I was just kicked out of college after an investigation by the school that wasn’t a fair one, do I have rights to challenge the decision?
4 February 2023
It is possible you do, one pertinent question is whether the college followed its own rules in the investigation.
Recently in the case of Doe v. Stonehill College the student convinced the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit to overturn a decision of the trial court that ruled his breach of contract claim should not go forward. 55 F.4th 302 (1st Cir. 2022). Doe argued that the college did not conduct the investigation fairly or according to the student code that provided for each party certain rights under a breach of contract claim using theory of reasonable expectations.
In the Doe v. Stonehill College case, the court noted that the school’s code provided that investigators were to “offer to meet with the parties separately to discuss . . . the facts gleaned in the matter and to offer a final opportunity to present all relevant witnesses and evidence before the finding is reached.” Id. at 312. It further noted that Doe was not informed of the accuser’s change in story about the parties’ prior romantic relationship, before he gave his final argument. This, among other irregularities and inconsistencies in the investigation, led the appeals court to conclude Doe’s breach of contact claim should survive. Id. at 340
It should be noted that Doe’s multiple other claims, including defamation and breach of Title IX, that were also dismissed by the trial court, were affirmed by the appeals court, thus only Doe’s breach of contract claim survived after the appeal Id. at 340. The author notes it appears Doe threw everything at the school but the kitchen sink, legally, and only some claims had substantial merit. In any event, all of the claims brought were not claims against the accuser, but against the college. Claims against the accuser is a different topic not addressed here or in the decision.
It is important for a college student to take steps in a timely fashion to preserve their reputation and challenging an unfair determination by a college to discipline them is one way. In the event that you are facing such a question or want to avoid one, feel free to contact the author to learn how his office addresses such potential claims.