Brandeis University: Refusal to Provide Due Process to Person Accused of Sex Offense
David Schaer, a student accused by a fellow student of sexual misconduct, was tried in an absurd kangaroo court, denied basic standards of due process, unable to question or face his accuser, and ultimately found guilty. Schaer sued the university for violation of promised due process rights. In an important decision, Schaer v. Brandeis, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts reaffirmed the longstanding precedent that rights guaranteed to students in college handbooks have the force of contract. In addition to ruling that colleges and universities can be sued for breach of contract based on promises contained in student handbooks, the court also reaffirmed the common law principle that colleges and universities must treat students with basic fairness even in the absence of such contracts. Unfortunately, three of the five Justices who heard the case concluded that Brandeis had met its legal obligation to student David Arlen Schaer in his disciplinary hearing. The factual issue was whether Brandeis had complied with the promises made in its own student handbook.