Category Archives: Legal

Higher education in the courtroom.


Was Whistle-Blower in Oregon Therapy-Records Case Fired? She Says Yes, University Says No

The University of Oregon says it did not fire an employee of the campus counseling center who criticized the institution for obtaining a student’s therapy records as part of its legal defense against her charge that she was raped by three basketball players.

The Register-Guard, a newspaper in Eugene, Ore., reported that Karen Stokes, executive assistant to the director of the counseling center, sent an email on Thursday to co-workers saying that her “employment is being terminated at the end …


U.S. Appeals Court Backs Accreditor’s Decision Against a Massage School

In January 2014 a federal judge in Virginia reversed an accreditor’s decision to revoke the accreditation of a massage school in Missouri, and took the unusual step of awarding more than $400,000 in damages to the institution.

On Tuesday a federal appeals court reversed the lower court and upheld the accreditor’s decision, ruling that the district court’s action amounted to “a wholesale substitution of the judgment of the court for that of the agency.”

The case stemmed from a March 2012 decision…


Sweet Briar Alumnae Outline Legal Case Against College

Lawyers representing a group of Sweet Briar College alumnae sent a letter on Monday to the college’s lawyer demanding the president and the Board of Directors step down or face a possible legal challenge.

In February the board voted to close the women’s college at the end of the current academic year, a decision that has roiled the Virginia campus and drawn sharp criticism from skeptical alumnae and professors. Now a nonprofit group called Saving Sweet Briar is saying the administration failed …


Fired Administrator Says She Was Pressured to File False Charge of Sexual Harassment

A former administrator at Chicago State University has accused its president and other officials of firing her in part because she refused their demands that she file a false sexual-harassment charge against a faculty member critical of the leadership.

LaShondra Peebles, who was fired last June as interim vice president for enrollment and student affairs, said in court filings that other administrators, including Wayne D. Watson, the president, had pressured her to file the charge against Philli…


U. of Texas’ Chief Might Have Exposed Its Admissions Policy to New Supreme Court Challenge

William C. Powers Jr., president of the University of Texas at Austin, might have provided grounds for a new U.S. Supreme Court review of his institution’s race-conscious undergraduate admissions policy by overseeing a separate, side-door process for considering favored applicants.

The separate admissions process, which the Supreme Court did not know about when it examined Texas’ admissions practices two years ago, undermined the “holistic” admissions process that has been the subject of th…


Employee Who Alleged Harassment by President’s Son Gets $123,000 in Settlement

California State University at Sacramento has paid an employee $123,000 to settle a lawsuit in which he accused the son of the college’s president of harassment, The Sacramento Bee reports.

The plaintiff, Jeffrey Sharp, sued the university last year, saying Alexander Gonzalez Jr. had touched him and made inappropriate comments when they both worked in the office of university advancement. He also said he had faced retaliation for reporting Mr. Gonzalez’s behavior. Sacramento State and Mr. Gonzal…


President of West Liberty U. Resigns After Ethics Complaint

Robin C. Capehart has resigned as president of West Liberty University, a public institution in West Virginia, but will stay on as a “legislative liaison” and consultant through the end of the calendar year, The Charleston Gazette reports.

Mr. Capehart, who was the subject of a no-confidence vote by the university’s Faculty Senate last week, is accused of violating the state ethics code by using university resources to benefit a film-production company he owns. Mr. Capehart has denied the charge…


Defunct Career College’s Founders Get Jail in Fraud Case

A federal judge in Ohio has sentenced the co-founders of a defunct career college to jail for their roles in a fraud involving millions of financial-aid dollars, the Canton Repository reported.

John Richard Ceroni and Adale M. Ceroni pleaded guilty last year to charges related to mail fraud and money laundering. They were accused of buying fake high-school diplomas for students they had recruited to attend Carnegie Career College, then using the documents to apply for financial aid on the studen…


Supreme Court Sends Notre Dame Contraception Case Back to Lower Court

The U.S. Supreme Court has ordered a lower court to reconsider its decision denying the University of Notre Dame an injunction against the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive-care mandate, Reuters reports.

A provision of the law commonly known as Obamacare requires that employers’ health plans cover contraception. But religious nonprofit organizations such as Notre Dame can opt out of the requirement, shifting the burden to a third-party provider at no cost to the organization. Still, religious …


Judge Says University Failed to Shield Professor From Colleagues’ Retaliation

Northeastern State University never should have let two faculty members that it had reprimanded for discriminating against a Native American colleague take part in a subsequent vote to deny him promotion and tenure, a federal judge has ruled.

As reported by The National Law Review on Thursday, the judge determined last month that the Oklahoma university had left the Native American faculty member sufficiently exposed to possible retaliation to let his discrimination lawsuit against it go to tri…