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Rep. Kim Banta introduces legislation to protect due process rights of Kentucky’s college students

Representative Kim Banta, R-Ft. Mitchell, has introduced HB 290, the Kentucky Campus Due Process Protection Act. This legislation is a comprehensive protection of student rights at universities across the Commonwealth.

“An undergraduate education is an expensive endeavor for students and their families. Students have worked hard to get where they are, and they deserve to have procedures in place before being kicked out of school,” said Representative Kim Banta, a former principal and assistant superintendent. “When colleges or universities are quick to act, without regard for a students’ rights, it can lead to the wrongful deprivation of the students’ interests. Due process is a guarantee of fairness. We should hold students accountable for offenses. However, we should also make sure that we hold students accountable through a fair, consistent, and equitable system that recognizes what’s at stake for Kentuckians. The Kentucky Campus Due Process Protection Act is that guarantee.”

Rep. Kim Banta

This legislation is the most significant measure to help students in the Commonwealth since the 1990s, and it is the largest student rights protection bill in the United States. Currently, with thousands of dollars on the line and their education at stake, students involved in campus investigations are not afforded due process rights such as the presumption of innocence, the right to see the evidence against them, or the ability for either a survivor of sexual violence or the accused to have an advisor or legal counsel to be present and speak on their behalf.

“I’m pleased to be the primary co-sponsor of this important piece of legislation. HB 290 ensures the legal protections that the American system has promised us all. Our bill will establish predictability and, most importantly, maintain the same due process for students on campus as they would have outside of campus,” said Representative Kimberly Poore Moser, R-Independence. “Students should have fairness during any hearing that may result in disciplinary action and cost Kentuckians thousands of dollars in tuition as well as their educational opportunities. HB 290 will provide rights on a college campus when a students’ education is threatened and their future is put on the line.”

HB 290 recognizes what is at stake for Kentucky’s public college students and their families by creating minimum due process rights, including eviction from their residence hall, suspension, or expulsion from any public institution in Kentucky. The bill provides the right for the student to be present during the disciplinary hearing, which currently is not required by universities. It would also require the university to maintain a file with investigation documents that have been submitted by both parties and make that file available to all parties involved. HB290 creates rights to timely notice, to cross-examine through counsel, and the ability to appeal. For the first time in state law, HB290 will establish rights for victims who experience sexual violence at public Kentucky college campuses.

“I appreciate Rep. Banta’s efforts to address the need for due process on our campuses. A discussion on this issue is long overdue, and the more we learn, the clearer it is that changes are necessary,” said Speaker of the House Representative David Osborne, R-Prospect, who is a cosponsor of the legislation. “HB 290 provides us with an excellent next step in the conversation, and I look forward to seeing how potential changes evolve.”

“We are no longer in the days where college disciplinary procedures cover exclusively cheating allegations and occasional dormitory pranks. Colleges are now deciding whether students committed rapes or dealt drugs,” said Joe Cohn, Director of Legislative and Policy for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (theFIRE.org). FIRE is the nation’s leading nonpartisan organization dedicated to defending and sustaining the individual rights of students and faculty members at America’s colleges and universities. “HB 290 would ensure students facing potentially life altering sanctions have meaningful opportunities to defend themselves by giving them procedural protections like the right to hire legal representation, the right to present and cross-examine witnesses, and the right to access all of the evidence in the institution’s possession.”

“It’s important to remember what’s at stake for the student. Students who face losing their educational opportunity, including thousands of dollars in tuition and housing, is something not to be taken lightly. Students deserve the right to a fair and legal process,” said Representative Banta. “As a legislator, as a former principal, and as a parent – my first priority is the well-being of Kentucky students. Our goal should be to make every student feel that our public institutions have treated them fairly under the law.”

To view the filed legislation, please visit legislature.ky.gov.

Kentucky House Republican Caucus

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