Scott McConnell, former graduate education student at Le Moyne College, a Jesuit school in Syracuse, New York, filed a lawsuit this morning seeking reinstatement and compensation for Le Moyne’s violations of his civil rights. McConnell is being represented by New York civil rights attorney Samuel A. Abady and the Center for Individual Rights. FIRE announced the lawsuit in a press release today, along with other updates on the case.
Both the student handbook and the statements that Le Moyne College has made incline me to believe that in expelling me, Le Moyne College has violated its own mission of academic freedom. Nothing in the handbook, the acceptance letter, or any other information I received from Le Moyne states that my personal beliefs would or could play a part in my ultimate acceptance to or continuing involvement with the program. Indeed, according to a March 10, 2005, article in the New York Times, you yourself acknowledged that “Le Moyne had not warned students like [me] that they could be removed for expressing controversial beliefs, nor had the college said that education students must oppose corporal punishment or support multiculturalism.” My summary rejection from the program for violating rules that the college acknowledges that I could not have known about violates the most elementary standards of fairness and could have serious consequences for Le Moyne’s institutional reputation.I wish to resolve this situation as soon as possible, and I am confident that it would benefit both the college and me to bring this situation to a just and equitable conclusion.
At no time did plaintiff ever state—orally or in writing—to anyone at Le Moyne College…that: (i) he would violate the law in any respect regarding his obligations as a teacher; (ii) he would violate teaching protocols established by any educational employer; (iii) he would refuse to obey any directives provided by his superiors in the education system; or (iv) he would do anything inconsistent with his obligations as a teacher certified by the State of New York or as a teacher employed by any school district within New York State.
Under the heading “College Judicial System,” due process rights are published at pages 83-86 “to insure that students involved in such cases realize that their case has been processed in a fair and judicious manner,” and include the following: (i) presumption of innocence; (ii) advance, written notice of charges; (iii) entitlement to a judicial board hearing; (iv) entitlement to representation at the hearing by a Le Moyne student, faculty or staff member of the student’s choice; (v) freedom from discipline pending the outcome of the hearing except in cases of “a danger to the immediate well-being of the College community”; (vi) entitlement to present evidence and call witnesses; (vii) the hearing shall be recorded; (viii) entitlement to written notice of the outcome based solely on the evidence; and (ix) an appellate process.