$900K Settlement at Valdosta State is Being Paid by Another Party, not the University

July 29, 2015

By Aleister at College Insurrection

Valdosta State isn’t paying out the $900K. another party is and that might actually be a good thing.

Greg Piper of the College Fix explains why.

Guess who’s paying for college’s $900,000 settlement with student it expelled for a Facebook collage

We noted a recent settlement between Georgia’s Valdosta State University and a former student it had expelled for (no joke) making a collage against a proposed parking garage and posting it online.

That followed an appeals court ruling earlier this year that the school president could be personally liable for that wrongful expulsion.

The ruling must have freaked out the administration enough that it decided nearly a million was worth buying off this kid.

And it illustrates the new calculus that schools might want to consider before taking grossly unconstitutional actions against students and faculty, according to Will Creeley, vice president of legal and public advocacy at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which helped start the case way back in 2007.

You see, it’s not Valdosta State President Ronald Zaccari or the public university itself that’s paying the money, Creeley said. From the settlement:

Plaintiff understands that all of the consideration under this Agreement is being paid by the Georgia Department of Administrative Services (“DOAS”) as administrator of the State Tort Liability Trust Fund and the Broad Form Policy and, by Munich Reinsurance America, Inc. providing excess coverage to DOAS and its insureds, who are acting as independent contractors in connection with this settlement and not as an agent of any party released.

That means the state and an insurer are picking up the tab, and that’s very good news for fans of due process in higher education, Creeley says:

Because guess what powerful institutional force carries an incredible amount of influence over university policies and practices? The risk management industry and insurance companies.

As FIRE has long recognized, the risk management industry wields tremendous power within higher education, calling the shots on codes of conduct and best practices.

Schools: Valdosta State University Cases: Valdosta State University: Student Expelled for Peacefully Protesting Parking Garages