July 18, 2018

Conducting student disciplinary proceedings consistent with fundamental notions of due process is an "unwavering obligation"

Conducting student disciplinary proceedings consistent with fundamental notions of due process is an "unwavering obligation"
2018 NY Slip Op 05104, Appellate Division, Fourth Department

A college [Respondent] had sanctioned a student for alleged violations of the Student Code of Conduct. In response to the student's challenge to the Respondent's action the Appellate Division "unanimously annulled" the determination "on the law" and directed the Respondent "to expunge all references to this matter from [the student's] school record."

The Respondent had determined that the student had "possessed weapons and engaged in harassment" and imposed 50 hours of community service, two years of disciplinary probation, and exclusion from on-campus housing as the penalty for the alleged misconduct.

The Appellate Division said it agreed with the student that "the record is devoid of any evidence, much less substantial evidence," to support the Respondent's determination, pointing out that Respondent's determination rests exclusively on a "seriously controverted" hearsay statement, and that does not, as a matter of law, constitute substantial evidence."

The court also declined the Respondent's "invitation to remit the matter for a new hearing in light of its failure to transcribe the disciplinary hearing," explaining "Annulment and expungement is the prescribed remedy for an administrative determination that is unsupported by substantial evidence."

It would be anomalous, said the Appellate Division, were the Respondent afforded "a new opportunity to establish [the student's] culpability based on its own procedural error in failing to transcribe the initial hearing."

The court also said it felt "compelled to express [its] dismay at [Respondent's] cavalier attitude toward [the student's] due process rights in this case, and we remind [Respondent] -- and all other colleges and universities, particularly state-affiliated institution -- of their unwavering obligation to conduct student disciplinary proceedings in a manner that comports with fundamental notions of due process for the accused, that renders determinations consistent with the facts, and that respects the presumption of innocence to which all students are entitled."

The decision is posted on the Internet at:


CAUTION

Subsequent court and administrative rulings, or changes to laws, rules and regulations may have modified or clarified or vacated or reversed the decisions summarized here. Accordingly, these summaries should be Shepardized® or otherwise checked to make certain that the most recent information is being considered by the reader.
THE MATERIAL ON THIS WEBSITE IS FOR INFORMATION ONLY. AGAIN, CHANGES IN LAWS, RULES, REGULATIONS AND NEW COURT AND ADMINISTRATIVE DECISIONS MAY AFFECT THE ACCURACY OF THE INFORMATION PROVIDED IN THIS LAWBLOG. THE MATERIAL PRESENTED IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE AND THE USE OF ANY MATERIAL POSTED ON THIS WEBSITE DOES NOT CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP.
Consistent with the Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations, the material in this blog is presented with the understanding that neither the publisher nor members of the staff are providing legal advice to the reader and in the event legal or other expert assistance is needed, the reader is advised to seek such advice from a competent professional.