Tuesday, October 16, 2012

To quash or not to quash?

I started telling you about a week ago about the complex legal issues involved in filing a Statement of Claim. Let's have a look now at my own Statement of Claim and see how I've attempted to navigate around these problems.

I told you about the biggest problem with taking on the University. First, the courts expect you to follow the internal appeal process to the very end: you must "exhaust your internal remedies" before the court will even consider your claim. That can take months. And then, what you're supposed to do is ask for a Judicial Review of the findings: you can argue that the findings were made improperly, without due process, etc; and at the end of it all, if you are very, very lucky, the judge might possibly quash the findings of the University and...send you back for a brand new hearing! You'd be back in the same kangaroo court where you were screwed the first time, except this time they'd know enough to cross all the t's and dot all the i's. Because the judge quashed the verdict on procedural grounds, not issues of fact. All they have to do is go through the motions again with proper procedures.

The prospect of going through all the time, effort and expense of a court case just to be sent back to the star chamber...well, it was unbearable. So I came up with a different tack. The University made much of the charges of Non-Academic Misconduct. If you read through the entire sixteen pages of my Statement of Claim, you will see that I do not even mention the charges of misconduct! My entire claim is based on my removal from the practicum.

The University was well prepared to defend itself against legal action based on the misconduct proceedings. They did their best to follow all the steps laid out in their policy manual, so they would be able to defeat any "motion to quash" on strictly procedural grounds. But the Misconduct Proceedings were not officially launched until a day after I was removed from the Practicum. That was an ambush, pure and simple, and throughout the five months of follow-up proceedings, they never once even responded to my attempts to appeal the removal of my practicum privileges.

Now, you can't graduate from Education without a practicum. So in effect, I was kicked out of the program from that moment on. But the University continued to maintain the legal fiction that they were according me all of my due process rights, up until the moment my expulsion was ratified by the Board of Regents.

To be sure, they will attempt to make a legal argument that my removal from the Practicum was done in accordance with procedures. They have even cited a passage from the Certification Practicum Student Handbook which appears to grant them the power to do what they did. I indicate this in Paragraph 28 of my Statement of Claim. On paper, the School Prinicipal does indeed have that power.

The problem is that in practical terms, in order to exercise that power, there would have to be a general consensus by a number of people including the Dean of Education, the Principal, the supervising teacher, the Faculty Advisor, that such a removal was clearly warranted by the circumstances. It is inconceivable that the Principal could simply write a letter one day demanding removal of a student teacher, and no one would raise the slightest question as to why. And yet this is essentially what they did. How could it have happened?

The answer is that it could never have happened unless all those parties had gotten together in advance and agreed that it should be done. And that is what I am claiming: that there was a "conspiracy to injure" organized against me.

When we return, I'll talk a little bit about the Tort of Conspiracy.

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