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MCDONALD v. BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF UNIVERSITY OF ILL.

March 14, 1974

PERCY MCDONALD, PLAINTIFF,
v.
BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS ET AL., DEFENDANTS. ROBERT MARSHALL, PLAINTIFF, V. BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS ET AL., DEFENDANTS. KEVIN SULLIVAN, PLAINTIFF, V. BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Marshall, District Judge.

OPINION

Plaintiffs in these three related cases, Percy McDonald, Robert Marshall and Kevin Sullivan, are currently enrolled as second-year students in the University of Illinois College of Medicine at the Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois (the "College of Medicine"). All three plaintiffs were charged with cheating on the June, 1973 freshman certifying comprehensive examination (the "freshman comprehensive examination"). The charges were heard by the College of Medicine Committee on Student Discipline (the "College Committee"), on referral from the Executive Dean of the College of Medicine. On December 12, 1973, after an extensive evidentiary hearing at which plaintiffs were represented by counsel of their choice, the College Committee found that each plaintiff had cheated as charged and recommended that each be expelled from the University. The recommendation of expulsion was tempered, however, with the provision that each plaintiff be permitted to take the June, 1974 freshman comprehensive examination and, if he passes it, be permitted to re-enroll in the College of Medicine as a sophomore in September of 1974.

Pursuant to established and written rules of procedure,*fn1 plaintiffs appealed the recommendation of the College Committee to the Senate Committee on Student Discipline (the "Senate Committee") which, on January 28, 1974, upon the evidence adduced before and the findings of the College Committee, affirmed the recommendations.*fn2 Thereupon plaintiffs were expelled.

Plaintiffs then brought these actions claiming that the expulsions deprived them of their property or liberty without due process of law in violation of rights guaranteed them by the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1983. They seek declaratory, injunctive and money damages relief. Jurisdiction is based on 28 U.S.C. § 1343, 2201 and 2202.

Defendants are the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois, a public corporation created and supported by the State of Illinois, and charged with the responsibility of maintaining the University of Illinois and all of its colleges, divisions and departments, including the College of Medicine (Ill.Rev.Stat. 1971, ch. 144, § 22 et seq.), and various officials of the College of Medicine including the Executive Dean, the members of the College Committee and the members of the Senate Committee.

The court's jurisdiction of either the subject matter or the person of the corporate or individual defendants has not been challenged. In view of the nature of the University of Illinois as a State created and supported institution and the official rules of the individual defendants within the University (and particularly the College of Medicine) and the nature of plaintiffs' interests in their pursuit of their professional education and attendant professional careers, the court is content that jurisdiction is present. Vlandis v. Kline, 412 U.S. 441, 93 S.Ct. 2230, 37 L.Ed.2d 63 (1973); Perry v. Sindermann, 408 U.S. 593, 92 S.Ct. 2694, 33 L.Ed.2d 570 (1972); Goldberg v. Kelly, 397 U.S. 254, 90 S.Ct. 1011, 25 L.Ed.2d 287 (1970); Dixon v. Alabama Board of Education, 294 F.2d 150 (5th Cir. 1961). More challenging however, is the question of the extent to which the Court can intrude into and exercise a supervisory hand in the resolution of the essentially academic disputes which are presented here under the aegis of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Civil Rights Act.

Plaintiffs have been pursuing their second-year studies since their expulsion pursuant to a temporary restraining order issued by the court on February 1, 1974 and thereafter extended until today. On February 11, 1974, the court received evidence (consisting of the transcript of proceedings before the College Committee) and heard arguments on plaintiffs' motions for preliminary injunctions, announcing prior thereto, pursuant to Rule 65(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, that evidence received at that hearing would be considered by the court in any trial on the merits.

One final procedural observation is in order before turning to the merits. Plaintiffs were not jointly charged before the College Committee. They elected, however, to stand trial together with the assurance of the Committee that their cases would receive individual consideration. Here they filed individual actions which, because they presented common questions of law, were, for purposes of economy of time, consolidated for hearing. Each plaintiff's case has, however, received individual consideration.

In the fall of 1971, Percy McDonald, Robert Marshall and Kevin Sullivan enrolled in the College of Medicine as first-year students. Each is black. Each was accepted as a participant in the Medical Opportunities Program, the purpose of which is to increase minority group participation in the medical profession through, inter alia, the utilization of standards of admission to medical school different from those employed in screening non-participating applicants.

McDonald had graduated in the upper 10% of his class from Lane Technical High School in Chicago in June, 1967. His undergraduate work in biology was done at the University of Illinois in Chicago. He had applied for and been accepted as a medical student at Loyola University in Chicago before matriculating at the University of Illinois. Throughout his college days he had been employed full time in a dress shop. During the summer of 1972, after one year of medical school, he worked at Cook County Hospital and the Veterans Administration Hospital as a laboratory technician.

Marshall graduated from Hyde Park High School in Chicago in June, 1963. He enlisted in the Army from which he was discharged after service in Viet Nam in April, 1967. After a semester at Loop Junior College, he enrolled at Roosevelt University in Chicago from which he received a Bachelor of Science degree in June, 1971. He applied for and was accepted as a student at the Chicago Medical School before matriculating at the University of Illinois.

Sullivan graduated first in his class from Calumet High School in Chicago in June, 1968. He attended the University of Illinois in Chicago from which he received the degree of Bachelor of Science in chemistry with honors in June, 1972, completing his undergraduate work after he had matriculated in the College of Medicine at the University of Illinois in September, 1971.

The first year of medical school (1971-72) was anything but a success for all three of the plaintiffs. Each testified before the College Committee that he was overwhelmed by the method of instruction and volume of work. McDonald continued to work on a non-medically oriented job. Marshall was divorced by his wife. Sullivan, in addition to his medical school studies, completed his undergraduate work in chemistry. In June, 1972 each failed the freshman comprehensive examination — a four-session, 500-question, multiple-choice, computer-graded examination in all essential respects similar to the one given in 1973, which is here in issue: McDonald scored 29, Marshall 40, and Sullivan 39 on a scale of 100.

The College of Medicine offered a tutorial course in the summer of 1972 for those students who had failed the June freshman comprehensive examination, and then allowed those students to retake the identical examination in September, 1972. None of the plaintiffs took the tutorial course. Marshall started it, but dropped out because the level of enquiry by the students was too basic. When each plaintiff took the September, 1972 repeat examination, he again failed: McDonald scored 38, Marshall 42 and Sullivan 44.

Plaintiffs were then granted the opportunity to repeat their freshman year, which they did. They organized a study group consisting of themselves and two other repeating students. The latter dropped out shortly into the school year. McDonald, Marshall and Sullivan persisted. They changed their study methods from regular class attendance, which they had pursued during 1971-72, to review of their own notes previously taken, review of the notes of other students, discussions based upon individually assigned topics in which one of them was assigned the role of discussion leader, consultations with faculty members when they encountered particular difficulty, and attendance at a two-week review session offered to first-year medical students ...


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