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Hello, I have a question on whether or not I have standing to sue in the following hypothetical situation:

Vancouver, WA |
Filed under: Education law

Student HB - "Students shall be protected from academic evaluation which is arbitrary, prejuidiced, or capricious, but are responsible for meeting the standards of academic performance established by each of their instructors." I think, and feel, that my recent statistics teacher was arbritrary towards all three tests. We were told to buy books, and were even assured on the syllabus that we would use them. We didn't use the book except once for a Z-score table in the back. His class is structured so the book is nearly worthless, the only other study aid was the incoherent notes. The tutors, including a teacher, didn't know how to do most or the work given. If I file an appeal against the teacher and they shew me away, do I have the legal standing to sue the school for negligent hiring?

Attorney Answers 3


  1. You and some of your classmates should arrange to meet with the dean or head of the department for the course that you found to be so unsatisfactory. Suing schools sounds like a good idea but is generally rather difficult. I suggest a meeting to outline the problems you had with the instructor. I would work my way up the administrative process. You may be able to get a negotiated solution, for example being allowed to take the course again with a somewhat more competent instructor but without additional charges.

    This is not a substitute for a consultation with an education law attorney


  2. A legal claim for protection against arbitrary action is not established by your personal view that an instructor was arbitrary."Arbitrary" and "prejudiced" and "capricious" are legal terms of art that carry freighted (precedential) meanings based on prior case law and statutes. You would have to establish by legally admissible and persuasive evidence that the instructor had no rational basis for the judgments that were exercised in the design and content of the class. You would also need to establish that such deficits were the fault of the instructor and not caused by or contributed to by budget considerations, administrative constraints, or other matters beyond the personal control of the instructor. This is an exceedingly high standard of proof and one that will be very expensive (tens of thousands of dollars) and take a very long time (more than a year, quite possibly more than two) to accomplish.

    Your disagreement about the utility of a particular book will not establish that the instructor acted arbitrarily or capriciously. You can make an administrative complaint through the existing procedures of your school (the rules and regs are on the web-site, in your student handbook, and available from the Dean of Students' office). You are required to exhaust that procedure before initiating any legal action.

    After exhausting the internal admin procedure, you are technically enabled to bring a lawsuit. Based just on what you have written here, that effort should not be expected to succeed.

    My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as legal advice. I give legal advice only in the course of an attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by individual consultation and execution of a written agreement for legal services.


  3. You are highly unlikely to have a cause of action under these circumstances. Proceeding through the schools grievance procedure is likely your best bet.

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