Omnibus Student Due Process Legislation Heads to House Finance, Ways, and Means Subcommittee

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Legislation sponsored by Rep. John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge) and Sen. Ferrell Haile (R-Gallatin) dealing with student due process rights will be heard in the House Finance, Ways and Means Subcommittee next week.

The measure stems from a Student Due Process Task Force appointed by Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) in 2016, and represents positive change for both students as well as public institutions of higher education.

The bill creates a uniform process for the investigation and resolution of allegations involving sexual misconduct that are made against a student at a public institution of higher education in Tennessee, contains provisions that will encourage the reporting of sexual misconduct, and provides clearer, more specific due process rights to students in cases of sexual misconduct. It also provides important changes for public universities, dealing with outdated statutory language that requires universities to use their employees as administrative law judges to adjudicate these cases under the UAPA. The bill would allow attorneys who are not employed by the university to serve as administrative law judges in these cases, as well as former federal, state, county, or municipal judges, among others.

The university supports the legislation and has been actively working to resolve funding issues associated with the bill’s fiscal note. The House sponsor is expected to present amendatory language, drafted in consultation with UT, this week to advance the bill.

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