Management & Defense of Student Grievances

Defense and prevention of class action claimsThe focus by the media, Congress, and plaintiff law firms on student complaints and assaults has resulted in a growing number of student complaints.  Students commonly bring these complaints not only directly to the institution but to third parties such as:

  • State and federal courts;
  • State licensing authorities;
  • Accrediting agencies;
  • The U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights; and
  • The media.

A single complaint by one of your students can evolve into a class action lawsuit with the potential for significant liability. Without sound legal guidance and defense strategies in place, your institution may be vulnerable.  Left unattended, small student grievances can grow into multiple student complaints and ultimately lawsuits.  

Gallegos Legal Group represents colleges and universities in the defense and prevention of class action claims. The scope of the firm’s educational institution defense practice encompasses the following types of student complaints:

  • Academic or disciplinary matters
  • Professional conduct
  • Discrimination
  • Intimidation or harassment
  • Student records
  • Grades or grading
  • Financial aid issues
  • Alumni issues
  • Consumer complaints
  • Breach of contract
  • Educational malpractice

Most states have consumer fraud and deceptive/unfair trade practice laws that typically permit treble damages to prevailing plaintiffs.  The Gallegos Legal Group is a national leader in minimizing institutional exposure to liability arising from these complaints.  The Gallegos Legal Group has substantial experience representing various colleges and universities dealing with student civil rights and consumer complaints and has a proven record of assisting institutions with:

  • Responding fairly to student complaints
  • Complying with existing grievance procedures
  • Defending student complaints brought to courts or administrative agencies
  • Drafting grievance procedures that comply with state and federal law notice and procedure requirements

A few examples of our success with student complaints include:

  • Dismissal and favorable resolution of several student complaints against institutions brought before the Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education;
  • Successful resolution of a complaint brought against a college by numerous students with the assistance of a national civil rights organization;
  • Assistance in the disabling of a student advocacy group led by an individual engaged in the unauthorized practice of law; and
  • Dismissal of a student complaint filed against George Washington University in a lawsuit alleging misuse of student funds filed by GW law students.  

Guidance on Student Disciplinary Matters

At times, a student’s behavior or action may require disciplinary measures.   Our firm can advise you on how to approach a disciplinary hearing in compliance with your written policies and the new Violence Against Women Act regulations. In some cases, a student may be represented by an attorney, so having legal counsel is essential to protect the school’s interests.

Gallegos Legal Group can advise your general counsel or represent your institution in any hearing, and will help you prepare the case thoroughly and accurately.  You have a contractual duty to adhere to your written procedures, and we will give you the guidance that you need in this delicate proceeding that can affect your school’s reputation.

Enrollment Agreement Drafting

Our firm can also assist client institutions with drafting and enforcing enrollment agreements.  The enrollment agreement will detail student information, course of instruction, tuition and fees, payment schedules, financial aid, refunds and termination and the process of filing student complaints.  It is important that your enrollment agreement corresponds to your institutional policies as well as any specific arrangements for individual students.

An enrollment agreement is a valid contract, and enforceable by both parties according to its terms.  For this reason, great care should be taken with the contents. Our firm can draft an enrollment agreement that protects your institution’s interests and has clear remedies in the event any terms are breached.