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2 Fla. Coastal L.J. 243 (2000-2001)


In the process of enforcing their academic and disciplinary standards, colleges and universities increasingly find themselves confronting the possibility and even the reality of litigation. At public institutions, of course, the strictures of the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment loom especially large. Meeting the complex needs of their institutions and students as well as the expectations of American courts presents an ongoing and daunting challenge to higher education personnel.

For both internal and external reasons, institutional dealings with aberrant students in public higher education has, over the years, developed on a dual track. Courts themselves have generally treated disciplinary action against students as subject to significant procedural due process although, in typical due process fashion, the quantum of process has varied according to the student interest threatened by institutional action. Academic sanctions have occasioned greater deference from the courts. In such situations, courts, though acknowledging that even here institutional action might be judicially trumped, have accorded universities great leeway in determining both the need for and the extent of any sanction.

This Article will discuss the (relatively few) building blocks provided by the U.S. Supreme Court for this area of the law. It will then assess the interests that come within the protection of due process and describe the procedures enforceable against state institutions.


Reprinted with permission of Florida Coastal Law Journal.

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