An analysis of court cases involving student due process in dismissal from higher education

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University of Alabama Libraries

The Fourteenth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution holds that states must provide due process and equal protection to those with a life, liberty, or property right. College students have a property and liberty interest in the public education that they receive and the courts require notice and hearing before a deprivation of one of these interests. As administrators in higher education face the challenges involved in properly deciding disputes with students, they can find guidance in a line of U. S. Supreme Court cases that describe due process in terms of the proper relationship between American citizens and their government. By understanding the process that state governments are required by the Fourteenth Amendment to provide, administrators can determine a method of fair inquiry. The problem of this study is focused on the need for university administrators to have a good understanding of the procedures that should be followed when faced with dismissing a student. The fear of litigation has tempted administrators at some institutions of higher education to spend unjustified amounts of money, to award unjustified grades, and even to modify longstanding academic requirements. The basis of this fear stems from uncertainty of the law, especially the responsibilities generated by the Fourteenth Amendment. Many administrators at public institutions of higher education understand that the Fourteenth Amendment requires due process before depriving one of a property or liberty interest, but they are confused about the practical steps that should be followed. The purpose of this study is to examine federal and state court cases related to the dismissal of a student from an institution of higher education during the period of 1981-2008. The cases were briefed and examined for trends. Additionally, court decisions provided information that may be useful for higher education administrators. Trends discovered were identified and reported, conclusions were developed from the rulings of the courts, and guiding principles were established for higher education administrators.

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Higher education administration, Law