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Civil liberties group launches new searchable database of campus due process litigation

Not just Title IX cases

Many lawyers and journalists use a spreadsheet maintained by Brooklyn College Prof. KC Johnson and due process advocate Samantha Harris to keep track of lawsuits filed by students accused of sexual misconduct.

Now Harris’s organization, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, has launched an even more comprehensive resource to keep tabs on litigation involving due process in every kind of campus disciplinary proceeding.

The Campus Due Process Litigation Tracker is searchable by school type, state, federal appeals court and several other categories, including judicial decisions “primarily favorable” to either college or student, stage of litigation and common keywords (“cross-examination,” “basic fairness,” etc.).

It includes “summaries of cases affecting students’ and faculty members’ rights in campus judicial proceedings” and will be continually updated with both newly decided and older cases.

A spokesperson for FIRE told The College Fix Wednesday that it debuted the tracker “in preparation for any Title IX updates” from the Department of Education, which is expected to announce new regulations for campus sexual misconduct proceedings this fall.

Since the Obama administration’s “Dear Colleague” letter on campus sexual assault in 2011, “FIRE has led the fight against the erosion of due process rights on campus through the abuse of Title IX,” he wrote in an email.

The spokesperson clarified that the tracker goes beyond Title IX: “It will include decisions that impact students’ procedural rights in campus judicial proceedings, whether the decision is made in the context of a due process claim, a breach of contract claim, a Title IX claim, etc.”

In a Wednesday blog post, FIRE’s Harris wrote that “judicial decisions about the procedural rights of students in campus proceedings were few and far between” before the 2011 Dear Colleague letter, which spurred colleges to “abandon critical due process protections for accused students.”

The rulings on the subsequent wave of litigation – more than 500 lawsuits since 2011 and 70 this year alone – “contain a wealth of useful information for lawyers, reporters, and anyone else who wants to keep on top of this rapidly developing area of the law,” she wrote.

Particularly noteworthy: rulings on the rights of students at private schools, which are not bound by constitutional guarantees. Some judges have ruled against private schools for breaching their contracts with accused students or denying them “basic fairness.”

Check out the tracker and read the blog post.

MORE: Jury awards six figures to accused student for Title IX kangaroo court

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