Former VSU president found liableSep 9th, 2010 | By 2010-09-09, 2010-2011, Desiree Thompson
| Category: Administration, Campus News, News, Top Headlines
The federal district court in North Georgia has found that former VSU President Dr. Ronald M. Zaccari violated the civil rights of former VSU student T. Hayden Barnes when Barnes was expelled in 2007.
Barnes, who was expelled after a protest in 2007, won the three year trial against former VSU President Dr. Ronald M. Zaccari on Sept. 3.
The U.S. district court for the Northern District of Georgia in Atlanta has held Dr. Zaccari personally responsible for all damages owed to Barnes.
The court found that Dr. Zaccari expelled Barnes without letting Barnes know about the expulsion and violated Barnes’ first amendment rights.
The case began in spring 2007, when plans were in the works to create the Oak Street and Sustella parking decks.
After reading about the parking deck in The Spectator, Barnes began to take initiative to raise the awareness of what environmental issues the parking decks would bring. He posted flyers and sent emails through his Facebook page. Barnes also went on to create a graphic of the potential parking deck and named it the “Zaccari Memorial Parking Deck.”
Dr. Zaccari saw this as a “clear and present danger,” and Barnes was informed that he had been administratively withdrawn in May 2007. Barnes appealed the expulsion to the Georgia Board of Regents and later sued in federal court.
Dr. Zaccari disregarded the opinions of faculty, staff and counselors that Barnes didn’t pose a threat when Dr. Zaccari violated Barnes due-process
Public universities are expected to give students a notice of expulsion or provide them with a hearing before taking any disciplinary action.
Judge Charles A. Pannel Jr. of the U.S. District Court of Atlanta believes that Dr. Zaccari didn’t follow the advice given from his lawyers about the requirements taken to remove a student either.
“The undisputed facts show that Zaccari ignored the lawyers’ warning that withdrawing Barnes would require due process,” Judge Pannel Jr. said.
Because VSU didn’t follow the policies and procedures of the 2006-2007 Student Handbook, the BoR was liable for breach of contract.
“The VSU Handbook provided to Barnes upon enrollment constituted a valid, written contract,” Judge Pannel Jr. said.
The case is now in damage phase, and the court can determine if Barnes is owed anything at all in damages, and if so, how much he is owed.
Although Barnes didn’t finish at VSU, he graduated from Kennesaw State University, and now attends the University of Baltimore School of Law.