The United States Constitution is the highest law in the United States. It establishes the form of the national government and defines the rights and liberties of the American people.
Under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, no state may “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” Students attending public institutions of higher education are entitled to these rights. The Due Process Clause serves as the primary external source of procedural requirements for public institutions. “The Due Process Clause guarantees more than fair process, and the liberty it protects includes more than the absence of physical restraint” (Bach, 2003, p. 31).
This paper will focus on rights afforded students, as required by due process, within the context of student suspensions and expulsions. It also describes the applicable case law associated with due process rights for students in higher education.
There are two forms of due process, substantive and procedural. Both forms of due process must be considered when a public institution contemplates dismissing a student for academic or behavioral reasons. Substantive due process means that the rule itself must be fair and the substance of the decision must be sound, not arbitrary and capricious (Garner, 2004). “Under substantive due process, students cannot be disciplined for constitutionally protected actions, or for actions which the government has no legitimate interest in punishing” (Bach, 2003, p. 31).
Institutions have a right to expel, suspend or issue sanctions for misconduct or academic inadequacies. In these situations students must be afforded the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution. Acting as an arm of the state, public institutions are required to provide a certain level of due process and other constitutional rights. Private institutions, however, are not required to provide the same
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