7015 College Blvd. #375
Overland Park, KS 66211

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913.302.0152—Cliff
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Thursday, Aug. 22nd 2019

Student Equal Protection Rights

A student at a public college or university likely enjoys student equal protection rights, under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, in the context of the student’s treatment by the school in comparison with the school’s treatment of the student’s peers. 

For example, if a student is dismissed from a public university or program for failing a course or for being found responsible for committing a disciplinary infraction, while a peer of that student who failed a course or was found responsible for the same or similar disciplinary infraction is permitted to remain enrolled, the dismissed student may have a claim for violation of his or her student equal protection rights.  

Student Equal Protection Rights – Federal Ruling

In a long series of rulings, the U.S. Supreme Court and lower courts have established that state actors, which would include public universities, must not intentionally treat similarly situated persons differently if there is no rational basis for such differential treatment. See, e.g., Village of Willowbrook v. Olech, 528 U.S. 562, 564 (2000).

While this is a developing area of the law in the context of education, some courts have issued rulings in favor of student rights, including federal courts in California. Simonian v. Fowler Unified Sch. Dist., 473 F. Supp. 2d 1065 (E.D. Cal. 2007) (permitting equal protection claim to move forward where student alleged he was removed from school when another student who committed similar infractions was permitted to remain in school); Strahan v. Lea, No. C. 06-01680 SI, 2006 WL 2228942, at *3 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 3, 2006) (permitting graduate student to maintain equal protection claim against state university where student alleges he was treated differently from other similarly situated students and that there was no rational basis for the difference in treatment).

Student Equal Protection Rights – Defined

A student at a private university likely has rights which are functionally equivalent to student equal protection rights, including the right to be treated the same as other students in the same circumstances, according to both the contractual theory of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing and the related concept that all schools, including private universities, should never treat a student in an arbitrary and capricious manner, including in purely academic matters.

If you have been denied your equal protection rights at a public or private school, please contact our firm today at (913) 345-2555 to seek a free initial consultation regarding your matter. 

 

CLIFFORD A. COHEN

GREATER KANSAS CITY STUDENT RIGHTS ATTORNEY

FREE Initial Phone Consultation  

913 345-2555

7015 College Blvd. #375
Overland Park, KS 66211

EMAIL: cac@ksmolaw.com

 


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