legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representatives Mike Bishop (R-MI) and Mark Pocan (D-WI) entitled the "Higher Education Extension Act of 2015" to extend the Perkins Loan program for an additional year. Under the bill, students who have received a Perkins Loan for the current 2015-16 academic year would be eligible to receive additional Perkins Loans until March 31, 2018.


Competency-Based Education: Reference Guide on Competency-Based Education Experimental Sites Initiative
September 23, 2015


Reference Guide on the U.S. Department of Education's Competency-Based Education (CBE) Experimental Sites Initiative was released by Federal Student Aid. The Guide is designed to assist schools participating in the CBE Experiment to implement the program and contains information on policies and procedures, systems, rules and regulations, and reporting related to the Initiative. In addition to announcing the release of the Guide, the Department announced that it will be issuing an expansion of the current CBE Experiment by the end of this year.


Admissions; Race Discrimination: Resolution Letter on Princeton University's Compliance with Title IV
September 23, 2015


Resolution letter released by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) regarding Princeton University's Compliance with Title IV. OCR examined whether Princeton discriminated against Asian applicants on the basis of race or national origin in the University’s undergraduate admissions process. Based on the information gathered during OCR’s investigation, the Office determined that there was "insufficient evidence" to demonstrate that the University had discriminated against Asian applicants during the fifteen-year period it examined.


Diversity, Discrimination & Accommodation: Announcement by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics
September 23, 2015


Announcement by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics to mark it's 25th anniversary. The Initiative was established in 1990 to address the educational disparities faced by the Hispanic community. According to the announcement, ten federal agencies have made commitments to continue investing in and supporting the educational attainment of Hispanic students. Additionally, the White House released the Federal Agencies Investing in Hispanic Education Report and the Education Agency Data Plans, which outline the Obama Administration's work to improve the education of Hispanic Americans.


Financial Aid: Know Before You Owe Federal Student Loan Act of 2015
September 23, 2015


Legislation (S. 2043) introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) entitled, "Know Before You Owe Federal Student Loan Act of 2015." The legislation would revise the loan counseling requirements for certain borrowers of federal student loans. Revisions would include a requirement that student borrowers receive debt counseling every year before signing off on their loans. Additionally, during periods when payments are not required, the bill would require lenders to provide student borrowers with disclosure statements corresponding to time periods that payments would be required if the borrower was in repayment. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.


Research: Report on Optimizing the Nation's Investment in Academic Research
September 23, 2015


Report entitled "Optimizing the Nation's Investment in Academic Research" was authored by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine at the request of Congress. The report, which examined federal regulation of government-funded research at colleges and universities, found that growing federal requirements on research institutions are forcing researchers to spend an increasing amount of time on administrative and compliance matters, thus undercutting their research productivity. The Committee tasked with creating the report recommended that Congress, the White House, and federal research agencies take steps to assess the effectiveness of current regulations, design more uniform rules across agencies, and eliminate redundancies.


Employee Benefits: Presidential Executive Order Granting Paid Sick Leave to Federal Government Contractor Employees
September 22, 2015


Executive Order requiring all government contractors to offer their employees up to seven days of paid sick leave per year was signed by President Barack Obama. The new policy will go into effect beginning in 2017. The White House also issued a press release in conjunction with the signing of the Order.


Faculty & Staff: Final Rule on Prohibitions Against Pay Secrecy Policies and Actions
September 22, 2015


Final rule on pay secrecy policies and actions was published by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contracts Compliance Programs (OFCCP). The rule implements Executive Order 13665, prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against employees and job applicants who inquire about, discuss, or disclose their own compensation or the compensation of other employees or applicants.


Faculty & Staff: News Release by the Department of Labor on its Finalized Pay Transparency Rule
September 22, 2015


News release issued by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contracts Compliance Programs (OFCCP) announcing that it has finalized its proposed “pay transparency” rule. Under the rule, federal contractors and subcontractors may not fire or otherwise discriminate against any employee or applicant for discussing, disclosing, or inquiring about his or her compensation or that of another employee or applicant. The rule will be applicable to all federal government contractors with contracts entered into or modified on or after January 11, 2016.


FLSA and Employee Categorization: Schumann v. Collier Anesthesia
September 22, 2015


Opinion issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. A group of twenty-five former students who had participated in a nursing master’s degree clinical program at Wolford College sought to recover unpaid wages and overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). After considering the six factors that the Department of Labor identified in recent guidance, the district court determined that the plaintiffs were not “employees” under the Act and therefore not entitled to wages or overtime pay. On appeal, the Eighth Circuit concluded that “[l]onger term, intensive, modern internships that are required to obtain academic degrees and professional certification and licensure in a field are just too different from" the internships at issue in previous cases for the old "primary beneficiary" test adopted under Walling v. Portland Terminal to apply. Instead, it announced a new test based on the factors articulated by the Second Circuit in Glatt v. Fox Searchlight Picture, which are designed to account for the unique qualities of the type of internship at issue in this case. The Court then remanded the case to allow the district court to apply the new test. However, it refrained from directly answering the question of whether the students in this case were “employees” for purposes of the FLSA.


Program Integrity: Notice Requesting Comments on the Data Challenges and Appeals Solution System
September 22, 2015


Notice released by the U.S. Department of Education requesting an emergency clearance approval for the Data Challenges and Appeals Solution (DCAS). DCAS is new system that will enable institutions to challenge their self-reported data as well as the Department's calculated metrics, including Gainful Employment (GE) metrics, Cohort Default Rates, and Disclosure Rates and Metrics. This notice specifically requests a new collection for the first phase of DCAS: the institutional challenge to the GE completers list provided to institutions by the Department. Interested parties are invited to submit comments on or before November 23, 2015.


Title IX: Letter of Findings for the Department of Education's Investigation of the University of Virginia
September 22, 2015


Letter of findings containing the results of the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights' (OCR) investigation of the University of Virginia (UVA) for alleged violations of Title IX. OCR found that the University's sexual assault and misconduct policies in place since 2005 did not provide for prompt and equitable resolutions of Title IX, that its informal resolution process was not equitable to either complainants or accused students, that the University failed to respond promptly and equitably to reports of sexual misconduct, and that a basis existed for a hostile environment for affected students and that the University failed to take steps to eliminate this environment. The University has since updated its policies, which federal officials consider compliant with Title IX. In a resolution agreement with OCR, UVA did not admit to any of the office’s findings or surrender the right to contest them “through all legal or administrative proceedings," but agreed to make a series of changes and to submit them to the office for review.


Affordable Care Act: Dordt College v. Burwell
September 21, 2015


Opinion by the U.S. Appeals Court for the Eighth Circuit. Plaintiffs Dordt College and Cornerstone University, both nonprofit religious educational institutions that offer healthcare coverage to their employees, brought suit against the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor (DOL), and Treasury, and their respective Secretaries, asserting that regulations adopted under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) allowing religious organizations to opt out of providing, paying for, or facilitating the contraceptive coverage mandated by the ACA violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Under these regulations, organizations that choose to opt out of providing contraceptive coverage may do so by filling out a form for the group health plan's health insurance issuer or third-party administrator, or by sending notification to HHS. The government countered that the contraceptive mandate and accommodation process did not substantially burden Dordt and Cornerstone’s exercise of religion, that it had compelling interests in safeguarding public health and ensuring equal access to health care for women, and that the contraceptive mandate and accommodation process were the least restrictive means to further those compelling interests. The district court granted a preliminary injunction enjoining the government from enforcing the objectionable provisions of the ACA and its implementing regulations against the plaintiffs. The Eighth Circuit agreed, concluding that "by coercing Dordt and Cornerstone to participate in the contraceptive mandate and accommodation process under threat of severe monetary penalty, the government has substantially burdened Dordt and Cornerstone’s exercise of religion." It further held that, even assuming that the government’s interests in safeguarding public health and ensuring equal access to health care for women are compelling, the contraceptive mandate and accommodation process were not the least restrictive means of furthering those interests. Thus, it affirmed the district court's order granting injunctive relief to the plaintiffs. The Court referred to the reasoning set forth in Sharpe Holdings, Inc. v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which was handed down the same day, to support its holdings.


Affordable Care Act: Sharpe Holdings, Inc. v. United States Department of Health and Human Services
September 21, 2015


Opinion by the U.S. Appeals Court for the Eighth Circuit. Plaintiffs Sharpe Holdings, Inc., Heartland Christian College, and other religious nonprofits filed suit against the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor (DOL), and Treasury, as well as their respective Secretaries, alleging that regulations adopted under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) that enable religious organizations to opt out of providing, paying for, or facilitating the contraceptive coverage mandated by the ACA violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Under the ACA regulations, organizations that decide to opt out of providing contraceptive coverage may do so by delivering a form to their group health plan's health insurance issuer or third-party administrator, or by sending a notification to HHS. The plaintiffs asserted that the government was forcing them to violate their religious beliefs by threatening to impose significant monetary penalties "unless they either directly provide coverage for objectionable contraceptives through their group health plans or indirectly provide, trigger, and facilitate that objectionable coverage" through the accommodation process. The Eighth Circuit, citing the Supreme Court's 2014 decision in Hobby Lobby v. Burwell, determined that it was not the judiciary's role to second-guess the plaintiffs' assessment of a “difficult and important question of religion and moral philosophy, namely, the circumstances under which it is wrong for a person to perform an act that is innocent in itself but that has the effect of enabling or facilitating the commission of an immoral act by another.” In affirming the district court's order granting injunctive relief to the plaintiffs, the Eight Circuit concluded that the government had substantially burdened the plaintiffs' exercise of religion and that, even assuming that the government’s interests in safeguarding public health and ensuring equal access to health care for women are compelling, the contraceptive mandate and accommodation process failed the least-restrictive means test.


Program Integrity: Notice of Altered System of Records Regarding Electronic Cohort Default Rate Appeals
September 21, 2015


Notice published by the U.S. Department of Education seeking comments on an altered system of records entitled the “Data Challenges and Appeals Solutions (DCAS) System." The new system, which will replace the Electronic Cohort Default Rate Appeals (eCDR Appeals) system, will be implemented in phases to include all appeals, requests for adjustments, and challenges related to institutional cohort default rates (CDRs), Gainful Employment regulations, and other student-level data initiatives. The Department seeks comments on the altered system of records as described in the Notice. Comments on the system must be received on or before October 21, 2015.


Sexual Misconduct: Survey by the Association of American Universities on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct
September 21, 2015


Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct was released by the Association of American Universities (AAU). The survey was designed to gauge overall campus climate with respect to perceptions of risk, knowledge of support resources available, and perceived reactions to incidents of sexual misconduct, in addition to providing participating institutions of higher education with information to help design policies to prevent and respond to reports of sexual misconduct.


Financial Aid: Government Accountability Office Report on Borrower Awareness of Loan Repayment and Forgiveness Options
September 18, 2015


Report authored by the Government Accountability Office on student loan borrowers' awareness of loan repayment and forgiveness options. The report concluded that most eligible borrowers do not participate in the U.S. Department of Education's Income-Based Repayment and Pay As You Earn repayment plans for Direct Loans, and that the Department has not provided information about the plans to all borrowers in repayment. As a result, borrowers who could benefit from the plans may miss the opportunity to lower their payments and reduce the risk of defaulting on their loans.


Freedom of Speech: Settlement Agreement in Jergins v. Williams
September 18, 2015


Settlement agreement reached in the case of Jergins v. Williams. The settlement stemmed from a lawsuit filed by three Dixie State University students against the president of the University and several other University officials for alleged violations of their free speech rights. Dixie State had rejected flyers promoting the Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) student group on the grounds that the flyers violated University policy by "disparag[ing]" and "mock[ing]" certain individuals, and later confined the group's "Free Speech Wall" event to the University's "Free Speech Zone." As part of the settlement, Dixie State agreed to revise its flyer approval process, posting policies, club event policies, and “Free Speech Zone” policy. The University also agreed to provide training to administrators regarding the campus’ new speech policies and to pay $50,000 in damages and attorney’s fees to the plaintiffs. The lawsuit was part of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s (FIRE) Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project and represents the Project's seventh consecutive victory.


Sexual Misconduct: Doe v. Middlebury College
September 18, 2015


Ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont on the plaintiff's emergency motion for preliminary injunction. Plaintiff John Doe filed suit against defendant Middlebury College based on Middlebury’s handling of a complaint of sexual misconduct against the plaintiff, which resulted from an incident that occurred while he was participating in a study abroad program with the School for International Training (SIT). While SIT exonerated the plaintiff, Middlebury conducted its own investigation de novo, and after finding that he had violated the College's sexual misconduct policy, expelled him. The plaintiff claimed that Middlebury’s undertaking of a second, de novo investigation and determination of the sexual assault allegation was not authorized because Middlebury’s policies pertaining to study-abroad programs and its agreements with the plaintiff prior to his participation indicated that he would be subject to the policies and discipline of the host institution, SIT. The District Court granted the plaintiff's emergency motion for a preliminary injunction forbidding Middlebury from expelling him for the fall 2015 semester.


Financial Aid: Comment Request on Borrower Defenses Against Loan Repayment
September 17, 2015


Notice issued by the U.S. Department of Education regarding a request for an extension of the emergency clearance that was granted to allow the Department to gather information from borrowers who believe that they have cause to invoke borrower defenses against the repayment of student loans. This information collection effort will allow the Department to inform borrowers and loan servicers of the information needed to review and adjudicate requests for relief under borrower defenses regulations. Emergency clearance for the collection was originally granted on June 5, 2015. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before October 19, 2015.


Student Safety: Collar v. Austin
September 17, 2015


Order by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama. Plaintiffs’ son Gil Collar was a student at the University of South Alabama when he was shot and killed by defendant Trevis Austin, a police officer employed by the University. The plaintiffs filed a Section 1983 suit against Officer Austin, claiming that he used excessive force in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, in addition to alleging wrongful death under Alabama state law. The Court held that the evidence viewed most favorably to the plaintiffs failed to support the proposition that the Collars' son posed no threat of death or serious injury to the defendant. Although unarmed, Collar exhibited what the Court and the plaintiffs referred to as "bizarre" and "irrational" behavior prior to the shooting, including appearing naked at the police station, jumping and waving his arms, advancing swiftly on a retreating officer, repeatedly telling the officer to shoot him and kill him, and ignoring repeated orders to get on the ground. The Court further concluded that it was not clearly established on the date of the incident that the defendant’s use of force violated Collar’s constitutional rights. Accordingly, it held that Officer Austin was entitled to qualified immunity as to the plaintiffs’ constitutional claim. Similarly, on the plaintiffs' wrongful death claim, the Court held that the defendant was entitled to state-agent immunity. It thus granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment on both claims.


Title IX: Doe v. Case Western Reserve University
September 17, 2015


Opinion and order issued by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. Plaintiff John Doe, a student at Lerner College, filed suit against Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) after a CWRU hearing found that the plaintiff had violated CWRU's sexual assault policy by engaging in non-consensual sexual contact with a female student of CWRU. Lerner College subsequently expelled the plaintiff. The plaintiff's complaint alleged Title IX violations based on erroneous outcome, selective enforcement, and deliberate indifference standards. The Court concluded that the complaint failed to plead any factual allegations to support the conclusion that CWRU discriminated against the plaintiff due to his sex, and thus granted the defendants' motion to dismiss, without prejudice, the plaintiff's Title IX violation claims based on all three standards.


Financial Aid: Announcement of Release Dates for Official Cohort Default Rates
September 16, 2015


Announcement by Federal Student Aid (FSA) that it plans to release the 2012 3-Year Official Cohort Default Rates to all schools, guarantees, and lenders on Monday, September 28, 2015. After the release of the rates to these select groups, FSA will post the 2012 Official Cohort Default Rates to the general public on the Default Management Web site and the FSA Data Center on Wednesday, September 30, 2015.


Contracts: San Diegans for Open Government vs. San Diego State University
September 16, 2015


Minute order issued by the California Superior Court of San Diego. Defendant Investigative Newsource, a nonprofit investigative news outlet run by part-time San Diego State University (SDSU) professor Lorie Hearn, shared office space and performed investigations with a public media outlet on SDSU's campus. A strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) was filed by the nonprofit group San Diegans for Open Government (SDOG) against Investigative Newsource, Executive Editor Hearn, SDSU, and the SDSU Research Foundation, alleging that Investigative Newsource's lease agreement with SDSU posed a conflict of interest. The Court held that the plaintiff failed to meet its burden of showing that it has a probability of prevailing on the merits of its claim because the contracts at issue were "inextricably related to news gathering and dissemination, which is clearly protected activity under [California state law]." It therefore granted the defendants' anti-SLAPP motions.


Research: Guidance Memorandum on Compliance with Public Access Rules
September 15, 2015


Guidance memorandum prepared by the Association of American Universities (AAU), the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and sent to campus senior research officers on how campuses should comply with forthcoming agency grant rules on providing public access to the results of federally-funded research. The associations’ memo includes background information and potential campus preparatory actions in addition to a list of online resources.


Financial Aid: Announcement of FAFSA Filing Changes
September 15, 2015


Announcement published by Federal Student Aid explaining the changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) that President Obama announced on September 14. The President's announcement included two major changes. First, beginning with the 2017-2018 financial aid application cycle, the FAFSA will be available on October 1st of the year prior to the upcoming award year rather than January of that year. Second, beginning with the same application cycle, FAFSA income information from one tax year earlier-- the so-called “prior-prior year”--will be collected instead of the information from the tax year immediately prior to when the application is submitted. The U.S. Department of Education will be providing more information to help resolve issues that will inevitably arise over the coming months and will also be sharing thoughts with, and soliciting input from, financial aid administrators at the Federal Student Aid Training Conference in December.


Financial Aid: Comment Request on Experimental Site Initiative Involving Pell Grants for Incarcerated Students
September 15, 2015


Comment request issued by the U.S. Department of Education on the Pell for Students who are Incarcerated Experimental Site Initiative (also known as "Second Chance Pell"). Under the initiative, the Department will provide select eligible postsecondary institutions with a waiver to the current statutory ban prohibiting incarcerated individuals from receiving Federal Pell Grant funds to attend eligible postsecondary programs. The experiment will test whether participation in high-quality educational opportunities increases after access to financial aid for incarcerated adults is expanded and examine how waiving the restriction influences individual academic and life outcomes. Interested parties must submit comments on or before November 13, 2015.


Program Integrity: College Scorecard Website Unveiled by the Obama Administration
September 14, 2015


College Scorecard website was unveiled by the Obama Administration. The website, which was created in lieu of the Administration's original college ratings plan, is designed to provide students with data to on graduation rates, median salary, and loan repayment rates at specific institutions. The U.S. Department of Education compiled this data using federal tax records of students who received a federal loan or grant to attend a college or university.


Financial Aid: Announcement of the White House's Plan for Permitting the Submission of Federal Student Aid Applications Earlier in the Year
September 14, 2015


Announcement issued by the White House on its plans to change the federal student aid process to allow students and families to apply for financial aid earlier in the year. Under the policy change, students and families will be able to submit their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the academic year beginning the following summer or fall in October instead of waiting until January. The change will take effect for students and families seeking federal financial aid for the 2017-18 academic year.


Athletics: Press Release by the National Collegiate Athletic Association on Division I Rule Change Proposals
September 14, 2015


Press release issued by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) announcing that all 65 Division I colleges and universities will vote on 72 rule change proposals in 2016. Of the 72 proposals, 14 would change the rules in areas of autonomy granted to the Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, and Southeastern conferences; these proposals will be voted upon in January 2016 at the NCAA Conference in San Antonio after an opportunity for review and comment by member institutions. The remaining 58 proposals will be reviewed by members institutions before the Council takes final votes in April 2016.


Fraternities and Sororities; Sexual Misconduct: Scheffel v. Oregon Beta Chapter of Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity
September 11, 2015


Order by the Oregon Court of Appeals issued on September 2, 2015. Plaintiff Cassandra Scheffel filed suit against the Oregon Beta Chapter of Phi Kappa Psi and Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity, Inc., on theories of vicarious liability and negligence after she was sexually assaulted by a member of the fraternity during a party at the Chapter's fraternity house. The trial court granted summary judgment to the defendants and dismissed the plaintiff's claims. On appeal, the Court concluded that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment to the Beta Chapter on the plaintiff's negligence claim because the evidence established factual questions as to whether the plaintiff's sexual assault, in the context of the party, was reasonably foreseeable to the Chapter, as well as whether the Chapter's conduct fell below the applicable standard of care. The Court thus reversed and remanded the judgment as to the Beta Chapter but otherwise affirmed the trial court's judgment with respect to the national fraternity.


Program Integrity: Notice of Meeting by the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity
September 11, 2015


Notice of an open meeting by the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) was issued by the U.S. Department of Education. The Notice sets forth the meeting agenda and provides information to members of the public on how to submit written comments and to request to make oral comments during the meeting. The meeting is scheduled to take place December 16-18 in Washington, DC.


Research: Letter to the House Appropriations Committee on Retaining the Current Extramural Research Salary Cap
September 10, 2015


Letter signed by 175 research universities and other organizations to the U.S. House Appropriations Committee urging the Committee to retain the existing salary cap on extramural researchers funded by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The Fiscal Year 2016 Labor-HHS appropriations bill, which passed the Committee in June, would implement a $20,000 (10 percent) cut in the Fiscal Year 2012 funding bill at a time when research institutions' discretionary funds from clinical revenues and other sources are decreasing, according to the letter. "It is essential to our nation's long-term health and standing in the global environment," the letter concludes, "that we adopt policies to ensure that America retains the most talented, productive, and diverse group of biomedical and behavioral researchers," and retaining the current funding level is one such policy.


FLSA: Letter to the Department of Labor from Higher Education
September 10, 2015


Associations on the Proposed Overtime Pay Salary Threshold Letter from the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) and seventeen other higher education associations to the Department of Labor (DOL), responding to a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would make significant changes to the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), including significantly increasing the salary threshold for when an individual qualifies as a worker exempt from the overtime pay requirement. While the associations agree that an increase to the minimum salary threshold is appropriate at this time and that Department must update the salary levels and regulations from time to time to ensure the exemptions are not abused, they assert that "the proposed minimum salary threshold . . . is simply too high."


Clery Act: Clarification on Compliance with the Clery Act
September 9, 2015


Clarification issued by the Office of Postsecondary Education regarding certifications and compliance with the Clery Act. In light of information indicating that third parties are offering "certifications" to Campus Security Authorities (CSAs) and other institutional officials to indicate Clery Act compliance, the Office has issued this clarification to assert that the Department of Education "does not issue certifications and does not recognize or place any value on any certification offered by a third party." Moreover, institutions are neither required nor expected to have any such certification to comply with the Clery Act or related regulations, and the Department does not give any weight to third-party certifications in compliance reviews.


Financial Aid: Dear Colleague Letter on Basic Training for Domestic and Foreign Schools
September 9, 2015


Dear Colleague Letter issued by the U.S. Department of Education announcing the availability of two courses on federal student aid program administration in the newly-redesigned Federal Student Aid Coach training suite. The introductory Web-based tutorials are available for both domestic and foreign schools. The Department expects to release the Intermediate Training course later this fall as well as an Advanced Training course in 2016.


Financial Aid: Announcement of Pell Grant and Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant 2014-2015 Award Year Processing Deadline
September 8, 2015


Announcement by Federal Student Aid reminding institutions of the Pell Grant and Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant 2014-2015 award year processing deadline. Under Federal Pell Grant Program regulations, data must be submitted to the Department of Education by September 30th following the end of the award year in which the Pell Grant or Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant is made. For the 2014-2015 award year, the deadline is Wednesday, September 30, 2015.


Financial Aid: Processing Update on Common Origination and Disbursement for Direct Loans and Grants
September 8, 2015


Common Origination and Disbursement (COD) Processing Update issued by Federal Student Aid. The Update provides information related to COD System processing and includes news and updates, current issues, and reminders.


Financial Aid: Announcement of Closeout Information on the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant for the 2014-2015 Award Year
September 8, 2015


Announcement providing additional closeout information on the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant for the 2014-2015 award year was posted by Federal Student Aid. The announcement provides information on processing deadlines, review of current balances, and when institutions can expect to learn their final balances.


Financial Aid: Report on Efforts to Provide Relief to Student Loan Borrowers who Attended Legally-Problematic Colleges
September 8, 2015


Report by the Special Master for Borrower Defense to the Under Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education providing updates on the ongoing effort to develop processes and systems designed to enable aggrieved borrowers to assert a defense to repayment of their federal student loans. The report is designed to inform stakeholders and the public about the current status of the Borrower Defense Program (BDP) and includes statistics regarding the number of borrower defense claims received and the number of student borrowers to date who have had their student loans forgiven under the Program.


Disability Discrimination: Consent Order on Settlement between the University of Nebraska at Kearney and the Justice Department
September 8, 2015


Consent order approving a settlement between the U.S. Justice Department and the University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK) in the matter of a lawsuit filed against the University for allegedly violating the Fair Housing Act. The lawsuit arose in 2010, when UNK denied requests to allow two students with alleged disabilities to keep an emotional support animals with them in their apartment complex that UNK operates for students near its campus. Under the proposed settlement, UNK admits no legal wrongdoing but has agreed to change its policy to accommodate similar requests going forward, to pay the students $140,000, and to take other remedial measures. The Justice Department issued a press release announcing the settlement.


Same-Sex Marriage: Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged v. Burwell
September 8, 2015


Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged and other religious non-profit organizations brought suit against Sylvia Burwell, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), alleging that regulations adopted under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) allowing religious organizations to opt out of providing, paying for, or facilitating the contraceptive coverage mandated by the ACA violated various provisions of the First Amendment. Under these regulations, organizations that choose to opt out of providing contraceptive coverage may do so by delivering a form to their group health plan's health insurance issuer or third-party administrator, or by sending a notification to HHS. The plaintiffs argued that the accommodation scheme violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act ("RFRA") and the Religion and Speech Clauses of the First Amendment. The U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado denied the plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction, while two U.S. District Courts in Oklahoma granted their motions. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit held that the regulatory scheme for accommodating organizations' objections to the ACA's contraception mandate: (1) did not violate RFRA; (2) did not violate the plaintiffs' rights under Free Exercise Clause; and (3) did not violate the Establishment Clause by treating churches differently from non-profit religious organizations. It further held that the notification requirement did not violate the plaintiffs' free speech rights. The Court thus affirmed the Colorado district court's denial of a preliminary injunction to the plaintiffs in Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged v. Sebelius, and reversed the Oklahoma district courts' grants of a preliminary injunction to the plaintiffs in Southern Nazarene University v. Sebelius and Reaching Souls International, Inc. v. Sebelius.


Research: Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Human Subjects Research Protections
September 8, 2015


Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) issued by the U.S. Department of Education in conjunction with fifteen other federal agencies regarding protections for human research subjects. The goals of the proposed changes are to increase human subjects' ability and opportunity to make informed decisions; increase the uniformity of human subject protections; and facilitate current and evolving types of research that offer new approaches to treating and preventing medical and societal problems through reduced ambiguity in interpretation of the regulations, increased efficiency of review systems, and reduced burdens on researchers. Comments on the NPRM must be received no later than 5 PM on December 7, 2015.


Historically Black Colleges and Universities: Notice Regarding the President's Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities Meeting
September 8, 2015


Notice issued by the U.S. Department of Education setting forth the agenda for the September 23, 2015, meeting of the President's Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The Board will advise the President on improving the identity, visibility, distinctive capabilities and competitiveness of HBCUs; engaging various communities in a national dialogue regarding new HBCU programs and initiatives; improving the ability of HBCUs to remain fiscally secure; elevating the public awareness of HBCUs; and encouraging public-private investments in HBCUs. The Notice also provides information on how to submit written comments and to request time to make oral comments at the meeting.


Title IX; Sexual Misconduct: Letter from the Office for Civil Rights on Michigan State University's Mishandling of Sexual Misconduct Cases
September 2, 2015


Letter from the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) to Michigan State University (MSU) on the University's handling of two cases involving sexual misconduct. Federal investigators found that, between 2009 and 2014, the University did not promptly investigate student complaints of sexual misconduct and that its policies and procedures did not comply with Title IX. The University has entered into an agreement with OCR to resolve the issues without admitting to any violation of the law, as OCR announced in a press release.


Financial Aid: Comment Request on Income-Based Repayment Notifications
September 2, 2015


Comment request issued by the U.S. Department of Education requesting an extension of the current information collection regarding the notification of income based repayment loan borrowers. Current regulations require loan holders to notify borrowers once a borrower establishes a partial financial hardship and is placed in an income based repayment plan by the loan holder. The regulations identify information the loan holder must provide to the borrower to continue to participate in the income based repayment plan.


Title IX: Ludlow v. Northwestern University
September 2, 2015


Opinion and order issued on August 28, 2015 by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Plaintiff Peter Ludlow, a professor at Northwestern University, filed suit against his employer alleging that Northwestern's investigation of sexual harassment allegations against him violated Title IX and that comments made by defendants Alan Cubbage, the Vice President of University Relations, and graduate student Lauren Leydon-Hardy in association with the investigation defamed him and placed him in a false light. After finding that Ludlow's Title IX claim was actually a challenge to an adverse employment action, the Court concluded that the claim was preempted by Title VII. The Court further held that even if Ludlow's Title IX claims were not preempted, Ludlow had not sufficiently pleaded that the alleged discrimination had any connection to his gender and thus dismissed Ludlow's Title IX claim against Northwestern University. Finally, the Court determined that it had no basis for exercising supplemental jurisdiction over his state law claims against Cubbage and Leydon-Hardy and subsequently dismissed them.


Sexual Misconduct: Safe Campus Act of 2015
September 2, 2015


Legislation (H.R. 3403) introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman Matt Salmon (R-AZ) entitled the "Safe Campus Act of 2015." The Act would give students at institutions of higher education who report sexual misconduct allegations to the institution the option of pressing for a criminal investigation of the incident. If the student chooses not to take this route, the legislation would prohibit the institution from to launching an independent investigation or enforcing disciplinary measures against the accused for conduct code violations. The bill would also provide increased due process protections for students accused of sexual misconduct.


Freedom of Speech; Racial Discrimination: Akintunde v. Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska-Omaha
September 1, 2015


Order by the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska. Plaintiffs Omowale Akintunde and Manfred Wogugu are both associate professors within the Black Studies Department at the University of Nebraska-Omaha (UNO). In 2014, conflicts over personnel issues began to arise within the Department. The plaintiffs filed suit against the Board of Regents of the University, Dean David Boocker, and four unnamed defendants, claiming that the defendants' efforts to resolve issues within the Department did not follow the University's Behavior Review Team procedures and that Dean Boocker "deliberately . . . create[d] a distrust among the [Department's] faculty and [Department Chair Okembe-RA] Imani . . . to prevent it from operating effectively, thus, justifying the elimination of Black Studies as a department." The Court held that UNO's Board of Regents and the University itself are state agencies entitled to sovereign immunity under the Eleventh Amendment and thus dismissed the plaintiffs' claims against them. The Court also dismissed the plaintiffs' claims against Dean Boocker, both in his official capacity because their complaint sought relief in the form of monetary damages, and in his individual capacity because their claims "did not articulate a violation of a clearly established constitutional or statutory right."


Financial Aid: Comment Request on the Rehabilitation Services Grantee Reporting Form
September 1, 2015


Comment request issued by the U.S. Department of Education on a proposal by the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) for an extension of the Annual Payback Report. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 provides long-term training grants to academic institutions to support scholarship assistance to students. Each of these institutions is required to track the employment status of and other information on former scholars supported under their grants to ensure that these scholars are making progress toward fulfilling their obligation towards payback in qualified employment in fields, and to report this information to the Secretary of Education through the Annual Payback Report form. Interested persons are invited to submit comments regarding the proposal by November 2, 2015.


Program Integrity: Letter to the Secretary of Education on Including the Student Achievement Measure in the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System
September 1, 2015


Letter to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan signed by over 200 college and university leaders encouraging the Department of Education to incorporate data from the Student Achievement Measure (SAM) into the Department of Education's Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). SAM is voluntary web-based tool that allows institutions to show the progress and graduation rates of significantly more students--including transfer students, part-times students, and students who enroll in multiple institutions--than the federal graduation rates reported through IPEDS, which does not include data on these students. Doing so, the letter asserts, would "help ensure the integrity and reliability" of the federal government's online college information system.


Contracts: Habitzreuther v. Cornell University
September 1, 2015


Plaintiff Karen Habitzreuther, a former student at Cornell University, was found to have violated the University's Honor Code and was suspended for two years after she failed to inform a student clinician who examined her dog of his "dominance aggression problems" before the dog bit the student. She was allowed to return to school after the first year of suspension on the condition that she comply with certain terms, but was subsequently expelled after the biting incident was re-examined de novo and in light of her academic performance and compliance with the terms during the fall semester. Habitzreuther filed suit against defendants Cornell University and Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, alleging breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, promissory estoppel and detrimental reliance, and fraudulent misrepresentation. The defendants moved for judgment on the pleadings, which the Court granted due to the conclusory nature of, and documented evidence directly contradicting, the plaintiff's claims in her pleadings.


Taxes: Announcement by the Internal Revenue Service on the Waiver of Penalties for Missing or Inaccurate Taxpayer Identification Numbers
August 31, 2015


Announcement released by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) stating that it will waive the penalties assessed against colleges and universities for missing or inaccurate Taxpayer Identification Numbers (TINs). The waiver is being given due to recently-passed legislation that provides relief to educational institutions from future penalties for missing or incorrect TINs as long as the educational institution certifies that it has complied with regulations governing solicitation of payee TINs. The waiver applies to tax year 2012; the IRS will also refrain from issuing penalties for tax years 2013 and 2014.


Academic Freedom: Settlement Agreement between the University of Kansas, Dr. Arthur Hall, and Schuyler Kraus
August 28, 2015


Settlement agreement reached in a legal dispute over a University of Kansas (KU) student's effort to obtain the records of a lecturer, Dr. Arthur Hall, who previously worked for Koch Industries Inc. Student Schuyler Kraus, president of a student group at the University known as "Students for a Sustainable Future" (SSF), submitted a Kansas Open Records Act request for Dr. Hall's correspondence in hopes of proving that conservative activists Charles and David Koch were improperly influencing the University. The agreement states that the University will release certain documents related to the open-records request, including correspondence between Dr. Hall and other parties identified in the request that discuss the Center for Applied Economics' use of funds provided by Koch Industries and the original funding agreement related to the establishment of the KU Center for Applied Economics. However, the University will not have to release correspondence to or from two other faculty members named in the request.


Collective Bargaining: Berklee College of Music and Berklee Faculty Union, American Federation of Teachers, Local 4412, AFT-MA, AFL–CIO
August 28, 2015


Decision and order by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The Berklee Faculty Union at Berklee College of Music filed a complaint claiming unfair labor practices based on the College's decision to implement a class-cancellation policy in 2012, allegedly without the Union's input. An administrative law judge found that the College's imposition of the class-cancellation policy effectively amounted to a denial of the Union's rights in the matter. On review, the NLRB reversed, holding that while the College provided the Union with a meaningful opportunity to bargain over the policy's effects, the Union failed to exercise its own bargaining rights in refusing to enter into such talks, instead remained focused on its challenge to the policy itself.


For-Profit Institutions: In re Corinthian Colleges, Inc.
August 27, 2015


Ruling by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware approving Corinthian Colleges, Inc.'s Combined Plan and Disclosure Statement. After selling off or closing its campuses and filing for bankruptcy, Corinthian submitted to the Bankruptcy Court a Combined Plan and Disclosure Statement to liquidate its assets. The Plan proposed creating two separate trusts: a Distribution Trust for the benefit of all holders of non-student and non-government claims, and a Student Trust for the benefit student and government education claims. As a result, student debtors who were harmed by the Colleges' closures will be allowed to transfer their rights and interest in those funds (amounting to approximately $4.3 million) to the Student Trust, which, subject to the terms of the Student Trust Agreement, may be used to fund outreach programs and assistance for former students in seeking discharges or releases of their student loan obligations.


Collective Bargaining: Manhattan College and Manhattan College Adjunct Faculty Union, New York State United Teachers, AFT/NEA/AFL-CI
August 27, 2015


Supplemental decision and order by the National Labor Relations Board for Region 2 (Regional Board). The petitioner--Manhattan College Adjunct Faculty Union, New York State United Teachers, AFT/NEA/AFL-CI--sought to hold union elections for certain contingent faculty members at Manhattan College in 2011. After the Regional Board issued a Decision and Direction of Election, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued an order remanding the proceeding to the Regional Board for further action consistent with its decision in Pacific Lutheran University (361 NLRB No. 157), which revised the Board's standards for asserting jurisdiction over faculty members at self-identified religious institutions. Upon review, the Regional Board concluded that while the College holds itself out as a religious educational environment, it failed to establish that the petitioned-for adjunct faculty members perform a specific role in maintaining the College's religious educational environment. Therefore, it held that the exercise of jurisdiction by the Board over the College is proper and directed the impounded ballots to be counted.


Title IX; Sexual Misconduct: Doe v. Salisbury University
August 24, 2015


Memorandum by the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. The claim stemmed from allegations by Jane Doe #1 that two unnamed plaintiffs, John Doe and Richard Roe, sexually assaulted her at a college house party. SU began an internal investigation into claim and, at a hearing by SU's Community Board, the plaintiffs were found responsible of engaging in non-consensual contact with Jane Doe #1 in violation of SU's Code of Conduct Sexual Harassment Policy. Specifically, the Board concluded by a preponderance of the evidence that "a reasonable person would have known that [Jane Doe #1] was intoxicated" and that an intoxicated person cannot consent to sexual activity. Plaintiffs filed suit against defendants Salisbury University (SU) as well as two SU officials, claiming that "SU has created an environment in which male students accused of sexual assault, such as Plaintiffs, are fundamentally denied due process as to be virtually assured of a finding of guilt." While the Court recognized that evidence of SU's sexual assault awareness programs does not, on its own, support a claim for sex discrimination, the plaintiffs "may have a viable case if they are able to uncover discoverable and admissible evidence that [their] gender was a motivating factor behind SU's allegedly flawed disciplinary procedures and wrongful conclusions." Thus, the Court denied Defendant SU's motion to dismiss on Count XII: Title IX (Erroneous Outcome).


Financial Aid: Announcement of Federal Student Aid Data Center Updates
August 21, 2015


Announcement by Federal Student Aid Deputy Chief Operating Officer Matt Sessa on a series of updates posted to the Federal Student Aid Data Center. The Data Center is the U.S. Department of Education's centralized online source for Federal Student Aid data. The announcement provides a summary of the updated quarterly reports available on the Data Center page as well as a snapshot of key findings and takeaways from the reports.


Financial Aid: Press Release by the U.S. Department of Education on Income-Driven Repayment Plans
August 21, 2015


Press release issued by the U.S. Department of Education announcing an increase in the number of student-loan borrowers enrolling in Income-Driven Repayment plans. According to new quarterly numbers posted on the Department's Federal Student Aid Data Center page, nearly 3.9 million Direct Loan borrowers have enrolled in Income-Driven Repayment plans as of June 30, representing a 56 percent increase from June 2014. The new data also shows that delinquency rates have fallen from 23 percent to 21 percent over the same period.


Transfer Students: Report by the Education Commission of the States on Reverse Transfer Policies
August 21, 2015


Report published by the Education Commission of the States discussing the different strategies states are using to implement reverse transfer policies. Such policies retroactively award associate degrees to students pursuing four-year diplomas. The report concludes by recommending that states consider multiple factors to make reverse-transfer policies successful, including policy oversight, technology, funding and student identification.


Gainful Employment: Gainful Employment User Guide by the National Student Loan Data System
August 21, 2015


Gainful Employment User Guide was released by the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS). The Guide provides an overview of gainful employment compliance rules, guidelines, and administrative functions and responsibilities. Comprehensive information on GE Program requirements can be found on the Information for Financial Aid Professionals (IFAP) Gainful Employment page.


Gainful Employment: Announcement of a New National Student Loan Data System Gainful Employment Program Tracking Functionality
August 21, 2015


Announcement by Federal Student Aid Service Director Pamela Eliadis on a new functionality of the NSLDS Professional Access Web site. This functionality, which includes a new Gainful Employment Program Tracking page, is designed to assist institutions with managing the requirements for gainful employment (GE) reporting to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS).


Disability Discrimination: Borreggine v. Messiah College
August 20, 2015


Order by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Plaintiff Arianna Borreggine, a student-athlete at Messiah College who was diagnosed with dyslexia in high school, filed suit against the College for disability discrimination under the Rehabilitation Act. Plaintiff was dismissed from the lacrosse team after sustaining multiple foot injuries but engaging in arguably strenuous activities against her doctor's orders during her recovery. While the plaintiff asserted that her dismissal was the result of the head coach's alleged frustration with her dislexia as well as her injuries, the College argued that her attitude and lack of commitment to rehabilitation prompted her dismissal. The Court held that the plaintiff's foot injuries were not a basis for a disability discrimination claim under the Rehabilitation Act and that no reasonable factfinder could conclude that the plaintiff's dislexia was the reason for her dismissal from the team. It thus granted summary judgment to the College.


Financial Aid: Proposed Rule by the Department of Education Regarding Student Loan Discharges
August 20, 2015


Proposed rule published by the U.S. Department of Education announcing the Department's intent to establish a negotiated rulemaking committee to prepare proposed regulations impacting Title IV Federal Student Aid programs. The Department seeks to clarify how Direct loan borrowers who believe they were defrauded by their institutions can seek relief and to strengthen provisions holding colleges accountable for their wrongdoing that results in loan discharges. The Department will host two public hearings in September at which interested parties may comment on suggested topics may offer additional topics that should be considered by the negotiating committee. A press release was issued by the Department to accompany this announcement.


Financial Aid: 2015-2016 Common Origination and Disbursement Technical Reference
August 20, 2015


Updated version of the Common Origination and Disbursement (COD) Technical Reference was released by the U.S. Department of Education. The 2015-2016 COD Technical Reference, which consists of seven volumes of attachments linked on the Federal Student Aid page, contains development information for the 2015-2016 Award Year.


Student Privacy: ESPN, Inc. v. Michigan State University
August 20, 2015


Per curiam opinion issued by the Michigan State Court of Appeals. In February 2015, ESPN sued Michigan State University after the University redacted the names and identifying information of suspects, victims, and witnesses in records it provided ESPN in response to a request under Michigan's Freedom of Information Act. A trial court ordered the University to disclose the names of the student-athletes at issue. On appeal, the Court held that the the trial court did not err when it determined that the disclosure of the names of student-athletes identified as suspects did not constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of an individual's privacy. It further held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it weighed the public's interest in understanding how the University's police department handles criminal investigations involving student-athletes against the student-athletes' privacy interests and determined that the balance favored disclosure.


Financial Aid: Middle Class CHANCE Act
August 20, 2015


Legislation (S. 1998) introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) entitled the "Middle Class Creating Higher Education Affordability Necessary to Compete Economically" Act ("Middle Class CHANCE" Act). The bill would increase the individual maximum Pell Grant amount to $9,140 to adjust for inflation. It would also restore year-round awards to give provide funding for summer courses and increase the number of semesters for which recipients are allowed to use awards from twelve to fifteen.


Athletics & Collective Bargaining: Statement by American Council on Education President on the Student-Athlete Unionization Case
August 20, 2015


Statement issued by American Council on Education (ACE) President Molly Corbett Broad on the recent decision by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) declining to classify student-athletes as employees under federal labor law for the purpose of unionizing. In her statement, President Corbett Broad announces that ACE is pleased with the decision and reiterates the Council's position that "forming a collective bargaining unit is not the appropriate way to address concerns expressed by student-athletes."


Financial Aid: Bible v. United Aid Funds, Inc.
August 19, 2015


Order by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Plaintiff Bryana Bible defaulted on her student loan payments but promptly agreed to enter into a rehabilitation agreement requiring her to make reduced monthly payments. Despite her subsequent compliance with this agreement, defendant United Student Aid Funds, Inc. (USA Funds) charged her $4,500 in collection fees. Bible sued the guaranty agency, alleging breach of contract and a violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) (18 U.S.C. § 1961). The district court held that Bible's complaint failed to state a claim that was plausible on its face, but the Seventh Circuit reversed. Applying the Secretary of the Education's interpretation of the applicable statutes and regulations, the Court held that a guaranty agency may not impose collection costs on a borrower who is in default for the first time but who has timely entered into and complied with an alternative repayment agreement. Thus, it held that both the breach of contract and RICO claims satisfy the plausibility standard under Rule 12(b)(6).


Collective Bargaining: Seattle University and Service Employees International Union, Local 925
August 19, 2015


Supplemental decision and order issued by the National Labor Relations Board for Region 19 (Regional Board). The petitioner originally sought to hold union elections for contingent faculty at Seattle University in March 2015. After the Regional Board held that Seattle University is not a church-operated institution within the meaning of NLRB v. Catholic Bishop of Chicago, 440 U.S. 490 (1979), the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued an order remanding the proceeding to the Regional Board for further action consistent with its decision in Pacific Lutheran University (361 NLRB No. 157). Pacific Lutheran revised the Board's standards for declining jurisdiction over faculty members at self-identified religious institutions of higher education. Upon review, the Regional Board again found that the University has not met its burden of demonstrating that any of its faculty are held out as performing specific religious functions, and therefore that the University is not a church-operated institution falling outside the Board's jurisdiction. It thus directed the ballots previously collected to be opened and counted.


Financial Aid: Letter from Eleven State Attorneys General to the Secretary of Education on Student Loan Discharges
August 19, 2015


Letter sent by eleven state attorneys general to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan requesting that the Department of Education seek input from state attorneys general as it develops a process for discharging federal loans for students who attended colleges that defrauded them. The letter recommends that the Department allow states to participate in the loan discharge cases and to submit evidence of fraud that they've gathered against such institutions.


Research: Settlement Agreement between the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts and Northeastern University
August 19, 2015


Settlement agreement between the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts and Northeastern University resolving the University's alleged failure to account for federal research funds. According to allegations, Northeastern did not properly account for federal research funds that it received from the National Science Foundation (NSF) over a period of nine years. The University has agreed to pay $2.7 million and to submit to a five-year compliance agreement to ensure that proper oversight and safeguards are in place for future research awards. The U.S. Attorney's Office issued a press release on the agreement and, in a separate statement, Northeastern asserted that it reported the problems "as soon as they were discovered" and that it has made "significant enhancements" in financial and procedural controls over its research enterprise since the discovery.


Race Discrimination: Ruff v. Temple University
August 19, 2015


Opinion by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Plaintiff Kenneth Ruff, an African American, was hired by defendant Temple University as an academic advisor in 2008. Ruff sued Temple, alleging that it unlawfully discriminated against him on the basis of race when it failed to promote him to either of two newly-created Principal Advisor or Senior Advisor positions in 2010. The Court held that Ruff cited no objective evidence that would allow a jury to find that the decision of two university officials who hired him in 2008 and then decided to not then promote him to his requested job in 2010 was based on his race. It thus granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment.


Research: Comment Letter by the Association of American Universities on the Reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act
August 19, 2015


Comment letter submitted by the Association of American Universities (AAU) to the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee on the America COMPETES Act of 2015. The letter consists of several recommendations involving issues that directly affect research universities, including maximizing basic research, improving STEM education, and translating federal research results into innovative commerce applications. AAU asserts that, in order to remain the global leader in science, technology, and innovation, the U.S. must continue to invest in scientific research, and that the COMPETES Act "reinforce[s] the value and the necessity of the government-university-industry partnership."


Diversity: Research Report on Perception of African American Faculty Presentations
August 19, 2015


Research published in Race, Ethnicity and Education on the "performance" demands on African American faculty members at academic conferences or meetings. The researchers interviewed thirty-three black faculty members on their experiences presenting their research in academic settings. A majority of those interviewed recalled experiencing audience critiques and questions about the objectivity of their research as well as on their appearance, energy levels, and humor. The researchers found that such experience compelled a majority of the respondents to sacrifice key aspects of their identity to avoid criticism, and some even resigned from their positions.


First Amendment; Retaliation: Preston v. Board of Trustees of Chicago State University
August 19, 2015


Memorandum opinion and order by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. In 2013, plaintiffs Willie Preston and Brittany Bailey, students at Chicago State University (CSU), ran for student government positions on platforms criticizing CSU administrators' handling of student affairs. Plaintiffs brought this suit in 2014, alleging that CSU had retaliated against them for their criticism by expelling Preston and by preventing Bailey from taking office. Due to the litany of disputed facts and unanswered questions, the Court concluded that it was in no position to grant the plaintiffs' request for mandatory injunctive relief at this stage. It further concluded that, because Preston is no longer a student at CSU and was denied reinstatement, he is neither eligible nor entitled to the student government seat he requests as a remedy, and that even if Bailey's factual allegations were true, it could not award her the relief she seeks because she has not identified any ongoing irreparable harm. The Court thus denied the plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction.


FERPA: Draft Dear Colleague Letter on the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and Litigation between Institutions and Students
August 19, 2015


Draft Dear Colleague Letter issued by the U.S. Department of Education regarding the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g). The Letter offers guidance on cases where litigation occurs between the institution and the student and how protections of student medical records apply in such situations. According to the Department's interpretation of FERPA, the Letter states that institutions "should not share student medical records with the institution's attorneys or courts unless the litigation in question relates directly to the medical treatment itself or the payment for that treatment." In those cases, institutions should disclose "only those records that are relevant and necessary to the litigation." The Department also published a blog post to accompany the Letter. Interested parties have until October 2 to comment on the proposed language.


FERPA: Student Privacy Protection Act
August 17, 2015


Legislation (H.R. 3157) introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on July 22, 2015 by Representative Todd Rokita (R-IN). The bill would amend the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) to strengthen privacy protections for students and parents, including prohibiting schools and their partner technology companies from selling or using student data for marketing purposes. In addition, it would give the Department of Education the added enforcement power of imposing fines of anywhere between $100 to $1.5 million for FERPA violations.


FERPA: Protecting Student Privacy Act of 2015
August 17, 2015


Legislation (S. 1322) introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) on May 13, 2015. The bill would amend the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) to ensure that student data handled by private companies is protected. Specifically, the bill would prohibit programs administered by the Department of Education from making funds available to any educational agency or institution that has not implemented information security policies that: (1) protect personally identifiable information from education records, and (2) require each outside party to whom this information is disclosed to have a comprehensive security program to protect such information.


Student Privacy: Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act of 2015; SAFE KIDS Act
August 17, 2015


Companion legislation (H.R. 2092, S. 1788) introduced in the U.S. Congress by Representative Luke Messer (R-IN) and Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) on April 29 and July 16, 2015, respectively. The bills would require operators that provide online and similar services to educational agencies or institutions to protect the privacy and security of students' personally identifiable information. To do so, they would prohibit these operators from collecting student information to create a personal profile or for purposes unrelated to educational instruction, school collaboration, or administrative activities; and from selling students' personal information to third parties. The bills would also require operators to implement information security procedures and a process for responding to data breaches, in addition to notifying specified parties of unauthorized acquisitions of students' personal information.


Foreign Students: Washington Alliance of Technology Workers v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security
August 17, 2015


Ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on both parties' cross motions for summary judgment. In April 2008, defendant U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) promulgated a rule extended the duration of optional practical training (OPT) for eligible science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) students. Plaintiff Washington Alliance of Technology Workers (WATW)--a collective-bargaining organization that represents STEM workers--sued DHS for, among other things, allegedly lacking good cause to waive the notice and comment requirement in promulgating the 2008 Rule. The Court determined that DHS's self-imposed deadline of April 2008 for promulgating the Rule lacked support in the record, meaning that DHS failed to carry its burden to show that it faced an "emergency situation" that exempted it from subjecting the 2008 Rule to notice and comment. However, after concluding that vacating the 2008 Rule would cause "substantial hardship" for thousands of international students who would have to leave the United States in short order, in addition to causing "major labor disruption" for technology-related industries, the Court stayed the decision until February to give DHS time to submit the Rule for public comment.


Financial Aid: Dear Colleague Letter on the Fiscal Operations Report for 2014-2015 Training Module
August 17, 2015


Dear Colleague Letter issued by the Department of Education (DOE) announcing the availability of an online training module that focuses on the Fiscal Operations Report for 2014-2015 and the Application to Participate for 2016-2017 (FISAP). The training module, which is designed for individuals on the financial aid and business office staff who are responsible for completing the FISAP is available on the Federal Student Aid E-Training Web site. The FISAP itself is available on the eCampus-Based (eCB) Web site and must be submitted no later than October 1, 2015 by schools that participate in the Federal Perkins Loan Program, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) Program, and Federal Work-Study (FWS) Program.


Financial Aid: U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Filing by Bridgepoint Education Inc. and Ashford University
August 17, 2015


Filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) by Bridgepoint Education, Inc. and its Ashford University. The filing indicates that Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is calling for information from Bridgepoint and Ashford to aid in its investigation of whether for-profit educators or others are engaging in unlawful activities involving private student loans. Bridgepoint and Ashford University state that they "expect to provide documents, testimony and other information to the CFPB."


First Amendment & Free Speech: Letter from the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee to Colleges and Universities on Speech Policies
August 17, 2015


Letter from Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Chairman of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, to the presidents of 161 public colleges and universities urging them to update their speech codes to protect the First Amendment rights of students and faculty. The letter was sent in response to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education's (FIRE) annual Spotlight on Speech Codes 2015 report, which identified the 161 institutions as having "at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech." The letter asks "what steps the [recipient institution] plans to take to promote free and open expression on its campus(es), including any steps toward bringing [its] speech policies in accordance with the First Amendment."


Athletics & Collective Bargaining: Northwestern University and College Athletes Players Association
August 17, 2015


Decision on review and order by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The College Athletes Players Association (CAPA) petitioned the Board to find that Northwestern University's football players who receive grant-in-aid scholarships are employees within the meaning of Section 2(3) of the National Labor Relations Act. In March 2014, a Regional Director held that the players are in fact employees under the Act and issued a Decision and Direction of Election. On appeal, the NLRB reversed, concluding that asserting its jurisdiction in this case "would not promote stability in labor relations." It cited "recent changes, as well as calls for additional reforms" as evidence that "the situation of scholarship players may well change in the near future."


Employees and Agents: Johnson v. Oregon State Board of Higher Education
August 14, 2015


Order issued by the Oregon Court of Appeals on cross-complainant Robert Davis' appeal of a judgment entered after the trial court denied his motion for partial summary judgment and granted a motion for summary judgment by cross-defendants Eastern Oregon University (EOU) and the Oregon State Board of Higher Education (collectively, the "cross-defendants"). Davis, a former EOU administrator, argued that the cross-defendants had an obligation under state law to pay the legal costs he accumulated in defending himself against a suit filed by a co-worker--who accused him of raping her--because the alleged incident occurred in the performance of his duties as an employee--namely, his attendance at a work-related conference. Assuming for legal purposes that Davis' claim that the two had engaged in consensual sex was correct, the Court nonetheless ruled that Davis "was not hired to engage in sexual conduct with other employees" and, furthermore, that there was "no evidence" that Davis, "in engaging in sexual conduct with plaintiff, was motivated by a purpose to serve EOU." It thus agreed with the trial court's conclusion that the underlying claims all related to Davis' sexual conduct with a coworker and, as a matter of law, could not constitute an act or omission occurring in the performance of duty. Therefore, it affirmed the grant of summary judgment to the cross-defendants and the denial of partial summary judgment to Davis.


Sexual Misconduct: Kinsman v. Florida State University Board of Trustees
August 14, 2015


Order by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida denying defendant Florida State University's (FSU) motion to dismiss. Erica Kinsman, a former student at FSU, filed suit against the University, claiming that FSU failed to properly investigate or respond to her allegation that she was raped by Jameis Winston, a student athlete. FSU filed a motion to dismiss the case, arguing that the complaint fails to meet the four requirements for a Title IX claim. The Court concluded that FSU simply "offers a different take on some of the facts in the complaint" and alleges "additional facts that are not in the complaint in an attempt to show its efforts to respond were diligent and genuine, or at least not "clearly unreasonable" under Title IX," but that the complaint itself plausibly alleges deliberate indifference during this period that effectively denied her the ability to attend FSU."


Financial Aid: Draft of the 2016-2017 Free Application for Federal Student Aid
August 14, 2015


Draft of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for 2016-2017 was published by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE). The federal student aid application process, which begins with an applicant submitting a FAFSA to the DOE, is required to collect and process the data necessary to determine a student's eligibility to receive Title IV program assistance under the Higher Education Act. A summary of the changes made from the previous version can be found here.


Enforcement of Non-Discrimination Laws: Department of Education Final Priority on Vocational Rehabilitation Workforce Innovation Technical Assistance Center
August 14, 2015


Final priority issued by the Department of Education regarding vocational rehabilitation workforce innovation technical assistance. The original notice of proposed priority, published in the Federal Register on June 17 (80 FR 34579), was written with the intent to provide training and technical assistance to State vocational rehabilitation agencies to improve services under the State Vocational Rehabilitation Services program and the State Supported Employment Services program for individuals with disabilities, in addition to implementing changes to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Except for minor revisions, there are no differences between the proposed priority and the final priority. The final priority will go into effect on September 14, 2015.


Enforcement of Non-Discrimination Laws: Notice of Applications for New Awards by the Vocational Rehabilitation Workforce Innovation Technical Assistance Center
August 14, 2015


Notice issued by the Vocational Rehabilitation Workforce Innovation Technical Assistance Center inviting applications for new awards for fiscal year (FY) 2015. Under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Rehabilitation Act), the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) makes grants to States and public or nonprofit agencies and organizations to support projects that provide training, traineeships, and technical assistance designed to increase the numbers of, and improve the skills of, qualified personnel who are trained to provide vocational, medical, social, and psychological rehabilitation services to individuals with disabilities, and provide other services authorized under the Rehabilitation Act. Applicants may access the electronic grant application for the Rehabilitation Training: Vocational Rehabilitation Workforce Innovation Technical Assistance Center competition at www.grants.gov.


Collective Bargaining: Tentative Agreement between Eastern Michigan University and the Eastern Michigan University American Association of University Professors
August 14, 2015


Press release issued by the Eastern Michigan University American Association of University Professors (EMU-AAUP) announcing that it has reached a tentative agreement with Eastern Michigan University (EMU). The contract reportedly includes raises of 2.5% per year for each year of the four-year contract, alterations in health care payments, and additional support and incentives for faculty research. The proposal remains subject to ratification by the union's members and by EMU's Board of Regents.


Sexual Misconduct: American Bar Association Resolution Regarding Campus Sexual Assault
August 12, 2015


Resolution passed by the American Bar Association regarding sexual assault on campus. The Resolution encourages institutions of higher education to "recognize the rights of students to receive an education free from sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking, gender-based violence, and intimate partner violence," to adopt policies that protect students from and respond to such misconduct, and to train students and employees in the harms that such misconduct causes, among other steps.


Title IX: Doe v. Washington & Lee University
August 12, 2015


Order issued on August 5, 2015 by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia. An anonymous Washington & Lee University student was expelled for engaging in nonconsensual sex with a female student. The student filed suit against the University, alleging that its decision to discipline him violated his rights under Title IX, violated his right to due process Under the Fifth Amendment, and constituted a breach of contract. The Court held that, while some of the plaintiff's claims were without merit, he plead factual allegations sufficient enough to support a Title IX claim. It therefore granted in part and denied in part the University's motion to dismiss.


Financial Aid: Comment Request on the Federal Student Aid Application
August 12, 2015


Comment request issued by the U.S. Department of Education regarding the 2016-2017 Federal Sudent Aid Application (FAFSA). The Department is seeking input on the collection of information through the FAFSA, which is projected to involve a net burden decrease of 3,522,674 hours. Interested parties are invited to submit comments by October 13, 2015.


Student Safety: California Bill to Give Campus Police More Investigative Tools Signed into Law
August 12, 2015


California Bill (S.B. 424) to allow college and university campus police to use additional investigative tools was signed into law by State Governor Edmund Brown. The legislation will allow campus police departments to use pretext phone calls during sexual misconduct investigations and to wear body cameras.


Sexual Misconduct: Mock v. University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
August 11, 2015


Order issued on August 4, 2015 by the Chancery Court of Davidson County, Tennessee. The case arose when a female student at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC), Molly Morris, accused petitioner Corey Mock, another student at UTC, of sexual assault. Administrative Law Judge Joanie Sompayrac (ALJ) initially held that UTC failed to carry its burden of proof and dismissed the charges but, upon reconsideration, reversed her Initial Order and held that UTC had proven by preponderance of the evidence that Ms. Morris did not consent to sexual activity. She then expelled Mr. Mock as a student for violating the University's Code of Conduct. Because Mr. Mock did not testify that Ms. Morris had consented, UTC Chancellor Steven Angle upheld Mr. Mock's expulsion. Upon review, the Chancery Court concluded that the UTC Chancellor "improperly shifted the burden of proof by a preponderance of the evidence and imposed an untenable standard upon" the petitioner, thus rendering the decision arbitrary and capricious. The Court reinstated the first Initial Order of the ALJ and reversed the decision of Chancellor Angle.


FLSA & Categorization of Employees: Department of Labor Memorandum on the Fair Labor Standards Act on Misclassification of Employees
August 11, 2015


Memorandum issued by the Department of Labor (DOL) shedding light on how the Department will interpret and apply the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in classifying employees. The memorandum discusses pertinent FLSA definitions and the breadth of employment relationships covered by the FLSA, then addresses the factors involved in the "economic realities" test that courts use to determine whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor. "Each factor," the memorandum concludes, "should be considered in light of the ultimate determination of whether the worker is really in business for him or herself (and thus is an independent contractor) or is economically dependent on the employer (and thus is its employee)."


Sexual Misconduct: Michigan Campus Sexual Assault Grant Program
August 11, 2015


Grant program launched by Michigan First Lady Sue Snyder and Michigan State Police Director Colonel Kriste Kibbey Etue to support new or innovative education, awareness, prevention, reporting, and/or bystander intervention programs geared toward reducing the number of sexual assaults on college campuses. The Michigan Legislature has appropriated $500,000 from the FY 2016 General Fund to support the program. All public and private universities and colleges in Michigan where students attend classes on campus are eligible to apply. Applications must be received by the Michigan State Police Grants and Community Services Division by October 1.


Veterans: Letter to the Department of Education on the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act
August 11, 2015


Letter from U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) to U.S. Department of Education Inspector General Kathleen Tighe regarding the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). The Senators call for an investigation into the Department's internal audit of student loan servicers' compliance with SCRA, which cleared the loan servicers of wrongdoing. The letter claims that the internal audit raised "more questions than answers," namely because the findings conflict with unfavorable findings by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).


Financial Aid: Statement by American Council on Education President Molly Corbett Broad on Hillary Clinton's Student Loan Plan
August 11, 2015


Statement by American Council on Education (ACE) President Molly Corbett Broad regarding former Secretary of State and current presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's recently-announced student loan plan. The proposed plan (which includes an overview, a college cost component, and a student debt relief component) seeks to reduce college tuition, lower interest rates on student loans, implement tougher rules for for-profit higher educators, offer new grants for small private colleges that serve large numbers of low-income and minority students, and expand AmeriCorps. Ms. Corbett Broad states that, with the widespread public interest in college affordability, it is not surprising to see such proposals put forward and debated, and that ACE is "look[ing] forward to participating in that discussion."


Contract Administration; Title IX: Zingarelli v. Kenyon College
August 10, 2015


Order issued on August 7, 2015 by the Court of Common Pleas of Knox County, Ohio, granting Defendant Kenyon College's Motion for Summary Judgment and dismissing the College as a party to the case. Plaintiff Stephen Zingarelli withdrew from Kenyon College in January 2013 and was readmitted the following October pending the outcome of a hearing on unresolved disciplinary charges, but later withdrew his request for readmission three days prior to the date the hearing was scheduled. He filed suit against the College on nine counts, including breach of contract, breach of implied duty of good faith and fair dealing, negligent training and supervision, and violation of Title IX, among others. Because Plaintiff withdrew before the hearing process took place, the Court concluded that Zingarelli chose to bypass the administrative process altogether, thus negating his claims that the charges were improperly investigated, the hearing process was improperly conducted, or that the hearing reached an improper result. After finding no genuine issues of material fact on any of the counts, the Court dismissed each of them and granted summary judgment to the Defendant.


First Amendment & Free Speech: Report on Historical Representation of Statuary at University of Texas at Austin
August 10, 2015


Report published by a task force convened by the University of Texas at Austin to consider the fate of several campus statues honoring Confederate leaders. The report offers five possibilities for the future of the statues, which have long been the subject of controversy. The first—adding explanatory plaques to the statues—would "give historical context, while allowing the institution to put philosophical distance between itself and what the figures stood for," but might also draw more negative attention to the statues. The other four recommendations each involve relocating certain of the monuments to a museum or exhibit on the campus. University President Gregory L. Fenves released a written statement in response to the report.


State Authorization, Program Integrity and Gainful Employment: Electronic Announcement on Reporting for Gainful Employment Programs Discontinued Prior to the Effective Date of the Regulations
August 10, 2015


Electronic Announcement issued by the Office of Postsecondary Education in response to inquiries as to whether institutions must report the data required under 34 CFR 668.411 of the Gainful Employment regulations for educational programs that were discontinued or otherwise ceased to be Title IV eligible prior to July 1, 2015. The Announcement describes the criteria for determining whether a program has been discontinued as of that date and whether a given institution must report the requested data. Because of the confusion surrounding these reporting requirements, the Office asks that institutions that have not reported their data but are still required to do so submit their data as soon as possible even though the deadline for submission has already passed.


Due Process: Tanyi v. Appalachian State University
August 7, 2015


Order issued on July 22, 2015 by the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, Statesville Division, granting in part and denying in part the defendant’s motion to dismiss. The plaintiff, Lanston Tanyi, was a football player at Appalachian State University (University) when he was charged with various forms of sexual misconduct alleged by two students. Based on the University’s hearing process and related outcomes, Tanyi alleged violations of procedural due process under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (III)(A)(1)-(7), substantive due process, and equal protection rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as well as gender discrimination in violation of 20 U.S.C. § 1681. The Court allowed a portion of Tanyi’s procedural and substantive due process claims to move forward on the grounds that the University failed to articulate a legitimate reason for re-hearing one student’s rape allegations and that Tanyi received inadequate notice when he learned of a new charge against him the night before the hearing.


Financial Aid: Health Education Assistance Loan (HEAL) Program Forms
August 7, 2015


Comment request issued by the U.S. Department of Education regarding a proposed revision to the Health Education Assistance Loan (HEAL) Program forms. (HEAL) forms are required for lenders to make application to the HEAL insurance program and to report accurately and timely on loan actions. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before September 4, 2015.


Financial Aid: Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards; Direct Grant Programs; and State Administered Programs
August 7, 2015


Notice of proposed rulemaking issued by the U.S. Department of Education to amend: (1) the Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR) governing direct grant programs and State-administered programs as they relate to faith-based organizations; (2) and the regulations governing uniform administrative requirements, cost principles, and audit requirements for Federal awards. The amendments are designed to implement Executive Order 13279 (as amended by Executive Order 13559), which established principles to guide the policies of Federal agencies regarding the participation of faith-based and other community organizations in programs that they administer. Interested persons should submit comments on or before October 5, 2015.


Financial Aid: Student Protection and Success Act
August 7, 2015


Legislation introduced by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) proposes to increase college accountability by: (1) eliminating the government's student loan default rates and replacing them with a student loan repayment rate; and (2) creating a risk-sharing program in which colleges have to pay the federal government a share of the total federal loan dollars that their former students are not successfully repaying. As part of the proposal, institutions with low cohort repayment rates could become ineligible to receive federal student aid.


Governance: Association of Governing Boards Defines Board Member Duties
August 7, 2015


Publication from the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) outlines elements of college board members’ fiduciary responsibilities and how to translate fulfillment of those responsibilities into effective board conduct and oversight.


Diversity: President's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans
August 6, 2015


Notice issued by the U.S. Department of Education setting forth the schedule and agenda for the President's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans (Commission). The Commission meeting will be held on September 14, 2015 at 9:00a.m.– 4:00 p.m. on Capitol Hill in room 1539 Longworth House Office Building (New Jersey Avenue and Independence SE., Washington, DC).


Faculty and Staff: Board of Regents, State of Iowa v. Iowa Public Employment Relations Board
August 5, 2015


Order issued on July 31, 2015 by the Iowa District Court for Polk County denying the University of Iowa's petition for judicial review and affirming the Iowa Public Employment Relations Board's (PERB) Ruling on Negotiability Dispute, which held that a fee proposal fell within the meaning of the term "supplemental pay" and therefore constituted a mandatory subject of bargaining. The fee proposal in question afforded graduate-student employees the right, as part of their status as union members, to put student-fee reimbursement on the bargaining table as an element of their supplemental pay. The Court affirmed PERB's ruling on the grounds that student-fee payment was triggered by the University's employment relationship with its graduate teaching and research assistants, and that it was not "irrational, illogical, or wholly unjustifiable."


Athletics: Settlement Agreement Reached in Doe v. University of Oregon
August 5, 2015


Settlement agreement reached between the plaintiff, Jane Doe, and the defendant, the University of Oregon (UO), based on a complaint filed by Doe, in which she alleged claims under Title IX after being sexually assaulted by three UO basketball players. As part of the settlement, UO agreed to continue to pursue a policy change requiring all transfer applicants to report any disciplinary history they have at their current or prior schools and require transfer applicants to sign a FERPA waiver allowing UO to access their disciplinary records if the applicant reports disciplinary history.


Sexual Misconduct: Office on Violence Against Women Announces Online Resources for Institutions of Higher Education
August 5, 2015


Announcement from U.S. Department of Justice's on Violence Against Women (OVW) regarding their launch of The Center for Changing Our Campus Culture a new comprehensive online clearinghouse on sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking on campus. This new website provides the latest information, materials and resources for campus administrators, faculty and staff, as well as campus and community law enforcement, victim service providers, students, parents and other key stakeholders to use to improve campus safety.


Financial Aid: Evaluation of the Pell Grant Experiments Under the Experimental Sites Initiative
August 4, 2015


Notice from the U.S. Department of Education (Department) proposing a revision to the Evaluation of the Pell Grant Experiments Under the Experimental Sites Initiative. The Pell Grant Experiments evaluation is a two-part, seven-year demonstration study sponsored by the Department that focuses on the effects of expanded access to Pell grants on students' educational outcomes, employment and earnings. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before September 3, 2015.


Unions: National Labor Relations Board Decision in The New School and Student Employees at the New School -- SENS/ UAW
August 3, 2015


Supplemental decision issued on July 30, 2015 by the National Labor Review Board (NLRB) Region 2 Director, dismissing SENS/UAW's petition to represent a unit of graduate students who assist faculty with teaching, research, and other miscellaneous duties at the New School. Pursuant to an order by the NLRB reinstating the petition and remanding the case for a hearing, Region 2 affirmed its earlier rejection of the case on the grounds that the NLRB's decision in Brown University (holding that graduate assistants are not "employees" within the meaning of Section 2(3) of the National Labor Relations Act) was controlling because the Petitioner sought to represent individuals employed in classifications which fall within the term "graduate assistants." The petitioner argued that an election should be directed because Brown was wrongly decided and should be overturned.


Fraud: United States settles with Wheeling Jesuit University
August 4, 2015


Announcement from the U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of West Virginia, that Wheeling Jesuit University (University) will pay the United States the sum of $2,300,000 to settle claims that it misused grant funding awarded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the United States Department of Labor, and the National Science Foundation. The University is alleged to have improperly mischaracterized costs, incurred impermissible costs, and misused federal funds, and property acquired with federal funds from 2003 to 2010. The settlement resolves False Claim Act violations that the United States was prepared to pursue. The agreement does not preclude criminal charges against individuals involved in the grant fraud.


Athletics: O'Bannon v. National Collegiate Athletic Association
August 3, 2015


Order issued on July 31, 2015 by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals granting the NCAA's request to stay the District Court's injunction. Ed O'Bannon, the plaintiff, filed an antitrust lawsuit against the defendant, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), challenging the organization's use of the images of its former student athletes for commercial purposes. The order issued by the District Court on August 8, 2014, enjoined the NCAA from prohibiting member schools from offering relevant basketball recruits a limited share of the revenues generated from the use of their names, images, and likenesses, and prohibited other "overly-restrictive restraints" as a remedy.


Financial Aid: Federal Student Financial Assistance Programs Under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as Amended
August 3, 2015


Notice issued by the U.S. Department of Education (Department) inviting postsecondary educational institutions (institutions) that participate in Title IV student financial assistance programs to apply to participate in a new institution-based experiment under the Experimental Sites Initiative (ESI). Under this experiment, participating institutions will provide Federal Pell Grant funding to otherwise eligible students who are incarcerated in Federal or State penal institutions. Details of the experiment are provided in the ''The Experiment'' section of this notice. Letters of application to participate in the proposed experiment must be received by the Department no later than October 2, 2015.


Financial Aid: Availability of the 2015-2016 Federal Student Aid Handbook Appendices
August 3, 2015


Announcement from the U.S. Department of Education that the 2015-2016 Federal Student Aid Handbook Appendices are available online. To access all currently posted appendices of the 2015-2016 Federal Student Aid Handbook, click here. To access the 2015-2016 Federal Student Aid Handbook, click here.


Data Security: Dear Colleague Letter on Protecting Student Information (Institutions and Third Party Providers)
July 31, 2015


Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) issued by the U.S. Department of Education reminds institutions of higher education and their third-party servicers of their obligations to protect data used in all aspects of the administration of the Title IV Federal student financial aid programs. The DCL includes recommended industry standards and best practices in managing information and information systems, and in securing personally identifiably information.


Data Security: Dear Colleague Letter on Protecting Student Information (Guaranty Agencies)
July 31, 2015


Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) issued by the U.S. Department of Education reminds Guaranty Agencies (GAs) of their obligation to submit a self-assessment as part of a recent security program initiated by Federal Student Aid (FSA), and advises GAs of the steps FSA will take to ensure appropriate management and protection of personally identifiable information (PII) under the control of GAs. The DCL also addresses specifically how FSA’s new self-assessment program will assist GAs and FSA in assessing the capabilities of GAs to secure the PII they have.


Financial Aid: Dear Colleague Letter on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Determinations
July 31, 2015


Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) issued by the U.S. Department of Education clarifies institutional and applicants' roles and responsibilities related to Title IV dependency determinations for unaccompanied homeless youth. The DCL includes three primary sections: (1) Applying for Title IV Aid; (2) Determinations by FAAs; and (3) Documentation of Homelessness or Risk of Homelessness.


Free Speech: Beverly et al. v. Watson et al.
July 31, 2015


Order from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, denying Plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction but (1) ordering the parties to refrain from communicating with each other regarding the operation of a faculty blog that purportedly contained content critical of the university administration and (2) prohibiting officials at Chicago State University (CSU) from imposing sanctions against professors for publication of the blog. The professors are suing CSU for their alleged attempt to shut down the blog.


Financial Aid: Settlement Reached Lincoln Technical Institute and Kaplan Career Institute
July 31, 2015


Announcement from Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey that a settlement has been reached with for-profit schools Lincoln Technical Institute (Lincoln Tech) and Kaplan Career Institute (Kaplan). According to the announcement, both Lincoln Tech and Kaplan will pay former students more than $2.3 million to resolve allegations that they inflated job placement numbers and employed unfair recruiting tactics to persuade prospective students to enroll in their programs. Under the settlement with Kaplan, a total of $1.375 million will be distributed to eligible graduates of the school’s medical vocational programs. Under the settlement with Lincoln Tech., $850,000 will be used to pay down federal student loans for eligible graduates of the school’s criminal justice program at its Somerville and Lowell campuses. Lincoln Tech will also forgive an additional $165,000 in private student loans.


Disability and Age Discrimination: Silk v. Moraine Valley Community College
July 31, 2015


Order from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirming and reversing in part the District Court’s grant of summary judgement for Moraine Valley Community College (College). The appellant, William Silk, a former adjunct-professor at the College, alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Age Discrimination in Employment Act after the College reduced his course load, reassigned his courses, and terminated his employment, following heart surgery in April 2010. The Court of Appeals reversed the District Court’s grant of summary judgment on Silk’s Fall 2010 claim because there remained a genuine dispute over whether the College stated the they reduced Silk’s courses because they didn’t think he was physically capable of handling them. The case is remanded for further proceedings on this claim, with all other claims being affirmed in favor of the College.


Compliance: OMB Circular A-133 Compliance Supplement 2015 Available
July 30, 2015


Announcement from the Office of Management and Budget regarding the availability of the 2015 Compliance Supplement. The Compliance Supplement provides detailed guidance for conducting single audits of states, local governments, and nonprofit organizations - including colleges and universities.


Financial Aid: Proposed Change to the Federal Perkins/NDSL Loan Assignment Form
July 30, 2015


Notice issued by the U.S. Department of Education regarding a proposed change to the Federal Perkins/NDSL Loan Assignment Form (Assignment Form). Institutions participating in the Federal Perkins Loan program use the Assignment Form to assign loans to the Department for collection without recompense, transferring the authority to collect on the loan. This request is for continuing approval of the paper based assignment form and for approval of the electronic process being finalized. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before September 28, 2015.


Student Safety: National Center for Education Statistics Report on Indicators of School Crime
July 29, 2015


Report published by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics and the Bureau of Justice Statistics examines crime occurring in schools and colleges. The report covers topics such as victimization, bullying, school conditions, fights, weapons, the presence of security staff at school, availability and student use of drugs and alcohol, student perceptions of personal safety at school, and criminal incidents at postsecondary institutions.


Financial Aid: Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) Performance Report
July 28, 2015


Notice issued by the U.S. Department of Education regarding a revision to the Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) Performance Report. The GAANN report is used to evaluate grantee performance, as well as the accomplishments and impact of the GAANN Program as a whole. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before August 27, 2015.


Athletics: NCAA Approves Experimental Rule on Concussions
July 27, 2015


Announcement from the NCAA that it has adopted an experimental rule allowing medical observers to notify game officials when a player appears to have suffered a head/neck injury. Effective for the 2015 season, the rule enables a medical observer, who suspects a player has sustained a head/neck injury, to alert the instant-replay official, who then contacts the referee to stop the game so the player can receive a medical evaluation.


First Amendment and Due Process: Barnes v. Zaccari
July 27, 2015


Settlement agreement between plaintiff, Thomas Barnes, and defendants, Valdosta State University (VSU) and the Board of Regents of the University of Georgia, requiring the defendants to pay the plaintiff $900,000. The plaintiff alleged that VSU violated his free speech, contract, and due process rights, as well as his rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act, when they "administratively withdrew" (expelled) the plaintiff from campus due to safety concerns and without a hearing.


Accreditation: NACIQI 2015 Accreditation Policy Recommendations
July 27, 2015


Report from the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) to the U.S. Secretary of Education makes 16 recommendations designed to: (1) simplify the accreditation and recognition process and enhance nuance in that process; (2) reconsider the relationship between quality assurance processes and access to Title IV funds; and (3) reconsider the roles and functions of NACIQI itself. The recommendations include reconstituting NACIQI as a committee with terminal decision-making authority, which would establish it as the final decision-making authority on accrediting agency recognition.


Faculty & Staff: Klingler v. University of Southern Mississippi
July 24, 2015


Klinger, a tenure track professor, sued the University of Southern Mississippi (USM), alleging deprivations of due process and equal protection, as well as claims arising from Mississippi contract and tort law, when USM declined to renew his annual contract after placing him on administrative leave for allegedly making comments that raised concerns of campus safety. In affirming the trial court's decision to grant summary judgment for USM on all of Klinger's claims, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, held that USM provided Klinger with a constitutionally adequate opportunity to adjudicate his grievance by fully complying with its own comprehensive faculty-grievance procedures.


Student Loans: CFPB Orders Discover Bank to Pay Back $16M to Borrowers
July 23, 2015


Order from the Consumer Financial Protections Bureau (CFPB) requiring Discover Bank to repay $16M to 100,000 borrowers, pay a $2.5M penalty, and improve its billing and collections practices. According to the consent order issued by the CFPB, Discover Bank: (1) failed to furnish clear information regarding the student-loan interest that consumers paid; (2) made intimidating collection calls at inconvenient times; (3) overstated the minimum amount due in student-loan billing statements; and (4) violated the Fair Debt Collection Practice Acts with regards to their collection activities.


Gainful Employment: Gainful Employment Recent Graduates Employment and Earning Survey Pilot Test
July 23, 2015


Notice issued by the U.S. Department of Education proposes the Gainful Employment Recent Graduates Employment and Earning Survey (RGEES). The RGEES pilot study results will be used to compare median earnings collected through the survey to median earnings for graduates from comparable programs. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before August 24, 2015.


NSLDS and Gainful Employment: Enhancements to NSLDS for Enrollment Reporting and Gainful Employment
July 23, 2015


Newsletter from Federal Student Aid describes enhancements to the National Student Loan Data System enrollment reporting and to the gainful employment (GE) process. The newsletter also provides a reminder about important GE reporting deadlines, which begin on July 31, 2015.


VAWA: Dear Colleague Letter on Implementation of the VAWA Final Regulations
July 23, 2015


Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) from the U.S. Department of Education summarizes the major changes to the Clery Act Regulations. The DCL includes specific information on the 2015 Campus Safety and Security Survey and provides a table outlining the new statistical requirements in the annual security report and online data collection.


ADA: Justice Department Settles with University of Michigan
July 23, 2015


Announcement from the U.S. Department of Justice that a settlement agreement has been reached with the University of Michigan under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The agreement, filed as a consent decree along with a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, resolves allegations that the university violated the ADA by failing to accommodate a maintenance employee with degenerative back disease; and discriminated against similarly situated employees. The consent decree requires the university to: (1) pay the employees approximately $215,000 for monetary and compensatory damages; (2) revise its their policies on reassignments and transfers; (3) provide training to university staff on Title I of the ADA; and (4) file periodic reports with the Department.


First Amendment: First Amendment Defense Act
July 22, 2015


Federal legislation (H.R. 2802) introduced by Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) proposes to prohibit the Federal Government from penalizing people and entities, including religious schools, that find same-sex unions contrary to their faith. For people and/or entities that qualify, the legislation would prohibit, among other things, the Federal Government from altering their Federal tax treatment and/or reducing or withholding their Federal grants. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced a companion bill (S. 1598) in the United States Senate.


Finances: Notice of Open and Closed Meetings of the National Assessment Governing Board
July 22, 2015


Notice released by the U.S. Department of Education setting forth the schedule and agenda for the Quarterly Meeting of the National Assessment Governing Board (Governing Board). The Governing Board meeting will be held on August 6-8, 2015 at the Westin Arlington Gateway, 801 North Glebe Road, Arlington, VA 22203. A schedule for each day can be found in the announcement.


Student Athletics/ADA: Class v. Towson University
July 21, 2015


Decision from the United States District Court for the District Of Maryland issuing a permanent injunction barring the defendant, Towson University, from continuing to prohibit the plaintiff from returning to play in the University's football program in violation of his rights under Section 504 of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The plaintiff, Gavin Class, is a student at the university, who collapsed from a heat stroke during football practice. After receiving a liver transplant and clearances from his doctors, Class sought to return to the team, and the university prevented his return citing concerns for his safety. Class sought an injunction on the grounds that the university violated his rights under the ADA by failing to provide reasonable accommodations (i.e., monitoring his temperature every ten minutes and providing protective padding for his abdomen) that would allow Class to safely return to the team. The Court concluded that Class' requested accommodations were reasonable and did not impose an undue burden on the university. Therefore, the Court held, the university's decision to prohibit Class from returning to play was discriminatory under the ADA.


Diversity: Report by ACE on Race-Neutral Policies
July 21, 2015


Report published by the American Council on Education (ACE) examines admis¬sions practices at four-year colleges and universities in the context of recent legal challenges to race-conscious admissions, including the pending U.S. Supreme Court case Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. The report, which is based on responses to a national survey of undergraduate admissions and enrollment management leaders, reveals that 60 percent of the most selective institutions—those admitting 40 percent or fewer applicants—consider race in admissions.


Federal Student Aid: Federal Perkins Loan Program Master Promissory Note
July 21, 2015


Comment request issued by the U.S. Department of Education regarding a proposed change to the Federal Perkins Loan Program Master Promissory Note (MPN). The MPN provides the terms and conditions of the Perkins Loan program and is prepared by the participating eligible institution and signed by the borrower. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before August 20, 2015.


Retaliation: MCAD and Armstrong v. Boston College
July 20, 2015


Order from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) requiring the respondent to cease and desist from all acts of retaliation, pay complainant back pay beginning in the 2003-04 academic year, and pay complainant the sum of $125,000, with interest, in emotional distress damages. The complainant, William Armstrong, a tenured chemistry professor at Boston College, alleged that the defendant, Boston College, retaliated against him when he sought to implement agreed-to accommodations after returning from campus leave for a psychiatric disability. The MCAD concluded that the actions taken against Armstrong when he returned from leave, which included prohibiting him from attending Chemistry Department faculty meetings and omitting him from Chemistry Department e-mails, were retaliatory and could not be justified as either legitimate or non-discriminatory. In reaching this decision, the MCAD noted that Armstrong's efforts to implement agreed-to accommodations were protected activities as required by the test for retaliation established in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green.


Community College: Oregon Law Makes Community College Free for Students
July 20, 2015


Legislation (S. 81) signed into law by Oregon Governor Kate Brown provides a tuition waiver for eligible students taking community college courses. Eligibility is based on factors including high school grade point average, completion and submission of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid for each academic year, and acceptance of all state and federal aid grants available to the student. Eligible students will receive, at minimum, a $1,000 grant.


Federal Student Aid: Reminder from FSA on ID/PIN Replacements
July 20, 2015


Reminder from Federal Student Aid (FSA) that a FSA ID may only be created and used by the individual who owns the FSA ID. The FSA ID, implemented in May 2015 as a replacement to the FSA PIN, is the legal signature that can be used to electronically sign important federal student aid documents, including the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) and Direct Loan promissory notes.


Sexual Misconduct: Doe v. Virginia Wesleyan College
July 20, 2015


Order from the Fourth Judicial Circuit of Virginia, Circuit Court of the City of Norfolk, denying in part and sustaining in part Virginia Wesleyan College's (VWC) demurrer, and ruling on several related pleadings. The case arose when Doe, a freshman student at VWC, alleged that she was raped and sexually assaulted by Roe, then also a VWC student, in a VWC dormitory. Doe sought relief from VWC on the grounds of negligence, gross negligence, and fraud. In ruling on five related pleadings, the Court focused on the relationship between Doe and VWC and concluded that Doe failed to sufficiently allege that a special relationship exists between a college and a student, and therefore, VWC did not have a duty to warn or protect students against third-party criminal acts. Doe was granted leave to file an amended complaint within twenty-one days.


ADA: Department of Justice FAQ on Service Animals
July 17, 2015


Publication by the U.S. Department of Justice on the most frequently asked questions (FAQ) about Service Animals, relative to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The FAQs are organized into the six categories: (1) Definition of Service Animals; (2) General Rules; (3) Certification and Registration; (4) Breeds; (5) Exclusion of Service Animals; and (6) Miscellaneous. The ADA revised requirements on service animals can be found here.


Federal Student Aid: Guaranty Agencies Security Self-Assessment and Attestation
July 17, 2015


Notice from the U.S. Department of Education regarding its request to the Office of Management and Budget for an emergency clearance to ensure that data collected and managed by Guaranty Agencies (GAs) in support of federal student financial aid programs is secure. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before September 14, 2015.


Free Speech: Missouri Bill on Free Speech
July 15, 2015


Missouri legislation (S.B. 93) proposes to classify the outdoor areas of public institutions of higher education as traditional public forums where people can engage in noncommercial expressive activity. Public institutions of higher education may place reasonable restrictions on the time, place, and manner of the expressive activity, but may not restrict members of the university community from spontaneously and contemporaneously assembling.


Federal Student Aid: U.S. Department of Education Updates Cash Monitoring List
July 14, 2015


Announcement from the U.S. Department of Education (Department) regarding the availability of an updated list of institutions subject to Heightened Cash Monitoring. The first list, published in March 2015 contained 560 institutions. The most recent list, published in June 2015, contains 483 institutions. Heightened Cash Monitoring is a step that the Department's Federal Student Aid office can take with institutions to provide additional oversight on financial or federal compliance issues.


Gainful Employment: Common Errors in Reporting Gainful Employment Data to NSLDS
July 14, 2015


Announcement from the U.S. Department of Education with guidance for institutions on the correct reporting of gainful employment (GE) data to the Department's National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS).


Sexual Misconduct: Doe vs. Regents of the University of California San Diego
July 14, 2015


Order from the Superior Court of California, County of San Diego Central granting the Petition for Writ of Mandamus and ordering Respondent, the University of California San Diego (University) to set aside its findings and sanctions against the Petitioner, a student accused of sexual misconduct, because the University's disciplinary action against the Petitioner was unfair and not supported by the evidence. More specifically, the Court held that the University's sexual misconduct proceedings were unfair because the University limited the Petitioner's right to cross-examine the primary witness against him and limited his right of confrontation by preventing the Petitioner from refuting evidence outside of the hearing that was crucial to the Hearing Panel's findings. The Court also concluded that the University abused its discretion by increasing sanctions without explanation after the student appealed the penalty.


Federal Student Aid: Repayment Agreements and Liability for Collection Costs on Federal Family Education Loan Program Loans
July 13, 2015


Dear Colleague Letter issued by the U.S. Department of Education (Department) restates the requirements for guaranty agencies regarding charging collection costs to Federal Family Education Loan Program borrowers who enter into repayment agreements. The letter includes four primary sections: (1) applicable provisions of the Higher Education Act; (2) applicable provisions of Department regulations; (3) background and rationale for the requirement to provide an initial "notice and opportunity to resolve" the debt; and (4) background and rationale for the requirement to charge collection costs.


Program Integrity: Program Integrity Questions and Answers (Q&A) Website Update
July 10, 2015


Announcement from Federal Student Aid (FSA) regarding the availability of new and revised Q&As to the high school diploma and verification portion of the U.S. Department of Education's Program Integrity Website. To view these additions and revisions, click on the applicable topics, and look for the "new" icon next to the Q&As that have been added and a bolded revised date next to those that have been modified.


Governance: Michigan Proposal Would Make Board Meetings Public
July 10, 2015


Michigan legislative resolution, known as House Joint Resolution "O," proposes to amend the Michigan State Constitution by making public all governing boards meetings held by Michigan's institutions of higher education. Currently, Michigan only requires institutions' governing boards to make formal sessions public.


Campus Police: Kroschel v. Levi
July 10, 2015


Order from the North Dakota Supreme Court reversing the District Court's judgment, in which it affirmed the Department of Transportation's suspension of the Appellant's driving privileges. Appellant Kroschel was arrested by a police officer from the North Dakota State University (NDSU) Police Department for driving under the influence. At no time during the incident was the officer or Kroschel on NDSU property. The issue before the court was whether the NDSU police officer had the authority to arrest Kroschel. The Appellant, the North Dakota Department of Transportation (Department), argued that the officer acted within his authority because of an existing Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Department, the local police department, and NDSU. The District Court, which affirmed the Hearing Officer's decision, found that Section 44-08-24(1) of the North Dakota Century Code (N.D.C.C.) provided support for the MOU by giving authority to North Dakota law enforcement agencies to enter into agreements with other criminal justice agencies. The North Dakota Supreme Court (Supreme Court) rejected this argument, finding that Section 44-08-24 only applies to officers in unique situations and cannot be used on an ongoing basis. Additionally, the Supreme Court further held that the N.D.C.C. did not give police officers the authority to arrest persons outside the NDSU campus. The Supreme Court noted that this case does not challenge the authority of NDSU police officers to act on the NDSU campus or the authority of local police officers to act on the NDSU campus.


Federal Student Aid: Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the Student Assistance General Provisions, Federal Family Education Loan Program, and William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program
July 9, 2015


Notice of proposed rulemaking issued by the U.S. Department of Education to: (1) amend the Student Assistance General Provisions regulations to expand the circumstances under which an institution may challenge or appeal the potential consequences of draft or final cohort default rates based on the institution's participation rate index; and (2) amend the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program regulations to streamline and enhance existing processes; and (3) amend the FFEL program regulations to establish new procedures for loan holders to identify servicemembers who may be eligible for benefits under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. Interested parties must submit comments on or before August 10, 2015.


Military Students: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Report on Military Borrowers
July 8, 2015


Report published by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Bureau) summarizes student loan servicing complaints sent to the Bureau from service members, veterans, and their families. Since the Bureau's last report in October 2012, they have received more than 1,300 complaints from military borrowers related to the servicing or collection of student loans. The report outlines the most commonly reported servicing problems for service members, as well as the general issues faced by military borrowers.


Federal Student Aid: William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program: Internship/Residency and Loan Debt Burden Forbearance Forms
July 7, 2015


Comment request issued by the U.S. Department of Education regarding a proposed revision to the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program: Internship/Residency and Loan Debt Burden Forbearance forms. These forms serve as the means by which borrowers in the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan, Federal Family Education Loan, and the Federal Perkins Loan Programs may request forbearance of repayment on their loans if they meet certain conditions. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before August 6, 2015.


Federal Student Aid: William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program Deferment Request Forms
July 7, 2015


Comment request issued by the U.S. Department of Education regarding a proposed revision to the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program Deferment Request forms. These forms serve as the means by which borrowers in the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan, Federal Family Education Loan, and the Federal Perkins Loan Programs may request forbearance of repayment on their loans if they meet certain conditions. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before August 6, 2015.


Federal Student Aid: Undue Hardship Discharge of Title IV Loans in Bankruptcy Adversary Proceedings
July 7, 2015


Dear Colleague Letter from the U.S. Department of Education provides guidance to guarantors and educational institutions participating in the Federal Family Education Loan Program and Federal Perkins Loan Program. The guidance specifically focuses on the regulations that govern the actions of guarantors and educational institutions in defending bankruptcy adversary proceedings seeking discharge of student loans authorized by Title IV on the basis that excepting the loans from discharge would impose undue hardship upon the borrowers.


Federal Student Aid: Child Care Access Means Parents in School Program Annual Performance Report
July 6, 2015


Comment request issued by the U.S. Department of Education (Department) regarding a proposed revision to the Child Care Access Means Parents in School Program Annual Performance Report. This report provides the Department with information needed to evaluate a grantee's performance and compliance with program requirements in accordance with the program authorizing statute. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before August 5, 2015.


Military Veterans: Stoner v. Pima Community College
July 2, 2015


Settlement agreement reached between plaintiff, Timothy Stoner, and defendant, Pima Community College. Plaintiff, a U.S. Army National Guardsman, alleged that the defendant discriminated against him based on his military status, in violation of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA), when it failed to place him in the position of Police Corporal in its Department of Public Safety. As part of the settlement, the defendant agreed to: (1) place the plaintiff in a newly created, regular Police Corporal position; (2) pay the plaintiff $9,000 for last wages; (3) amend its personnel policies to notify employees of their rights and obligations under USERRA; and (4) continue displaying the USERRA notification poster required by federal regulations.


Student Internships: Glatt et al. v. Fox Searchlight Pictures, Inc. et al.
July 2, 2015


Order from the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit vacating the district court's orders and remanding for further proceedings. The plaintiffs, former interns for the defendants, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Inc. and Fox Entertainment Group, Inc., contented they were employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and therefore, due compensation for their work. In granting partial summary judgment, the District Court concluded that the plaintiffs were employees under the FSLA based on a six-factor test created by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Walling v. Portland Terminal Co., 330 U.S. 148 (1947). The Circuit Court rejected the DOL test and adopted instead the "primary beneficiary" test, which focuses on: (1) what the intern received in exchange for his work; and (2) the economic reality as it exists between the intern and the employer. In conjunction with the test, the Circuit Court proposed a list of non-exhaustive factors to aid courts in identifying the primary beneficiary of the internship. On remand, the District Court must apply the primary beneficiary test, rather than the DOL test, to determine if the plaintiffs were in fact employees under the FLSA. The Circuit Court also rejected the plaintiff's motion to certify the New York class and motion to conditionally certify the nationwide FLSA Collective for failing to have individualized proof of each intern's experience.


Faculty Unions: Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association
June 30, 2015


Order of U.S. Supreme Court granting writ of certiorari to review the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirming the district court's dismissal of the claims made by several California teachers, in which they argued that "agency fees" paid to teachers' unions compromise their First Amendment rights.


Gainful Employment: Updated NSLDS Gainful Employment User Guide
June 30, 2015


Announcement issued by the U.S. Department of Education regarding the availability of an updated version of the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) Gainful Employment User Guide (Guide). The Guide contains the following three chapters: (1) GE Compliance, Guidelines and Administrative Functions; (2) GE Reporting Batch Processing; and (3) GE Reporting Online.


Gainful Employment: Dear Colleague Letter on Regulatory Requirements Related to Gainful Employment Programs
June 30, 2015


Dear Colleague Letter issued by the U.S. Department of Education providing an overview of the regulatory requirements related to Gainful Employment (GE) programs. The letter provides a summary of the requirements in the GE regulations, the reporting requirements, D/E rates, and certification requirements for GE programs.


Gainful Employment: Recent Graduates Employment and Earnings Survey (RGEES) Standards and Survey Form
June 30, 2015


Comment request issued by the U.S. Department of Education (Department) regarding a proposed information collection related to the Recent Graduates Employment and Earnings Survey (RGEES) Standards and Survey form. The RGEES can be used in a debt-to-earnings (D/E) ratio appeal under the gainful employment regulations as an alternative to the Social Security administration earnings data. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before August 31, 2015.


Immigration: Revised Document Verification Request G-845 Form
June 29, 2015


Announcement from the Department of Homeland Security-United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (DHS-USCIS) that the Office of Management and Budget has approved a revised Document Verification Request G-845 Form (G-845 form). The G-845 form is used by Title IV postsecondary institutions to request verification from DHS-USCIS of an applicant's eligible non-citizenship status. Instructions on how to complete the revised G-845 form are included in the announcement and can also be found in Volume 1, Chapter 2 of the 2015-2016 Federal Student Aid Handbook. Institutions are encouraged to begin using the revised G-845 form immediately. The previous version of the G-845 form may no longer be submitted to DHS-USCIS after August 14, 2015.


Federal Grant: Paul Douglas Teacher Scholarship Performance Report Form
June 29, 2015


Comment request issued by the U.S. Department of Education regarding a reinstatement of a previously approved information collection for the Paul Douglas Teacher Scholarship Performance Report form. Although the Paul Douglas Teacher Scholarship program is no longer a funded program, the annual performance report is necessary to monitor and evaluate the compliance of the former participating state education agencies. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before August 28, 2015.


Federal Student Aid: Dear Colleague Letter Providing Guidance on Acceptable Documentation during FAFSA Verification
June 29, 2015


Dear Colleague Letter issued by the U.S. Department of Education summarizing acceptable documentation changes for the 2016-2017 award year. The letter also provides information on changes to the 2016–2017 Verification Tracking Groups and the limited circumstances under which an applicant's Verification Tracking Group could change.


Affirmative Action: Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin
June 29, 2015


Writ of certiorari granted by the United States Supreme Court in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. Justice Kagan took no part in the consideration or decision of this petition.


Federal Grant: GEAR UP Applications for Partnership and State Grants
June 26, 2015


Comment request issued by the U.S. Department of Education regarding a proposed revision to information collected from states and partnerships interested in applying for the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) grant program. GEAR UP is a discretionary grant program that encourages applicants to support and maintain a commitment to assist eligible low-income students in obtaining a secondary school diploma and in preparing for and succeeding in postsecondary education. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before July 27, 2015.


Student Athletics: NCAA Proposal on Academic Misconduct
June 26, 2015


Proposed NCAA legislation sponsored by the NCAA's Division 1 Council (Council) proposes to: (1) set the expectation that all students and staff members act with honesty and integrity; and (2) define academic misconduct, impermissible academic assistance and other academic improprieties that may occur at a school. The proposal requires schools to publish and adhere to an academic misconduct policy for all students and permits schools to have an expedited process for student-athletes so long as the expedited process has been approved by school officials outside of the athletics department. The Council will cast final votes on the proposal in April 2016. If adopted, new academic misconduct rules would be effective in August 2016.


Program Integrity: U.S. Department of Education on the College Rating System
June 25, 2015


Announcement from Jamienne Studley, the Deputy Under Secretary and Acting Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education, regarding an update to the U.S. Department of Education's anticipated college-rating system. The Department expects to release tools this summer that are both easy to use and designed to provide students with data to compare college costs and outcomes.


For Profit: For-Profit Education Company to Pay $13 Million to Resolve Several Cases Alleging Submission of False Claims for Federal Student Aid
June 25, 2015


Announcement from the U.S. Department of Justice that Education Affiliates (EA), a for-profit education company, has agreed to pay $13 million to the U.S. to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by submitting false claims to the U.S. Department of Education for federal student aid for students enrolled in its programs. The U.S. Government alleged that EA employees altered admissions test results, created false or fraudulent high school diplomas, falsified students' federal aid applications, and referred prospective students to "diploma mills" to obtain invalid online high school diplomas. The settlement resolves five lawsuits filed under the federal False Claims Act.


Gainful Employment: Association of Private Sector Colleges & Universities v. Duncan
June 24, 2015


Order from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia denying the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and granting the defendant's cross-motion. The plaintiff, the Association of Private Sector Colleges & Universities (Association), challenged the Department of Education's (Department) October 2014 Gainful Employment Rule, which defined "gainful employment" by comparing the average debt load of former students against their earnings. The Court upheld debt-to-earnings portion of the Department's Gainful Employment Rule, concluding that the Department reasonably interpreted an ambiguous statutory command, and that the Rule, having been subjected to a thorough rulemaking process, was not arbitrary, capricious, or otherwise in violation of the APA. The Court also rejected plaintiff's challenges regarding the disclosure, reporting, and certification requirements of the regulations.


Federal Student Aid: Request for Comment on Income Based Repayment Notifications
June 23, 2015


Comment request issued by the U.S. Department of Education regarding a proposed extension to the Income Based Repayment (IBR) notifications. Income based repayment, as authorized by the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, is available for Part B borrowers who have partial financial hardship. Pursuant to regulation, borrowers must receive notification from loan holders once a borrower establishes a partial financial hardship and is placed in an IBR plan by the loan holder. Interested persons are invited to submit comments regarding the proposed extension on or before August 24, 2015.


Unions: Laguna College of Art and Design and Service Employees International Union, Local 721, Petitioner
June 19, 2015


Opinion from the National Labor Review Board (NLRB) affirming the NLRB hearing officer's rulings, findings, and recommendations, and allowing part-time faculty (which includes adjuncts and instructors) at the Laguna College of Art and Design (College) to join the Service Employees International Union, Local 721. The College alleged that James Galindo, a pro-union supervisor employed by the College, tainted, and therefore invalidated, the unionization vote. Applying both prongs of the objective test established in Harborside Healthcare, Inc., the NLRB declined to invalidate the election, reasoning that: (1) Galindo was a low-level supervisor who engaged in non-coercive election behavior; (2) the College's contemporaneous anti-union campaign ensured that employees would not attribute Galindo's pro-union views to that of the College, effectively mitigating any potentially material interference.


Due Process and Jurisdiction: Texas A&M v. Carapia
June 19, 2015


Order from the Tenth Court of Appeals for the State of Texas reversing the trial court's determinations and dismissing the appellee's suit with prejudice. Appellee Gustavo Carapia, a student at Texas A&M University (TAMU), alleged that TAMU denied him due process when, after notice and a hearing, it suspended him from the Corps of Cadets and placed him on conduct probation. In reversing the trial court's decision, the Court concluded that sovereign immunity barred the Appellee's legal due process claims. The Court also held that Carapia had failed to effect a limited waiver of the State's sovereign immunity because he had not stated a valid due process claim, since extracurricular participation in the Corps of Cadets did not qualify as a property or liberty interest sufficient to give rise to an actionable due process claim. The Court also dismissed Carapia's claims under the Uniform Declaratory Judgment Act (UDJA), concluding that a dispute as to the constitutionality of an institutional code of conduct was not a "challenge to the validity of a statute or ordinance," as is required to state a claim under the UDJA. Finally, the Court held that the temporary injunction that had been issued by the trial court was void because it did not contain any of the requirements found in Rules 683 and 684 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure.


State Authorization: Dear Colleague Letter on State Authorization Regulations Effective Date July 1, 2015
June 19, 2015


Dear Colleague Letter issued by the U.S. Department of Education (Department) reminding postsecondary institutions that the State Authorization Regulations will become effective on July 1, 2015. These regulations will require postsecondary institutions to have certain types of State oversight and approvals in place to participate in Title IV Federal Student Aid programs authorized under the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended. The letter advises postsecondary institutions to contact their State authorizing agency to ensure that they have the necessary process is in place to meet these requirements and to ensure that their State has a compliant complaint system. Guidance on the regulations can be found on the Department's website.


Data Privacy: Congressional Research Service Report on Cybersecurity-Related Authoritative Reports and Resources, by Topic
June 18, 2015


Updated report on cybersecurity-related authoritative reports and resources issued by the Congressional Research Service (CRS). The report provides references to analytical reports and other resources concerning cybersecurity from CRS, other government agencies, trade associations, and interest groups. The reports and related websites are grouped in tables based on topic.


Data Privacy: Congressional Research Service Report on Cybersecurity and Information Sharing Legislation Passed by Congress
June 18, 2015


Report released by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) comparing two pieces of cybersecurity and information-sharing legislation that have passed the House of Representatives. The legislation discussed includes the Protecting Cyber Networks Act (PCNA) (H.R. 1560, as reported in the House on April 13) and the National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act of 2015 (NCPAA) (H.R. 1731, as reported in the House on April 17). The two bills have since been combined to form Title I and Title II of the most recent version of H.R. 1560, respectively, and sent to the Senate for consideration.


Data Privacy: Congressional Research Service Report on Cybersecurity Legislative Proposals in Congress
June 18, 2015


Report released by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) comparing three pieces of cybersecurity and information-sharing legislation. The legislation discussed includes the Protecting Cyber Networks Act (PCNA) (H.R. 1560, as reported in the House on April 13), the National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act of 2015 (NCPAA) (H.R. 1731, as reported in the House on April 17), and the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 (CISA) (S. 754 as reported in the Senate on March 17). The PCNA and NCPAA have since been combined to form Title I and Title II of the most recent version of H.R. 1560, respectively, and sent to the Senate for consideration. CISA is still under consideration in the Senate.


Finances: Notice of Open Meeting of the National Advisory Council on Indian Education
June 18, 2015


Notice released by the U.S. Department of Education setting forth the schedule and agenda of an upcoming open meeting of the National Advisory Council on Indian Education (NACIE). The NACIE meeting will be held via conference call on July 1, 2015, from 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m EDT. Up to 20 dial-in, listen only phone lines will be made available to the public on a first come, first served basis. The conference call number is 1-888-677-5810 and the participant code is 3132285.


ADA and Rehabilitation Act: Lanzilotti v. Atlantic Cape Community College
June 18, 2015


Consent Decree entered into between plaintiffs, Anthony Lanzilotti, Mitchel Cossaboon, and the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), and defendant, the Atlantic Cape Community College (ACCC). Lanzilotti and Cossaboon, both blind students at ACCC, alleged discrimination on the basis of disability under the Americans with Disability Act and § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The Consent Decree requires ACCC to: (1) hire a third-party consultant to evaluate the Disability Support Services office and assist ACCC in developing related policies; (2) develop a training program for all of its employees that addresses the requirements of the ADA; (3) conduct and complete a Technology Accessibility Audit, accepting and considering a list of recommendations from the NFB; and (4) make accessible for students with disabilities all instructional materials, online materials, and ACCC's public and student website. Additionally, per the Consent Decree, ACCC may not require a blind student to be accompanied by a sighted aide as a condition for access to campus.


Gainful Employment: Updated Gainful Employment Operations Manual Now Available
June 17, 2015


Communication from Federal Student Aid (FSA) announcing publication of the initial chapters of the updated Gainful Employment (GE) Operations Manual. The updated manual includes references to the October 2014 GE regulations, as well as GE program examples. The manual also details necessary disclosures for GE Programs. Chapters on debt measures, challenges, and appeals are forthcoming.


Competency-Based Education: U.S. Department of Education Letter to Accrediting Agency Executive Directors
June 17, 2015


Letter from the U.S. Department of Education (Department) to Accrediting Agency Executive Directors waiving and modifying certain statutory and regulatory requirements to allow a limited number of institutions the opportunity "to participate in experiments that will test alternative methods for administering Title IV aid programs for students enrolled in [Competency Based Education] programs. " For each institution that participates in the Department's experiment, the Department seeks assurance that accrediting agencies will assess the quality of the institution's competency-based education programs. Accompanying the letter is an instructional document that summarizes the Competency-Based Education experiment, as well as the role of accrediting agencies.


Cash Management: NACUBO Comments on the Proposed Cash Management Rules
June 17, 2015


Announcement from the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) outlining their concerns with the U.S. Department of Education's proposed rules on cash management. NACUBO's announcement outlines 11 specific issues, which primarily concern new requirements that would be imposed on colleges and universities that have agreements with financial institutions or third party servicers, such as bank accounts, debit cards, or other financial accounts offered to students and their parents. Other issues include concerns with a new provision that requires institutions to provide a way for Title IV-eligible students to obtain books and supplies by the seventh day of a payment period, and a new provision that requires an institution to list a student's existing financial account as the first and default option when selecting how to receive his or her Title IV credit balance refund.


Tenure Proceedings: Frampton v. UNC
June 17, 2015


Order from the North Carolina Court of Appeals reversing the trial court's entry of judgment in favor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) and remanding the case for further proceedings. The plaintiff, a tenured faculty member at UNC, was arrested and imprisoned in Argentina for allegedly smuggling cocaine into the country. After five weeks of imprisonment, during which time the plaintiff was scheduled to teach a course, UNC placed the plaintiff on personal leave without pay pursuant to the Faculty Services Illness, Major Disability, and Parental Leave Policy. Only after the plaintiff was convicted in Argentina did UNC initiate formal disciplinary proceedings under its tenure policies to terminate his employment. On appeal, the Court concluded that UNC had failed to comply with its own polices when it unilaterally placed the Plaintiff on unpaid leave without pay instead of initiating disciplinary proceedings pursuant to the terms set forth in UNC's tenure policies.


Data Privacy: Congressional Research Service Report on Legislation, Hearings, and Executive Branch Documents
June 16, 2015


Report released by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) summarizes the major legislative provisions, hearings, and executive branch documents relating to cybersecurity. The report organizes legislative provisions and hearings by congressional year, and executive branch documents by date of issuance.


Compliance: U.S. Department of Education Staff Report on Recognition Compliance Issues
June 16, 2015


Staff Report from the U.S. Department of Education (Department) recommending that the Department terminate recognition of the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing for failing to meet the requirements of sections 602.14(a) and (b) of the Secretary's Criteria for Recognition. A summary of the Department's findings are included in the report.


Safety: Texas Law Allows Handguns on Campuses
June 16, 2015


Legislation (S. 11) signed into law by Texas Governor Greg Abbott allows license holders to carry concealed handguns on public and private university campuses. Both public and private institutions may adopt policies that regulate the storage of handguns in dormitories or other residential facilities that are owned, leased, or operated by the institution and located on the campus of the institution. Institutions also may adopt rules, regulations, and other provisions regarding concealed handguns that address the nature of the student population, specific safety concerns, and the uniqueness of the campus environment, so long as these provisions neither prohibit nor have the effect of prohibiting license holders from carrying concealed handguns on campus. Private and independent institutions, after consulting with students, staff, and faculty of the institution, may adopt policies that prohibit license holders from carrying handguns on the campus of the institution, any grounds or building on which an activity sponsored by the institution is being conducted, or on a passenger transportation vehicle owned by the institution.


ROTC: Singh v. Mchugh
June 16, 2015


Order from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia denying the defendant's motion for summary judgment and granting the plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff, an observant Sikh whose religious practices did not comport with the United States Army's (Army) grooming standards, sought a religious accommodation from the Army to enroll in the ROTC program at Hofstra University. Plaintiff contends that the Army's refusal to accommodate his religious practices violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The Court entered judgment in favor of the Plaintiff, concluding that the Army had failed to show that its grooming regulations furthered a compelling governmental interest by the least restrictive means. The Court based this decision, in part, on the Army's successful accommodation of observant Sikhs in the past and the "tens of thousands of exceptions that the Army has already made to its grooming policy."


Sexual Misconduct: Washington Post-Kaiser Report on the Prevalence of Sexual Assault on College Campuses
June 15, 2015


Report jointly published by The Washington Post and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation reveals that twenty percent of women and 5 percent of men reported being sexually assaulted either by physical force or while incapacitated. The researchers polled more than 1,000 individuals who attended college within the past four years. As part of the poll, reporters from The Washington Post interviewed 50 participants, whose stories can be found here.


Contract and New York Open Meetings Law: In re Professional Staff Congress/CUNY v. City University of New York
June 15, 2015


Order from the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department, affirming dismissal of the complaint. Petitioners alleged that the respondent breached a settlement agreement that purportedly provided the faculty with the exclusive power to formulate university-wide academic admissions and accreditation policies. Specifically, Petitioners alleged that the respondent breached the settlement agreement when the Board of Trustees approved the "Pathways to Degree Completion Initiative" (Pathways) in a June 27, 2011 resolution. The Court held that the Board's actions were proper because the settlement agreement did not provide faculty the exclusive power to formulate university-wide academic admissions and accreditation policies. Petitioners also alleged that the respondents side-stepped the New York Open Meetings Law when they charged the college presidents (who are not subject to the Open Meetings Law), rather than the college faculty senates (who are subject to the Open Meetings Law), with the responsibility of formulating plans to implement Pathways. The Court concluded that these allegations did not state a direct claim under the New York Open Meetings Law.


Sexual Misconduct: Oregon Law Regarding Confidential Communications with Victim Advocates
June 15, 2015


Legislation (H.B. 3476) signed into law by Oregon Governor Kate Brown vests victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, or stalking with a legal privilege to refuse to disclose and to prevent any other person from disclosing: (1) confidential communications made by the victim to a "certified advocate" in the course of safety planning, counseling, support, or advocacy services; and (2) records that are created or maintained in the course of providing services to a victim. The privilege applies to civil, criminal, and administrative proceedings and to institutional disciplinary proceedings at two-year and four-year post-secondary institutions that enroll one or more students who receive an Oregon Opportunity Grant.


FERPA: Department of Education Response to Questions on FERPA
June 15, 2015


Letter from Kathleen Styles, Chief Privacy Officer at the U.S. Department of Education (Department), to Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.) that responds to the following three questions regarding the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA): (1) Do any regulations or laws restrict an institution's ability to access and share students' treatment records within the institution?; (2) Do federal regulations or guidance prevent students' treatment records from being shared with other offices of an institution that are not involved in the students' treatment?; and (3) Is there any guidance, regulation or law that limits whether an institution may declare that a treatment record is being used for a non-treatment purpose or otherwise deem a treatment record to be an education record? A similar letter was sent to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), with one additional section describing differences between the privacy protections in FERPA and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.


Health Care: CUPA-HR Testifies Before Joint Committee on ACA
June 12, 2015


Testimony from Barbara Carroll, chair-elect of the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, before the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, regarding the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on colleges and universities. The testimony focuses primarily on the ACA's impact on students and part-time professionals, as well as concerns about the ACA's excise tax.


Funding: Pew Report on Higher Education Funding
June 12, 2015


Report published by the Pew Charitable Trusts analyzes the existing federal-state relationship in higher education funding. The report includes nine figures that illustrate how the federal-state funding relationship has evolved, and how it differs across states.


Gainful Employment: Certification Requirements for Gainful Employment Programs
June 12, 2015


Announcement from Federal Student Aid (FSA) regarding the availability of instructions (attachment) on the GE program certifications that institutions must provide to the U.S. Department of Education. Included in this announcement is a sample GE Transitional Certification (attachment). Additionally, FSA reminds institutions that they must ensure that the Department has an accurate listing of their Title IV-eligible GE programs. Additional information on Gainful Employment can be found here.


Research: American Academy of Arts and Sciences Report on Public Research Universities
June 11, 2015


Report published by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences analyzes the benefits of public research universities. The report is comprised of five sections: (1) Public Research Universities Serve the National Interest; (2) Public Research Universities Contribute to the Innovation Economy; (3) Public Research Universities Provide Quality Educational Opportunities and Programs at an Efficient Cost; (4) Public Research Universities are Working to Maintain and Improve Access and Affordability; and (5) Public Research Universities Value Responsible Spending.


Tuition: Speech by Senator Warren on College Affordability
June 11, 2015


Speech given by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) proposes a framework to make college more affordable. Warren's framework is comprised of four policies: (1) changing incentives for colleges; (2) strengthening accountability; (3) renewing state investments in higher education; and (4) reforming federal higher education programs.


Athletics: Marshal, et al. v. ESPN Inc., et al.
June 11, 2015


Order from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee granting the defendants' motion to dismiss. This is a putative class action lawsuit in which the plaintiffs, ten college athletes, alleged that they were entitled to recover monetary compensation from more than 20 athletic conferences, networks, and licensing agencies for the unauthorized use of their names, images, and likenesses in televised broadcasts of FSB Football and NCAA Division 1 basketball games. The alleged causes of action included: (1) statutory violation of the right to publicity under Tenn. Code Ann. § 47-25-1105; (2) violation of the right to publicity under Tennessee common law; (3) civil conspiracy; (4) violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act; (5) false endorsement in violation of Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act (against only the networks and licensing agencies); and (6) unjust enrichment. The seventh cause sought an accounting as to all defendants. The Court dismissed all claims with prejudice, holding that (1) Tennessee common law did not acknowledge a right of publicity for individual participants in sporting events; (2) Tennessee's statutory right of publicity expressly exempted broadcasters from liability for using the names, likenesses, and images of athletes in connection with sports' broadcasts; (3) The Complaint failed to state a claim under the Sherman Antitrust Act because the allegations neither identified an injury-in-fact nor an unreasonable restraint on trade with the requisite specificity necessary to survive dismissal; (4) The Complaint failed to state a claim for False Endorsement because the speech underlying the purported false endorsement was not "commercial speech" nor did it give rise to a "likelihood of confusion," as is required to state a claim under of the Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act; and (5) the remaining claims of Civil Conspiracy, Unjust Enrichment, and the request for an Accounting could not survive independently as a matter of law, in light of the dismissal of the underlying substantive legal claims.


Title IX and §1983: Wyler v. Connecticut State University, et al.
June 11, 2015


Opinion from the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut granting summary judgment to the Defendants for claims arising under Title IX and §1983. Plaintiff, a complainant in a sexual misconduct proceeding, alleged that Defendant Connecticut State University exhibited deliberate indifference by failing to address prior instances of sexual harassment involving the accused professor and by inadequately responding to her allegations of sexual harassment. The Court concluded that (1) the record was devoid of evidence that would allow a reasonable jury to conclude that the Defendant had actual knowledge of any prior instances of sexual harassment by the accused professor; and (2) the university promptly initiated an investigation, took action to implement remedial measures, and disciplined the accused professor. Regarding Plaintiff's §1983 Claims, wherein the Plaintiff alleged Equal Protection violations, the Court concluded that the named defendants "lacked notice, personal involvement, and authority to remedy the sexual harassment," displayed no indicia of an intent to discriminate, and were entitled to Qualified Immunity.


Title IX: Calif. Attorney General and UC President Release Guidance on Addressing Campus Sexual Assault
June 11, 2015


Announcement from California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris and University of California President Janet Napolitano that a model Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), designed for law enforcement agencies and postsecondary institutions, is available online. The goal of the MOU is to improve coordination, collaboration, and transparency between law enforcement agencies and postsecondary institutions in response to cases of campus sexual assault. The MOU includes a How-To-Guide and a Template MOU.


Sexual Misconduct: Ohio Attorney General Announces Three Campus Sexual Assault Initiatives
June 10, 2015


Announcement from Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine regarding three new initiatives designed to help Ohio's colleges and universities better respond to sexual assault. The three initiatives include: (1) a $3 million competitive grant program dedicated to strengthening sexual assault victim advocacy programs; (2) resources to help institutions develop model memorandums of understanding with law enforcement, prosecutors, and victim services providers; and (3) campus sexual assault investigation trainings that will take place throughout the state in summer 2015.


Sexual Misconduct: Connecticut Bill Requires Affirmative Consent Standard
June 10, 2015


Connecticut legislation (S. 636) requires any public, private, and for-profit institution of higher education to adopt and disclose in its campus crime report the institution's policies on sexual assault, stalking, and intimate partner violence. Among other things, the policy must include provisions for: (1) providing information to students and employees about their options for assistance if they are victims of such violence; (2) disciplinary procedures; and (3) possible sanctions. This bill also requires institutions to use a standard of affirmative consent when determining whether sexual activity was consensual.


Federal Aid: Student Loan Repayment Campaign
June 10, 2015


Request from the Federal Student Aid (FSA) to help increase awareness of FSA's Spring Student Loan Repayment Campaign, which is designed to educate borrowers about affordable repayment options and to provide borrowers with the tools and resources they need to make informed decisions.


Federal Aid: Enforcement of the Prohibition on Incentive Compensation Payments
June 10, 2015


Memorandum issued by Under Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education Ted Mitchell provides direction to the Department in responding to violations of the incentive compensation prohibition of the Higher Education Act (20 U.S.C. § 1094(a)(20)). According to the memo, the Department may recover all Title IV funds received by an institution over a particular period if the funds were received through implementation of a policy through which an institution recruited students in violation of the incentive compensation prohibition. The Department may also impose fines or revoke an institution's eligibility to violate in Title IV programs. The memo changes the Department's approach for measuring damages for violations of the incentive compensation prohibition as described in a memorandum issued by the Department in 2002.


Federal Aid: Talent Search (TS) Annual Performance Report
June 10, 2015


Comment request issued by the U.S. Department of Education regarding a proposed extension to the Talent Search (TS) Annual Performance Report. The report provides the Department with information needed to evaluate a TS grantee's performance and compliance with program requirements, and to award prior experience points in accordance with the program regulations. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before August 10, 2015.


Federal Aid: Borrower Defenses against Loan Repayment
June 10, 2015


Notice from the U.S. Department of Education (Department) regarding its request to the Office of Management and Budget for an emergency review to facilitate the collection of information from borrowers who believe they have cause to invoke the borrower defenses against repayment of a loan as noted in regulation. The Department requested the review due to a recent increase in claims "due to a building debt activism movement as well as the notoriety of Corinthian's collapse, creating a need for a clearer process for potential claimants." The Department has updated this notice to include a 60-day comment period for public comment for the regular information collection. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before August 17, 2015.


Sexual Misconduct: Report on Delivering Sexual Misconduct Policies Prepared for White House Task Force
June 10, 2015


Report prepared for the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault by the University of New Hampshire examines the efficacy of different methods for delivering campus sexual misconduct policies to first year students. The goal of the report was to determine if exposure to campus policies increased students' knowledge of the policy and campus resources and/or increased students' confidence to seek help or support for themselves, friends, or strangers. The researchers found that student understanding and recollection of campus policies increased as the number of different delivery methods increased. They also found that actively engaging students (through a facilitated discussion, for example) helped students process the information.


Foreign Students: Comments from Senator Grassley Regarding Proposed Changes to the Optional Practical Training Program
June 9, 2015


Letter from Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Charles Grassley (R-IA) to U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) Jeh Johnson regarding the Senator's concerns with DHS's proposal to lengthen extension periods for the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program. In addition to questioning the legality of the OPT program, the Senator's letter outlines national security concerns and problems identified in a 2014 Government Accountability Office report. Senator Grassley and others learned of DHS's proposal at a briefing on May 28, 2015. According to Senator Grassley's letter, the proposal is still being discussed internally by DHS.


FERPA: Bryner v. Canyons School District
June 9, 2015


Order from the Utah Court of Appeals affirming the trial court's decision and denying the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment. The case arose when Roger Bryner filed a complaint seeking to compel the Canyons School District (District) to produce a copy of a video-surveillance recording taken by a security camera at Butler Middle School. Holding that the video was an education record under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the trial court prohibited the release of the recording. The trial court, however, did require the District to provide a redacted copy of the video at the expense of Bryner. On appeal, Bryner raised two primary arguments: (1) the trial court erred by determining that the video was an education record subject to FERPA; and (2) the trial court erroneously ordered Bryner to pay the estimated cost of redacting the video in order to receive a copy of that recording. In addressing Bryner's first argument, the Court analyzed FERPA's statutory language and concluded that Congress did not intend for the definition of "education records" to be limited to only academic records, as contended by Bryner. The Court then analyzed the two elements of an "education record," as set forth by FERPA, and concluded that both were satisfied because: (1) the video contained information related directly to the students in the altercation; and (2) the video was maintained by the District. Given that both elements were met, the Court concluded that the video was protected by FERPA. In analyzing Bryner's second argument, the Court applied the Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA) - which governs the procedure in Utah for requesting government records – and concluded that the redaction fee was allowable because GRAMA allows a government entity to charge a reasonable fee to cover costs. Rejecting both of Bryner's arguments, the trial court's ruling was upheld and the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment was denied.


Fraternities and Sororities: Allegations Against Fraternities or Sororities
June 9, 2015


Interactive timeline published by Bloomberg outlines the allegations made against U.S. fraternities and sororities in 2015. According to Bloomberg, in the spring semester of 2015, 133 fraternity and sorority chapters at 55 U.S. colleges were shut down, suspended, or otherwise punished after alleged offenses. The allegations can be searched using the following categories of offenses: (1) hazing; (2) alcohol or drugs; (3) sexual misconduct; (4) property damages/mischief; (5) death; (6) offensive behavior; (7) intimidation; and (8) unspecified.


Student Loans: Department Announcement on Debt Relief for Corinthian Students
June 9, 2015


Announcement from the U.S. Department of Education outlining President Obama's new debt relief process for Corinthian Colleges' students. A different process has been created for: (1) Corinthian students whose schools have closed down; and (2) Corinthian students who believe they were victims of fraud, regardless of whether their school closed.


Labor and Employment: National Labor Relations Board Order in Duquesne University of the Holy Spirit and United Steelworkers
June 9, 2015


Order from Region 6 of the National Labor Relations Board (Board) holding that adjunct faculty at Duquesne University of the Holy Spirit (University) may unionize on the grounds that the adjunct faculty were not held out as performing a specific role in maintaining the University's religious educational environment. In reaching this decision, the Board applied the two-pronged test from Pacific Lutheran University, which held that the Board would exercise jurisdiction over an employee unless the employer could demonstrate that: (1) it holds itself out as providing a religious educational environment; and (2) the employer holds the petitioned-for employees out as performing a specific role in creating or maintaining the university's religious educational environment. To determine if the adjuncts were performing specific religious duties, the Board looked at the adjuncts' contracts, courses, and orientation, as well as the University's hiring practices.


Diversity: OSHA Guide to Restroom Access for Transgender Workers
June 9, 2015


Announcement from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regarding the publication of OSHA's Guide to Restroom Access for Transgender Workers. The Guide includes model practices and applicable local, state, and federal laws.


Salaries: Executive Compensation at Public Institutions
June 8, 2015


Interactive report published by the Chronicle of Higher Education providing 2014 fiscal-year data on the compensation of 238 presidents at 220 public universities and systems across the United States. The data is organized into four categories: (1) total compensation; (2) base pay; (3) tuitions equivalent to total compensation; and (4) time in office.


Federal Aid: Federal Perkins Loan Program Q&A Available
June 8, 2015


Announcement from the U.S. Department of Education that a set of questions and answers about the Federal Perkins Loan Program is available on the Information for Financial Aid Professionals (IFAP) Web site. The Question and Answer document will be updated periodically.


Mental Health: W.P. v. Princeton University, et al.
June 8, 2015


Order from the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey denying the plaintiff's motion to proceed anonymously. The case arose when a student sued Princeton University for allegedly discriminating against him on the grounds of mental disability. The plaintiff requested that the court conceal his identity to "avoid social stigma and emotion distress relating to his mental health." Analyzing the facts using the 9-factor Provident Life test, the Court concluded that openness in the judicial process outweighed the plaintiff's desire to proceed anonymously. The Court noted that it would be "fundamentally unfair" to allow the plaintiff to remain anonymous while forcing the defendants, Princeton University and several named individuals, to defend themselves publically.


Workforce: National Survey of College Graduate Outcomes
June 5, 2015


Report published by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) summarizes the outcomes of recent college graduates. The report, based on NACE's 2014 First-Destination Survey, provides data on 31 broad disciplines and 190 majors.


Federal Aid: Lawmakers Urge Department to Allow "Prior-Prior" Year Data on FAFSA
June 5, 2015


Letter from 53 U.S. legislators to U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan requesting that the Department allow students to use data from the second preceding tax year to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The letter outlines current challenges with the FAFSA deadline (January 1) and potential benefits to students, families, and postsecondary intuitions.


Diversity: Postsecondary Attainment: Differences by Socioeconomic Status
June 4, 2015


Longitudinal study published by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics which surveyed, over a ten year period, a nationally representative cohort of students during certain points of secondary and postsecondary education. This summary of the longitudinal study examines differences in students' educational attainment by socio-economic status (SES), as well as how other variables may differentially relate to students' educational attainment by SES group.


Taxes: Higher Education Tax Benefit Compliance Improvement Act (Federal Legislation)
June 4, 2015


Legislation (S.1413) introduced by Sen. Daniel Coats (R-IN) proposing to improve compliance with higher education tax benefits by: (1) eliminating penalties under §6721 of the Internal Revenue Code for education institutions that certify they have complied with IRS standards by requesting a student's taxpayer identification number; and (2) requiring taxpayers to have proof of eligibility before claiming certain education tax benefits, including the American Opportunity and Lifetime Learning Tax Credits. The legislation was introduced in response to a recent report by the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration which revealed that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) paid out billions in potentially erroneous education tax credits to more than 3.6 million taxpayers.


Export Control: Department of State Proposes Changes to International Traffic in Arms
June 3, 2015


Proposal from the U.S. Department of State to Amend the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) to: (1) update definitions in order to clarify their scope and consistency with the Export Administration Regulations (EAR); (2) create definitions in order to clarify and support the interpretation of the revised definitions proposed in this rulemaking; and (3) address the electronic transmission and storage of unclassified ''technical data'' via foreign communications infrastructure. The Department of State will accept comments on this proposed rule until August 3, 2015.


Public Records: Texas Law Requires Private College and University Police Departments to Make Records Publicly Available
June 3, 2015


Legislation (S.B. 308) signed into law by Texas Governor Greg Abbott requires police departments at private colleges and universities to follow the state's public records law. The law takes effect on September 1, 2015.


Federal Aid: New Awards Available for the Native American-Serving Nontribal Institutions Program
June 3, 2015


Notice from the U.S. Department of Education inviting applications for the FY2015 Native American-Serving Nontribal Institutions Program (NASNTI). NASNTI provides grants to eligible institutions of higher education to plan, develop, undertake, and carry out activities to improve and expand such institutions' capacity to serve Native American and low-income individuals. The application deadline is July 6, 2015.


Federal Aid: Volume 5 of the 2015-16 Federal Student Aid Handbook - Withdrawals and the Return of Title IV Funds
June 3, 2015


Announcement from the U.S. Department of Education that Volume 5 of the 2015-16 Federal Student Aid Handbook is available online. This volume covers how a school should respond when a student receiving federal student aid withdraws from the institution.


Federal Aid: Authorization of Subgrants
June 3, 2015


Announcement from the U.S. Department of Education that effective June 3, 2015, grantees under the following programs are authorized to make subgrants: (1) Centers for International Business Education Program; (2) Language Resource Centers Program; (3) National Resource Centers Program; and (4) Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language Program. Subgrants but must be made in accordance with the limitations described in the Department's notice.


Competency-Based Education: Regional Accreditors Announce Common Framework for Competency-Based Education Programs
June 2, 2015


Announcement from the Council of Regional Accrediting Commissions (C-RAC) outlining the criteria that the seven regional accreditors will use in defining and approving competency-based education (CBE) programs. The common framework agreed to by C-RAC includes a definition of CBE, approaches to CBE, and the approval process for CBE programs.


Public Meeting: Notice of Open Meeting of the President's Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities
June 2, 2015


Notice released by the U.S. Department of Education setting forth the schedule and agenda of an upcoming open meeting of the President's Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (PBA). The PBA meeting will be held at the at the Bennie G. Thompson Academic and Civil Rights Research Center in Tougaloo, Mississippi on June 23, 2015, from 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.


Finances: Updates to NACUBO Manual on Business Administration
June 2, 2015


Announcement from the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) that two chapters have been updated in its College and University Business Administration (CUBA) manual, both of which are available as free downloads. The Procurement chapter, written in conjunction with the National Association of Educational Procurement, describes best practices and the many variables that affect a procurement department's responsibilities and structure. The Strategic Debt Management chapter addresses how changes in the financial markets have impacted debt management.


Labor and Employment: Saint Xavier University v. St. Xavier University Adjunct Faculty Organization
June 2, 2015


Order by Region 13 of the National Labor Relations Board (Board) finding that, with limited exceptions, ballots for adjuncts at Saint Xavier University (University) should be counted in a union election because the University failed to demonstrate that adjuncts play a specific role in creating its religious educational environment. The case was remanded to Region 13 in light of Pacific Lutheran University, in which the Board held that it would exercise jurisdiction over an employee unless the employer could demonstrate that: (1) it holds itself out as providing a religious educational environment; and (2) the employer holds the petitioned-for employees out as performing a specific role in creating or maintaining the university’s religious educational environment.


Social Media: Elonis v. United States
June 1, 2015


Order from the U.S. Supreme Court overturning the conviction of petitioner Anthony Douglas Elonis and remanding the case to the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. The case arose when Elonis used his Facebook account to post violent rap lyrics about his wife, co-workers, a kindergarten class, and law enforcement personnel. In response to his Facebook posts, the Federal Bureau of Investigation charged Elonis with five counts of violating 18 U.S.C. §875(c), which makes it a federal crime to transmit in interstate commerce communications that contain threats to hurt others. The District Court held, and the Third Circuit Court affirmed, that under §875(c), Elonis could be found guilty if a reasonable person would interpret his posts as a threat. In a 7-2 opinion, the Supreme Court struck down the "reasonable person" standard, noting their hesitancy in inferring negligence in a criminal statute. Instead, the Supreme Court held that for a conviction under §875(c), there must be proof that: (1) a communication was transmitted; and (2) the communication contained a threat. Relying on the "general rule" of criminal law, which requires a "guilty mind" for proof of crime, the Supreme Court applied a mental state requirement to both prongs of the framework found in §875(c). Using this standard, a person can be convicted under §875(c) if the defendant transmits a communication for: (1) the purpose of issuing a threat; or (2) with knowledge that the communication will be viewed as a threat. The Supreme Court did not address Elonis's First Amendment defense.


Employment: Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc.
June 1, 2015


Order from the U.S. Supreme Court reversing the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals' granting of summary judgment to respondent Abercrombie & Fitch Stores (Abercrombie). The Ten Circuit held that an employer could not be liable for failing to accommodate a religious practice if the applicant did not provide the employer with actual knowledge of the need for accommodation. In the 8-1 opinion, the Supreme Court rejected the Ten Circuit's "knowledge requirement," holding that under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act an applicant is only required to show that their need for a religious accommodation was a motivating factor in the employment decision. The case arose when Abercrombie refused to hire Samantha Elauf because her headscarf, which she wore pursuant to religious beliefs, conflicted with Abercrombie's dress code policy. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued Abercrombie on behalf of Ms. Elauf.


Copyright: U.S. Copyright Office's Fair Use Index
June 1, 2015


Announcement from the U.S. Copyright Office regarding the availability of the Fair Use Index (Index). The Index is an online database that tracks and summarizes major fair use judicial decisions. Each judicial decision includes a brief summary of the facts, the relevant question(s) presented, and the court's determination as to whether the contested use was fair. The Copyright Office intends to update and expand the Index periodically.


Financial Aid: Pell Grant Reporting under the Common Origination and Disbursement System
May 29, 2015


Comment request issued by the U.S. Department of Education regarding a proposed extension to Pell Grant reporting under the Common Origination and Disbursement (COD) System. The COD System is used by institutions to request, report, and reconcile grant funds received from the Pell Grant program. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before June 29, 2015.


Public Records: Changes to the Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act Tracking System
May 29, 2015


Notice from the U.S. Department of Education proposing an altered system of records for the Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act Tracking System. The proposed alterations include updates to the system location and system of records notice (SORN) number, categories of individuals covered by the system, categories of records in the system, system managers and addresses, and routine uses. Interested persons are invited to submit comments before June 29, 2015.


Student Loans: Navient Corp. to Begin Paying Compensation to Service Members Overcharged on Student Loans
May 29, 2015


Announcement from the U.S. Department of Justice that Navient Corporation will soon compensate the 77,795 service members charged excess interest on their student loans. The checks, which are scheduled to be mailed on June 12, 2015, will range from $10 to over $100,000, with an average of about $771.


Sexual Misconduct: Virginia Task Force Makes Recommendations on Combating Campus Sexual Violence
May 29, 2015


Report published by the (Virginia) Governor's Task Force on Combating Campus Sexual Violence. The twenty-one recommendations, aimed at preventing sexual assault on college campuses, are organized into five themes: (1) Engaging Our Campuses and Communities in Comprehensive Prevention; (2) Minimizing Barriers to Reporting; (3) Cultivating a Coordinated and Trauma-Informed Response; (4) Sustaining and Improving Campus Policies and Ensuring Compliance; and (5) Institutionalizing the Work of the Task Force and Fostering Ongoing Collaborations. The task force was established by Governor McAuliffe on August 21, 2014, and was chaired by Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring.


Gainful Employment: Association of Proprietary Colleges v. Duncan
May 28, 2015


Order from the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York denying the Association of Proprietary Colleges' (APC) motion for summary judgment and granting the U.S. Department of Education's (Department) cross-motion for summary judgment. At issue in this case are the Gainful Employment Rules (GE Rules) promulgated by the Department in October 2014 and scheduled to take effect July 1, 2015. APC claimed that the GE Rules: (1) violate the Due Process Clause; (2) exceed the Department's statutory authority under the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA); and (3) run afoul of the Administrative Procedure Act's prohibition on arbitrary and capricious agency rulemaking. In addressing the first claim, the Court held that the GE Rules do not violate due process because: (1) the GE Rules do not deprive APC of a protected interest in property or liberty because proprietary colleges do not have a "vested right" to continued eligibility to participate in Title IV federal funding programs under the HEA; and (2) the GE Rules afford affected institutions all the process that is constitutionally required. In addressing the second claim, the Court held that the 2014 GE Rules are based on a permissible construction of the statute and the Department therefore acted within its statutory authority. In so holding, the Court incorporated portions of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals' 2012 opinion in Association of Private Colleges & Universities v. Duncan, in which the Association of Private Colleges & Universities challenged the Department's 2011 gainful employment rules. Finally, in addressing the third claim, the Court held that the GE Rules were the product of "reasoned decision making." Given that all three claims failed, the Court granted summary judgment in favor of the Department.


Federal Aid: Evaluation of the Pell Grant Experiments under the Experimental Sites Initiative
May 28, 2015


Comment request issued by the U.S. Department of Education regarding a proposed extension to the Pell Grant Experiments evaluation. The evaluation is a two-part, seven-year demonstration study that focuses on the effects of expanded access to Pell grants on students' educational outcomes, employment and earnings. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before July 27, 2015.


Athletics: NCAA Docks Teams for Poor Academic Records
May 28, 2015


Announcement from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) that 21 teams will be ineligible for postseason play due to low academic performance. Academic performance is measured by the NCAA's Academic Performance Program (APR). In order to compete postseason, the NCAA requires teams to achieve a 930 multi-year APR, which predicts a 50 percent graduation rate among student athletes.


Report: The Condition of Education 2015
May 28, 2015


Report published by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) presents 42 key indicators on topics and trends in U.S. education.


Federal Aid: Federal Need Analysis Methodology for the 2016–17 Award Year Available
May 27, 2015


Notice from the U.S. Department of Education announcing the availability of the Federal Need Analysis Methodology for the 2016-17 award year. The methodology determines a student's expected family contribution for the following student financial aid programs: Federal Pell Grant, Federal Perkins Loan, Federal Work-Study, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan, Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant and TEACH Grant Programs. U.S. Department of Education has made a technical correction to this notice and a correction to the Education Savings and Asset Protection Allowance tables.


Federal Aid: U.S. Department of Education Clears Loans Servicers
May 27, 2015


Announcement from the U.S. Department of Education that its inquiry into four federal student loan servicers (Navient, Great Lakes, PHEAA and Nelnet) revealed that each service provider, in the vast majority of cases, complied with the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) as required by the Higher Education Act (HEA). The inquiry, which looked at active-duty service members' SCRA eligibility between 2009 and 2014, showed that in less than one percent of cases borrowers were incorrectly denied the six percent interest rate cap required by the laws.


Federal Aid: Federal Need Analysis Methodology for the 2016–17 Award Year Available
May 27, 2015


Notice from the U.S. Department of Education announcing the availability of the Federal Need Analysis Methodology for the 2016-17 award year. The methodology determines a student's expected family contribution for the following student financial aid programs: Federal Pell Grant, Federal Perkins Loan, Federal Work-Study, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan, Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant and TEACH Grant Programs. U.S. Department of Education has made a technical correction to this notice.


Federal Aid: Volume 6 of the 2015-16 Federal Student Aid Handbook - The Campus-Based Programs
May 27, 2015


Announcement from the U.S. Department of Education that Volume 6 of the 2015-2016 Federal Student Aid Handbook is available online. This volume provides information that institutions need to administer the Federal Work-Study Program, the Federal Supplemental Educational Grant Program, and the Federal Perkins Loan Program.


Public Records: Highland Mining Company v. West Virginia University School of Medicine
May 27, 2015


Order from the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia granting in part and denying in part Highland Mining Company's (Highland) request for documents related to several articles co-authored by a professor from the West Virginia University School of Medicine (WVU). The court held that pursuant to the West Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), WVU may use FOIA's "internal memorandum" exemption to withhold documents that reflect the professor's deliberative process but may not invoke FOIA's "personal privacy" exemption to protect documents containing anonymous peer review comments of the draft articles (although those documents would be exempt from disclosure under the "internal memoranda" exemption). The court also concluded that WVU may not claim an "academic freedom" privilege to avoid the plain language of FOIA.


Retaliation: Foster v. University Of Maryland-Eastern Shore
May 26, 2015


Order from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit granting in part and denying in part defendant's motion for summary judgment. The case arose when Iris Foster, a police officer employed by the University Of Maryland-Eastern Shore (University), claimed that the University punished her for filing harassment charges against her work supervisor. Foster, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, alleged three causes of action against the University: (1) discriminatory termination based on gender; (2) retaliatory termination; and (3) the creation of a hostile work environment. The district court initially granted summary judgment to the University on the first and third causes of action and denied summary judgment on the second cause of action based on the McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting framework. Because Foster lacked direct evidence of retaliation, the district court concluded that a reasonable jury could have found that retaliation was "causally related" to her termination. However, in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar, which held that a plaintiff must prove "but for" causation in Title VII retaliation cases, the University motioned for reconsideration. The district court granted the motion for reconsideration, and based on Nassar, granted summary judgment to the University on the retaliation claim. The Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on the first and third causes of action but reversed on the second cause of action on the grounds that the McDonnell Douglas framework was the appropriate standard for reviewing Foster's claim because the framework incorporates "but for" causation, as required by Nassar. Under the McDonnell Douglas framework, the Court of Appeals held that a reasonable jury could conclude that Foster was fired due to retaliation and not due to the University's purported justifications, and therefore, the University lacked grounds for summary judgment.


Higher Education Act: The Student Right to Know Before You Go Act (Proposed Federal Legislation)
May 26, 2015


Legislation (S. 1195) introduced by U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Mark R. Warner (D-VA), and Marco Rubio (R-FL) that would authorize the Secretary of Education to create new program and institution-specific outcome measures. Institutions of higher education who participate in any program under the Higher Education Act of 1965 would be required to submit data consistent with the new measures. A similar piece of legislation, H.R. 2518, was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. As of May 26, 2015, language was not available for H.R. 2518.


Clery Act and Title IX: Practitioners' Discussion of Implementing Clery/Title IX
May 26, 2015


Report published by the National Center for Campus Public Safety (NCCPS), the IACP University and College Police Section, and the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA) summarizing the discussion at the University Public Safety/Police Practitioner's Title IX/Clery Summit II (Summit). Summit participants reviewed and briefly discussed eight challenges associated with the Clery Act and Title IX and, in organized groups, identified one or more "Promising Practice" per challenge. A summary of each challenge, and the correlating Promising Practices, are included in the report.


Immigration: USCIS Temporarily Suspends Premium Processing for Extension of Stay H-1B Petitions
May 22, 2015


Announcement from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that premium processing for all H-1B Extension of Stay petitions will be suspended until July 27, 2015. USCIS will continue to premium process H-1B Extension of Stay petitions filed with Form I-907 premium requests prior to May 26, 2015. Premium processing remains available for all other Form I-129 H-1B petitions.


Immigration: USCIS Publishes Filing Guidance for Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses
May 22, 2015


Announcement from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that information and Frequently Asked Questions are now available to help eligible H-4 dependent spouses who seek employment authorization under the Employment Authorization for Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses final rule.


Public Records: State ex rel. Schiffbauer v. Banaszak
May 22, 2015


Order from the Ohio Supreme Court requiring a private university police department to provide documents to a campus publication on the grounds that the police department was a public office for purposes of Ohio's Public Records Act. Although the police department was established under Otterbein University, a private institution exempt from Ohio's Public Record Act, the Court held that the police department was a public office because its officers were sworn, state-certified police officers performing a core function of government. The case arose when the news editor of a campus publication, Anna Schiffbauer, requested criminal records from the Otterbein University police department.


Sexual Misconduct: ACE Comments on the Campus Accountability and Safety Act
May 22, 2015


Comments from the American Council on Education (ACE) on behalf of fourteen higher education organizations to Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray regarding S. 590, the Campus Accountability and Safety Act. The letter highlights three broad concerns with S. 590: (1) the one-size-fits-all approach assumes that all students attend large, four-year residential institutions; (2) the vague and unclear legislative language creates uncertainty regarding institutional requirements; and (3) the Secretary of Education is authorized to impose huge fines with no clear standards.


Student Loans and Risk-Sharing: Protect Student Borrowers Act of 2015 (Proposed Federal Legislation)
May 22, 2015


Legislation (S.1102) introduced by Sen. Reed (D-RI) that would require colleges or universities with at least 25 percent of the student population participating in the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan program to make risk-sharing payments to the Secretary of Education if the college or university has a cohort default rate of 15 percent or higher. The legislation, known as the "Protect Student Borrowers Act of 2015," would authorize the Secretary of Education to waive or reduce risk-sharing payments for colleges and universities that develop and implement an approved student loan management plan.


Hazing: Hazing in the College Marching Band
May 22, 2015


Report by the National Association for Music Education found that nearly 30 percent of respondents indicated they observed some form of hazing in their marching band. The most common acts of hazing involved were public verbal humiliation or degradation. Survey respondents represented freshman, sophomores, juniors, and seniors attending National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I schools in thirty states.


Finances: Notice of Open Meeting of the National Advisory Council on Indian Education
May 21, 2015


Notice released by the U.S. Department of Education setting forth the schedule and agenda of an upcoming open meeting of the National Advisory Council on Indian Education (NACIE). The NACIE meeting will be held in Washington, DC on June 1, 2015, from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and on June 2, 2015, from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.


Finances: Notice of Open Meeting of the National Board for Education Sciences
May 21, 2015


Notice released by the U.S. Department of Education setting forth the schedule and agenda of an upcoming open meeting of the National Board for Education Sciences (NBES). The NBES meeting will be held in Washington, DC on June 8, 2015, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.


Diversity: A Policy and Legal Syllabus for Diversity Programs at Colleges and Universities
May 21, 2015


Publication by the College Board, American Council on Education, and EducationCounsel identifying the issues and challenges that impact diversity programs at colleges and universities. In addition to identifying relevant issues, the goal of the Syllabus is to direct institutions to resources that will help them pursue their goals related to diversity. The publication is comprised of two sections: (1) Key Elements of a Diversity Policy and Legal Framework and (2) Legal Foundations.


Federal Aid: Federal Student Aid Posts Updated Reports to FSA Data Center
May 21, 2015


Announcement from Federal Student Aid (FSA) that a series of updates have been made to the FSA Data Center. All reports now reflect activity through or as of March 31, 2015.


Tuition: Federal Bill Proposes to Eliminate Tuition for Students at 4-Year Public Colleges
May 20, 2015


Legislation introduced by Sen. Sanders (VT) proposes a grant program to eliminate tuition and required fees for students attending public four-year colleges. Under the proposal, the federal government would be responsible for 67 percent of the program's cost and state governments would be responsible for the remaining 33 percent. A summary of the legislation can be found on Sen. Sanders' website.


Financial Aid: Notification of Campus-Based Funding for the 2015-2016 Award Year
May 20, 2015


Notification from the U.S. Department of Education that awards have been approved for the Federal Work-Study, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, and Federal Perkins Loan programs. A list of approved schools and award amounts can be found here.


Financial Aid: Final Audit Report - U.S. Department of Education's Compliance with Improper Payment Reporting Requirements for Fiscal Year 2014
May 20, 2015


Final audit report published by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) covers the results of OIG's review of the U.S. Department of Education's compliance with improper payment reporting requirements from October 1, 2013, through September 30, 2014. The report outlines three findings: (1) the Department failed to comply with the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act of 2010; (2) the Department needs to improve the accuracy, completeness, and quality of its improper payment estimates and estimation methodologies; and (3) the Department needs to improve the completeness of its improper payment reporting. The Department has 30 days to develop and submit to OIG a corrective action plan that sets forth the specific action items necessary to implement the final corrective actions and recommendations contained in the report.


Veterans: VA Delays Requirement for Vets to Receive In-State Tuition Rates
May 19, 2015


Announcement from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) waiving Section 702 of the Veterans Choice Act for all non-compliant states until January 1, 2016. Section 702 requires the VA to disapprove education programs at public institutions for Post-9/11 GI Bill and Montgomery GI Bill-Active Duty benefits if a school charges veterans, as well as their spouses or children, tuition and fees in excess of the resident rate. The VA is requesting all currently non-compliant states and territories to submit their plans to become compliant to the VA no later than June 15, 2015.


Frateral Organizations: How Institutions Are View Fraternity Risk
May 19, 2015


Survey published by the University Risk Management and Insurance Association (URMIA) analyzinged how colleges and universities view the risks associated with fraternities. Based on the survey results, URMIA observed that while two-thirds of the respondents judged fraternity risk to be among the institutions' significant or top liability risks, nearly every institution has one or more strategy for addressing risks related to fraternities.


Financial Aid: Comments Requested on the Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need Performance Report
May 19, 2015


Comment request issued by the U.S. Department of Education regarding a revision to the Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) performance report. Performance reports are used to evaluate grantee performance, as well as the accomplishments and impact of the GAANN Program as a whole. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before July 20, 2015.


Data: Comments Requested on the 2015–16 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study Full Scale Institution Contacting and Enrollment List Collection
May 19, 2015


Comment request issued by the U.S. Department of Education regarding a revision to the 2015–16 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS) Full Scale Institution Contacting and Enrollment List Collection. NPSAS is a nationally representative study of how students and their families finance postsecondary education. The next major NPSAS data collection will occur in 2016 following a field test collection in 2015. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before June 18, 2015.


Accountability: NACUBO Comments on Sen. Alexander's Policy Paper on Risk-Sharing
May 19, 2015


Comments from the National Association of College and University Business Officers to the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) in response to his request for comments on the committee's white paper on Risk-Sharing/Skin-in-the-Game. The letter addresses two specific components of the white paper: Repayment of Federal Student Loans and Cost Structure.


Admissions: State of College Admissions Report
May 19, 2015


Report published by the National Association for College Admission Counseling shows that while application growth continues for most colleges, a growing number of institutions are taking steps to increase outreach to international and transfer students.


Online Learning: The Next Generation Digital Learning Environment Initiative
May 18, 2015


Research published by EDUCAUSE analyzes the next approach to digital learning, defining its principal functional domains (interoperability; personalization; analytics, advising, and learning assessment; collaboration; and accessibility and universal design) and proposing a "Lego" approach that allows individuals and postsecondary institutions to construct learning environments tailored to their own requirements and goals.


Grant Competition: Applications Available for Predominantly Black Institutions Competitive Grant Program
May 18, 2015


Notice issued by the U.S. Department of Education inviting applications for new awards under the Predominantly Black Institutions (PBI) Competitive Grant Program. The purpose of the PBI Program is to strengthen predominantly black institutions to carry out programs in the following areas: science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM); health education; internationalization or globalization; teacher preparation; or improving educational outcomes of African-American males. The deadline to apply is July 2, 2015.


Federal Budget: Letter Requesting Increase in 302(B) Allocation for the Labor, HHS, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee
May 18, 2015


Letter to the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations from 812 organizations urging members of Congress to increase the Fiscal Year FY2016 302(b) allocation for the Labor, HHS, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee. Without an increase in the proposed 302(b) allocation, the stakeholder groups believe it will be impossible to fund new initiatives while also maintaining funding for current initiatives.


Bankruptcy: Protecting All College Tuition Act (PACT Act)
May 18, 2015


Legislation introduced by Congressmen Chris Collins (NY) and Blake Farenthold (TX) would provide that tuition payments made to a postsecondary institution by a parent on behalf of their child are not fraudulent for purposes of section 548 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. The proposed legislation is intended to prevent bankruptcy collectors from suing colleges for tuition already paid by parents on the behalf of their child.


Tax: Comments on Section 4980I - Excise Tax on High-Cost Employer-Sponsored Health Plans
May 18, 2015


Comments sent to the Internal Revenue Service by the American Council on Education (ACE) on behalf of eleven higher education organizations regarding the Section 4980I excise tax on high-cost employer-sponsored health plans referenced in Notice 2015-16 (Notice). The Notice is intended to initiate and inform the process of developing regulatory guidance regarding the excise tax on high-cost employer-sponsored health coverage under Section 4980I of the Internal Revenue Code (Code). ACE's comments focus primarily on the specific technical matters raised in the Notice.


Federal Aid: Comments Requested on the Health Education Assistance Loan Program
May 15, 2015


Comment request issued by the U.S. Department of Education regarding a revision to forms related to the Health Education Assistance Loan (HEAL) program. The forms are required for lenders to apply to the HEAL program, to report on loan actions, and to establish the repayment status of borrowers who qualify for deferment. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before July 14, 2015.


Federal Aid: Volume 3 of the 2015-2016 Federal Student Aid – Calculating Awards & Packaging
May 15, 2015


Announcement from the U.S. Department of Education that Volume 3 of the 2015-2016 Federal Student Aid Handbook is available online. This volume discusses how to calcu¬late, award, and disburse the proper amounts for the various Title IV programs.


State Law: Maryland Law Prohibits Postsecondary Institutions from Requiring Access to a Student's Personal Electronic Account
May 15, 2015


Legislation (H.B. 934) signed into law by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan prohibits a postsecondary institution from requiring access to information about a student's personal electronic account. A "student" includes current or prospective students, as well as applicants.


Program Integrity: U.S. Department of Education Proposes to Amend the Cash Management Regulations
May 15, 2015


Proposal from the U.S. Department of Education to amend the cash management regulations under subpart K and other sections of the Student Assistance General Provisions regulations issued under the Higher Education Act. The proposed changes are intended to: (1) ensure students have convenient access to their title IV funds; (2) ensure students do not incur unreasonable and uncommon financial account fees on their title IV funds; (3) clarify how previously passed coursework is treated for title IV eligibility purposes; and (4) streamline the requirements for converting clock hours to credit hours.


Report: Spring 2015 Enrollment Report
May 14, 2015


Report published by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center finds that in spring 2015, overall postsecondary enrollment decreased by 1.9 percent from the previous spring. Included in the report are six tables that compare and contrast enrollment statistics by year, sector, institution size and state.


Federal Loans: Request for Information Regarding Student Loan Servicing
May 14, 2015


Request issued by the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection for public comments related to the role that servicing plays in facilitating repayment of student loans. The Bureau will use the comments to assist federal and state agencies in prioritizing resources and to assist financial services providers in developing best practices. The deadline for submission of comments is July 13, 2015.


Federal Aid: Federal Perkins Loan Program Master Promissory Note
May 13, 2015


Comment request issued by the U.S. Department of Education regarding a revision to the Federal Perkins Loan Program Master Promissory Note (MPN).The MPN provides the terms and conditions of the Perkins Loan program and is prepared by the participating eligible institution and signed by the borrower. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before July 13, 2015.


Compliance: U.S. Department of Education Publishes Compliance Calendar
May 13, 2015


Compliance calendar published by the U.S. Department of Education summarizing all reports and disclosures required for participation in Title IV programs. Each summary includes the statutory or regulatory authority, a description of what is required in each report/disclosure, the due date, the method of transmittal or distribution, and the recipient of the report/disclosure. The compliance calendar is comprised of three sections: reports, disclosures, and disclosures related to loans.


ADA: Justice Department Moves to Intervene in Lawsuit Alleging that Miami University Uses Inaccessible Educational Technologies and Course Materials
May 13, 2015


Announcement from the U.S. Department of Justice that it has moved to intervene in Aleeha Dudley v. Miami University, et al., a lawsuit alleging disability discrimination by Miami University. In their motion to intervene and complaint, the United States alleges that Miami University violated Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by requiring current and former students with disabilities to use inaccessible websites and learning management system software, and by providing these students with inaccessible course materials. The complaint seeks a judgment from the court requiring Miami University to provide accessible materials to individuals with disabilities and to award compensatory damages to aggrieved individuals.


Data Privacy: Report on Cybersecurity Data and Statistics by the Congressional Research Service
May 12, 2015


Report released by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) containing information from security firms regarding the current state of cybersecurity threats in the United States as well as internationally. The table within the report provides a list of projects, databases, and annual reports relating to data security breaches, identity thefts, cybercrimes, malwares, and network securities.


Federal Aid: School Partners Survey Information
May 12, 2015


Announcement from the U.S. Department of Education regarding the School Partners Survey, which will begin on May 14, 2015. The survey will assess the performance of Federal Student Aid and the Department of Education in terms of the ease with which school partners are able to do business with them. A notification e-mail with a link to the web survey will be sent to a random sample of school financial aid administrators.


Federal Budget: AAU Statement on FY16 Congressional Budget Resolution
May 12, 2015


Statement released by the Association of American Universities (AAU) expressed concerns that the adopted FY16 Congressional Budget Resolution would force long-term cuts in the nation's investments in research and higher education. AAU recommends that Congress confront the long-term fiscal challenges by raising budget caps and developing a long-term plan to addressing entitlements and taxes.


Data Privacy: Congressional Research Service Report on Cybersecurity and Information Sharing Legislation Passed by Congress
May 12, 2015


Report released by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) comparing two pieces of cybersecurity and information-sharing legislation that have passed the House of Representatives. The legislation discussed includes the Protecting Cyber Networks Act (PCNA) (H.R. 1560, as reported in the House on April 13) and the National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act of 2015 (NCPAA) (H.R. 1731, as reported in the House on April 17). The two bills have since been combined to form Title I and Title II of the most recent version of H.R. 1560, respectively, and sent to the Senate for consideration.


Data Privacy: Announcement on Cybersecurity Week and its Main Takeaways
May 12, 2015


Announcement of Cybersecurity Week and the four main takeaways from congressional deliberations on cybersecurity-related legislation was issued on April 22. The key considerations that the announcement advises observers of cybersecurity-related activities in Congress to keep in mind include: 1) the complexity of current laws governing cybersecurity information sharing; 2) the fact that legislative efforts at reform are attempts to create a new framework for information sharing as opposed to altering existing laws; 3) the three distinct but related activities covered by cybersecurity legislation, which are not limited to information sharing or the private sector; and 4) the notion that the precise terms and definitions used in various proposals could change the scope of a given provision.


Data Privacy: Congressional Research Service Report on Cybersecurity-Related Authoritative Reports and Resources
May 12, 2015


Updated report on cybersecurity-related authoritative reports and resources was issued by the Congressional Research Service (CRS). The report provides references to analytical reports and other resources concerning cybersecurity from CRS, other government agencies, trade associations, and interest groups. The reports and related websites are grouped in tables based on topic.


Report: The Economic Value of College
May 11, 2015


Report published by Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce on how much college graduates earn by major at the entry-level (ages 21-24) and mid-career (ages 25-59), the most popular majors, the majors most likely to lead to a graduate degree, and the majors for which a graduate degree provides the largest benefit. According to the report: (1) bachelor's degree holders earn an average annual salary of $61,000 over the course of their careers (compared to, $78,000 for those with graduate degrees); (2) science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) majors comprise 20 percent of college-educated workers, and (3) business majors' wages vary the most whereas education majors' wages vary the least.


Doctoral Research: Ashokkumar v. Dwyer
May 8, 2015


Opinion from the United States District Court of Nebraska a former doctoral student's request for injunctive relief on the grounds that the defendants – department chairs and other employees at the University of Nebraska - did not violate the plaintiff's constitutional right to due process nor did they retaliate against plaintiff by failing to compel a faculty member to accept the plaintiff as an advisee or to accept the plaintiff's proposed doctoral topic. The court noted that neither the court nor the defendants can compel an advisor to accept a doctoral topic because doing so would substitute their will for that of an advisor.


Transparency: Comments on Sen. Alexander's Policy Paper on Data Transparency and Consumer Information
May 8, 2015


American Council on Education and 25 higher education associations submitted comments to U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) in response to his request for comments on the committee's white paper on Federal Postsecondary Data Transparency and Consumer Information. The letter addresses postsecondary data needs and transparency in the following categories: consumer information for students and parents, policy analysis and research, and institutional accountability for receipt of public funds.


State Law: Minnesota Bill on Supplemental Academic Instruction
May 8, 2015


Legislation (S.B. 352 and H.B. 647) in Minnesota would require public colleges and universities in Minnesota to establish programs that would allow any student who does not meet minimum course placement criteria and who would otherwise be required to enroll in a developmental noncredit course option to take a regular, credit-bearing course while receiving supplemental academic instruction.


Grant Competition: U.S. Department of Education Announces $60 Million Available for First in the World Grant Competition
May 8, 2015


Press release issued from the U.S. Department of Education announcing the availability of $60 million in Fiscal Year 2015 in the First in the World (FITW) program. FITW Program will provide grants to institutions of higher education to "spur the development of innovations that improve educational outcomes and make college more affordable for students and families, and to develop an evidence base of effective practices." FY 2015 FITW grant applications are due by June 30, 2015.


International Programs: Comment Request for the Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad Program Application Package
May 8, 2015


Comment request issued by the U.S. Department of Education on the Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad Program Application. The program provides opportunities for U.S. educators to participate in short-term study seminars abroad in the subject areas of the social sciences, social studies, and the humanities. The proposed changes to the application include updating language to reflect the seminars current offered and the electronic system used to accept applications, and reducing the number of references that applicants are asked to submit from three to two. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before June 8, 2015.


Litigation: Proposed Amendments to the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy and Civil Procedure
May 7, 2015


Proposed amendments to the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy and Civil Procedure were submitted to Congress by the U.S. Supreme Court. The proposed amendments affect Bankruptcy Rule 1007 as well as Civil Rules 1, 4, 16, 26, 30, 31, 33, 34, 37, and 55. The amendments would also abrogate Rule 84 and the Appendix of Forms. Unless Congress takes action to further modify the proposed rules, these amendments will become effective December 1, 2015.


Title IX and Sexual Misconduct: Letter from the Department of Education on Sexual Violence Complaints and Investigation Statistics
May 6, 2015


Letter from the Department of Education sent in response to requests for information on campus sexual violence complaint and investigation data from Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Tim Kaine (D-VA). According to the data provided, the number of sexual violence complaints on the college and university level filed with the Department's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) increased from nine in FY 2009 to 102 during FY 2014. Meanwhile, the average length of time it took OCR to investigate complaints of Title IX sexual violence violations at postsecondary institutions increased from 379 days in FY 2009 to 1,469 days in FY 2014 for investigations that resulted in substantive case closures (as opposed to, for example, cases that resulted in findings of no violation or insufficient evidence). OCR's stated goal is to resolve complaints within 180 days.


Gainful Employment: List of Frequently Asked Questions and Answers on Gainful Employment by the Federal Student Aid Office
May 6, 2015


List of Questions and Answers regarding gainful employment regulations was posted on the U.S. Department of Education's Federal Student Aid Office website. The answers provide information and operational guidance on the requirements of gainful employment regulations. The listing will be updated periodically with new questions and answers.


ADA and Employment: Manon v. 878 Education, LLC
May 6, 2015


Order from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York granting in part and denying in part defendants' motion for summary judgment. The case arose when Elizabeth Manon, an admissions office receptionist at 878 Education LLC, was fired after accumulating excessive absences from work and a poor punctuality record that were purportedly due to her need to attend to her infant daughter's breathing problems. The plaintiff presented evidence that her boss, the director of admissions, stated that he needed someone without children in the position and asked the plaintiff, "So what is it, your job or your daughter?" The Court ruled that the director's comments are the type of "smoking gun" evidence that could support an associational disability discrimination claim under the ADA and under New York law, and thus the plaintiff had a triable case. The Court granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment with respect to the plaintiff's claim of gender discrimination under New York law.


Immigration: Dear Colleague Letter on Student Citizenship and Immigration Status Documentation
May 5, 2015


Dear Colleague Letter issued by the U.S. Department of Education announcing a new process for confirming a student's citizenship or immigration status. Through the process, a student may confirm his or her citizenship or immigration status and, in turn, eligibility for Title IV student financial assistance, when the student is unable to appear in person at the institution to present documentation. The announcement includes a sample affidavit that institutions may use to allow a student to submit immigration or citizenship documentation in this manner.


Financial Aid: Resource Guide Explaining Federal Student Aid IDs
May 5, 2015


Resource guide for students, parents, and borrowers on creating a Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID) was posted by the U.S. Department of Education. The announcement advises institutions to distribute the guide after the FSA ID is made available and individuals are allowed to create an account.


Taxes: Proposed Accounting Standards Update by the Financial Accounting Standards Board to Improve Not-for-Profit Financial Reporting
May 5, 2015


Accounting Standards Update (ASU) was proposed by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) in order to improve the information provided in not-for-profit financial statements and notes to financial statements. The proposed ASU describes FASB's suggested improvements to a reporting model that was first used by independent higher education institutions in the mid-1990s. Interested parties are invited to submit comments on the proposal by August 20, 2015.


Taxes: Senate Legislation to Amend the Internal Revenue Code with Respect to Qualified Tuition Programs
May 5, 2015


Legislation (S. 335) amending the Internal Revenue Code with respect to qualified tuition programs (529 plans) was approved by the U.S. Senate Finance Committee. The bill would make the allowance for payment of computer technology and equipment expenses from a 529 plan permanent as long as the technology and equipment are used primarily by the beneficiary of the plan. Additionally, the bill would eliminate the aggregation requirement for distributions to a 529 plan for purposes of determining taxable income, and would allow a student who withdraws from an educational institution to make a tax-free recontribution to a 529 plan using refunds received from withdrawal, subject to certain conditions.


Finances: Notice of an Open Meeting of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Capital Financing Advisory Board
May 4, 2015


Notice released by the U.S. Department of Education setting forth the schedule and agenda of an upcoming open meeting of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Capital Financing Advisory Board. The Board meeting will be held on Monday, May 18, 2015, from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. at Xavier University of Louisiana.


Student Loans: Announcement on 2013-2014 Federal Perkins Loan Service-Based Cancellation Reimbursement
May 4, 2015


Announcement issued by the U.S. Department of Education regarding reimbursements for 2013-2014 Federal Perkins Loan cancellations based on the borrower's employment in certain service fields. According to the announcement, because the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (Pub. L. 113-235) did not allocate funds for the 2013-2014 reimbursements, no reimbursement payments will be issued this year. However, the Department will calculate the reimbursement payment for which an institution would have been eligible to receive and maintain a record of that amount.


Faculty: Report on Cluster Hiring and Faculty Diversity
May 1, 2015


Report from the Coalition for Urban Serving Universities (CUSU), the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMA)—which have partnered as Urban Universities for HEALTH—on the effects of cluster hiring. The report concludes that, when done correctly, cluster hiring can be a powerful way to build both institutional excellence and faculty diversity.


State Law and Tuition: Texas Legislation on Performance-Based Tuition Limitations
May 1, 2015


The Texas State Senate passed legislation (S.B. 778) relating to performance-based tuition limitations for public higher education institutions. The bill would require public colleges to meet several performance standards—including standards measuring graduation rates, student completion milestones, the number of degrees earned by at-risk students, and the institution's administrative costs—in order to increase tuition rates beyond the rate of inflation. The bill has been sent to the State House of Representatives for consideration.


Title IX: Issue Brief on Title IX Guidance by the American Council on Education
April 30, 2015


Issue brief released by the American Council on Education (ACE) regarding the guidance documents on Title IX Coordinators released by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) on April 24. The brief summarizes the main aspects of the guidance documents and highlights the information that OCR has not previously conveyed in formal guidance.


Civil Rights: Fiscal Year 13-14 Report to the President and Secretary of Education on Protecting Civil Rights and Advancing Equity
April 30, 2015


The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) Fiscal Year 2013-2014 report to the President and Secretary of Education was released by the U.S. Department of Education. The report observed that OCR increased the quantity, quality, transparency, and reach of its policy and enforcement efforts during the fiscal year. However, at a time when the volume of complaints, requests for information, demands for stakeholder and public engagement, and needs for technical assistance have dramatically increased, the Office's staffing level has consistently declined. The report concludes that while OCR has made important progress in the advancement of civil rights for students, sizable opportunity gaps still exist.


Accreditation: Comments by the American Council on Education on Accreditation
April 30, 2015


Comments issued by the American Council on Education (ACE) to Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions regarding accreditation. As Congress considers the role of accreditation in federal higher education policy, ACE encourages members to emphasize and maintain what it characterizes as the four central features of accreditation. It also asks that Congress clarify the responsibilities of accreditors vis-à-vis the Department of Education, asserting that accreditors should focus on student learning and educational quality while the Department of Education focuses on enforcing Title IV eligibility requirements.


For-Profit Institutions: United States ex rel. Miller v. Weston Educational, Inc.
April 29, 2015


Ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reversing the district court's granting of summary judgment to defendant Heritage College on an allegation of fraud. Former Heritage employees Chickoiyah Yehnee Miller and Cathy Lynn Sillman filed a qui tam False Claims suit against the College, alleging it fraudulently induced the Department of Education to provide the College with federal funds by signing a Program Participation Agreement (PPA) without intending to accurately maintain the PPA's required student records. The district court dismissed the case, accepting Heritage's argument that its failures to keep accurate records under the PPA did not cause any improper disbursement of federal funds. On appeal, the Eighth Circuit reversed, holding instead that the plaintiffs did not have to establish a link between record changes made by the college and fraudulent payments in order to prove a claim of fraud under the Act. The Court remanded the case to allow the district court to decide if Heritage understood its obligation to keep accurate records and whether it intended to manipulate its records.


Research: Letter from AAU in Response to the NASA Authorization Act for 2016 and 2017
April 29, 2015


Letter from the Association of American Universities (AAU) to leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology on the impending markup of the NASA Authorization Act for 2016 and 2017. The letter expresses concern that the Act makes steep cuts in some areas of scientific research in order to bolster funding in other areas, and advises that the Committee reconsider these proposed cuts so that NASA is able to operate effectively and successfully achieve its mission.


Immigration: Final Rule Making Adjustments to Limitations on Designated School Official Assignments and Study by F-2 and M-2 Nonimmigrants
April 29, 2015


Final rule issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security amending its regulations under the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). The new rule grants school officials more flexibility in determining the number of designated school officials to nominate for the oversight of campuses. It also permits accompanying spouses and children of academic and vocational nonimmigrant students with F-1 or M-1 nonimmigrant status to enroll in study at an SEVP-certified school as long as they are enrolled for less than a full course of study. This rule will go into effect on May 29, 2015.


Patents: Statement from Six Higher Education Organizations in Response to Senate PATENT Act
April 29, 2015


Statement issued by six higher education organizations (the Association of American Universities (AAU), Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), American Council on Education (ACE), Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM), and Council on Governmental Relations (COGR)) on the introduction of the PATENT Act in the U.S. Senate. While the organizations will need to examine the legislation further, they consider the Act a "substantial improvement" over the Innovation Act (H.R. 9) introduced in the House of Representatives because it "takes a more measured approach to addressing the abusive litigation practices of patent trolls while protecting the integrity of our patent system."


Patents: PATENT Act
April 29, 2015


Legislation entitled "The Protecting American Talent and Entrepreneurship Act of 2015" (PATENT Act) was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) on behalf of himself and six other senators. The bill would amend the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act to stop abusive patent litigation practices and prevent bad actors from further undermining the system. Among the bill's key provisions are clarified pleading standards, protections for end users, limitations on early discovery, deterrents from abusive and dilatory litigation practices, curbs on abusive demand letters, and increased transparency by the Patent and Trademark Office.


Financial Aid: ACE Submits Comments on Risk-Sharing to Senate HELP Committee
April 28, 2015


ACE and 25 higher education associations submitted comments to U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) in response to his request for comments on the committee staff concept paper on risk-sharing – the idea that colleges should have something at risk in order to participate in federal aid programs.


Drones: AAU and APLU Submit Comments to FAA on Unmanned Aircraft Systems
April 27, 2015


The Association of American Universities and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities submitted comments to the Federal Aviation Administration recommending that university researchers be allowed to fly certain unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) beyond line of sight and encouraging the creation of a new micro-UAS classification. The associations also recommend that the FAA create a student operator certificate to accommodate faculty who wish to have students fly small UAS as part of their classes.


Drones: AAU and APLU Submit Comments to NTIA on Unmanned Aircraft Systems
April 27, 2015


The Association of American Universities and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities submitted comments to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration outlining the benefits of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to colleges and universities, including their use in research and development, student instruction, and inspection of campus infrastructure. The letter specifically addresses the use of small UAS and privacy, noting that universities are differently situated from commercial entities and should be treated differently.


ADA: Justice Department Settles with Private Career College for Discrimination Against Applicant with HIV
April 27, 2015


Joint motion for consent decree by U.S. Department of Justice and Compass Career College to resolve allegations under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Based on its investigation, the Department determined that the college discriminated against an applicant with HIV. Among other things, the terms of the consent decree would require the College to implement a nondiscrimination policy that ensures that the college does not discriminate against persons with HIV and to stop questioning applicants and students about their HIV status.


Enrollment Agreements: Introduction of Court Legal Access and Student Support Act
April 27, 2015


Legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Senators Richard Durbin and Maxine Waters that would prohibit the use of mandatory arbitration agreements in enrollment agreements made between students and certain institutions of higher education. The bill would also prohibit institutions from requiring any student to agree to limitations or restrictions on the student's ability to pursue a claim against an institution in court.


Sexual Misconduct: Dear Colleague Letter from Office for Civil Rights on Title IX Coordinators
April 24, 2015


Dear Colleague Letter released by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) regarding Title IX coordinators. In addition to incorporating existing OCR guidance on Title IX coordinators, the Letter outlines the factors an institution should consider when designating a Title IX coordinator, describes the Title IX coordinator's responsibilities and authority, and reminds institutions of the importance of supporting Title IX coordinators by ensuring that the coordinators are visible in their school communities and have appropriate training. The Dear Colleague Letter was released in conjunction with a letter directed to Title IX coordinators providing further information about their responsibilities, as well as a 26-page Title IX resource guide.


State Law and Financial Aid: Indiana Legislation on Higher Education Loans
April 24, 2015


Legislation (H.E.A. 1042) regarding information provided to students receiving state financial aid was introduced in the Indiana State House of Representatives. The bill would require any postsecondary educational institution in the state that enrolls students receiving state financial aid to provide those students with certain information regarding their education loans on an annual basis.


Veterans: Applications for New Awards; Centers of Excellence for Veteran Student Success
April 24, 2015


Notice published by the U.S. Department of Education inviting applications for new awards under the Centers of Excellence for Veteran Student Success program for the fiscal year 2015. The program is intended to encourage institutions of higher education to develop programs to support veteran students in postsecondary education by coordinating services to address the academic, financial, physical, and social needs of these students. The deadline to submit applications is June 23, 2015.


Higher Education Act: Comments on Accreditation Submitted by AAU to the Senate HELP Committee
April 24, 2015


Letter submitted to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee by the Association of American Universities (AAU) offering comments on Chairman Lamar Alexander's (R-TN) Higher Education Accreditation Concepts and Proposals Paper. The letter offers general comments on current issues surrounding accreditation in relation to educational quality, innovation, competition, and cost. It further addresses specific proposals outlined in Senator Alexander's paper, including the repeal of accreditation regulations unrelated to direct institutional quality, the provision of authority to accreditors to establish risk-adjusted reviews, the establishment of distinctions and gradations within accreditation statuses and reviews, and the delinking of accreditation from institutional eligibility for federal student aid.


State Law and Faculty: North Carolina Bill to Improve Professor Quality at State Public Institutions
April 23, 2015


Legislation (S.B. 593) introduced in the North Carolina State Senate directing the state's Board of Governors to adopt a policy requiring all professors to teach a minimum of eight class courses per academic year. Under the bill, any professor who teaches less than the required number of classes would have his or her salary reduced on a pro rata basis. However, this faculty member's salary could be supplemented with proceeds from the constituent institution's endowment fund.
Update: The North Carolina Senate Education Committee pulled S.B. 593 from the legislative docket on April 28 and referred the bill for further study.


State Law and Faculty: Iowa Bill Relating to the Teaching Effectiveness and Employment of Professors
April 23, 2015


Legislation (S.F. 64) introduced in the Iowa State Senate affecting the employment of professors at public institutions of higher education. The bill would require the state's Board of Regents to develop and adopt a ratings system establishing specific performance goals for professors as well as minimum thresholds of performance based on student evaluations. Students enrolled at these institutions would then be required to evaluate the performance of their professors at the end of each semester. Any professor who receives a score falling below the agreed-upon performance threshold would be dismissed from employment regardless of tenure status or contract; the five professors who receive the lowest ranks at a given institution would have their continued employment voted upon by the entire student body.


Financial Aid: Dear Colleague Letter on FY 2016 Sequester Required Changes to the Title IV Student Aid Programs
April 23, 2015


Dear Colleague Letter released by the U.S. Department of Education's Federal Student Aid Office concerning changes mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (the sequester law) that affect Title IV student aid programs. The Letter provides information regarding sequester-required changes to loan fees in the Direct Loan Program where the first disbursement is on or after October 1, 2015, as well as information on sequester required reductions to Iraq-Afghanistan Service Grant and TEACH Grants awards where the first disbursement is on or after October 1, 2015.


Financial Aid: Final FISAP Form and Instructions for FISAP Due by October 1, 2015
April 23, 2015


Notice issued by the U.S. Department of Education announcing that the Fiscal Operations Report for 2014-2015 and Application to Participate for 2016-2017 (FISAP) have been approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Attachments to the Notice include copies of the FISAP form, FISAP instruction booklet, and FISAP desk reference. The FISAP will be available on the eCampus Based (eCB) Web site by August 1, 2015.


Information Technology: 2015 ResNet Report by NACUBO, ACUTA, and ACUHO-I
April 23, 2015


Report issued by the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO), the Association for College and University Technology Advancement (ACUTA), and the Association of Colleges and University Housing Officers International (ACUHO-I) on research findings from the 2015 State of ResNet Study. The research is designed to help administrators and business officers at higher education institutions address issues relating to the unprecedented growth in bandwidth and connectivity demands in light of budget restrictions and policy considerations, among other concerns. This report is the fourth installment of a five-year tracking study and includes data from over 450 higher education institutions.


Research: Letter from the Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research Urging Budget Conferees to Add Moran Biomedical Research Amendment to FY16 Budget Resolution
April 23, 2015


Letter from the Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research asking that Senator Jerry Moran's (R-KS) biomedical research amendment (the Moran Amendment) be added to Congress' fiscal year 2016 budget resolution agreement. The Moran amendment is designed to create a deficit neutral reserve fund to support investment in biomedical research and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The letter characterizes the amendment as "a strong, bipartisan commitment to medical research and ensuring the health and well-being of the American people and our economy."


Research: Letter from AAU Asks Appropriators to Give Priority to Research and Higher Education in 302(b) Allocations
April 23, 2015


Letter to leaders of the U.S. Senate and House Appropriations Committees on behalf of the Association of American Universities (AAU) urging both Committees to make research and higher education programs a top priority as they consider the 302 (b) allocations for the Fiscal Year 2016. The letter asks the Committee leaders to ensure that the 302 (b) allocations for higher education-related and scientific research-related congressional subcommittees "support robust investments" in the agencies and programs within their jurisdictions. Such programs include the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy's Office of Science, Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, NASA's science and technology programs, Pell Grants, and Department of Education research programs, among others.


State Law and Faculty: Restriction on Faculty Members Removed from Ohio Budget Legislation
April 23, 2015


Budget legislation (H.B. 64) had included language that would have reclassified certain professors as supervisors and managers and barred them from engaging in collective bargaining. That language was removed in the version that passed the House on April 22.


State Law: North Dakota Legislation Granting Students Right to Attorney Becomes Law
April 22, 2015


North Dakota Senate Bill 2150 was signed into law. The bill grants students enrolled in public colleges and universities the right to be represented by an attorney during suspension or expulsion hearings but includes an exception if the allegation involves academic dishonesty. The bill provides a similar right to student organizations.


Due Process: Kadakia v. Rutgers University
April 22, 2015


Order by the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey granting defendants' motion for summary judgment. The case arose when plaintiff Sarin Kadakia, a former joint BA/MD student at Rutgers State University of New Jersey Medical School, was dismissed from the school after the Academic Standing Committee Committee voted to dismiss Kadakia because of his "persistent academic difficulty and exceeding [the] limitation on the number of failed blocks or courses," and the Dean upheld the decision on appeal. Kadakia filed suit against Rutgers, the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and the site director for his Medicine Clerkship course for allegedly violating his due process rights. With regard to substantive due process, the Court noted that even if it were to assume that students have protected property interest in continuing their graduate studies, in this case, the Medical School's decision to dismiss Kadakia was not arbitrary and capricious because the record demonstrated that the plaintiff was legitimately dismissed because of his "continuous and obvious academic difficulties." As for the plaintiff's procedural due process claim, the Court found that Kadakia was afforded far greater procedural due process than the informal faculty evaluation that is constitutionally required because he was provided with adequate notice, an opportunity to be heard while accompanied by an attorney, and an appeal. It thus granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment.


Data Privacy: Report on Cybersecurity Issues and Challenges by the Congressional Research Services
April 22, 2015


Report on the federal role in protecting the nation's information and communications technology systems was published by the Congressional Research Service (CRS). In recent years, experts and policy makers have expressed increasing concerns about protecting these systems from cyberattacks, which many expect to increase in frequency and severity in the near future. The CRS report discusses the concept of cybersecurity, the management of cybersecurity risks, current and proposed federal actions to address these risks, and the long-term challenges that policymakers face in dealing with the threat.
Update: An updated version of this report was released on April 29, 2015.


Title IX: Doe v. Columbia University
April 22, 2015


Order issued by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York granting the defendant Columbia University's motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim. The plaintiff, a male college student, was suspended from Columbia after having been found to have engaged in non-consensual sex with a female classmate. The student filed suit against Columbia and its Board of Trustees alleging that the disciplinary process and his resulting suspension violated Title IX. Specifically, the student asserted that he was treated unfairly—and more harshly—on the basis of his sex due in part to the backlash Columbia received because some believed that its treatment of men accused of sexual assault was too lenient. Applying the "well-established precedent of the Supreme Court and Second Circuit," the District Court found that the complaint's assertion of anti-male bias based on the theories of erroneous outcome and selective enforcement were conclusory and at times "overwrought." Since the Court found that there were no factual allegations in the complaint that plausibly suggest Columbia acted because of, rather than in spite of, the plaintiff's sex, it dismissed the complaint.


Data Privacy: Updated Summary Report on Cybersecurity Legislation, Hearings, and Executive Branch Documents
April 22, 2015


Updated summary report on cybersecurity legislation, hearings, and executive branch documents was issued by the Congressional Research Service (CRS). The original report provided lists and tables containing recently-enacted laws, major legislative proposals, congressional hearings, executive orders, presidential directives, and CRS reports relating to cybersecurity issues, dating back to 2011. This report is current as of April 17, 2015.


Title IX, Sexual Orientation, and Right to Privacy: Videckis v. Pepperdine University
April 22, 2015


Order by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California granting in part and denying in part defendant Pepperdine University's motion to dismiss. Two former college basketball players at Pepperdine claimed that they were harassed and discriminated against by their coach and other university officials on the basis of sexual orientation. They filed suit against the University for alleged gender discrimination under Title IX as well as for violations of their right to privacy concerning their medical records and sexual orientation. The Court dismissed the plaintiffs' invasion of privacy claim with regard to their medical records, finding that the complaint only alleged specific facts regarding staff demands for records that were related to plaintiffs' athletic participation. However, the Court granted the plaintiffs leave to amend their complaint to assert that the records requested were unrelated to confirming their physical fitness to participate in the sport. The Court did, however, find that the plaintiffs had a reasonable expectation of privacy as to their sexual orientation and their intimate activities and thus denied the defendant's motion to dismiss this claim. Finally, the Court dismissed the plaintiffs' Title IX claim, which alleged a Title IX violation due to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, but granted plaintiffs' request for leave to amend to state a claim of discrimination on the basis of gender discrimination. In so doing, the Court noted that "the line between discrimination based on gender stereotyping and discrimination based on sexual orientation is blurry, at best, and thus a claim that Plaintiffs were discriminated against on the basis of their relationship and their sexual orientation may fall within the bounds of Title IX."


Taxes: Letter from NACUBO to the Senate Working Group on Community Development & Infrastructure Tax Reform Regarding Bank Qualified Annual Debt Limit
April 22, 2015


Letter from the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) on behalf of itself and five other representatives of issuers, dealers, community banks, and nonprofit organizations to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee's Community Development & Infrastructure Tax Reform Working Group. The letter encourages the Working Group to permanently increase the bank qualified annual debt limit from $10 million to $30 million, to index that amount for inflation, and to apply it to individual borrowers. The signers assert that by permanently enacting these changes, local governments, schools, hospitals, colleges, and other entities will be able to access capital markets more easily and to sell debt in a more efficient manner, which will ultimately lead to savings for taxpayers.


Taxes: Letter from NACUBO to the Senate Working Group on Community Development & Infrastructure Regarding Energy Tax Policy
April 22, 2015


Letter from the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee's Community Development & Infrastructure Working Group offering comments on energy tax policy. In its letter, NACUBO reasserts its interest in promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy investments at colleges and universities, and encourages the working group to consider federal policy options to defray the costs of financing these projects. Two specific proposals are offered for the Working Group's consideration: (1) extending and expanding the Section 179D deduction; and (2) allowing tax-exempt revenue bond financing to prepay power purchase agreements.


Federal Funding and Research: Statement by the Task Force on American Innovation on the Reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act
April 22, 2015


Statement by the Task Force on American Innovation—a coalition of businesses and business organizations, scientific societies, and university organizations—on the reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act (H.R. 1806). The statement supports the proposed increase in overall funding for the Department of Energy Office of Science and the National Science Foundation but expresses concerns about the consequences of proposed cuts to specific programs within the Department. The Task Force claims that these cuts will contribute to an innovation deficit that threatens America's global leadership in innovation as well as its international competitiveness.


Student Loans: Senate Resolution Promoting Debt-Free Higher Education
April 22, 2015


Resolution (S. Res. 143) introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) supporting efforts to ensure that all students have access to debt-free higher education. The Resolution expresses support for efforts (1) to help states make increased investments in higher education; (2) to increase financial aid to cover students' total coast of attendance; and (3) to encourage innovation by states and higher education institutions that would make college more affordable by increasing efficiency and enabling speedy and less-costly degree completion.


Research: 2015 NASFAA Administrative Burden Survey
April 22, 2015


2015 survey on administrative burden at institutions of higher education was released by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA). As a follow-up to a similar survey conducted in 2010, NASFAA surveyed financial aid professionals at its member institutions to better understand how ongoing regulatory changes are affecting college financial aid offices. The findings indicate that students attending institutions in all higher education sectors are likely experiencing reduced access to financial aid office services, due in large part to a prolonged increase in administrative burden and an environment characterized by limited operating resources. The report concludes with nine recommendations designed to address the causes of resource constraints and to reduce administrative burden.


Federal Grant: Notice of Applications for New Awards under the Strengthening Institutions Program
April 22, 2015


Notice issued by the U.S. Department of Education inviting applications for new awards under the Strengthening Institutions Program (SIP). SIP provides grants to eligible institutions of higher education to help them become self-sufficient and expand their capacity to serve low-income students by providing funds to improve and strengthen the institution's academic quality, institutional management, and fiscal stability. For the fiscal year 2015, the Department will award additional points to applications that meet the competitive preference priority of supporting strategies for which there is "moderate evidence of effectiveness." The application deadline is 45 days after April 23, 2015.


Federal Funding and Research: Statement by the Association of American Universities on the Reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act
April 21, 2015


Statement by the Association of American Universities (AAU) opposing the current form of the America COMPETES Act reauthorization legislation (H.R. 1806). According to AAU, the COMPETES Acts of 2007 and 2010 established a "unifying vision for enhancing America's competitiveness through science and innovation" that H.R. 1806 fails to uphold. While AAU acknowledges that tight caps on domestic discretionary spending imposed by the Budget Control Act make it very difficult to provide significant investments in research, it expresses concern that the proposed cuts in vital areas of research are creating an innovation deficit that threatens America's role as global innovation leader.


Public Records: ESPN, Inc. v. University of Notre Dame Security Police Department
April 21, 2015


Order by the St. Joseph County Superior Court, in response to cross-motions for judgment on the pleadings, holding that the University of Notre Dame's Security Police Department is not required to provide ESPN access to police records about student athletes. ESPN and one of its reporters filed suit against the private University and its campus police department, alleging that they violated Indiana's Access to Public Records Act by withholding police incident reports involving student athletes. The Court held that because the University's police department does not constitute a separate legal entity, and because the University is not a public agency under the state's open records law, the police department is no more subject to the state's Public Records Act than the University itself. The Court thus granted the University's motions for dismissal and judgment on the pleadings.


Academic Freedom: Energy & Environmental Legal Institute v. Arizona Board of Regents
April 21, 2015


Ruling by the Arizona Superior Court of Pima County upholding defendant Arizona Board of Regents' denial of access to records requested by plaintiff Energy & Environmental Legal Institute (E&E), which included "prepublication critical analysis, unpublished data, analysis, research, results, drafts, and commentary" contained in emails written by two University of Arizona climate scientists. Under Arizona case law, state agencies are presumptively required to disclose requested information but may seek to have records declared exempt "if release of the information would have an important and harmful effect upon the official duties of the official or agency." After weighing the conflicting claims by E&E and the Arizona Board, the Court found that "the abundance of supporting evidence presented" by the Board indicated that it had not abused its discretion or acted arbitrarily or capriciously in refusing to release the requested records.


For-Profit Institutions: Emergency Decision by the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education Ordering Corinthian Colleges to Cease New Enrollment
April 21, 2015


Emergency decision issued by the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education – an oversight body located within California's Department of Consumer Affairs - ordering Corinthian Colleges to cease enrollment of any new students in its programs at thirteen locations. The order was issued in light of concerns regarding the school's financial resources and regulatory disclosures. According to the order, Corinthian has the right to request a hearing before the Director of the Department of Consumer Affairs prior to the effective date of the decision, as well as the right to obtain judicial review of the decision after it takes effect.


Labor and Employment: Portland State University Chapter American Association of University Professors v. Portland State University
April 21, 2015


Order by the Oregon Employment Relations Board finding that Portland State University (PSU) unlawfully interfered with, restrained, or coerced employees represented by the Portland State University Chapter American Association of University Professors (Association) in the exercise of their collective bargaining rights. The Association filed an unfair labor practice complaint against PSU, alleging that the University violated state labor law by announcing, two days before an Association strike vote, that it would disable log-in credentials to University-provided e-mail and other electronic accounts for any striking faculty members. The Board concluded that the University's statement would "naturally and probably" chill the employees in exercising their statutorily-guaranteed rights, including the strike-authorization vote, because Association-represented employees are highly dependent on being able to access the Odin system for their organizing efforts. In addition to issuing a cease and desist order, the Board ordered the University to post and circulate the ruling to Association-represented employees.


Financial Aid: 2015-2016 Federal Student Aid Handbook – Student Eligibility
April 21, 2015


Volume 1 of the 2015-2016 Federal Student Aid Handbook was released by the U.S. Department of Education. This volume covers student eligibility requirements and covers issues such as school-determined requirements, citizenship, and financial aid history, among others.


Financial Aid: New Guidance on Financial Literacy for Counselors and College Access Professionals
April 21, 2015


New guidance on financial literacy for counselors and college access professionals was released by the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA). The guidance provides a framework that institutional professionals can use to inform financial aid recipients and students about key financial concepts to help them make informed budgeting, borrowing, and loan repayment decisions.


Diversity: Study on Hiring of Professors in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Fields
April 20, 2015


Study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on hiring trends in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. The researchers found that, contrary to popular belief, both men and women faculty members from the four fields studied (biology, engineering, economics, and psychology) preferred female applicants by a factor of 2:1 over identically-qualified males with matching lifestyles.


Federal Funding and Research: America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015
April 20, 2015


Legislation entitled the "America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015" was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX). The bill would increase federal funding of technological innovation and prioritize investment in basic research, fundamental scientific discovery, and development. To offset the proposed funding increases, the bill would also cut funding for programs that focus on later-stage technology development and commercialization activities. Representative Smith issued a press release in conjunction with the Act.


Sexual Misconduct and Privacy: Oregon Legislation to Protect the Privacy of Stalking, Sexual Assault, and Domestic Violence Survivors
April 20, 2015


Legislation (H.B. 3476) to protect the privacy of survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault was passed by the Oregon House of Representatives. The bill would establish a privilege in civil, criminal, administrative, and postsecondary institutional disciplinary proceedings for certain communications between individuals seeking services related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking and qualified victim services programs and advocates.


Patents: Grace Period Restoration Act
April 20, 2015


Legislation (H.R. 1791) introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to amend the patent law in light of an ambiguity created by language in the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) (Public Law 112–29; 125 Stat. 284) and related regulations. Under current law, uncertainty exists regarding the scope of the one-year grace period during which an inventor who discloses an invention to the public may decide whether to file a patent application for the invention. The Grace Period Restoration Act would add a new section, 102(b)(3), to clarify that the grace period protects an inventor against disclosures by anyone even after the inventor has made a public disclosure of the claimed invention in a printed publication.


Discrimination: Report by the American Psychological Association on Racial and Gender Bias Among Professors
April 17, 2015


Report published by the American Psychological Association on racial and gender bias among professors when considering requests from prospective students seeking mentoring. The researchers' data indicated that faculty members were significantly more responsive to white males than to all other categories of students collectively. These results were more pronounced in higher-paying disciplines and at private institutions.


Financial Aid: Notice of the Collection of Information on Reaffirmation Agreements
April 17, 2015


Notice of the collection of information on reaffirmation agreements was published by the U.S. Department of Education. Program lenders will use the information on the reaffirmation form to enforce the borrower's obligation to repay the total Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) or Direct Loan debt that the borrower acquired. Interested persons should submit comments on or before May 18, 2015.


Report: Department of Education Publishes Longitudinal Study of 2002 High School Sophomores and Their College Experiences
April 17, 2015


Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002 was released by the U.S. Department of Education. The study tracks the educational and developmental experiences of high school students who were sophomores during the spring of 2002. In the report, the Department uses information gathered during in 2013–14 to provide a "descriptive portrait" of the students' higher education experiences. Some of the variables analyzed included choice of institution, degree completion, and highest level of education achieved.


State Law and Faculty: Ohio Budget Legislation on the Reclassification of Professors as Managers
April 17, 2015


Budget legislation (H.B. 64) pending before Ohio's House Finance Committee that includes language affecting the classification of professors at public institutions. The bill would reclassify professors who are "involved in personnel decisions, selection or review of administrators, and determination of educational policies related to admissions, curriculum, subject matter, and methods of instruction and research" as supervisors or managers. The classification would bar professors who participate in these activities from engaging in collective bargaining.


Community Colleges: 2015 Survey of Community College Presidents by Inside Higher Ed
April 17, 2015


2015 Survey of Community College Presidents was released by Inside Higher Ed. The survey is designed to help interested parties understand how community college leaders perceive and address the challenges facing their institutions. Issues addressed include proposals for free community college, the focus on degree completion, online courses, for-profit institutions, stackable credentials, students' academic options, and the purported "skills gap."


Taxes: Statement from NACUBO to the Senate Finance Committee on Business Income Tax
April 16, 2015


Statement from National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) on behalf of itself and nine other higher education organizations to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee Working Group on Business Income Tax. In light of the Committee's current consideration of options to reform the federal tax system, NACUBO contends that Congress should grant tax-exempt status to colleges and universities due to the contributions these institutions make to the public good.


Taxes: Comments from ACE to the Senate Finance Committee Regarding Individual Income Tax
April 16, 2015


Comments submitted by the American Council on Education (ACE) on behalf of itself and fifteen other higher education groups to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee Tax Reform Working Group on Individual Income Tax. ACE expresses support for the existing "three-legged stool" framework in the federal tax code that (1) encourages saving for higher education; (2) helps students and families pay for college; and (3) assists borrowers as they repay student loans. Additionally, ACE encourages the Committee to preserve the current tax incentives for charitable donations while avoiding measures that could significantly impact these donations.


Taxes: Joint Statement on Behalf of Fifteen Higher Education Associations to the Senate Finance Committee Regarding Tax-Exempt Bond Financing
April 16, 2015


Joint statement on behalf of fifteen associations involved in higher education to the Senate Finance Committee Working Group on Community Development and Infrastructure. The statement urges Congress to protect tax-exempt bond financing, including qualified 501(c)(3) private-activity bonds. These financial instruments, the statement contends, are necessary to preserve the financial health of hospitals, colleges, universities, and other charitable organizations.


Adjunct Faculty: Fleischer v. Barnard College
April 15, 2015


Order issued by the New York Supreme Court for the County of New York requiring respondent Barnard College permit Petitioner Georgette Fleischer's grievance to be heard by the Faculty Internal Grievance Procedure (FIGP). Petitioner was challenging Barnard's decision not to reappoint her to teach a class that she had taught in previous years. Petitioner asserted that, despite the fact her appointments were fixed terms of limited term duration and she was offered a contract to teach the same number of courses, failure to require a majority faculty vote on the decision not to reappoint her to teach the course she taught previously violated college procedures and was an employment decision grievable under the FIGP. Barnard College directed Petitioner to a different grievance procedure. The Court determined that petitioner's grievance should be considered using the FIGP and ordered Barnard to review Petitioner's grievance using the FIGP.


For-Profit Colleges: Notice of the Department of Education's Intent to Fine Heald College
April 15, 2015


Letter from the U.S. Department of Education to the President of Corinthian Colleges notifying Corinthian of the Department's decision to fine the Corinthian-owned Heald College. The Department found that Corinthian failed to uphold its fiduciary duty in administrating Title IV programs and misrepresented its job placement rates at Heald. According to the letter, a $29,665,000 fine has been levied on Corinthian for these violations.


Financial Aid: Notice Regarding the Application for Title III or Title IV Designation
April 15, 2015


Notice regarding the application for Title III or Title IV designation was posted by the U.S. Department of Education. To apply for Title III or Title V designation, and thus be eligible for a waiver of the Federal Work Study (FWS) and Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) non-federal share requirements, an institution must complete the "Application for Designation as an Eligible Institution" annually through the Office of Postsecondary Education's website. The notice posted contains information on the application process for 2015.


State Law and Transcripts: California Legislation to Require Transcripts to Include Indication of Suspension or Expulsion
April 14, 2015


Legislation (AB 968) regarding the content of student transcripts has been introduced in the California legislature. The bill would require the governing bodies of both public and private postsecondary educational institutions to indicate on a student's transcript when the student is ineligible to reenroll due to suspension or expulsion.


Faculty: Annual Report on Faculty Compensation by the American Association of University Professors
April 13, 2015


Annual report on the economic status of college and university faculty by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) was published in the March-April issue of AAUP's magazine, Academe. The report discusses four common myths about higher education and presents data from a variety of sources to counter those myths. Additional information associated with the report, including the appendices and a list of tables and figures, is available on the AAUP website.


State Funding: Report on State Higher Education Funding by the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association
April 13, 2015


Report on state funding of higher education was released by the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEOA). The report presents a description of revenue sources and uses, an analysis of national trends in enrollment and revenue, and a comparison between states, among other information. According to the report, the data suggests a "continuing economic recovery and restoration of state funding for higher education on average nationally."


Labor and Employment: Guidance Memorandum on the National Labor Relations Board's Representation Case Procedural Changes
April 10, 2015


Memorandum issued by Richard F. Griffin, Jr., General Counsel for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), to guide parties in complying with representation case procedure changes that take effect on April 14. The Board adopted the final rule implementing the procedure changes in December 2014 in order to "remove unnecessary barriers to the fair and expeditious resolution of representation cases, simplify representation-case procedures, codify best practices, and make them more transparent and uniform across regions." In the memorandum, the General Counsel outlines the changes made by the final rule and explains how the changes will impact representation case processing.


Faculty Unions: National Labor Relations Board Decision in Lesley University and Service Employees International Union
April 10, 2015


Decision by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) regional office in Boston approving potential union participation for fourteen temporary instructors at Lesley University. Service Employees International Union, Local 509 (SEIU) sought to represent 181 core faculty members employed by the University, in addition to fourteen "temporary" faculty members that the University hired to fill in for faculty members who are absent for substantial periods of time. Lesley sought to exclude its temporary faculty members from the unionizing effort based on their temporary status and purported lack of a "community of interest" with the core faculty. However, the NLRB found that the temporary faculty shared a sufficient community of interest with the core faculty to be included in the unit. It further concluded that Lesley failed to demonstrate that the prospect of termination is "sufficiently finite" to make the temporary faculty ineligible to vote because, although the temporary faculty members work on one-year contracts, Lesley repeatedly re-hired enough of them to warrant some expectation of continued employment at the University.


State Law and Due Process: Arkansas Legislation to Grant Students the Right to Counsel at Disciplinary Hearings
April 10, 2015


Legislation (H.B. 1892) that grants students at public institutions of higher education the right to active assistance of legal counsel during the campus appeals process was signed into law by Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson. Under the new law, any student who has received either a suspension of ten or more days or an expulsion may hire a licensed attorney or non-attorney advocate to fully participate during the disciplinary appeal proceeding. The student would be responsible for any expenses associated with such representation. The right does not apply to allegations of academic dishonesty.


State Law and Freedom of Speech: North Dakota Legislation to Protect the First Amendment Rights of Student Journalists
April 10, 2015


Legislation (H.B. 1471) entitled the "John Wall New Voices Act" passed unanimously in both the North Dakota Senate and the House and was signed into law by Governor Jack Dalrymple. The law was designed to protect the First Amendment rights of student journalists by forbidding administrators at public and private colleges from using the Supreme Court case Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier to justify censorship of school-sponsored media. In Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, the U.S. Supreme Court held that student newspapers not designated as public forums have lesser First Amendment protections than other forms of student expression.


Patents: Response Letter from AAU and APLU to the Consumer Electronics Association
April 10, 2015


Response letter from the Association of American Universities and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities to the letter that the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) recently sent to 145 university presidents and chancellors asking them to reconsider their active opposition to the Innovation Act (H.R. 9), which is currently pending in the U.S. House of Representatives. The letter reiterates the groups' support for addressing the bad actors in the patent system but asserts that legislative efforts to curtail patent abuses "should be narrowly tailored to address the abuses of this small minority of patent holders without substantially weakening the U.S. patent system as a whole." The Innovation Act, they conclude, fails this test.


Program Integrity: Two Reports on Competency-Based Education by the American Enterprise Institute
April 9, 2015


Two new reports on competency-based education were released by the American Enterprise Institute's (AEI) Center on Higher Education Reform. The first paper uses results from a survey of nearly 500 hiring managers at companies throughout the country to pinpoint several obstacles to the expansion and acceptance of competency-based education efforts within the labor market. The survey found that while employers' overall awareness of competency-based education programs is low, those that do know about it have a favorable view of such programs. The second paper identifies best practices for the assessments employed by competency-based programs. The report argues that the viability of competency-based programs depends on the quality of those assessments.


Student Loans and For-Profit Colleges: Letter from Nine State Attorneys General Calling for Forgiveness of the Loan Debts of Students who Attended Corinthian Colleges
April 9, 2015


Letter signed by the attorneys general of nine states calling on the U.S. Department of Education to forgive the loan debts of students who attended Corinthian Colleges. The letter suggests two processes for discharging federal student loans based on a school's alleged violations of state law and asks the Department to consider implementing either or both of them. Additionally, the signers offer to help the Department and other federal agencies recoup loan balances from schools that committed violations and benefitted from unlawful deception.


State Law and Privacy: Maryland Legislation on Student Social Media Privacy
April 9, 2015


Legislation (S.B. 210) to protect students' social media accounts from school officials—including those at public and private colleges and universities—was passed by the Maryland legislature. The legislation would prohibit school officials from requiring or asking students to provide access to their social media accounts and protect schools from legal liability over students' posts. The bill was submitted to Governor Larry Hogan for consideration.


Higher Education Act: Notice of New Information Collection for the College Assistance Migrant Program
April 9, 2015


Notice of a new information collection proposal for the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) Annual Performance Report (APR) was published by the U.S. Department of Education. In compliance with the Higher Education Act, CAMP office staff collects the data on recipients of multi-year discretionary grants using the generic 524B APR. The staff has requested a customized APR that goes beyond the 524B APR to facilitate the collection of more standardized and comprehensive data, to improve the overall quality of data collected, and to increase the quality of data that can be used to inform policy decisions. Interested parties are invited to submit comments on or before June 9, 2015.


Student Loans: Draft of a Proposed Expansion to the Pay As You Earn Student Loan Repayment Program
April 9, 2015


Draft of a proposed expansion to the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) income-driven student loan repayment program, released by the U.S. Department of Education at the second session of the Department's negotiated rulemaking to establish a new plan for those not covered by the existing Pay as you Earn Repayment Plan in the Federal Direct Loan Program . The revised program, also known as REPAYE, would be available to all Direct Loan student borrowers who have a partial financial hardship at the time they select the plan. The draft proposal outlines several new features, which are designed to target the "neediest borrowers" and are not available in the existing PAYE plan.
Update: On April 30, negotiators on the U.S. Department of Education's rulemaking committee reached consensus on the REPAYE proposal, which would create a new income-based repayment program available to all federal Direct Loan borrowers regardless of when they took out their loans. According to Department lawyer Brian Siegel, the Department plans to formally propose the new repayment program and seek public comment on the plan in early July.


Research: Annual Report on Degree Attainment by the Lumina Foundation
April 9, 2015


Annual report on the college degree-attainment rate among U.S. residents was released by the Lumina Foundation. The report provides data that describe degree attainment at the national, state, and county levels, as well as for the nation's 100 most populous metropolitan regions. According to the report, forty percent of U.S. residents between the ages of 25 and 64 had at least an associate degree in 2013, representing a 0.6-percentage point increase in the college attainment rate from the previous year. At the end of the report, Lumina provides a roadmap for achieving its goal of having 60 percent of the population earn college degrees or credentials by 2025.


Employment Discrimination: Niwayama v. Texas Tech University
April 9, 2015


Denial of certiorari was issued by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Niwayama v. Texas Tech University. The decision left undisturbed the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals' decision that the plaintiff, Satomi Niwayama, could not pursue the Title VII sex, national origin, or race discrimination claims she filed when she was denied tenure by Texas Tech University because she did not file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 300 days of the University's decision. The Fifth Circuit found that although the University did not finally reject Niwayama's appeal until ten months after the limitation period began, the limitation period was not tolled by "the pendency of . . . university grievance procedures." The Fifth Circuit also rejected the plaintiff's argument that because the University's decision to deny her tenure had consequences for her compensation, the decision constituted a "discriminatory compensation decision" under the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. holdings by the Tenth, Third, and District of Columbia Circuits, the Fifth Circuit reaffirmed its previous holding that the Ledbetter Act's prohibition of discrimination does not apply to "discrete acts" by employers such as "termination, failure to promote, denial of transfer, and refusal to hire." The Supreme Court denied review of the claim without additional comment.


Academic Freedom: AAUP Report on Academic Freedom and Tenure at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
April 8, 2015


Investigative report conducted by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) on the nonrenewal of two long-term professors at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. The report found that the Cancer Center administration violated commonly-accepted academic standards when it terminated the appointments of the professors without affording them requisite academic due process.


Sexual Misconduct: Final Report by Brown University's Sexual Assault Task Force
April 8, 2015


Final report released by Brown University's Sexual Assault Task Force as a continuation of the Interim Report released in December 2014. The Task Force was convened in the fall of 2014 to investigate the issues and challenges presented by sexual and gender-based violence and harassment on college campuses. Among its recommendations, the Task Force urges the University to adopt a new "unified policy" that defines gender-based harassment, sexual violence, relationship and interpersonal violence, and stalking as "prohibited conduct"; and to centralize all University processes dealing with sexual assault in a recently-created Title IX office.


Student Loans: Dear Colleague Letter on Loan Counseling Requirements and Flexibilities
April 8, 2015


Dear Colleague Letter published by the Department of Education discussing the statutory and regulatory requirements for entrance counseling as well as institutions' flexibility to augment that counseling. The letter provides institutions with information on loan counseling strategies that they can use to help ensure that students' borrowing decisions are well-informed. Additionally, the letter reminds institutions that they may require students to complete exercises designed to improve student understanding of the implications of borrowing as part of their loan entrance counseling program, but that those measures may not "unreasonably" impede students' access to a loan.


Graduate Student Unions: Contract between New York University and its Graduate Student Employees Union
April 8, 2015


Contract agreement between New York University and its graduate student employee union, International Union UAW Local 2110, was ratified. As a result of the agreement, NYU will increase the starting hourly pay for employees of NYU's graduate school over the life of the five-year agreement. Among its other provisions, the contract also establishes new family health-care and child-care benefits and adds protections from discrimination.


Student Loans: White House Draft Plan on Participation Rate Index Appeals
April 8, 2015


Draft plan regarding participation rate index appeals was unveiled by the White House. The plan would expand the circumstances under which a college could appeal a high default rate on the basis that a low percentage of its students borrow money through the federal loan program. Under this proposal, colleges would be allowed to appeal their default rate based on a low rate of federal loan borrowing any year in which their default rate is 30 percent or greater.


Finances: NACUBO Submits Comments to CFPB on Safe Student Account Scorecard
April 7, 2015


Comments submitted by the National Association of College and University Businesses Officers (NACUBO) in response to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) proposed Safe Student Account Scorecard (see attachment). The Safe Student Account Scorecard is designed to be a tool for institutions of higher education to solicit information on the fees and features of financial products before selecting a financial institution partner. The comments reflect NACUBO's concerns regarding the initiative, as well as their recommendations for improvements.


Report: U.S. Department of Education Report on the Price of College
April 7, 2015


Report published by the U.S. Department of Education on the total, net, and out-of-pocket prices by type of institution in 2011–12. The report, "What is the Price of College," focuses on three topics: (1) the average prices paid by full-time undergraduates at different types of institutions; (2) how components of average total and net prices of attendance vary by type of institution; and (3) how net prices paid by full-time undergraduates vary by income.


State Law: Texas Bill Would Repeal In-State Tuition for Undocumented Students
April 7, 2015


Texas bill, S.B. 1819, would repeal the 2001 Texas Dream Act by abolishing in-state college tuition for students who are not "authorized under federal statute to be present in the United States." After 11 hours of debate, the Senate Subcommittee on Border Security voted to send the bill to the full Veterans Affairs and Military Installations committee.


Federal Financial Aid: Comment Request on Lender's Application Process (LAP)
April 7, 2015


Notice from U.S. Department of Education on a proposed extension of an existing information collection related to the Lender's Application Process (LAP). LAP is submitted by lenders who are eligible for reimbursement of interest and special allowance, as well as Federal Insured Student Loan claims payment, under the Federal Family Education Loan Program. The information will be used by the Department to update Lender Identification Numbers (LID's), lender names, addresses with 9 digit zip codes, and other pertinent information. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before May 7, 2015.


Title IX: Johnston v. University of Pittsburgh
April 3, 2015


Memorandum opinion by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania granting defendant University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown's (UPJ) motion to dismiss a lawsuit by Seamus Johnston, a transgender male student who alleged that the University discriminated against him based on his sex and transgender status in violation of Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Johnston initially applied to UPJ by listing his sex as "female" on his application form; however, he "consistently lived as male" while enrolled at UPJ, which included using the men's locker room and restrooms. UPJ informed Johnston that he would only be allowed to use the men's locker room and restrooms if he officially changed his gender in UPJ's records by presenting a new birth certificate or court order. Johnston failed to take these steps and instead continued using men's restrooms and the men's locker room, which resulted in his expulsion from the University after being found guilty of "exhibiting disorderly, lewd or indecent behavior" and disregarding University directives. Federal Judge Kim Gibson dismissed Johnston's suit, holding that his transgender status was not covered by either the Equal Protection Clause or Title IX. With regard to the Equal Protection claim, Judge Gibson concluded that transgender status is not a suspect class and therefore analyzed UPJ's actions under rational basis scrutiny. Judge Gibson subsequently found that the University's rationale of needing "to ensure the privacy of its students to disrobe and shower outside of the presence of members of the opposite sex" was a rational justification for its actions. With regard to Title IX, Judge Gibson held that "the plain language of Title IX does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity," and therefore rejected that claim as well.


Title IX: Yu v. Vassar College
April 2, 2015


Opinion and order by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York granting defendant Vassar College's motion for summary judgment. The student, Yu, was expelled from Vassar after the College's Interpersonal Violence Panel found that he had sexually assaulted another student in violation of the Vassar College Regulations prohibiting non-consensual sexual contact. Yu filed suit, claiming that gender bias was a motivating factor in his expulsion from Vassar and therefore that his expulsion violated his rights under Title IX. After reviewing the facts presented by Yu, the Court found that there was no evidence that gender bias was a contributing factor in Yu's expulsion or that Vassar had otherwise violated state law.


Accessibility: Announcement of Settlement between the Department of Justice and edX Inc.
April 2, 2015


Announcement that the U.S. Department of Justice has entered into a settlement agreement with edX Inc. to remedy alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). edX is a nonprofit platform used by approximately 60 universities and institutions to offer massive open online courses (MOOCs) to the general public. Within 18 months of the date of the settlement, edX is required to modify its website, platform, and mobile applications to conform to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 AA. Among other things, edX must provide accurate captioning for the deaf, oral navigation signals for the blind, and programing changes so that those with dexterity disabilities can navigate content without struggling with a hand-operated mouse.


First Amendment: Statement by University of Maryland President on Offensive Student Email
April 2, 2015


Statement issued by President of the University of Maryland Wallace D. Loh concluding that although a student's private email that condoned non-consensual sexual conduct was "hateful and reprehensible," it did not violate University policies and was protected by the First Amendment.


Federal Funding: Letter from Members of Congress Urging Robust Title VI Funding
April 2, 2015


Letter from forty-six members of Congress to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, requesting that the Subcommittee include "robust funding" for Title VI/Fulbright-Hays programs. The letter states that these programs have helped the United States "develop[] a strong foundation in international education, research, and foreign language studies," all of which are crucial to the interests of national security and global economic competitiveness.


Financial Aid: Comment Request on the Reinstatement of the Application for the HBCU and SAFRA Programs
April 1, 2015


Request for comments regarding the reinstatement of the application for the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Program and the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA) of 2009 Program was published in the Federal Register by the Department of Education. These programs provide historically Black institutions with resources to establish or strengthen their physical plants, financial management, academic resources, and endowments. Interested parties are invited to submit comments within sixty days of the posting of the comment request.


Financial Aid: Notice of Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need Program Awards Application
April 1, 2015


Notice published by the U.S. Department of Education inviting applications for new awards for the fiscal year 2015 Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) Program. The GAANN Program provides grants to colleges and universities to support graduate fellowships for students with excellent academic records who demonstrate financial need and plan to pursue the highest degree available in their course of study at the institution. The deadline for submitting applications is May 29, 2015.


Financial Aid: Notice of Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program Awards Application
April 1, 2015


Notice published by the U.S. Department of Education inviting applications for new awards for the fiscal year 2015 Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program (MSEIP). The MSEIP is designed to improve science and engineering education at predominantly minority institutions and to increase the flow of underrepresented ethnic minorities into scientific and technological careers. The deadline for submitting applications is June 1, 2015.


Fraternities and Sororities: Statement by the President of Penn State on the Need to Examine Fraternity and Sorority Life on Campus
April 1, 2015


Statement released by Penn State President Eric Barron in light of media reports on a private Facebook page created by members of the Kappa Delta Rho (KDR) fraternity that depicted unconscious women, hazing, and drug deals. President Barron stated that he was "repulsed and shocked" by the alleged behavior but, in the interest of due process, called upon those pushing for the immediate expulsion or suspension of all KDR members to allow the criminal investigation of the matter to be completed before any sanctions are considered. The President also announced that he will create a task force to conduct a "focused examination" of life in fraternities and sororities at Penn State "in a manner that supports the best of Greek life, while promising real and lasting change."


Federal Student Aid: Department Will Publish Colleges and Universities on Heightened Cash Monitoring List
March 31, 2015


Announcement from the U.S. Department of Education (Department) that they will soon publish a list of the 560 institutions subject to Heightened Cash Monitoring. Heightened Cash Monitoring is a step that the Department's Federal Student Aid office can take with institutions to provide additional oversight on financial or federal compliance issues. The list has been released to members of the press that previously requested it, and will be published on the Department's website in the coming days and updated on a regular basis.

Update: The Department of Education has released a complete list of the 560 institutions subject to Heightened Cash Monitoring. The current list includes the names of twenty institutions that were redacted from the previously-released list.


Research: Report on Median Base Salaries for Professionals in Higher Education by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources
March 30, 2015


Press release announcing the results of an annual study conducted by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) on the salaries of higher education professionals. The data from CUPA-HR's 2014-15 Professionals in Higher Education Salary Survey indicated that the overall median base salary for these professionals increased by 2.2 percent in 2014. The median base salary increase for professionals employed by public institutions was 2.3 percent, while the increase for those at private institutions was 2.1 percent.


Religious Freedom and Discrimination: Statements by the Presidents of Three Indiana Universities on Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Law
March 30, 2015


Statements issued by the presidents of Indiana University, Butler University, and DePauw University questioning the wisdom of the state's newly-signed Religious Freedom Restoration law. The legislation states that the government may not impose a substantial burden on a person's exercise of religion unless the burden: (1) "is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest;" and (2) "is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest." Critics of the law claim that it enables businesses to discriminate against LGBT individuals; state lawmakers, on the other hand, defend the law as necessary to protect religious freedom. The presidents' statements express concerns about the law and reaffirm their institutions' commitment to diversity and respect for all individuals.

Update: The Indiana legislature has since introduced a new bill (S.B. 50) designed to address concerns that the original law would allow privately-owned businesses to discriminate against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation. S.B. 50 clarifies that the original law does not authorize any business to refuse to offer or provide services to members of the public based on various characteristics, including sex or sexual orientation.


Discrimination: Press Release by the Department of Justice on the Indictment of a Student for Civil Rights Violations
March 30, 2015


Press release issued by the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Public Affairs announcing the indictment of a student at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Mississippi, for federal civil rights violations. The student, Graeme Phillip Harris, allegedly conspired with others to hang a rope and an outdated version of the Georgia state flag, which prominently depicts the Confederate battle flag, around the neck of the James Meredith statue on the campus of the University. Harris was indicted by a federal grand jury on one count of conspiracy to violate civil rights and one count of using a threat of force to intimidate African American students because of their race.


Financial Aid: 2015-2016 Federal Work-Study Program Community Service Waiver Requests
March 30, 2015


Announcement issued by the U.S. Department of Education detailing how a college or university may request a waiver of the community service expenditure requirements under the Federal Work-Study (FWS) Program for the 2015-2016 Award Year. Section 443(b)(2)(A) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 sets forth the community service expenditure requirements under the FWS Program that an institution must meet unless the Secretary of Education grants it a waiver. The Secretary may waive the requirements if the institution has demonstrated that enforcing the requirements would cause a hardship for the students at that school.


Intellectual Property: Press Release by the Association of American Universities and Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities on Technology Transfer Policies
March 30, 2015


Press release issued by the Association of American Universities (AAU) and Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) recommending principles that institutions can incorporate into their policies regarding innovation, technology transfer, and commercialization. The Associations hope that these recommendations will "help assure the public and policymakers that universities continue to be focused on their primary missions [of education, research, and public service], and that their technology transfer operations are being managed in a way that serves these missions."


FERPA: Determination Letter by the Illinois Attorney General's Office on Access to Colleges' Email Directories
March 30, 2015


Determination letter issued by the Illinois Assistant Attorney General on whether colleges and universities can withhold access to student directory information under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). The underlying debate arose when the College of Dupage turned over a database of its email accounts in response to an Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request but redacted all student email addresses. The College claimed that it retained the right to choose not to release the information requested even though it had permission under FERPA to disclose directory information, including student email addresses. The Illinois Assistant Attorney General disagreed, concluding that the College did not demonstrate that FERPA could be interpreted to prohibit student email addresses from being disclosed in response to a state FOIA request.


Federal Funding: Letter from U.S. Senators on Fiscal Year 2016 Funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts
March 30, 2015


Letter from a group of twenty-seven U.S. Senators asking members of the Senate Appropriations Committee to fund the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) at the President's requested levels of $147.9 million. The letter states that federal financial support for the arts and humanities is "a vital economic, educational, and cultural priority" and that the requested funding will help the endowments maintain their successful programs.


Financial Aid: Audit Report on the Department of Education's Federal Student Aid Office
March 27, 2015


Audit report released by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Inspector General regarding the Department's Federal Student Aid Office (FSA). The report found that FSA has not adequately carried out regulatory changes that were made in 2010 to override previous regulations that allowed colleges and universities to pay recruiters without violating the federal law banning incentive compensation. While the 2010 regulatory changes, according to the Inspector General's office, gave the Department "an excellent opportunity to revise its enforcement policies and practices" regarding incentive compensation, FSA has failed to carry out all of the recommended tests for identifying violations or institute more aggressive penalties for violating the ban.


Meeting Announcement: National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity Meeting
March 27, 2015


Announcement from the U.S. Department of Education that an open NACIQI meeting will be held on June 25–26, 2015, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., at a location to be determined in the Washington DC area. In addition to its review of accrediting agencies and State approval agencies for Secretarial recognition, the meeting agenda will include Committee discussions regarding the Committee's policy recommendations to advise the Secretary in preparation for the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA). Any written comments must be received by May 1, 2015. One June 15, 2015, the Department issued a revised agenda for the NACIQUI meeting.


Report: Solving the Equation: The Variables for Women's Success in Engineering and Computing
March 27, 2015


Report published by the American Association of University Women highlighting research that explores the factors underlying the underrepresentation of women in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics), including stereotypes and biases, college curriculum, and workplace environment. The report includes a number of recommendations for specific changes at colleges and universities and in the workplace.


Labor and Employment: Report of the National Labor Relations Board General Counsel Concerning Employer Rules
March 27, 2015


Report issued by Richard F. Griffin, Jr., General Counsel for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), on recent case developments arising in the context of employee handbook rules. The report is designed to help employers review and, if necessary, revise their handbooks. The report is divided into two parts: (1) a comparison of rules that the NLRB found unlawful with rules the NLBR found lawful and an explanation of the Board's reasoning; and (2) a discussion of handbook rules from a recently settled unfair labor practice charge against Wendy's International LLC.


College Athletics: Statement by the National Collegiate Athletic Association on Indiana's Religious Freedom Bill
March 26, 2015


Statement made by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) expressing its concern over the passage of a controversial Indiana bill (S.B. 101). The new law includes broad language that critics are concerned will allow businesses to refuse service based on a customer's sexual orientation. According to its statement, the NCAA is committed to ensuring that athletes competing in, and visitors attending, next week's Men's Final Four in Indianapolis will not be negatively impacted by the new law.

Update: The Indiana legislature has since introduced a new bill (S.B. 50) designed to address concerns that the original law would allow privately-owned businesses to discriminate against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation. S.B. 50 clarifies that the original law does not authorize any business to refuse to offer or provide services to members of the public based on various characteristics, including sex or sexual orientation.


State Law and State Funding: Illinois Legislation to Privatize State Universities
March 25, 2015


Legislation (S.B. 1565) to amend the Higher Education Student Assistance Act was introduced in the Illinois State Senate by State Senator Bill Brady. The bill would require the Illinois Student Assistance Commission to award grants to students in financial need who are enrolled for at least 15 credit hours in a college or university within the state. Then, beginning with the 2016 fiscal year, the bill would ban all appropriations to institutions of higher education from the General Revenue Fund other than amounts appropriated for these grants, in effect privatizing these institutions.


Admissions: Kalamazoo College Statement on Test Optional Admissions Policy
March 25, 2015


Statement announcing Kalamazoo College's adoption of a test optional admissions policy beginning with students applying for enrollment in the fall of 2016. Kalamazoo states that it decided to change its policy after a study found that high-school grade point average was the most accurate predictor of academic performance at Kalamazoo, and that SAT and ACT scores reflected family economic status as opposed to academic performance. Under the new policy, prospective students will no longer be required to submit SAT or ACT scores when they apply for admission but can submit these scores as additional information in their applications.


Sexual Misconduct: Statement by the President of the University of Virginia on the Police Investigation of Sexual Misconduct Allegations
March 25, 2015


Statement released by University of Virginia (UVA) President Teresa A. Sullivan regarding the results of a local police investigation into the sexual misconduct allegations reported in Rolling Stone magazine. The Charlottesville Police Department recently announced that there was no evidence to show that the gang rape described in the magazine article had occurred at a UVA fraternity. President Sullivan stated that the investigation "confirms what federal privacy law prohibited the university from sharing last fall: that the university provided support and care to a student in need, including assistance in reporting potential criminal conduct to law enforcement."


Student Loans: Notice of the 2015 Updates to the Income Contingent Repayment Plan Formula for the Federal Direct Loan Program
March 25, 2015


Notice issued by the U.S. Department of Education regarding the annual updates to the Income Contingent Repayment (ICR) plan formula for the Federal Direct Loan Program. Each year, as required by federal regulation, the Department adjusts the income percentage factor used to calculate a borrower's ICR payment to reflect inflation and issues notice of the adjustment to Direct Loan borrowers and the general public. The income percentage factors contained in this notice are effective for any borrower who enters the ICR plan or has his or her monthly payment amount recalculated from July 1, 2015, to June 30, 2016.


Financial Aid: Comment Request Regarding Federal Pell Grant Program Reporting under the Common Origination and Disbursement System
March 25, 2015


Request for comments regarding Federal Pell Grant program reporting under the Common Origination and Disbursement (COD) System was published in the Federal Register by the Department of Education. Institutions are required to report student Pell Grant payment information to the Department electronically through the COD system. Interested parties are invited to submit comments by May 22, 2015.


Student Loans: Federal Perkins Loan Program Status of Default Report
March 25, 2015


Federal Perkins Loan Program Status of Default Report as of June 30, 2014 was published by the U.S. Department of Education. The report, also known as the Orange Book, lists each school that participated in the Perkins Loan Program during the 2013-2014 Award Year and provides a cohort default rate for each school.


State Law and Sexual Misconduct: New York 2015-16 Budget Proposal and Sexual Misconduct Provisions
March 25, 2015


Proposed 2015-16 budget for the state of New York containing provisions that would require all colleges and universities in the state to "implement uniform prevention and response policies and procedures relating to sexual violence including sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking." These policies and procedures would include codifying an affirmative consent standard for college students who engage in sexual activity, requiring that state institutions distribute a "Victim and Survivor Bill of Rights" to all students each year, and calling for mandatory campus climate assessments, among other reforms.


Federal Funding: Letter to the House Appropriations Committee on Funding for the Department of Energy Office of Science
March 25, 2015


Letter to the U.S. House Appropriations Committee Chairman and Ranking Member from 86 members of Congress on the funding of the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science. The letter requests that the Committee make funding for the Office a priority in the fiscal year 2016 in its Energy and Water Appropriations bill. "Sustained and robust funding" of the Office, the letter states, "will preserve our capacity to innovate, reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy, enhance our competitive edge in the global economy, improve our quality of life, ensure our national security, and create good American jobs well into the future."


Title IX and Clery Act: Jane Doe v. Department of Health and Human Services
March 25, 2015


Memorandum opinion from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissing the plaintiff's complaints on jurisdictional grounds. Jane Doe, a former undergraduate student at the University of Virginia (UVA), claimed to have been sexually assaulted by another student in late 2011. The following June, she filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Education (DoE), alleging that UVA failed to "promptly and equitably" investigate her complaint. Then in March 2014, she filed suit against HHS and DoE, claiming that these agencies' failure to promptly resolve her complaints against the University constituted a violation of Title IX and the Clery Act. The Court, however, held that Jane Doe should have brought her claims of discrimination against the University rather than the agencies charged with enforcing the law. Additionally, it concluded that although agency regulations required a prompt investigation of complaints involving sexual misconduct, they did not require a prompt resolution of the complaints or provide any sort of mandatory time frame to guide agency investigations. Judge Howell added that Jane Doe's complaint was based in part on an incorrect interpretation of the Clery Act amendments at issue, which require schools to address sexual misconduct in their policies but do not affect the Title IX standard that colleges use to evaluate sexual misconduct complaints. Thus, the Court granted the defendants' motion to dismiss.


Federal Funding: AAU Statement on House and Senate FY16 Budget Resolutions
March 24, 2015


Statement from the Association of American Universities (AAU) suggesting that the House and Senate FY16 budget resolutions would likely widen, not close, the nation's innovation deficit by cutting nondefense discretionary spending, ultimately forcing reductions in research and higher education funding.


Higher Education Act: Three White Papers from Senator Alexander Related to Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act
March 24, 2015


Policy papers released by Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) on the following three topics related to the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA): (1) risk sharing related to student borrowing; (2) accreditation; and (3) data collection. Each policy paper describes the problems to be addressed and identifies potential solutions. Comments are requested by April 24, 2015 to help inform the Committee's work on the reauthorization of the HEA.


Federal Funding and Research: Report on Fiscal Year 2016 Appropriations by the Association of American Universities
March 23, 2015


Report on Fiscal Year 2016 proposed budget appropriations was published by the Association of American Universities (AAU). Each fiscal year, AAU prepares analyses of the Administration's proposed budgets for eight federal research and education agencies. These organizations include the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, NASA, the Department of Education, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.


Federal Funding and Research: Secret Science Reform Act of 2015
March 23, 2015


Legislation (H.R. 1030) introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that would amend the Environmental Research, Development, and Demonstration Authorization Act of 1978. The bill would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from proposing, finalizing, or disseminating a "covered action" unless all scientific and technical information relied on to support such action is the best available science, is specifically identified, and is available to the public. A "covered action" includes a risk, exposure, or hazard assessment; criteria document; standard; limitation; regulation; regulatory impact analysis; or guidance.


Federal Funding and Research: Letter from the American Association for the Advancement of Science on the Secret Science Reform Act of 2015
March 23, 2015


Letter to the U.S. House of Representatives written by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) on behalf of itself and thirty-four other research organizations and institutions of higher education regarding the proposed Secret Science Reform Act of 2015 (H.R. 1030). The letter urges members of the House to evaluate the potential unintended consequences of the bill, including the possibility of misinterpreting some key terms, the workability of standards for gauging the reproducibility of research, and the imposition of additional uncompensated burdens on federal research recipients.


Financial Aid: NACUBO Advisory Report on Financial Responsibility Agreements between Students and Institutions of Higher Education
March 23, 2015


Advisory report on student financial responsibility agreements was released by the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO). The report provides sample language on various subjects to assist colleges and universities in developing or strengthening these agreements, which provide students with information about their financial obligations and ensure institutional compliance with various laws and regulations.


Federal Funding: Letter from the Student Aid Alliance to the U.S. House of Representatives on the Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Resolution
March 23, 2015


Letter from the Student Aid Alliance—which represents students, college presidents, and other educators who support federal student aid—on the Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Resolution was sent to the U.S. House of Representatives. In its letter, the Alliance expresses "strong opposition" to the proposed Budget Resolution that is currently under consideration in the House for its alleged threat to the nation's future economic competitiveness.


Privacy: Letter from Students for Fair Admissions to Ivy League Universities on Reports of the Destruction of Student Admissions Records
March 23, 2015


Letter from Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), an advocacy group, to Yale University, Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Dartmouth College in response to reports of the destruction of student records at Yale University law school. SFFA objects to the destruction of admissions files because, according to the group, it raises concerns under the Family Education Rights Privacy Act and risks spoliation of evidence relevant to ongoing litigation between SFFA and Harvard University.


Data Privacy: Report on Cybersecurity and Information Sharing by the Congressional Research Service
March 23, 2015


Report on the legal issues surrounding cybersecurity and information sharing published by the Congressional Research Service (CRS). The report examines the various legal issues that arise with respect to the sharing of cybersecurity intelligence, focusing specifically on the sharing of cyber-information within the government's possession as well as information within the possession of the private sector. It concludes by examining the potential legal issues that could be prompted by three major legislative proposals: the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) (H.R. 234), the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) (S. 754), and the Cyber Threat Sharing Act (CTSA) (S. 456).


Federal Grant: Applications for Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions Program
March 20, 2015


Notice from the U.S. Department of Education inviting applications for FY 2015 awards for the Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions (AANAPISI) Program. The AANAPISI Program provides grants to eligible institutions of higher education (IHEs) that have an undergraduate enrollment of at least 10 percent Asian American or Native American Pacific Islander students to assist such institutions to develop and implement activities to improve and expand such institutions' capacity to serve Asian Americans and Native American Pacific islanders and low-income individuals. Applications for grants under this competition must be submitted electronically using the Grants.gov by May 19, 2015.


Federal Grant: Applications for Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program
March 20, 2015


Notice from U.S. Department of Education inviting application for FY 2015 awards for the Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) Program. The HSI Program provides grants to assist HSIs to expand educational opportunities for, and improve the academic attainment of, Hispanic students. Applications for grants under this competition must be submitted electronically using the Grants.gov by May 19, 2015.


Federal Student Aid: Comments Requested on an Altered System of Records: PAS
March 20, 2015


Notice from the U.S. Department of Education on an altered system of record entitled ''Person Authentication Service" (PAS). PAS contains records about former, current, and prospective students, and their parents and endorsers, who apply for a user ID and password (FSA ID). Specifically, through this notice, the Department revises the name of the system from the ED PIN Registration System to the PAS and makes alterations to the system, including, but not limited to, the system location, the categories of records maintained in this system, the system's purposes, and the system's routine uses. Additionally, the Department seeks comment on the altered system of records described in this notice, in accordance with the requirements of the Privacy Act. Comments on this notice of an altered system of records must be made on or before April 20, 2015.


Administrators: United Faculty of Florida v. Florida State Bd. of Educ.(post-date February 16, 2015)
March 19, 2015


Florida District Court of Appeals upheld a rule adopted by the State Board of Education which established standards and criteria for tenure-like contracts with full time employees. The rule substantially revised the prior version of the rule and, among other things: 1) increased the period of satisfactory service required for an employee to obtain a continuing contract, and 2) prescribed specific performance criteria to determine whether to award or terminate a continuing contract.


Comment Request: Comment Request for Predominantly Black Institutions Application
March 19, 2015


Comment request issued by the U.S. Department of Education on a reinstatement of a previously approved information collection. The Predominantly Black Institutions (PBI) Program makes grant awards to eligible colleges and universities to support the strengthening of PBIs to carry out programs in the following areas: science, technology, engineering, or mathematics; health education; internationalization or globalization; teacher preparation; or improving the educational outcomes of African American males. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before April 20, 2015.


Federal Funding: Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Proposal by Senate Republicans
March 19, 2015


Senate Budget Committee passed the GOP's budget proposal on March 19, 2015 in a 12-10 party-line vote. The Senate Republican budget instructs the Finance Committee and the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions to report, by July 31, 2015, changes in laws within their jurisdictions to reduce the deficit by $1 billion over the 10-year period of fiscal years. The full Senate will consider the committee's budget proposal next week.


Federal Student Aid: Volume 4 of the 2015-2016 Federal Student Aid Handbook Available in PDF
March 19, 2015


Announcement by the U.S. Department of Education that "Volume 4 – Processing Aid and Managing FSA Funds of the 2015-2016 Federal Student Aid Handbook" is available as a PDF file. The file is comprised of an introduction, table of contents, chapters, and appendices, followed by separate PDF files for each chapter and appendix of the volume. To access the 2015-2016 Federal Student Aid Handbook, click here.


Foreign Research: AAUP Issues Statement Regarding Denial of Professor's Entry to Abu Dhabi
March 19, 2015


Statement by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) expressing that they are "deeply troubled" that the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) denied New York University (NYU) professor Andrew Ross entry to the emirate of Abu Dhabi. Ross has been conducting research on labor conditions in the country and has been a critic of the U.A.E.'s policies on migrant labor. NYU has maintained that its Abu Dhabi campus will observe the AAUP's principles on academic freedom and that all faculty and students will be free to enter and leave the country without undue restriction. The AAUP urges NYU to make every effort to get the ban on Ross lifted or to work with its faculty to reconsider its role in the U.A.E.


State Law: Texas Bill Would Allow Concealed Guns on Public College Campuses
March 19, 2015


Texas legislation (SB 11) that would allow concealed handguns to be carried in college and university buildings passed the state Senate. The bill would expand the current law which allows concealed weapons on university grounds, but not buildings. Private institutions are permitted to ban the practice.


Federal Funding: Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Proposal by Congressional Republicans
March 18, 2015


Fiscal Year 2016 budget proposal released by Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives. The proposal calls for freezing the maximum Pell Grant award at the current $5,775 for the next decade.


Research: 2015 Inside Higher Ed Survey of College and University Presidents
March 18, 2015


Gallup survey of college and university presidents published by Inside Higher Ed. Gallup surveyed 647 college presidents about a range of issues facing higher education institutions. Topics covered include the White House's proposed ratings framework, the sustainability of institutional financial models, the prevalence of campus sexual misconduct, campus race relations, and the president's role in decisions on tenure and hiring, among others.


Due Process and Sexual Misconduct: Report on the University of Michigan Office of Institutional Equity Procedures and Conduct
March 18, 2015


Report released by the University of Michigan (UM) Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs (SACUA) concluding that the University's Office of Institutional Equity's (OIE) procedures for handling allegations against faculty lacked "basic elements of fairness and due process." Concerns about lack of due process in the OIE's practices and procedures were originally raised in reports to SACUA from the Faculty Grievance Monitor (FGM) beginning in 2012. The report, which focuses on the OIE's investigation of allegations against three UM faculty members, concludes with a list of five recommendations, including revising current OIE procedures "to ensure due process and procedural fairness" and reversing the actions taken against the three faculty members until their cases can be reconsidered.


Graduate Student Unions: National Labor Relations Board Order in New School and Student Employees at the New School-SENS/UAW
March 16, 2015


Unpublished National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) order in New School and Student Employees at the New School-SENS/UAW. The order reverses a decision by an NLRB Regional Director to reject union petitions filed by the United Auto Workers on behalf of graduate students at the New School based on an NLRB decision handed down in 2004. The previous ruling held that graduate teaching assistants at Brown University were primarily students and not employees, and therefore could not unionize. The Board remanded the case to the Regional Director.


Graduate Unions: National Labor Relations Board Order in Columbia University and Graduate Workers of Columbia-GWC, UAW
March 16, 2015


Unpublished National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) order in Columbia University and Graduate Workers of Columbia-GWC, UAW. A Regional Director originally rejected union petitions filed by the United Auto Workers on behalf of graduate students at Columbia based a 2004 NLRB decision, which held that graduate teaching assistants at Brown University could not unionize because they were primarily students, not employees. The Board reversed the Regional Director's decision and remanded the case.


State Law: Washington State Legislation to Link Tuition to Wages
March 16, 2015


Legislation (S.B. 5954) that would tie tuition at public colleges in Washington State to a percentage of the average state wage passed the state Senate. Under the bill, the tuition fees for resident undergraduates would be no more than 6 percent of the state's average wage for students at community and technical colleges; 10 percent of the state's average wage for students attending the regional universities and The Evergreen State College; and 14 percent of the state's average wage for those attending research universities. The bill now heads to the House of Representatives.


Research: Data and Policy Brief by the Association of American Universities
March 16, 2015


Data and Policy Brief on basic research at American universities was published by the Association of American Universities (AAU). The brief states that federal government remains the largest funder of basic research in 2012, although its proportion has declined from its peak of 70.3% in 1980 to 52.6% in 2012. Moreover, universities have performed much of the nation's basic research after surpassing industry in the late 1950s.


Athletics: Faculty Create New Coalition Fighting for Athlete Rights
March 13, 2015


New coalition, known as the College Athletes Rights & Empowerment Faculty Coalition (CARE-FC), was recently created by more than 20 faculty members from around the country to help college athletes become recognized as employees. CARE-FC is targeting its efforts in four areas: (1) Developing relationships with other like-minded entities and concerned faculty; (2) Educating public policy makers and legislators about the realities of the current college sport industry; (3) Creating awareness around the disproportionate negative impact that college sport business practices have on college athletes in the racial minority; and, (4) Opposing reform efforts that do not result in justice and fairness for athletes.


Federal Student Aid: Comments Requested on Proposed Changes to the Direct Loan Program: Internship/Residency and Loan Debt Burden Forbearance Forms
March 13, 2015


Comment request issued by the U.S. Department of Education (Department) on proposed changes to the Direct Loan Program: Internship/Residency and Loan Debt Burden Forbearance Forms. These forms serve as the means by which a borrower may request forbearance of repayment on their loans if they meet certain conditions. The Department and other loan holders use the information collected on these forms to determine whether a borrower meets the eligibility requirements for the specific type of forbearance. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before May 12, 2015.


Federal Student Aid: Comments Requested on Proposed Changes to the Direct Loan Program Deferment Request Forms
March 13, 2015


Comment request issued by the U.S. Department of Education (Department) on proposed changes to the Direct Loan Program Deferment Request Forms. These forms serve as the means by which borrowers in the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) and Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Programs may request deferment of repayment on their loans if they meet certain statutory and regulatory criteria. The Department and other loan holders use the information collected on these forms to determine whether a borrower meets the eligibility requirements for the specific deferment type being submitted. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before May 12, 2015.


State Law-- Employment: Illinois Legislation to Repeal Tuition Waiver for State University Employees' Children
March 12, 2015


Legislation (H.B. 403) introduced in the Illinois House of Representatives amending various laws relating to the governance of state universities. The bill would repeal provisions that permit the children of state university employees who have been employed by any state university for at least seven years to receive a 50 percent tuition waiver.


FERPA and Sexual Misconduct: Letter from Representative Bonamici on Release of Sexual Assault Victims' Medical Records
March 12, 2015


Letter to the U.S. Department of Education from U.S. Representative Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) asking for clarification on the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). The letter suggests that, under a certain interpretation, FERPA may permit sexual assault victims' medical and therapy records to be released as part of a student's education record. Representative Bonamici asks the Department to clarify the distinction between students' "treatment records" and their "education records" in the statute to determine if this loophole exists.


Financial Aid: Notice of Deadlines for Federal Student Aid Applications
March 12, 2015


Notice of deadline dates for the receipt of documents and other information from applicants and institutions participating in certain federal student aid programs authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 for the 2015-2016 award year was published by the U.S. Department of Education. The financial aid programs covered by this deadline notice include the Pell Grant, Direct Loan, TEACH Grant, and Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant programs.


Student Loans: Student Aid Bill of Rights
March 11, 2015


Student Aid Bill of Rights was released by the White House. The Bill of Rights consists of four rights and is part of President Barack Obama's effort to ensure "affordable, quality education for all Americans." In conjunction with the release, the President will sign a Presidential Memorandum directing the U.S. Department of Education and other federal agencies to do more to help borrowers afford their monthly loan payments.


Student Loans: Statement by the American Council on Education on President Obama's Student Loan Plan
March 11, 2015


Statement released by American Council on Education (ACE) President Molly Corbett Broad on President Barack Obama's student loan plan. In the statement, President Corbett Broad "welcome[s] the administration's move to streamline the system for servicing student loans" and expresses the hope that the proposed changes will make the loan repayment process more straightforward.


Patents: Letter from Economists and Law Professors to Congress on Patent Legislation
March 11, 2015


Letter to U.S. House and Senate Judiciary Committee leaders from forty economists and law professors who specialize in patent law and policy regarding discussions of legislation to address abusive patent legislation. The letter cautions that much of the information used to inform these discussions is "flawed, unreliable, or incomplete." Reliance on flawed data, the authors argue, will lead to legislation "that goes well beyond what is needed to curb abusive litigation practices, causing unintended negative consequences for inventors, small businesses, and emerging entrepreneurs." The authors urge Congress to demand more empirically sound data from researchers before taking any action.


State Law—Public Records: Illinois Legislation to Require Private College and University Police Departments to Make Records Publicly Available
March 11, 2015


Legislation (H.B. 3932) to amend Illinois' Private College Campus Police Act was introduced in the Illinois General Assembly. The bill would require campus police departments at private universities to publicly disclose any information that other law enforcement agencies are required to provide under the state's Freedom of Information Act.


State Law—Public Records: Florida Legislation to Provide a Public Records Exemption for Applicants to High-Level University Positions
March 11, 2015


Legislation (S.B. 182) to provide a public records exemption for those applying to become president, provost, or dean at state universities or Florida College System institutions was approved by the state's Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee. The bill would allow institutions to withhold any personally identifying information about an applicant, including his or her name, credentials, and salaries.


Employment Discrimination: Carter v. Chicago State University
March 11, 2015


Order issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirming the trial court's decision dismissing the case as a result of the defendant's motion for summary judgment. The plaintiff, Associate Professor Tollie Carter, filed suit against Chicago State University, claiming that he was not appointed acting department chair in retaliation for his taking leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and because he is black. Professor Carter claimed that the temporal proximity of his taking FMLA leave and the appointment of the acting department chair "raised a suspicion of discriminatory intent." The trial court rejected this claim, holding that, "We do not find a span of seven months suspicious," and the Seventh Circuit affirmed. The Seventh Circuit also observed that the plaintiff provided no direct or indirect evidence of racial discrimination. Finally, the Seventh Circuit concluded that the record contains evidence that the plaintiff was actually less qualified than the person named acting department chair because the plaintiff had refused to teach several classes, had student complaints about the quality of his teaching from the classes he taught, and was removed from the department chair position in the past.


Affordable Care Act: IRS Publishes Guidance on "Cadillac" Health Coverage
March 10, 2015


Guidance from the IRS on § 4980I of the Internal Revenue Code (Code), commonly referred to as the "Cadillac tax." Section 4980I, which was added to the Code by the Affordable Care Act, applies to taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017. The issues addressed in this guidance primarily relate to: (1) the definition of applicable coverage, (2) the determination of the cost of applicable coverage, and (3) the application of the annual statutory dollar limit to the cost of applicable coverage. The IRS and U.S. Department of Treasury anticipate issuing another notice before the publication of proposed regulations under § 4980I.

Federal Student Aid: Procedures to Follow When Adding or Changing Alien Registration Numbers
March 10, 2015


Reminder from the U.S. Department of Education regarding the procedures for adding or correcting a student's Alien Registration Number on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to confirm eligible noncitizen status with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The summary address eligible and non-eligible citizen documentation, Social Security Administration and U.S. Department of Homeland Security matches, codes and the G-845 form. Additional information can be found in the Federal Student Aid Handbook, Volume 1, Chapter 2: Citizenship.


Affordable Care Act: Univ. of Notre Dame v. Sylvia Burwell
March 10, 2015


U.S. Supreme Court orders the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider its decision against the University of Notre Dame in light of the June 2014 Supreme Court ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., which allowed certain privately owned corporations to seek exemptions from the contraceptive provision of the 2010 Affordable Care Act. The United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana denied Notre Dame's first motion for the preliminary injunction in December 2013. In February 2014, the Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's holding.


Student Athletics: National Collegiate Athletic Association Public Infractions Decision on Syracuse University
March 9, 2015


Public Infractions Decision was released by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) regarding violations committed by Syracuse University. The Division I Committee on Infractions panel concluded that, over the course of a decade, Syracuse failed to exercise proper control over the administration of its athletics program and used deficient monitoring systems, which allowed violations to occur involving academics, compliance with the college's drug testing policy, and staff and student relationships with a booster. Syracuse discovered and self-reported ten of the violations. Penalties will include five years of probation, vacations of all wins during the years that ineligible men's basketball and football students played, suspension of the head men's basketball coach, and fines, among others.


Community Colleges: Report by the Center for Community College Student Engagement on Part-Time Students
March 9, 2015


Report published by the Center for Community College Student Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin on part-time community college students. The Center has collected community college student data since 2004 from nearly 900 institutions across the country. According to the results of the study, more part-time community college students are coming to class prepared, working with instructors, and participating with other students, in comparison to the data from 2004.


Research: Research and Development Efficiency Act
March 9, 2015


The Research and Development Efficiency Act (H.R. 1119) was approved by the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. The legislation seeks to reduce the burden of federal regulations on government-sponsored research by harmonizing, streamlining, and eliminating duplicative federal regulations and reporting requirements.


Higher Education Act: Financial Responsibility Composite Scores For Private, Non-Profit, and Proprietary Institutions
March 9, 2015


Financial responsibility composite scores for private, non-profit, and proprietary institutions with fiscal years ending between July 2012 and June 2013 were released by the U.S. Department of Education. Section 498(c) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 requires these institutions to submit audited financial statements to the Department annually to demonstrate that they are maintaining the standards of financial responsibility necessary to participate in the Title IV programs. The composite score of three ratios—reserve ratio, an equity ratio, and a net income ratio—reflects the overall relative financial health of each institution. Institutions with scores of less than 1.5 but greater than or equal to 1.0 are considered financially responsible but require additional oversight, while institutions with scores less than 1.0 are considered not financially responsible.


Campus Safety: Change in Crime Alert Practices at University of Minnesota
March 6, 2015


E-mails from the University of Minnesota's President and Vice President announcing that the University's crime alert practices will no longer use race to describe a suspect when information is too general to aid the community in identifying the suspect. President Kaler and Vice President Wheelock believe that this new approach will advance public safety while also recognizing the harm caused by using race in otherwise limited suspect descriptions. This change is the product of an 18-month discussion at the University of Minnesota that asked if: (1) The University community is safe? and (2) The University of Minnesota feels safe?


Faculty: Carol Leitner v. Westchester Community College, et al.
March 6, 2015


Opinion by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirming the district courts' finding that a community college and certain of its administrators are not "arms of the state" entitled to Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity. The appellee, Carol Leitner, was a former adjunct professor at Westchester Community College (WCC) who claimed that her First Amendment rights were violated after she was fired for making allegedly offensive comments during class. WCC asserted that it should be immune from Leitner's lawsuit because of the Eleventh Amendment, which generally bars suits in federal court by private individuals against non-consenting states. Although the Supreme Court has not articulated a clear standard for determining whether a state entity is an "arm of the state" and thus entitled to sovereign immunity, the Second Circuit has applied two different tests to determine whether government entities are "arms of the state." Using both tests, the Second Circuit found that WCC is not entitled to sovereign immunity because it would not further the state's interest in preserving its treasury, nor would it protect the integrity of the state. The Second Circuit did note that federal courts have concluded that community colleges in some states are entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity, while community colleges in other states are not. The difference in these opinions is often contingent on whether a community college is predominantly or exclusively dependent on state appropriations rather than local funding, or where the state government controls the college's board of trustees.


Title IX: Letter Argues for Student Role in Sex Assault Hearings
March 6, 2015


Letter to Secretary Arne Duncan from student body presidents at 76 universities opposing the Office for Civil Rights' (OCR) recommendation that students not be permitted to serve as adjudicators in campus conduct hearings related to Title IX violations. The student presidents outlined six primary reasons for their opposition, including a shared belief that students provide a valuable perspective to hearings that supports a more fair and balanced process. The letter proposes that, as an alternative, hearing boards should be required to adopt baseline standards for training and confidentiality expectations for all members. Six principles are provided to guide the development of these standards. A list of the student presidents and their respective institutions can be found in the letter.


Sexual Misconduct: Letter from NASPA Expressing Concerns with State Legislatures' Proposed Strategies for Improving Responses to Gender-Based Violence
March 6, 2015


Letter from NASPA, Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, to state elected officials expressing concern regarding bills pending before multiple state legislatures that (1) require school officials to mandatorily refer all reports of sexual violence that they receive to law enforcement, or (2) give students and student organizations accused of misconduct a right to seek judicial review of student disciplinary or other institutional proceedings and to obtain monetary damages if a court finds in favor of the accused student. Although NASPA applauds states legislatures for their desire to assist institutions of higher education in improving their responses to gender-based violence, NASPA is deeply concerned that these proposals will have the unintended consequence of making it more difficult for campuses to end gender-based violence. The letter outlines six specific concerns, including conflicts with federal law.


Patents: AAU Expresses Support for STRONG Patents Act of 2015
March 5, 2015


Statement made by the President of the Association of American Universities (AAU) in support of the STRONG Patents Act of 2015. AAU supports the legislation because they believe that its measures will not make it more difficult and/or costly for patent holders to enforce their patents.


Patents: APLU Statement on Introduction of STRONG Patents Act of 2015
March 5, 2015


Statement made by the President of the Association of Land-Grant Universities (APLU) in support of the STRONG Patents Act of 2015. APLU supports the legislation because they believe that the bill will curb "abusive practices" without weakening the U.S. patent system.


Patents: Support Technology and Research for Our Nation's Growth (STRONG) Patents Act of 2015 Introduced in Senate
March 4, 2015


Patent-reform legislation, known as the STRONG Patents Act of 2015, was introduced by three U.S. senators. The legislation is designed to (1) make it harder for firms to be targeted with frivolous patent lawsuits, (2) level the playing field between small inventors and large companies, and (3) ensure that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has the resources it needs to ensure patent quality. This bill is in contrast to another patent-reform bill, the Innovation Act, which was recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. A detailed summary of the STRONG Patents Act of 2015 can be accessed at Senator Coon's website.


Federal Funding: Letter from Members of U.S. Commission on Civil Rights on the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights
March 3, 2015


Letter from two members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (Commission) addressed to members of Congress expressing concerns with President Obama's proposal to increase funding by 31 percent to the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR). The two members of the Commission argue against any funding increases to OCR because, among other issues, they argue that OCR misstates applicable law on sexual assault and harassment on college and university campuses, encourages unfair treatment for some accused students, and gives colleges and universities approval to violate students' First Amendment rights. The commissioners conclude by asserting that Congressional intervention is necessary to balance OCR's overreach. The letter was not written on behalf of the Commission as a whole.


Research: Higher Education Organizations Urge Lawmakers to Raise Research Funding
March 3, 2015


Letter from the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, the Association of American Universities, and the American Council on Education requesting that the following be considered in Congress's budget resolution: 1) End budget sequestration in FY2016 and beyond; 2) Outline a path for comprehensive tax reform, which will spur economic growth and produce new revenue; 3) Provide for meaningful entitlement reforms that do not adversely affect those most vulnerable in society; and 4) Include specific language that places a high priority on scientific research and higher education. The letter was sent to chairmen and ranking members of both the U.S. Senate's and the U.S. House of Representatives' budget committees.


Research: Press Release on a Study of Higher Education Administrator Salaries by CUPA-HR
March 2, 2015


Press release announcing the results of an annual study on the salaries of higher education administrators conducted by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR). For 2014, the data from the CUPA-HR's 2014-15 Administrators in Higher Education Salary Survey show an overall median base salary increase of 2.4 percent for administrators at both private and public institutions. The median base salary increase for those in senior-level positions at public institutions was 2.5 percent, compared to a 2.3 percent increase for those in the same positions at private institutions.


Student Loans: Press Release by the Department of Education on its Decision to End Contracts with Several Private Collection Agencies
March 2, 2015


Press release issued by the U.S. Department of Education announcing that, after a review of twenty-two private collection agencies, it will end contracts with five agencies that were providing inaccurate information to borrowers. The five companies include Coast Professional, Enterprise Recovery Systems, National Recoveries, Pioneer Credit Recovery, and West Asset Management. The Department plans to reassign accounts held by these five agencies that are not already in repayment to other agencies.


Research: Final Report on Meeting Demands for Improvements in Public System Institutional Research
March 2, 2015


Final report published by the National Association of System Heads (NASH) summarizing the findings of a two-year project that sought to strengthen institutional research among public systems, colleges, and universities. The researchers found that institutional research offices are becoming increasingly central to institutional and state efforts to track student completion, performance, and other education-related metrics, but are not always receiving the financial support or other resources that they need. The report is designed to provide the context and serve as a tool that system and institutional research leaders can use to "align their functions with current and future challenges."


Gainful Employment: Comment Request on the Student Assistance General Provisions
March 2, 2015


Comment request issued by the U.S. Department of Education on regulations affecting the Student Assistance General Provisions. The final regulations will require institutions to report certain information on each student who, during an award year, began attending or completed a program leading to gainful employment in a recognized occupation. Additionally, the regulations will require these institutions to disclose certain information to prospective students. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before April 1, 2015.


Compliance: 2015 Case Processing Manual for the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights
February 27, 2015


The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released an updated Case Processing Manual. The Manual outlines the procedures by which OCR investigates and resolves complaints, compliance reviews, and directed investigations to ensure compliance with civil rights laws. The newly-released version includes updates and revisions as of February 2015.


Financial Aid: U.S. House Expands 529 Account Benefits
February 27, 2015


By a 401-20 vote, House members approved H.R. 529 to expand 529 college-savings accounts. The bill proposes to: (1) expand the qualifying expenses to include certain computer and related expenses; (2) eliminate the requirement that distributions from a 529 plan be aggregated for purposes of determining the amount includible in a taxpayer's income; and (3) allow a tax-free re-contribution to a 529 plan of amounts refunded to a student by an eligible educational institution if the re-contribution is made not later than 60 days after the date of such refund and does not exceed the refunded amount. According to the Congressional Budget Office estimate, the bill will cost approximately $51 million over the 2015-2025 period.


Sexual Misconduct: Campus Accountability and Safety Act
February 27, 2015


Bi-partisan group of U.S. Senators introduced a new version of the Campus Accountability and Safety Act, which was originally introduced in July 2014. Changes to the legislation include imposing fines of up to one percent of the institution's operating budget for violations, requiring colleges and universities to update memoranda with local police departments every two years, requiring institutions to publish a campus climate survey every two years rather than annually, and the creation of a competitive grant program that would provide funds to colleges and universities to research best practices for improving prevention of and response to sexual assault on their campuses. A companion bill is expected to be introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.


Net Neutrality: FCC Adopts Rules to Protect the Open Internet
February 27, 2015


Announcement from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopting stronger rules aiming to ensure that America's broadband networks are fast, fair, and open. The adopted Open Internet Order: (1) sets three "bright-line" rules for behavior known to harm the Open Internet, (2) adopts an additional, flexible standard to future-proof Internet openness rules, and (3) protects mobile broadband users with the full array of Open Internet rules.


Higher Education Act: 2015-16 Final Funding Authorizations for the Campus-Based Programs
February 27, 2015


Announcement from the U.S. Department of Education that final 2015-16 Campus-Based programs funding worksheets and the 2015-16 Statement of Account for each of the Campus-Based programs will be posted to the eCampus-Based (eCB) Web site by April 1, 2015. In addition to the Department's Electronic Announcement, individual schools will be notified by e-mail that the 2015-2016 Campus-Based allocation information has been posted to the eCB Web site.


Immigration: Final Rule Extending the Eligibility for Employment Authorization to Dependent Spouses of H-1B Nonimmigrants
February 26, 2015


Final rule issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that extends eligibility for employment authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who are seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident (LPR) status. With this change, DHS hopes to reduce personal and economic burdens faced by H-1B nonimmigrants and eligible H-4 dependent spouses during the transition from nonimmigrant to LPR status, to attract and retain highly skilled foreign workers to the United States, and to minimize disruption to American businesses. The new regulations will go into effect on May 26, 2015.


Accreditation: Comments Submitted by the Association of American Universities to NACIQI on its Draft Policy Recommendations
February 26, 2015


Comments submitted by the Association of American Universities (AAU) to the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) on the panel's draft policy recommendations regarding accreditation. The comments address six of the panel's recommendations, including AAU's opposition to the Department or accreditors mandating specified quantitative general assessment measures. AAU reiterates its "continued support for a non-federal process for determining quality, one that allows for flexibility, cost-efficiency, and informed academic judgment."


Higher Education Act: Letter from Higher Education Groups Endorsing the Supporting Academic Freedom Through Regulatory Relief Act
February 25, 2015


Letter to Representatives Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Alcee Hastings (D-FL); Matt Salmon (R-AZ); and John Kline (R-MN) from American Council on Education (ACE) President Molly Corbett Broad on behalf of twenty-six higher education groups endorsing the Supporting Academic Freedom Through Regulatory Relief Act (H.R. 970). The Act would block some of the most controversial Department of Education regulations that impact colleges and universities, including state authorization, credit hour, and gainful employment. In the letter, President Broad states that "the sheer volume, ineffectiveness and cost" of the U.S. Department of Education's regulations and related actions have far surpassed what might reasonably be required holding colleges and universities accountable to taxpayers.


Patents: 144 Universities Warn Congress Pending Patent Legislation Would Harm U.S. Innovation System
February 24, 2015


Letter from 144 universities warning the House and Senate Judiciary Committees that pending legislation to address patent litigation will weaken the nation's patent system and hinder the flow of groundbreaking advances from universities to the private sector. Of these proposals, the universities are particularly concerned that mandatory fee-shifting and involuntary joinder will weaken the university technology transfer process, which is an essential part of the United States' innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem. A list of the 144 signatories can be found in the letter.


State Law- Public Records: Texas Legislation Would Require Private College and University Police Departments to Make Records Publicly Available
February 24, 2015


Proposed legislation, S.B. 308, that would amend the Texas Education Code to require police departments at private colleges and universities to follow the state's public records law. Private college and university police departments, which are licensed by the state of Texas, are not currently required to make records publicly available. The bill has been referred to the Texas Senate Committee on Criminal Justice, which has not yet set a date for a public hearing.


Accreditation: Statement on the Withdrawal of the Accreditation Status of Sojournor-Douglass College
February 23, 2015


Statement of accreditation status by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education unanimously affirming the Commission's November decision to withdraw the accreditation status of Sojourner-Douglass College. The decision is effective June 30, 2015, which will allow current students to complete the academic year.


Federal Grants: Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the First in the World Program
February 23, 2015


Notice of proposed rulemaking for the First in the World Program, the Obama administration's effort to encourage innovation in higher education, was published by the U.S. Department of Education. The notice outlines the priorities that the Department will use in awarding the program's grants in 2016, which include improving developmental education; improving teaching and learning; improving student support services; developing and using assessments of learning; facilitating pathways to credentialing and transfer; and increasing the effectiveness of financial aid. Interested parties are invited to submit comments on or before March 25, 2015.


State Law: Kansas Legislation Prohibiting Postsecondary Institutions Employees from Using Official Titles in Certain Publications
February 23, 2015


Kansas legislation (H.B. 2234) to prohibit college and university employees from including their official titles in certain publications was introduced in the Kansas state House of Representatives. Specifically, the bill would forbid employees of state colleges from providing their job title when authoring a newspaper opinion column, and "only when the opinion of the employee concerns a person who currently holds any elected public office in this state, a person who is a candidate for any elected public office in this state or any matter pending before any legislative or public body in this state."


Athletics: Big 12 Conferences Announces New Concussion Policy
February 20, 2015


Announcement from the Big 12 that all member institutions will be required to follow the National Collegiate Athletic Association's 2014 Inter-Association Consensus Guidelines for Concussion Diagnosis and Management. The protocol states that institutions should have on file a team physician-directed concussion management plan and the specific protocol for evaluation and management of a concussion. Each Big 12 member institution will be required to submit an updated concussion management plan annually to the Conference office, which will establish a plan to track potential unsafe plays.


Title IX: Open letter from University of Pennsylvania Law School professors about Title IX and sexual assault complaints
February 20, 2015


Response from sixteen University of Pennsylvania Law School professors regarding the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights' guidelines for enforcing Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972. The law professors, although recognizing the concerns about of sexual assaults on college campuses, as well as the necessity for "comprehensive protections for those who are abused," are concerned about the federal government's failure to abide by the traditional procedures for passing laws and promulgating regulations. The letter concludes by providing suggestions for a policy that both strongly condemns and punishes sexual misconduct and provides for a fair adjudicatory process.


Affordable Care Act: Geneva College v. Burwell
February 20, 2015


Opinion by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversing the district courts' grants of appellees' motions for preliminary injunction. Appellees—including Geneva College, a nonprofit higher education institution established by the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America—challenged the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's (ACA) (42 U.S.C. § 300gg-13(a)(4)) contraceptive coverage requirement and the accommodation mechanism that compels those organizations wishing to opt out of the contraception mandate to notify the entity that administers its health plan of its objection so that the entity may offer separate coverage for contraceptive services directly to the insured individuals. The appellees claimed that both options impose a substantial burden on their religious exercise in violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) (42 U.S.C. § 2000bb et seq.). Geneva specifically asserted that complying with either the contraceptive mandate or opting for the accommodation mechanism would cause the institution to "trigger," "facilitate," or be "complicit" in the commission of what it believes to be a "sinful" act, namely supporting access to abortion through emergency contraceptives and intrauterine devices. The Court rejected this argument, holding that the accommodation mechanism does not trigger or facilitate the provision of contraceptive coverage because federal law, rather than any involvement by the appellees in filling out or submitting the form, mandates that such coverage be provided. Moreover, the Court held that the submission of the self-certification form does not make the appellees "complicit" in the provision of contraceptive coverage but rather constitutes a declaration that they will not be complicit in providing coverage, since the form itself contains a provision stating that the filer objects to providing coverage on religious grounds. Thus, the Third Circuit concluded that the appellees did not show a likelihood of success on the merits of their RFRA claim.


State Law- Campus Safety: Nevada Legislation to Allow Concealed Weapons on College Campuses
February 20, 2015


Nevada legislation (A.B. 148) to allow concealed weapons on college campuses was introduced in the state Assembly. Specifically, the bill would enable individuals authorized to carry a concealed firearm to carry firearms on the property of the Nevada System of Higher Education, as well as that of a private or public school or a child care facility.


Sexual Misconduct: Department of Justice Research and Evaluation of Campus Sexual Assault Investigations
February 19, 2015


The U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice (NIJ) issued a request for applications for research and evaluation related to the investigation and adjudication of sexual assaults on college and university campuses. Based on recommendations in the January 2014 report by the White House Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault, NIJ seeks to identify "promising practices" for campus sexual assault investigations. Applications are due by April 6, 2015.


Accreditation: California v. Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges
February 19, 2015


Final injunction and judgment from the Superior Court of California for the County of San Francisco in favor of the state giving the City College of San Francisco (CCSF) the option to have the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) reconsider its 2013 decision to revoke the College's accreditation. If CCSF elects this option, ACCJC must provide a written report identifying CCSF's deficiencies in compliance with accreditation standards and convene a meeting of the Commission to review the College's response to the report.


Athletics: West Virginia University Public Infractions Decision
February 18, 2015


Decision by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Committee on Infractions ruling finding that coaches at West Virginia University sent impermissible text messages and made impermissible telephone calls to prospective student-athletes and their parents between June 2010 and February 2013. Penalties include two years of probation and a one-year show cause order for the assistant coach involved. The university also adopted self-imposed penalties that were adopted by the NCAA Committee on Infractions panel.


Ratings System: ACE Comments on Proposed Institutional Ratings System
February 18, 2015


Letter from the American Council on Education (ACE) and twenty-six other higher education associations to the U.S. Department of Education detailing their concerns with the feasibility of the Department's approach to the Postsecondary Institution Ratings System (PIRS). The authors note that the draft framework released by the Department in December 2014 is not sufficient enough to allow institutions the opportunity to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the PIRS. The letter requests that the Department offer more detail about its plan in advance of publishing any ratings and make its rating formula open for comment.


Labor and Employment: National Labor Relations Board Order on Faculty Unionization at Religious Institutions
February 17, 2015


Order by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in a case addressing faculty unionization at Duquesne University of the Holy Spirit, a religious institution. This decision follows three similar NLRB orders issued earlier this month in which the Regional Director initially asserted jurisdiction over the institutions and directed that union elections take place. Yet in December 2014, while the cases were pending review, the Board issued its decision in Pacific Lutheran University, 361 NLRB No. 157, which specifically addressed the standard that the Board should apply for determining whether it can exercise jurisdiction over faculty members at self-identified religious colleges and universities. The Board thus remanded the Duquesne University proceedings for further action consistent with Pacific Lutheran University.


Aviation: FAA Proposed Rules on Unmanned Aircraft Systems
February 17, 2015


Proposed regulations from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that would adopt specific rules and guidelines for the operation of small unmanned aircraft systems in the National Airspace System, certification of their operators, and registration. Provisions include weight restrictions for aircraft, speed limits, airspace restrictions, and a requirement for an unmanned aircraft operator certificate. A full summary of the proposed provisions is available here.


Immigration: Texas v. United States
February 16, 2015


Opinion and order issued by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas granting the plaintiff states' request for preliminary injunction. Plaintiffs—which include the state of Texas as well as twenty-five additional states—filed suit against the United States and various Department of Homeland Security officials challenging the "Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents" (DAPA) program, which is designed to provide legal presence to over four million individuals who are currently in the country illegally and would enable these individuals to obtain a variety of both state and federal benefits. Adopting the "constitutional avoidance" principle, the court sidestepped the constitutional concerns with the executive action and instead answered the question of whether, in enacting the program, the defendants legislated a substantive rule without complying with the procedural requirements of the Administration Procedure Act. The court concluded that the defendants did just that because 1) the DAPA program clearly represents a substantive change in immigration policy; 2) the plaintiff states would likely suffer substantial and immediate irreparable injury if the injunction was not granted; 3) the equities strongly favor the issuance of an injunction to preserve the status quo; and 4) the granting of a preliminary injunction would not be adverse to the public interest. Judge Andrew Hanen thus issued a temporary injunction enjoining the implementation of the DAPA program.


Compliance: Senate Task Force Report on Federal Regulation of Higher Education
February 13, 2015


Report released by the Senate Task Force on Federal Regulation of Higher Education found that "oversight of higher education by the Department of Education has expanded and evolved in ways that undermine the ability of colleges and universities to serve students and accomplish their missions." The report reflects the work of a bipartisan group of U.S. senators charged with three goals: (1) Summarizing the increasing burden of federal regulation on higher education; (2) Identifying regulations of particular concern to institutions of higher education, explaining why they are problematic, and recommending changes to ameliorate them; and (3) Offering longer-term process improvements that would minimize similar concerns about regulations in the future.


State Law- Distressed Students: VA Legislation Proposes Mandatory Reporting to Parents of Suicidal Students
February 13, 2015


Virginia state senate passed legislation, SB 1122, requiring public colleges to establish policies on parental notification for dependent students that exhibit "suicidal tendencies." The Virginia State delegates have proposed a similar bill, HB 1715, which would require a student's "suicidal tendencies" to be reported to a campus's threat-assessment team.


Teacher Preparation: Letter by HACU Opposing Proposed Regulations for Teacher Preparation
February 13, 2015


Letter from the Hispanic Association of College and Universities (HACU) opposing the U.S. Department of Education's proposed regulations for teacher preparation programs Accountability System under Title II of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA). HACU's letter to Secretary Duncan outlines eight concerns, including federal overreach and a negative impact on affordability and access to college. The proposed regulations were released in December 2014 with the intent of final regulations being issued in the summer of 2015.


Federal Ratings System: NAICU Submits Comments on Proposed Postsecondary Institutional Ratings System
February 13, 2015


Comments submitted by the National Association of Independent College and Universities (NAICU) in response to the U.S. Department of Education's proposed postsecondary ratings system. The letter reflects both NAICU's recognition of the President's commitment to access, affordability, and transparency in higher education, as well as their concern that the weighting and assignment of value to higher education information must remain in the hands of consumers and not a federal rating tool. Further, NAICU questions the federal government's capacity to design a ratings system that provides a useful consumer information tool and an effective accountability system. Comments on the ratings system are due by February 17, 2015 and can be submitted through this online form: www.ed.gov/blog/collegeratings.


Federal Grants: Comments Requested by U.S. Department of Education on the Application Package for Grants under MSEIP
February 13, 2015


Comments request issued by the U.S. Department of Education on the application package for the Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program (MSEIP). The purpose of MSEIP is to effect long-range improvement in science and engineering education at predominantly minority institutions and to increase the flow of underrepresented ethnic minorities, particularly minority women, into scientific and technological careers. The U.S. Department of Education is ED is proposing a reinstatement of a previously approved information collection. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before March 16, 2015.


Financial Aid: Third Party Servicer Data Form – Reporting Requirement
February 12, 2015


Announcement that the U.S. Department of Education will collect information directly from third party servicers that perform work on behalf of Title IV eligible institutions since the Department determined that "a significant number of higher education institutions failed to report, update, and/or incorrectly report[ed] third party servicer information" as required under 34 C.F.R. § 668.25(e). Entities that meet the definition of a third party servicer are required to submit a Third Party Servicer Data Form. A timeline for submission of the data form can be found in the announcement.


Student Loans: Updated Guidance on Making Direct Loan Refunds of Cash
February 12, 2015


Updated guidance from U.S. Department of Education for institutions regarding Direct Loan refunds. Included in the guidance is a reminder that, as of January 1, 2015, the Department no longer accepts paper checks for Direct Loan refunds of cash. To make the most timely and accurate refunds, the guidance generally recommends using the G5 Web Site. The guidance also provides general information about Direct Loan funds and the process for making a direct loan refund.


Federal Funding: NAICU Recommendations to Congress on Consolidating the Tuition Benefits
February 12, 2015


Recommendations made by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) in response to President Obama's proposal to combine current higher education tax benefits. The recommendations proffered by NAICU include: (1) Preservation of Sec. 529 College Savings Plans and Coverdell Education Savings Accounts; (2) Tax tuition incentives directed at certain income levels of taxpayers and employers who provide tuition benefits to employees; and (3) Assistance to students who finance their college education, including the removal of taxes on forgiven student debt.


Gainful Employment: Functionality for Voluntary Gainful Employment Reporting Available
February 11, 2015


Announcement from the U.S. Department of Education that gainful employment (GE) reporting functionality is now available on the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS), including on the NSLDS Professional Access website. While the GE final regulations, published on October 31, 2014 with an effective date of July 1, 2015, provide that the deadline for institutions to report GE Program information is July 31, 2015, institutions may begin submitting GE data now on a voluntary basis. The NSLDS Gainful Employment User Guide is available here.


Teacher Preparation: NAICU Comments on Proposed Regulations
February 11, 2015


Comments from the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) and nine other higher education associations in response to the Department of Education's notice of proposed rulemaking on teacher preparation issues published in the Federal Register on December 3, 2014. The letter argues that the regulations would violate Title II, Section 207 of the Higher Education Act by requiring states to adopt a federally-mandated rating system, rather than developing their own at the state level. The authors also express concern that the regulations evaluate teacher preparation programs based on "invalid and unreliable metrics" and do not reflect current practices in the profession.


State Law- Data Privacy: Maryland Legislation Protecting Student Privacy Online
February 10, 2015


Maryland legislation (S.B. 210) introduced by five state senators would prohibit educational institutions from requiring or requesting that a student or prospective student provide access to their social media or other personal electronic accounts. The bill would not prohibit institutions from accessing information available in the public domain and, in specified circumstances, would permit access to certain personal communications during an investigation in accordance with institutional policy.


Research: Report on Higher Education Research and Development Expenditures for Fiscal Year 2013
February 9, 2015


Report on higher education research and development expenditures was released by the National Science Foundation (NSF). According to data from the Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) Survey, university spending on research and development in all fields totaled $67.2 billion in fiscal year 2013. When adjusted for inflation, the total spending increased by less than half a percent from the previous fiscal year. The NSF also released a chart ranking expenditure amounts by university.


Federal Grants: Comment Request by the Department of Education Regarding the Native American Career and Technical Education Program
February 9, 2015


Comment request issued by the U.S. Department of Education on the proposed waiver and extension of the project period for the Native American Career and Technical Education Program (NACTEP). The Secretary of Education is proposing to: (1) waive the requirements that generally prohibit project period extensions involving additional federal funds; and (2) extend the project periods for current NACTEP grantees for up to twenty-four months. Interested parties are invited to submit comments on or before sixty days after publication of the proposal in the Federal Register.


Accreditation: Policy Recommendations Report on the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity
February 9, 2015


Comment request issued by the U.S. Department of Education regarding the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) Draft Policy Recommendations Report dated January 2, 2015. The NACIQI advises the Secretary of Education about accreditation agency criteria for recognition under federal and state law, the eligibility and certification process for institutions of higher education, and the relationship between accreditation and state licensing of such institutions. Recommendations from the Report include simplifying the accreditation and recognition process, developing common definitions of accreditation actions and procedures, and requiring periodic Departmental review of criteria for recognition, among others. Interested parties are invited to submit comments, which must be received by February 28, 2015.


Federal Funding: Statement by the American Association of Universities on the President's Fiscal Year 2016 Budget
February 9, 2015


Statement released by the Association of American Universities (AAU) on the President's Fiscal Year 2016 Budget. The AAU applauds the budget proposal for recommending the elimination of sequestration, raising the budget caps to increase funding for various federal research entities, and expanding and making permanent the American Opportunity Tax Credit. However, it criticizes the 8.3 percent cut in basic research spending by the Department of Defense, which the AAU deems necessary for "this nation's fighting men and women to remain the world's best equipped, most technically advanced force."


State Law- Data Privacy: New Hampshire Legislation Protecting Student Privacy Online
February 9, 2015


New Hampshire legislation (H.B. 142) designed to protect students' online privacy was introduced in the state House of Representatives by State Representative Katherine Rogers. The bill would forbid both public and private institutions from requiring or requesting that students provide access to a personal social media accounts via user name, password, or other means of authentication. However, institutions would still be allowed to conduct investigations of alleged student misconduct associated with a student's social media account as long as they do not require or request access to the account.


Labor and Employment: National Labor Relations Board Orders on Faculty Unionization at Religious Institutions
February 6, 2015


Order by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in three cases dealing with the unionization of faculty at self-identified religious colleges and universities: Seattle University and Service Employees International Union, Saint Xavier University and St. Xavier University Adjunct Faculty Organization, and Manhattan College and Manhattan College Adjunct Faculty Union. Originally, the Regional Director issued decisions asserting jurisdiction over the institutions and directing that union elections take place. Yet in December 2014, while the cases were pending review, the Board issued its decision in Pacific Lutheran University, 361 NLRB No. 157, which specifically addressed the standard that the Board should apply for determining whether it can exercise jurisdiction over faculty members at self-identified religious colleges and universities. The Board thus remanded the proceedings in all three cases for further action consistent with Pacific Lutheran University.


State Law- Campus Safety: Minnesota Budget Legislation includes Study Abroad Provisions
February 6, 2015


Minnesota budget legislation (H.F. 3172) that includes a proposal requiring public colleges to disclose information about the safety records of their education abroad programs. Specifically, the bill would call for the state's colleges to file annual reports on student deaths, accidents, and illnesses that occur abroad and require hospitalization.


State Law: Wyoming Legislation Allowing Concealed Carry of Firearms in Public Schools
February 6, 2015


Wyoming legislation (H.B. 0114) entitled the "Wyoming Repeal Gun Free Zones Act" was approved by a vote of 42 to 17 in the state House of Representatives. The bill would repeal the gun-free zones carved out around public schools, including colleges and universities, thereby allowing those holding a valid concealed carry permit issued by the state to carry concealed firearms on campus. The bill will be considered by the state Senate.


Distressed Students: 2014 Annual Report on Collegiate Mental Health
February 6, 2015


Report released by the Center for Collegiate Mental Health (CCMH) at Penn State University, in partnership with Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA) and the American College Personnel Association (ACPA), summarizing the data on student mental health that was contributed to CCMH during the 2013-2014 academic year. The information was gathered directly from students and from campus counseling centers across the country. The survey included questions on a variety of mental health issues, from those that affect the general student population (financial woes, safety concerns, sexuality, etc.) to those that affect certain individuals (mental illness, substance abuse issues, and thoughts of suicide).


Financial Aid: Comment Request by the Department of Education on the Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need Grant
February 6, 2015


Comment request issued by the U.S. Department of Education on information collection activities related to the Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) program. Title VII of the Higher Education Act of 1965 requests the collection of specific data necessary to evaluate, score, and rank the quality of the projects proposed by higher education institutions applying for the grant. The Department is proposing a reinstatement of this collection. Interested parties are invited to submit comments on or before March 9, 2015


Campus Safety: Comment Request by the Department of Education on the Campus Safety and Security Survey
February 6, 2015


Comment request published by the U.S. Department of Education on the Campus Safety and Security Survey. The Survey, which is mandated under the Higher Education Act of 1965, is a tool used to compile annual data on campus crime and fire safety in hopes of increasing the transparency surrounding college safety and security information. The Department is proposing a new information collection through this Survey. Interested parties are invited to submit comments on or before March 9, 2015.


Patents: Letter from Six Higher Education Associations on the Innovation Act
February 5, 2015


Letter from six higher education associations (AAU, ACE, AAMC, APLU, AUTM, and COGR) on the Innovation Act (H.B. 3309). The signers express support for efforts to reign in the litigation practices of those who abuse the patent system. However, they assert that the Innovation Act, in its current form, would substantially raise the costs and risks associated with patenting, thereby discouraging the private sector from using research discoveries at universities to craft new innovations. As such, they are withholding support for the Act until it is redrafted in a way that promotes, rather than discourages, technology transfer and sustains the existing patent system.


Student Affairs: Report on the Fall 2014 Freshman Class at Four-Year Institutions in the United States
February 5, 2015


Report released by the Cooperative Institutional Research Program at the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA on norms in America's 2014 freshmen. The report covers ten issues, ranging from student alcohol and tobacco use, emotional health concerns, and interest in both early admission programs and advanced degrees. The results reported are based upon 153,015 first-time, full-time students who entered 227 four-year U.S. colleges and universities. A list of participating institutions can be found in Appendix C.


Distance Education: Report on Online Education in the United States
February 5, 2015


Report released by the Babson Survey Research Group in partnership with the College Board on the state of online learning in U.S. higher education based on a 2014 survey of more than 2,800 colleges and universities and data from the U.S. Department of Education's Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). According to survey data, the proportion of academic leaders who report that online learning is critical to their institution's long term strategy increased from 49 percent in 2002 to 71 percent in 2014. However, while 28 percent of respondents believed online learning is sustainable when asked in 2002, only 16 percent believe so in 2014.


For-Profit Institutions: Press Release from the Department of Education on the Sale of Corinthian Campuses
February 4, 2015


Press release issued by the U.S. Department of Education announcing that Zenith Education Group, a newly-created nonprofit provider of career school training and subsidiary of the ECMC Group, has finalized its acquisition of over fifty Everest and WyoTech campuses from Corinthian Colleges Inc. As part of the terms of the sale, the parties agreed to pay $12 million in up-front payments, and up to an additional $17.25 million in earn-out payments to the Department over the next seven years, all of which will be used to benefit Corinthian students. The sale also included the forgiveness of $480 million in loans that Corinthian students took out from a private lending program the company created.


Faculty: Report by the Hiring Policies and Procedures Review Committee at the University of Illinois
February 4, 2015


Report released by the Hiring Policies and Procedures Review Committee at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) on the faculty hiring process. The Committee, which was appointed in response to the Steven Salaita faculty appointment case, was charged with reviewing the policies and processes for faculty hiring on the Urbana-Champaign campus. Among its recommendations, the Committee stated that the Board of Trustees should formally delegate its responsibility for tenured and tenure-track academic appointments to senior campus administrators, who in turn should continue the existing policy of delegating to the chancellor and provost.


Program Integrity: Letter from the Association of American Universities on the Draft College Ratings Framework
February 4, 2015


Letter to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan from the Association of American Universities (AAU) in response to the U.S. Department of Education's draft ratings framework. The letter builds on two previous sets of comments on the proposed rating system—submitted by AAU on December 2, 2013 and January 24, 2014—to offer comments and suggestions on the rating system generally as well as on data and metrics. AAU also urges the Department to provide an opportunity for public comment on a "full and complete rating proposal" before the system is ultimately implemented.


Labor and Employment: National Labor Relations Board Ruling in Grand Canyon Education, Inc.
February 4, 2015


Ruling released by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) affirming an earlier 2013 ruling holding that Grand Canyon University wrongly fired an employee for discussing her working conditions. Three former employees working on Grand Canyon's "grad team" frequently discussed concerns about the quality of leads referred to them, the limited degree programs in which they were permitted to enroll students, and the difficulty of meeting enrollment quotas. Grand Canyon fired these employees because the conversations violated a clause in the University's Employee Counseling Statement prohibiting employees from discussing with each other the terms and conditions of their employment. In 2013, the NLRB found that the University violated labor law by threatening to fire the employees and interrogating them abo