Paul L. Caron

Thursday, November 26, 2020

In High Court Appeal, Ex-Student Alleges Texas Law School's Cheating Scandal Caused His Bad Grades, Dismissal

Texas Lawyer, In High Court Appeal, Ex-Law Student Alleges Texas Law School's Cheating Scandal Caused His Bad Grades, Dismissal:

When justices on the Texas Supreme Court return from Thanksgiving break, one of the first cases they’ll hear asks if an aspiring lawyer can sue for due-process violations because his law school dismissed him for getting poor grades.

But the law student argues there’s more to it, since the case also involves allegations of a cheating scandal where a professor gave students copies of exam questions, details of an investigation by the law school, and claims that the exam fiasco made the plaintiff fail by giving other students an unfair advantage.

The high court previously allowed a law student to claim constitutional violations for his disciplinary dismissal, and this new dispute between former first-year student Ivan Villarreal and Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law in Houston asks whether the same cause of action is open to a student who got dismissed for academic reasons.

Justices are scheduled to hear Zoom oral arguments Dec. 1 in the case, Texas Southern University v. Villarreal. ...

Villarreal was a first-year law student at Texas Southern in 2014, according to the First Court of Appeals opinion in the case.

Professors weren’t supposed to teach classes between the last day of classes and final exams. But one professor held review sessions anyway. He showed students 13 exam questions that wound up appearing on a 60-question criminal law exam in December 2014. After first-semester exams were posted, rumors circulated that the professor’s students had gotten access to exam questions.

The law school investigated whether their access influenced scores by hiring a statistician, who did not find a significant difference between scores of the students who got the questions and those who did not.

There was a procedure a student could follow if he wanted to preserve a challenge to his exam score. Villarreal didn’t challenge the C+ grade he got in criminal law.

At the end of his first year of law school, Villarreal was dismissed because his GPA was 1.98. The university’s policy was to dismiss a student who failed to maintain at least a 2.0 grade

Update:  Texas Lawyer, Justices Skeptical Over Ex-Law Student's Constitutional Claim for 1.98 GPA Dismissal

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