Chenari v. George Washington University

Court: U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Docket: 16-7055

Opinion Date: February 10, 2017

Areas of Law: Contracts, Education Law

 

Chenari, a third-year George Washington University medical student, took a test published by the National Board of Medical Examiners. Before the exam, the proctor read aloud the instructions from NBME’s official manual, including that students must complete the exam in two and a half hours and that “[n]o additional time [would] be allowed for transferring answers” to the answer sheet. Chenari also received a copy of “Exam Guidelines,” containing a similar warning. When the proctor called time, Chenari discovered that he had failed to transfer 20-30 answers to his answer sheet, “panicked,” and continued to transfer answers. The proctor requested that he stop; he continued. When the proctor tried to take the exam, Chenari put his hand over it and continued entering answers, taking an additional 90-120 seconds. The proctor and another student reported Chenari. Pursuant to University procedures, an Honor Code Council subcommittee investigated and recommended dismissal for academic dishonesty. The Medical Student Evaluation Committee unanimously recommended Chenari’s dismissal. The Medical School Dean met with Chenari and upheld that recommendation. Chenari unsuccessfully appealed to the Provost, arguing that his conduct lacked “an element of deceit” like “cheat[ing]” or “l[ying].” The D.C. Circuit affirmed dismissal of Chenari’s suit, which alleged breach of contract and discrimination based on his disability, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), 29 U.S.C. 794(a), and 42 U.S.C. 12132. The court noted that Chenari never sought accommodation of his claimed disability under the school’s established procedures.

 

This is a fair warning to give notice to your school regarding any disability BEFORE an incident occurs. Had he notified his school of ADHD before he took the test, the results may have been different.

 

In Mother Doe v. Exeter, 1:16-cv-00396-JL, District of New Hampshire, an expelled student successfully argued (1) breach of contract, (2) promissory estoppel and (3) violation of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, when the jury agreed with the child to reinstate him back to school. The child was “withdrawn” from Phillips Exeter after a sexual interaction with another 15-year old student (female) on campus. The school reinstated the child back into school and they received damages of $27,904.

 

Education cases move quick and finding an attorney early is pivotal in securing a favorable outcome.

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