In re Susan M. v. New York Law School
New York Court of Appeals
76 N.Y.2d 241, 556 N.E.2d 1104, 557 N.Y.S.2d 297 (1990)
Susan M. (plaintiff) enrolled as a student at New York Law School (defendant). Pursuant to the law school’s policy, Susan M. was placed on academic probation at the end of her second semester because she failed to maintain a 2.0, or “C,” cumulative grade point average (GPA). Susan M. earned a cumulative GPA of 2.0 at the end of her third semester but earned only a 1.54 during her fourth semester, which dropped her cumulative GPA to 1.89. Susan M. was notified that the law school’s Academic Status Committee would consider whether she could continue as a student. Susan M. argued to the committee that her drop in GPA was due to low grades she received in two specific courses and that her grades in those courses were not indicative of the knowledge she demonstrated on the exams in those courses. According to the professor of one of those courses, as well as the Dean of Academic Affairs, Susan M.’s grade was correct based on the overall quality of her exam answers and was a matter of academic discretion. The committee dismissed Susan M. from the law school. Susan M. filed a lawsuit arguing that the committee’s decision to dismiss her from the law school was arbitrary and capricious. The trial court dismissed Susan M.’s complaint, finding that her dismissal was not arbitrary and capricious. Susan M. appealed, and the appellate court reversed and remanded the case to the trial court for a determination as to whether Susan M.’s assigned grade on one of the disputed courses was a rational exercise of academic discretion. The law school appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Alexander, J.)
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