Yesterday’s press release announces an important legal victory for Scott McConnell, the education student whom Le Moyne College ejected for endorsing corporal punishment in an essay for an education class. Two months after receiving an “A-” for the paper, McConnell was dismissed from Le Moyne’s education program because administrators said there was a “mismatch” between his personal beliefs and the program’s goals. FIRE first brought this case to the public’s attention in January of 2005.
McConnell filed a lawsuit against Le Moyne, then appealed when the trial court failed to recognize the injustice in Le Moyne’s disregard for academic freedom and due process. Yesterday, the New York appellate court ruled in favor of McConnell. FIRE’s press release explains:
On January 18, 2006, the Supreme Court of New York’s Appellate Division rejected Le Moyne’s claim that McConnell was not officially a matriculated student. The court agreed with FIRE that McConnell’s acceptance letter from Le Moyne stated that academic performance, not personal beliefs, would govern whether he officially matriculated. Since McConnell fulfilled the standards laid out for him, the court said, McConnell was a fully matriculated student and Le Moyne was therefore wrong to dismiss him without due process.
This is an important victory not just for Scott McConnell, who is now re-registering at Le Moyne, but for all students whose academic futures rest upon passing universities’ ideological litmus tests. FIRE has fought similar cases at Washington State University, Rhode Island College, and Brooklyn College.