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New Cases and Developments

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

Selected Topics: Students
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Due Process; Discrimination, Accommodation, & Diversity; Students; Academic Misconduct; Constitutional Issues

Behne v. Union County College, et al. (D.N.J. Jan. 26, 2018)

Unpublished Opinion granting-in-part and denying-in-part Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment. Plaintiff, who was enrolled in Union County College (UCC)’s Physical Therapy Assistant Program, was dismissed after an affiliated clinical site terminated him for “setting up a patient” without authorization and lying about his authorization to do so. Prior to this termination, Plaintiff signed a learning contract with UCC arising from inappropriate behavior he exhibited at a different clinical site that led to UCC’s issuing an academic integrity violation. Among his claims, Plaintiff alleged that his dismissal from the Program violated the First, Fifth, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution and analogous provisions of the New Jersey Constitution; violated contract law, most notably, breach of contract; amounted to discrimination under New Jersey law; aided and abetted discrimination under New Jersey law; created a hostile educational environment; and amounted to tortious conduct. The court found that Plaintiff’s breach of contract claim could proceed because he raised genuine issues of material fact regarding “the scope of [the] learning contract, the propriety of the dismissal from the [second clinical site] as a justification for his dismissal from the Program, UCC’s notice to him and his ability to be heard, and… whether he was provided an appropriate appeal.” As a corollary to Plaintiff’s breach of contract claim, the court allowed Plaintiff’s procedural due process claims, negligence, and fraudulent misrepresentation claims to proceed. Plaintiff’s remaining claims were denied. 
1/30/2018
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Financial Aid; Authorizations & Regulations; Students

Notice by the U.S. Department of Education Federal Student Aid of 2018-2019 Award Year Deadline Dates for Campus-Based Programs (Jan. 3, 2018)

For the 2018-2019 award year, the Secretary announced deadlines by which postsecondary institutions must submit requests and documents to various divisions of the Department of Education, so as to ensure their institution’s funding or waiver in the Federal Perkins Loan program, Federal Work-Study program, and Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant programs. The deadlines for each program are available in the Deadline Dates section of the notice and on the Information for Financial Aid Professions website

1/5/2018
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Students; Discrimination, Accommodation, & Diversity

Gokool v. Oklahoma City University and Oklahoma City University School of Law (10th Cir. Dec. 8, 2017)

Order and judgment affirming Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss. Plaintiff, a former student of Oklahoma City University School of Law (OCUSL), brought claims against Defendants for breach of implied contract, breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing, fraud, negligence, conspiracy, disparate treatment in violation of Title VI, and unjust enrichment, following Plaintiff’s dismissal from OCUSL due to poor grades. The court found that Plaintiff failed to state a claim for each of her causes of action. Notably, the court found that Plaintiff failed to establish an agreement between her and Defendants for a successful breach of contract claim, failed to identify a duty required of Defendants for her negligence claim, failed to identify any unlawful conduct for a successful conspiracy claim, failed to show any factual details of race discrimination to support her disparate treatment claims, and failed to show that Defendants were unjustly enriched by her tuition payment because Plaintiff received the benefit of instruction for the year in which she paid tuition. Last, the court found that Plaintiff did not suffer an injury arising from the alleged fraudulent action by Defendants. 

12/11/2017
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Financial Aid; Students; Government Relations; Authorizations & Regulations

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking by the U.S. Department of Education to Delay Final Regulations Affecting Student Loan Programs (Oct. 24, 2017)

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking by the Department of Education to delay until July 1, 2019, the effective date of selected provisions of final regulations under the Student Assistance General Provisions, Federal Perkins Loan Program, Federal Family Education Loan Program, William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, and Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant Program. The Department will continue to process borrower defense claims under existing regulations during the delay and borrowers may continue to apply for the discharge of their loans under these programs. Interested parties are invited to comment on or before November 24, 2017.

10/25/2017
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Financial Aid; Students; Government Relations; Authorizations & Regulations

Interim Final Rule by the U.S. Department of Education Delaying Selected Provisions of Final Regulations Affecting Student Loan Programs (Oct. 24, 2017)

Interim Final Rule published by the U.S. Department of Education delaying the effective date of final regulations of various student loan programs to July 1, 2018. The selected regulations originally had an effective date of July 1, 2017, and concern the Department’s standard and process for adjudicating borrower defense claims, requirements relating to financial responsibility standards, provisions that require institutions to provide warnings about their students’ loan repayment rates, and prohibitions against institutions’ use of arbitration or class action waivers in their agreements with students. The Department cited the pending litigation, California Association of Private Postsecondary Schools v. DeVos, among other reasons, for delaying the effective date of the selected regulations. The Department invites interested parties to comment on or before November 24, 2017.

10/25/2017
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Financial Aid; Students; Government Relations; Authorizations & Regulations

Federal Student Aid Dear Colleague Letter on the Wind-down of the Federal Perkins Loan Program (Oct. 6, 2017)

Dear Colleague Letter issued by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education providing additional information on the wind-down process outlined in the Perkins Loan Program Extension Act of 2015. The Letter discusses the expiration of authority for making new Federal Perkins Loans for graduate and undergraduate students, the process by which participating institutions are to either return or distribute the assets of institutions’ Federal Perkins Loan Revolving Fund, and the option of assigning both non-defaulted and defaulted Perkins Loans to the U.S. Department of Education. Individuals with questions about the Letter should contact the department by email, or contact (877) 801-7168 for campus-based questions. 

10/24/2017
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Bankruptcy & Student Debt; Students

Chorches v. The Catholic University of America (D. Conn. October 16, 2017)

Order granting Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss. Plaintiff, a trustee of the bankruptcy estate of the Franzese family, alleged that the Franzeses fraudulently transferred funds to Catholic University as payments for their daughter’s tuition in an effort to deter or hinder collection by their creditors. For a successful fraudulent transfer claim, Plaintiff had to prove that the Franzese family was insolvent on the date of the transfer or became insolvent as a result of the transfer, and that Defendant received less than a reasonably equivalent value for the good or service offered. The court found that Plaintiff failed to plead facts showing that the Franzeses were financially distressed when they made the alleged payments and therefore, Plaintiff could not prove that the Franzeses were insolvent on the date of the transfer or became insolvent as a result of the transfer. 

10/18/2017
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Financial Aid; Bankruptcy & Student Debt; Students

Hugh Lawrence Brooks v. University of Maryland, et al. (Bankr. S.D. Ind. September 14, 2017)

Order granting Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss or in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment. Plaintiff sought to discharge his student loan debt from the University of Maryland for undue hardship. The court found that Plaintiff could not meet the burden of proving undue hardship because he was the only member of his household, had net annual earnings of over $110,000, and by his own admission acknowledged that “his income and expected future income is and will be adequate for him to afford the basic necessities of life.”

9/20/2017
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