The United States Law Week

Former Student Revives Suit Over Cheating at Texas Law School

Jan. 3, 2019, 9:21 PM

A former law student convinced a Texas appeals court that his suit alleging his law school’s failure to fully investigate a cheating scandal hurt his grade-point average and resulted in him being dismissed for poor grades deserves to be reheard.

The Texas’ First Court of Appeals said that Ivan Villarreal’s suit had enough evidence to show that his “due course of law” rights under the Texas Constitution were violated in multiple ways.

A lower trial court tossed Villarreal’s suit against Texas Southern University in October 2017 on jurisdictional grounds, prompting an appeal.

Villarreal was was dismissed from the law school June 2015 because his 1.98 GPA fell below the school’s minimum 2.0 for first-year students.

Villarreal argued the university did not thoroughly investigate a cheating scandal surrounding a criminal law exam, where a number of students were allegedly provided a copy of at least 13 questions by a professor during a study session.

Villarreal, who did not attend the session, argued that he might have received a higher grade in the criminal law class if his exam had not been scored against the exams of students who had the answers to those 13 questions.

The law school’s remedy to hire a statistician to investigate the cheating allegations and test results and then sharing those results with the students, who were allowed to petition to adjust their GPA, was not enough to dismiss Villarreal’s claims.

To contact the reporter on this story: Karn Dhingra in Houston at kdhingra@bloomberglaw.com

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