Higher medical education gained momentum several years ago, and the number of students of higher educational facilities in the healthcare area has increased substantially. The growing array of students is associated with diverse challenges yet to be addressed by the administration and these institutions’ leaders. One of these areas is the due process related to student dismissal. A current case involving a student of a New Jersey medical college can serve as an illustration of this concern. A student (hereafter also referred to as Smith) had academic issues based on his poor performance and low compliance with the educational establishment’s code of conduct.
After the implementation of procedures aimed at identifying the student’s academic achievement and compliance, he was dismissed. Smith filed a lawsuit trying to prove that his right to due process and his remediation rights were violated. The court decided that the institution followed the due process properly and the dismissal was rightful. During the dean of this institution, the leader stated that one of the gaps to be addressed is the development of clear-cut due process guidelines leaving no room for multiple interpretations.
An institution legal problem that involves decision-making on the part of the institution
The dean believes that the existing rules regarding student dismissal and remediation opportunities need further improvement. The leader of the institution notes that the regulatory policies regarding the matter identify the set of procedures a student has to undergo to prove his competence or compliance with the established codes. A committee that included the members of the faculty and students reviewed Smith’s performance and instances of non-compliance. Two rounds of reviews were held, and the student was notified about the procedures and their outcomes. It is noteworthy that probation is a common procedure for students, including medical institution students, although these establishments tend to have higher demands due to their responsibility to provide communities with high-profile healthcare professionals (Kalet et al., 2017).
It was found that Smith’s achievements were well below the college average and below his peer’s scores. The first committee decided that the student had to have a probation term, which he used. However, the other committee saw no improvements and, with only two members’ decision to provide another probation term, decided that Smith had to be dismissed.
The dean states that the college statute and the code of conduct, as well as other policies and state regulations, provide detailed guidelines related to due process in case of poor performance and non-compliance. Nonetheless, according to the interviewee, students file lawsuits linked to due process, trying to prove their rights have been violated. It has been acknowledged that due process practice requires further development on different levels, including educational establishments and the state levels (Barnett & Bernick, 2019; Ellaway et al., 2018). The policies should involve a detailed description of procedures, sanctions, and students’ actions.
The concepts campus common law, jurisprudence and impact the legal and ethical decision-making of institution leaders
The lawsuits related to due process are not uncommon, and in many cases, such concepts as accuracy and equality are considered. The case in question is characterized by the focus on accuracy, as Smith argued that the due process lacked accuracy and compliance with internal guidelines as well as external standards. Ames et al. (2020) note that the recent trend in the field suggests that the internal codes require certain enhancement and external support. Students tend to file lawsuits questioning the accuracy and rightfulness of the procedures utilized by their institutions. Goldman (2019) adds that students need external involvement when trying to prove their compliance with the codes established at their facilities. The majority of cases characterized by this tendency are related to non-compliance and sexual harassment, while academic performance is often the subject matter of such cases.
The state of New Jersey has quite clear guidelines regarding student suspension and expulsion. These standards are based on common law cases and the existing legislation, as well as governing ethical principles (Department of Education, 2019). Institutions have clear guidelines for developing their internal statutes and codes, enabling them to address diverse cases and respond to diverse litigations. At that, these efforts seem insufficient as educational establishments face numerous issues.
As far as common law cases are concerned, quite many similar cases exist and can be used to support the institution’s decision. For example, the case Board of Curators, Univ. of Missouri v Horowitz is illustrative in terms of the effectiveness of medical school’s efforts in court (Conran et al., 2018). Horowitz attempted to prove that the institution did not provide proper due process, although the educational establishment provided a probation period, set committee hearings twice, and implemented certain procedures. The court, the Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court decided that due process was ensured and the lower courts’ procedures were followed properly, so the student had to be dismissed (see Appendix). Likewise, Smith failed to prove that the institution deprived him of the opportunity to use all the available resources to avoid dismissal.
The decision making represented by the institution leader
It is necessary to state that the leader provides an accurate account of the case and provides ethical and evidence-based arguments supporting the decision-making process. The dean stated that he reviews each case related to student expulsion or similar sanctions, trying to act in the student’s best interests. The interviewee stresses that he wants to provide a wide range of opportunities to students and understands that sometimes they need support and a new chance. At the same time, the dean argues that the existing standards need to be followed as their institution contributes to the development of the medical workforce.
The dean also adds that prior cases serve as the background for decisions made at present. Their students have to be knowledgeable and skillful to provide high-quality healthcare service, which will ensure the proper development of U. S. society.
These arguments show the dean’s accountability and responsibility. He contributes to the establishment of an effective system of standards and procedures that ensure students’ compliance with the codes based on previous experience. Importantly, the dean made decisions based on ethical standards, internal policies, and common law. However, the case could benefit from enhancing its transparency of the case. These days, communities are concerned about the enhancement of internal authority within institutions that make decisions that may lack transparency or accountability (Danley & Rubin, 2019).
Modern people seek stronger public control, while some establishments resist this trend. The present case can become the starting point in the institution’s effort to become more open to the public. Such cases need a broader context, and the college can make such cases publicized through internal and external media, making the community more involved. In this case, the public can follow the process of all procedures implementation and make sure that no student rights have been violated.
The refinement of the existing guidelines may also be needed as the fact that students refer to external forces (the court) unveils the existence of certain gaps. The dean should initiate a thorough review of the codes and procedures associated with due process, student expulsion or dismissal. The codes should comply with the most recent state regulations, previous law cases and be based on ethical principles accepted in American society. It can be a beneficial incentive to create a common code for all medical institutions as these establishments have to foster high-profile and committed professionals.
In conclusion, it is necessary to note that the case under consideration shows some gaps existing in the use of jurisprudence in healthcare education. On the one hand, administrators and these institutions’ leaders have to act in their students’ best interests as it ensures the development of educational establishments. On the other hand, it is critical to make sure that students remain responsible and accountable, trying to excel in their studies to become effective health care providers. The maintenance of this balance can be a complex task, so state and federal regulations, common law, and ethical norms offer appropriate guidance to decision-makers.
The interviewed dean managed to keep the balance and ensure that rules were followed while all the rights were exercised and opportunities were made available. One of the ways to avoid similar issues and disputes can be the involvement of the community. The public should be aware of the specifics of each disputable case to avoid any misunderstanding and the creation of a negative image of the institution.
Ames, D., Handan-Nader, C., Ho, D. E., & Marcus, D. (2020). Due process and mass adjudication: Crisis and reform. Stanford Law Review, 72(1), 1-78.
Barnett, R. E., & Bernick, E. D. (2019). No arbitrary power: An originalist theory of the due process of law. SSRN Electronic Journal, 60(5), 1599-1683. Web.
Conran, R. M., Elzie, C. A., Knollmann-Ritschel, B. E., Domen, R. E., & Powell, S. Z. E. (2018). Due process in medical education: Legal considerations. Academic Pathology, 5, 1-21. Web.
Danley, S., & Rubin, J. S. (2019). What enables communities to resist neoliberal education reforms? Lessons from Newark and Camden, New Jersey. Journal of Urban Affairs, 42(4), 663-684. Web.
Department of Education. (2019). Keeping our kids safe, healthy & in school. Web.
Ellaway, R. H., Chou, C. L., & Kalet, A. L. (2018). Situating remediation. Academic Medicine, 93(3), 391-398. Web.
Goldman, R. A. (2019). When is due process due?: The impact of Title IX Sexual Assault Adjudication on the rights of university students. Pepperdine Law Review, 47(1), 185-228.
Kalet, A., Chou, C. L., & Ellaway, R. H. (2017). To fail is human: Remediating remediation in medical education. Perspectives on Medical Education, 6(6), 418-424. Web.
Board of Curators, Univ. of Missouri v. Horowitz, 435 U.S. 78 (1978).
U.S. Supreme Court
Board of Curators, Univ. of Missouri v. Horowitz, 435 U.S. 78 (1978)
Board of Curators of the University of Missouri v. Horowitz No. 76-695
Argued November 7, 1977
Decided March 1, 1978
435 U.S. 78
The academic performance of students at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Medical School is periodically assessed by the Council of Evaluation, a faculty-student body that can recommend various actions, including probation and dismissal; its recommendations are reviewed by the faculty Coordinating Committee, with ultimate approval by the Dean. After several faculty members had expressed dissatisfaction with the clinical performance of respondent medical student during a pediatrics rotation, the Council recommended that she be advanced to her final year on a probationary basis. Following further faculty dissatisfaction with respondent’s clinical performance that year, the Council, in the middle of the year, again evaluated her academic progress, and concluded that she should not be considered for graduation in June of that year, and that, absent “radical improvement,” she be dropped as a student.
As an “appeal” of that decision, respondent was allowed to take examinations under the supervision of seven practicing physicians, only two of whom thereafter recommended that respondent be allowed to graduate on schedule. Two others recommended that she be dropped from the school immediately; and three recommended that she not be allowed to graduate as scheduled, but that she be continued on probation. The Council then reaffirmed its prior position. At a subsequent meeting, having noted that respondent’s recent surgery rotation had been rated “low-satisfactory,” the Council concluded that, barring reports of radical improvement, respondent should not be allowed to reenroll; and when a report on another rotation turned out to be negative, the Council recommended that respondent be dropped.
When notified of that decision, which the Coordinating Committee and Dean had approved, respondent appealed to the Provost, who, after review, sustained the decision. Respondent thereafter brought this action against petitioner officials under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, contending, inter alia, that she had not been accorded due process prior to her dismissal. The District Court, after a full trial, concluded that respondent had been afforded all rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court of Appeals reversed.
Page 435 U. S. 79
- The procedures leading to respondent’s dismissal for academic deficiencies, under which respondent was fully informed of faculty dissatisfaction with her clinical progress and the consequent threat to respondent’s graduation and continued enrollment, did not violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Dismissals for academic (as opposed to disciplinary) cause do not necessitate a hearing before the school’s decisionmaking body. Goss v. Lopez, 419 U. S. 565, distinguished. Pp. 435 U. S. 84-91.
- Though respondent contends that the case should be remanded to the Court of Appeals for consideration of her claim of deprivation of substantive due process, this case, as the District Court correctly concluded, reveals no showing of arbitrariness or capriciousness that would warrant such a disposition, even if it were deemed appropriate for courts to review under an arbitrariness standard an academic decision of a public educational institution. Pp. 435 U. S. 91-92.
538 F.2d 1317, reversed.
REHNQUIST, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and STEWART, POWELL, and STEVENS, JJ., joined, and in Parts I, II-A, and III of which WHITE, J., joined. POWELL, J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 435 U. S. 92. WHITE, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, post, p. 435 U. S. 96. MARSHALL, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, post, p. 435 U. S. 97. BLACKMUN, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, in which BRENNAN, J., joined, post, p. 435 U. S. 108.
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Board of Curators of the University of Missouri
435 U.S. 78
Argued November 7, 1977 Decided.