U.S. District Court grants EMU summary judgment in Julea Ward case

by Ward Mullens, Published July 07, 2010

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YPSILANTI - The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan granted summary judgment in favor of Eastern Michigan University in the case of Julea Ward, a former student who filed a lawsuit in April 2009 claiming that the University discriminated against her based on her religion and violated her constitutional rights to free expression, due process and equal protection.

The court ruled in EMU's favor and dismissed all claims brought by Ward and the Alliance Defense Fund Center for Academic Freedom.

"We are pleased that the court has upheld our position in this matter," said Walter Kraft, vice president for communications at Eastern Michigan University.  "Julea Ward was not discriminated against because of her religion. To the contrary, Eastern Michigan is deeply committed to the education of our students and welcomes individuals from diverse backgrounds into our community. "

The Court upheld Eastern Michigan's right to establish the curricular requirements of its counseling program, which adhered to the Code of Ethics of the American Counseling Association (ACA) and the Ethical Standards of the American School Counselor Association.

"Eastern has a responsibility to the public to exercise careful and deliberate judgment about who should be permitted to graduate from our professional schools and practice in the education and health professions," said Kraft.  The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld such decisions by public universities because courts "should show great respect for the faculty's professional judgment." 

The Court hearing Ms. Ward's lawsuit had previously dismissed her claims against Eastern's Board of Regents and President.

"As one of the premiere teacher-training institutions in the United States, Eastern Michigan University takes seriously our Constitutional mission to ensure that every student who graduates from our academic programs meets the applicable curricular and regulatory requirements," said Kraft.

For complete information on the case, visit the ACA / Julea Ward website.

Ward Mullens

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