Students' Right to Due Process
Your Grading Practices and a Student's 14th Amendment Rights
Due process involves providing students with a clear description of course expectations, including grading requirements, as well as behavioral guidelines. Most important, it provides students with the opportunity to appeal conduct-related decisions to a higher University authority. Since an important element of due process is the giving of notice of expected behavior, classroom expectations/criteria should be placed in the syllabus and on your faculty web page and announced during class. This notice is an important prerequisite for establishing fair rules of behavior.
Even though you have the right to confront a student suspected of cheating, as an instructor at a public institution of higher education, you do not have the right to sanction a student without offering him or her the opportunity to contest the charge and appeal the decision. Regardless of whether the student contests the charge, you have the right, however, to report a student suspected of misconduct to the Dean's Representative. This report will be processed in accordance with the due process procedures outlined in the Student Conduct Code.
- The 14th amendment affirms that the State may not deprive a student enrolled at a public university the right to a public education without proper due process.
- The issuance of grade-related sanctions by instructors must always be accompanied with the offer of due process since giving a student a failing grade constitutes a threat to their enrollment.
- Therefore, unless the accused student is in full agreement with your account of the facts, as well as the grade-related sanction you propose, you are strongly encouraged to refer the matter to the Dean's Representative and the University's disciplinary procedures.
Due Process as it applies to Academic or Behavioral Misconduct
The University's disciplinary procedures are designed to assure that students accused of wrongdoing will be treated fairly. To this end, no student may be punished for any misconduct except through the procedures defined by the Student Conduct Code.
A faculty member may fail a student for failure to meet academic standards. The course itself is the procedure of due process for examining the student's academic fitness. To avoid complaints, instructors are encouraged to define learning goals for each course. Course goals should be presented clearly, along with the means for proving mastery. In other words, the students must be evaluated in accordance with the criteria announced at the beginning of the course.