Sheppard v. Visitors of Va. State Univ.

The plaintiff, a former student at Virginia State University, has failed to state claims for Title IX gender discrimination and due process violations.

This action arises from an altercation between the plaintiff and other students, where plaintiff allegedly sought to retrieve his stolen possessions from another student and inadvertently pushed her when she tried to obstruct him. After she obtained a protective order against him, the University’s Office of Student Conduct initially permitted him to complete courses online but later forced him to withdraw from enrollment.

The plaintiff argues that the University subjected him to unequal treatment because it waited to pursue charges against the other students until almost five months after his own proceedings. But he has not identified similarly situated female students, alleged facts to support the inference that they were treated more favorably than he was, or alleged any facts beyond conclusory allegations that gender was a motivating factor in the time difference between the disciplinary proceedings.

Moreover, the plaintiff’s due process claims cannot proceed because immunity limits the his recovery to injunctive relief and he has failed to allege the deprivation of a protected interest giving rise to a plausible violation.

The contention that a withdrawal notation on the plaintiff’s transcript affects his reputation carries no weight. There are many reasons why a student may withdraw from university courses that don’t involve a negative connotation. Further, while the plaintiff’s attempt to transfer universities allegedly was delayed by the University’s hold on his transcript, that hold was released. The plaintiff offers no basis to find that the hold implicated a protected liberty interest, and in any event no injunctive relief exists to remedy the issue.

Motion to dismiss granted.

Sheppard v. Visitors of Va. State Univ., No. 3:18cv723, Apr. 25, 2019. EDVA at Richmond (Hudson).



Categories: U.S. District Court - Eastern District of Virginia

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