Case name: Johnson v. Arkansas State University, et al., No. 3:17‐CV‐00093 (E.D. Ark. 09/06/17).Ruling: The U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Arkansas dismissed a suit against Arkansas State University Jonesboro.What it means: The only due process required prior to an administrative action is notice and an opportunity to respond. A student is not entitled to a lawyer at an expulsion hearing.Summary: In April 2014, Arkansas State University Jonesboro graduate student Ryan Johnson was informed by email that he faced unspecified disciplinary charges, and that a meeting about those charges was scheduled for April 29.On April 28, Johnson asked for a postponement of the meeting so that he could obtain legal counsel and gather evidence. The university denied the request and informed Johnson that he could not have either legal counsel or an advocate at the meeting.Johnson did not attend the meeting.The next day, Johnson was notified by email that a hearing to consider his expulsion was going to be held in May. He was also informed that he faced additional charges for failing to attend the April 29 meeting.Johnson did not attend the May hearing, and the university expelled him.Johnson filed a suit claiming he was deprived of due process, and ASUJ filed a motion to dismiss.The district judge said the only due process required prior to an administrative action was notice and an opportunity to respond.The judge ruled that Johnson had received all of the due process to which he was entitled because he: (1) was given written notice of the charges, (2) refused the opportunity to present his side of the story to administrators, (3) was given written notice of a separate expulsion hearing, and (4) chose not to attend that hearing.Johnson alternatively argued that he was denied due process because he was not allowed to have legal counsel at the April 29 meeting. The judge disagreed, quoting the U.S. Supreme Court as stating that formalizing the process might destroy its effectiveness as part of the teaching process because it would become too costly as a regular disciplinary tool.The judge dismissed the suit.Submit an articleFor Dean & Provost writers' guidelines or to suggest a topic, please contact the editor, Joan Hope, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dean & Provost – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
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