Expulsion of Tech Student Upheld By Appeals Court

A student expelled from the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center was not denied his basic rights according to ruling Monday from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
By James Clark

LUBBOCK, TX -- A student expelled from the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center was not denied his basic rights according to ruling Monday from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Brian Brister sued the TTUHSC and its president, Quentin Smith, Ph.D., in December of 2012 claiming that he was falsely accused of misconduct that included illegally downloading copyrighted material and sexually explicit material. Brister also claimed he was falsely accused of using university administrator credentials to change a grade from 67 to 77.5.

Brister’s lawsuit claimed he was denied “due process” in a hearing of the Student Conduct Board. The board had agreed with the TTUHSC administration and recommended that Brister be expelled without the right to re-apply for admission.

U.S. District Court Judge Sam Cumming threw out the lawsuit. Cummings ruled that Brister was indeed afforded due process. The Fifth Circuit agreed.

The Fifth Circuit ruling acknowledged TTUHSC’s “minor deviations from its own procedure.” However, the Fifth Circuit said Brister was given notice of the allegations against him and a chance to question witnesses at the hearing.

The ruling also said, “Brister failed to establish a genuine issue of material fact regarding bias or prejudice in the composition of the hearing panel.”

“We agree with the district court’s conclusion that Brister was not deprived of any process to which he was entitled,” the Fifth Circuit said.

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