Blog

Due Process in Private Schools, Title IX, and Breach of Contract Claims

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Jun 30, 2019 | 0 Comments

Our last couple of blog posts have dealt with a recent federal court ruling against Rhodes College, a private school in Tennessee. This court ruling applied federal due process requirements through Title IX law to private colleges.

The extension of due process raises an important question: Were there no due process rights in private colleges, before?

The answer is a complicated “no.”

Public Schools Versus Private Schools

Private schools, while not necessarily run for a profit, and while they often receive at least some state and federal funding and grants, are defined by the fact that they are not directly run by the government.

Public schools, on the other hand, are arms of the state government. Tuition is often cheaper because it is offset, for in-state students, by tax dollars that get funneled into the school.

Due Process and State Actors

The difference between public and private schools is important because the due process rights that are guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution require state action.

If the federal government is not the one who is trying to deprive someone of life, liberty, or property interests, then the Fifth Amendment's due process clause does not apply.

If the state government is not trying to deprive someone of life, liberty, or property interests, then the Fourteenth Amendment's due process clause does not apply.

So, when a public school has a disciplinary hearing that could expel a student for sexual misconduct in violation of Title IX, the accused student has due process rights thanks to the Fourteenth Amendment.

However, when a private school is conducting that same disciplinary hearing, there is no state action to trigger either due process clause.

Private Schools Are Only Bound by Contractual Rights

That does not mean that private schools can do whatever they want to students, and expel them for things like sneezing on the school president. Instead, private schools and their students have signed a contract with one another that gives rights and demands obligations from each side.

The biggest rights and obligations involve the student paying tuition and taking the required classes, in exchange for receiving a degree at the end of it all.

Often overlooked are the investigative and hearing procedures that students agree to, should they ever get accused of academic misconduct or sexual misconduct while in school. These procedures basically stand-in as a replacement for a student's constitutional due process rights, and because they come from a signed agreement between the school and the student, they are enforced by the state's contract laws.

This is why the student at Rhodes College who was accused of rape and got expelled in a sham hearing sued his school under both Title IX and breach of contract. It is also why it is such a big deal that the court's ruling, in footnote 4, recognized that the student had due process rights in his Title IX claim, but not in his breach of contract claim.

Title IX Defense With Joseph D. Lento

Joseph D. Lento is a Title IX defense lawyer and a national Title IX advisor. Call his law office at (888) 535-3686 or contact him online if you have been accused of misconduct on campus.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience passionately fighting for the futures of his clients. Mr. Lento represents students and others in disciplinary cases and other proceedings at universities and colleges across the United States while concurrently fighting in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, and New Jersey. Mr. Lento has helped countless students, professors, and others in academia at more than a thousand universities and colleges across the United States. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide.

Comments

There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Contact Us Today!

footer-2.jpg

If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact our offices today, and let us help secure your academic career.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations – the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Berks, Lancaster, Lehigh, and Northampton County. In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County, In New York, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New York's 62 counties. Outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance may not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, New York, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.

Menu