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Can my grad school force a binding arbitration on students with little to no notice to avoid a possible class action?

Oakland, CA |

I'm in a doc program , two classes from finishing . Our program is on probation with our accrediting body and has continued its misconduct . If they loose acred , they will be subjected to class action by the current students . there is an accred review in April and now they tell students we have to agree to arb if we want to register for classes . If we don't we can't register , loose financial aid , current internships & much more . It's entrapment because they know we have no recourse . also they gave us this notice less than hrs before reg began on a Friday night so we couldn't call lawyers . Do we have any recourse as pre existing students ? Is this considered cohersion ? is there any type of injunction or cease we can put in place ? Please help

There are more than 100 graduate students who will be affected by this, if we loose acred, some states wont recognize our degrees for licensure, we'll loose income potential & so much more. They are doing this because they are being sued for civil rights violations for the 4th time in as many years & the acred body is coming down hard on them. So instead of stopping the violations, they rather limit students rights further!

Attorney Answers 4


Possibly, but the binding arbitration provision/agreement itself might not be enforceable. This will require a more detailed analysis with more facts.

An arbitration provision can be waived. Also, a plaintiff can chose to litigation, and force the school to file a motion to compel arbitration. The court would then have to determine whether a written agreement to submit to arbitration an existing controversy or a controversy thereafter arising is valid, enforceable and irrevocable, or whether grounds as exist for the revocation of any contract. (Cal Code Civ. Proc., § 1281.)

Generally speaking, the court must grant a motion to compel arbitration unless it finds either: no written agreement to arbitrate exists; the right to compel arbitration has been waived; grounds exist for revocation of the agreement; or litigation is pending that may render the arbitration unnecessary or create conflicting rulings on common issues. (Code Civ. Proc., §1281.2.)

Code of Civil Procedure §1281.4 provides, “if a court of competent jurisdiction . . . has ordered arbitration of a controversy… the court in which such action or proceeding is pending shall, upon motion of a party to such action or proceeding, stay the action or proceeding until an arbitration is had.”

Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney.

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this is a link to the new "agreement" the school says if we don't sign it we can't enroll for classes. They know they are facing potential class action litigation if we loose accreditation which is why (i feel) they are doing this.


You and your mates need the advice of experienced class action counsel. And, in San Francisco you have some of the best.

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I would highly suggest getting the advice of an experienced class action lawyer before proceeding. Hopefully you can get some qualified counsel before you are forced to make this decision. Good luck.

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From the facts you have presented, it appears that the recent requirement to submit to arbitration is unconscionable. It materially changes the existing contract between the parties. You have no true ability to negotiate this term or reject it and continue. It is a contract of adhesion to this extent. I would suggest the students have a meeting with an educational atorney to discuss your options and a strategy to move forward.

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