Expelling Students: Cautionary Advice from Allan Shackelford

Student with backpack
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In two recent, tragic examples, a student who was expelled from a postsecondary institution for apparent behavioral issues later shot, killed, and injured other people. In one case, Jared Loughner, expelled from Pima Community College (Tucson, AZ) attacked citizens who were not associated with the institution. Pima Community College then came under considerable scrutiny as public representatives, legislators, and the press debated whether the college should have done more to alert and protect the community when expelling a person who had evidenced behavioral problems.

In the other, more recent case, a student expelled from Oikos University (Oakland, CA) returned to campus, apparently enraged by a dispute over a requested tuition refund, and shot and killed several members of the campus community.

"If you have an individual that is creating problems to the extent that you feel you need to expel them from campus, the act of expelling them does not necessarily solve or end the problem either for people within or people outside the ivy walls of the institution."
Allan Shackelford

In an interview this week, we asked Allan Shackelford to offer his reflections on the tragedies in Tucson, AZ and Oakland, CA and to offer his recommendations. As an attorney and/or consultant, Allan Shackelford has advised institutions of higher education for more than 30 years. He is the co-author (with Anne Lundquist) of The Student Affairs Handbook: Translating Legal Principles into Effective Policies.

The recent tragedies have raised difficult questions for the higher ed community. Are there additional actions that an institution needs to do or consider, in situations where a student is being expelled for threatening behavior?

Here is what Shackelford suggests.


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