from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Karen A.
Iowa Board of Regents appeals the district court order
reversing its decision to expel a student.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and George A. Carroll, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellant.
Jonathan M. Causey of Causey & Ye Law, P.L.L.C., Des
Moines, for appellee.
Considered by Potterfield, P.J., Greer, J., and Scott, S.J.
Iowa Board of Regents (Board) appeals the district court
order reversing its decision to expel a student for academic
misconduct. The Board's decision is supported by
substantial evidence. We reverse the district court's
decision and remand for an order affirming the Board's
Background Facts & Proceedings
Yin is a student in the Tippee College of Business (TCB) at
the University of Iowa (UI). Yin was involved in an incident
of academic misconduct on December 11, 2015, while taking an
English proficiency exam. Although the students taking the
test were told to move to a new section and no longer work on
previous sections, Yin was observed working on a previous
section of the test. As a sanction for his conduct, Yin
received no points for the section of the test that he
improperly went back to work on, thereby reducing his overall
grade. Yin did not appeal the finding he engaged in academic
involved in a second incident of academic misconduct on March
30, 2016. In the class, "ESL Academic Reading Skills,
" the instructor noticed Yin's answers
in a quiz were "eerily similar" to those of another
student. When questioned, Yin stated "he had copied some
answers." As a sanction for this incident, Yin's
grade on the quiz was cut in half. Yin also did not appeal
this finding he engaged in academic misconduct. Yin was
informed by Kenneth Brown, the Associate Dean of TCB, a
second violation was "a serious matter."
incident of academic misconduct occurred on December 15,
2017. Yin was assigned to write a four-page paper for
"Asian Humanities: China." Yin submitted a paper
titled, "Confucianism: Struggles in the Modern
World." The instructor, Cuma Ozkan, stated Yin's
paper was "so perfect that I could not compare this
paper with the student's other writings. It is quite
obvious that this paper is written from a very professional
writer." Ozkan also noted the paper contained no
references to personal experiences. Yin was given an
"F" for the paper.
informed Yin on January 8, 2018, TCB was recommending Yin be
expelled from UI, "[b]ecause of the severity of this
incident, and your prior offenses." Lon Moeller,
Associate Provost, interviewed Yin and Ozkan. Moeller
concluded Yin did not write the paper. He accepted TCB's
recommendation Yin should be expelled from UI. Yin appealed
to the Board. On June 11, 2018, the Board affirmed the final
decision of UI.
filed a petition for judicial review, challenging the
decision of the Board. The court issued a decision on
December 6, 2018, stating:
The court finds the Board's decision was not supported by
substantial evidence. Throughout its investigation the
University was never able to provide any solid evidence the
paper had been written by anyone other than Yin. Yin's
expulsion was based merely on "a suspicion" the
paper may have been written by someone other than Yin. The
University could not identify who that person may be or
produce any written source that contained the same
information as Yin's paper. Yin explained his writing
process and provided a written statement detailing his
decisions for each section of the paper. The professor seemed
primarily to base his suspicion on a comparison between
Yin's former writing in the class and his writing style
in the paper. As Yin noted, ...