Richards v. University of Alaska

[CONSTITUTIONAL LAW]

In Richards v. University of Alaska,[1] the supreme court held that a university’s dismissal procedures do not violate due process when the university gives the student prior notice and conducts a careful and deliberate review process.[2] Richards, a Ph.D. student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), plagiarized a course paper and was required to write a remediation paper explaining why her paper was plagiarized.[3] Richards submitted her remediation paper, but the faculty determined that the paper did not meet the assignment requirements as Richards did not acknowledge that her behavior constituted plagiarism.[4] This instance, combined with other instances where Richards demonstrated a failure to receive criticism, led the faculty to conclude at its annual student review meeting that Richards not continue in the program.[5] After giving Richards notice and an opportunity to resign, the Governance Committee began the process of removal as outlined in the Ph.D. Student Handbook.[6] Richards exhausted all the hearings and appeals available to her in the Handbook, then appealed UAF’s decision to the superior court, which affirmed her dismissal from the program.[7] Richards appealed to the supreme court, arguing that she did not receive due process from UAF.[8] The supreme court had previously held that academic dismissals satisfy due process when the student is given prior notice of the possibility of dismissal and when the decision was “careful and deliberate.”[9] Applying this standard, the supreme court found that Richards had received far more consideration than due process required.[10] The court noted that Richards was given notice on several occasions that her behavior, if left unchanged, could jeopardize her place in the program.[11] Furthermore, the court found that dismissal process was careful and deliberate, involving multiple meetings and a two-day hearing.[12] Affirming the lower court’s decision, the supreme court ruled that a university does not violate a student’s due process by dismissing them from a program after giving prior notice and conducting a careful and deliberate review process.[13]

[1] 370 P.3d 603 (Alaska 2016).

[2] Id. at 616.

[3] Id. at 606.

[4] Id. at 607.

[5] Id.

[6] Id.

[7] Id.

[8] Id. at 609.

[9] Id. at 615.

[10] Id.

[11] Id.

[12] Id.

[13] Id. at 616.

Richards v. University of Alaska

[CONSTITUTIONAL LAW]

In Richards v. University of Alaska,[1] the supreme court held that a university’s dismissal procedures do not violate due process when the university gives the student prior notice and conducts a careful and deliberate review process.[2] Richards, a Ph.D. student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), plagiarized a course paper and was required to write a remediation paper explaining why her paper was plagiarized.[3] Richards submitted her remediation paper, but the faculty determined that the paper did not meet the assignment requirements as Richards did not acknowledge that her behavior constituted plagiarism.[4] This instance, combined with other instances where Richards demonstrated a failure to receive criticism, led the faculty to conclude at its annual student review meeting that Richards not continue in the program.[5] After giving Richards notice and an opportunity to resign, the Governance Committee began the process of removal as outlined in the Ph.D. Student Handbook.[6] Richards exhausted all the hearings and appeals available to her in the Handbook, then appealed UAF’s decision to the superior court, which affirmed her dismissal from the program.[7] Richards appealed to the supreme court, arguing that she did not receive due process from UAF.[8] The supreme court had previously held that academic dismissals satisfy due process when the student is given prior notice of the possibility of dismissal and when the decision was “careful and deliberate.”[9] Applying this standard, the supreme court found that Richards had received far more consideration than due process required.[10] The court noted that Richards was given notice on several occasions that her behavior, if left unchanged, could jeopardize her place in the program.[11] Furthermore, the court found that dismissal process was careful and deliberate, involving multiple meetings and a two-day hearing.[12] Affirming the lower court’s decision, the supreme court ruled that a university does not violate a student’s due process by dismissing them from a program after giving prior notice and conducting a careful and deliberate review process.[13]

[1] 370 P.3d 603 (Alaska 2016).

[2] Id. at 616.

[3] Id. at 606.

[4] Id. at 607.

[5] Id.

[6] Id.

[7] Id.

[8] Id. at 609.

[9] Id. at 615.

[10] Id.

[11] Id.

[12] Id.

[13] Id. at 616.