New Cases and Developments

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

Selected Topics: Students Academic Misconduct
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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Unpublished Opinion granting-in-part and denying-in-part Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment.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. 
Academic Misconduct; Admissions; Students; Due Process; Retaliation; Constitutional Issues

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

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

Academic Misconduct; Equal Protection; Due Process

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

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

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

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