The Sixth Circuit has held, on at least two occasions, the Due Process Clause of the federal constitution does not require school districts to permit cross-examination at student discipline hearings. Newsome v Batavia Local School District, 842 F2d 920 (6th Cir 1988); Paredes v Curtis, 864 F2d 426 (6th Cir 1988). Since then, the Sixth Circuit has been edging toward the position that universities must permit cross-examination in at least some student discipline cases. This latter trend recently bore fruit in Doe v Baum, Case No. 17-2213 (September 7, 2018), where the Sixth Circuit held the University of Michigan violated the due process rights of a student by expelling him for sexual misconduct in a case that hinged on witness credibility without permitting him or his representative an opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses against him.
Notwithstanding Doe, we do not suggest our clients revise their student discipline procedures absent further direction from the courts. Courts have recognized there are differences between universities and k-12 school districts; including the fact that school district administrators typically know their students and k-12 students are minors. We do suggest that school district administrators allow clarifying questions at student discipline hearings. This is particularly true in cases where the student subject to discipline has denied wrongdoing and the hearing officer’s decision turns on the credibility of reports submitted by other students.