Attorney Steve® Civil Litigation - Covid 19 Due Process Defense Lawyer - California Expulsion / Suspension and Accusations.
Call us for a free initial consultation. (877) 276-5084.
Covid has wreaked havoc on our society. There have been a ton of laws, rules, regulations and executive orders not only on the local level (counties and cities) but also on the state and federal level. Only a "Covid Lawyer" could make sense of all these requirements that are changing literally every week. Yet, it seems when it comes to tracking and complying with ongoing rules and orders and the "evolving" changes to the disease and disease prevention, it seems schools and universities want to "shift the burden" to the students and student-athletes such as baseball and football players, soccer, basketball, golf, tennis, swimmers and others sports.
When it comes to student-athletes, they spend a large amount of their time working hard in their sports (sports like baseball, football and basketball generate lots of money for the schools and universities and bring them nationwide prestige which helps with future recruiting and future prestige). Athletes can typically spend 25 or more hours every week helping build the school's sports programs, and of course, seeking to get their shot at playing professional sports. There is little time to master Covid Laws and Covid medical issues. The burden should be on the educational institution to train their teachers, coaches, faculty and staff and to update the players and the students.
Yet, when it comes to receiving this type of Covid education, it seems to be lacking. On top of the rules mentioned above, schools may have their own internal health policies, student codes and even "student-athlete social media pledges." We know words, rules and guidelines can be open to interpretation, and with the "novel coronavirus" as they call it, it s hard to keep track of what's new, and what new safety measures exist. For example, just yesterday (February 10th) a CNN article noted that the CDC now recommends wearing not one but TWO masks? When does this roll out to the students? Is this their obligation to know and comply at the risk of being expelled from school or suspended for a semester?
These are just some of the issues going on right now on high school and college campuses. Before a student or an athlete should be suspended they are entitled to due process. But this usually raises the question of "what process is due."
NCAA has its own set of guidelines for Covid in sports - called "Re-socialization of Collegiate Sports." This can add even more "guidelines" schools and universities should be following or at least considering.
Due process is a right to a fair process before being suspended from school for a year or a quarter or a semester and to have a right to be heard to challenge the accusations, present defenses and to present mitigating factors. It also requires clear notice of what's prohibited, and what the fair penalties are for any violations.
Is there Clear Notice of what is expected (training and education)?
How are student-athletes supposed to comply with the ever-changing Covid rules and restrictions? Are they supposed to figure them out for themselves? Even as a lawyer I have a hard time keeping up and understanding the often "vague terms" used in laws, rules, executive orders and regulations involving the Coronavirus.
For example what constitutes proper "social distancing" and how can one tell the difference between 5 feet or 7 feet?
What is an "appropriate face mask" or "effective face covering?" (remember, when Covid started, the "authorities" said a bandana was fine), well now they are saying TWO MASKS is better than one. Compliance is a moving target.
Are you telling me the coach and faculty wear mask at all times? Why does a coach get to take their mask off? Why do players get to play with a mask off while others have them on? Does the school host social gatherings? Even Tom Brady superbowl champion was criticized for not wearing a mask, but does he get suspended? Do they garnish his pay? Do they strip him of his 7th super-bowl ring?
The standards are often vague and confusing even to lawyers. Yet, student-athletes, without so much as a one hour training session from a medical health provider, are supposed to fetch their email, read rules, regulations and orders, understand it, comply, or face a loss of school rights and activities. This can lead to a loss of future employment or super sports opportunities for athletes.
In short, this is getting out of control and student-athletes are at risk of losing their rights such as:
- Access to the campus (ban)
- Scholarships lost
- Ban from all face-to-face activities
- Loss of rights to play sports (long term unjustified suspensions)
- Being called out publicly (embarrassing)
- Travel lockdowns and quarantines
- Intrusive and excessive testing requirements
- Forced vaccinations
- Forced isolation
- Loss of constitutional rights such as free speech and freedom of association
Is there Clear Notice of potential penalties?
Another important aspect of due process is having clear notice of potential penalties for violating Covid-19 rules and restrictions. Schools need to make clear what the rules are, how to comply, and what the penalties are for clear violations. This is another important aspect of due process.
PODCAST: Click to listen to the podcast on NCAA Covid Re-socialization Guidelines for Collegiate Sports.
What about students with ADHD or learning disabilities?
The need for proper education is more important than ever, especially with students who have been diagnosed with ADHD with or without "impulsivity." These kids need special training and special care and the school or University is normally aware and on notice of this. This can be a mitigating factor never taken into account in a coronavirus student discipline case.
School and University Covid-19 Discipline Cases in the News
Here are a few cases in the news:
19 University of Delaware Students suspended (suspension range from 6 weeks to full semester)
Purdue suspends 14 students for illegal party
Rugby players suspended for violating Coronavirus rules
Ohio State players sign Covid pledge
University of Missouri suspends two students for breach of rules
Party apology (North Carolina Tar Heels)
School & Education Law - Legal cases we might be able to help you with
Call us for a free initial consultation at (877) 276-5084 or email us through our contact form:
- Unfair suspension cases
- Hate speech allegations
- Rape allegations
- Discrimination allegations
- Title IX issues
- Contract tracing disputes
- Isolation and Quarantine disputes
- Athletic Department letter response
- School cheating
- Dealing with kangaroo courts
- University mask policies
- Covid-19 due process
- First amendment / free speech
- Appeals of suspension/expulsions
- Super-spreader allegations (hosting parties on campus)
- Breach of student-athlete social pledge
- Social distancing violations
- Disciplinary proceedings
- Coronavirus ordinance, rule, regulation violations
- Student code / educational code issues
- Unlawful protest cases
Our law firm has been litigating cases since 2004. Attorney Steve® Vondran is a former Fresno State Bulldog and former professional baseball player with the Cincinnati Reds organization. He is a member of the Fresno State Hall of Fame.