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Earlier this year, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals rendered an opinion affirming traditional due process protections to be provided public college and university students who face disciplinary proceedings in Barnes v. Zaccari. In Barnes, a student who was perceived to be a threat to campus safety at Valdosta State University by the university president was administratively dismissed by the president without due process. Other university administrators, including mental health professionals, did not find the student threatening, and university counsel repeatedly warned the president that a dismissal without due process would violate his constitutional rights.
The Eleventh Circuit’s opinion reaffirms that students at public colleges and universities must be provided some form of due process prior to a disciplinary dismissal, relying on the classic student due process cases Dixon v. Alabama State Board of Education, 294 F.2d 150 (5th Cir. 1960) and Goss v. Lopez, 519 U.S. 565 (1975).
The case underscores the long-held legal position that public college and university students should be cloaked by some form of due process protection prior to any disciplinary action, especially one leading to dismissal.