SECTION 1. CERTAIN NONACADEMIC DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDINGS; RIGHT TO REPRESENTATION.
(a) A student enrolled in an institution of higher education, or a student organization officially recognized by the institution, has the right to be represented, at the student's or organization's expense, by a licensed attorney (or, if the student, students, or student organization prefers, a non-attorney advocate) in any disciplinary proceeding initiated by the institution against the student or organization, as applicable, relating to an allegation that the student or organization has violated the institution's disciplinary or conduct rules, where the charges are punishable by a suspension of 10 or more days or expulsion. The attorney or advocate may fully participate in the disciplinary proceeding.
(b) For purposes of this section, "disciplinary proceeding" includes an investigatory interview or hearing or any other procedure conducted by the institution of higher education relating to the alleged violation that the student or student organization reasonably believes may result in disciplinary action against the student or organization, as applicable.
(c) In disciplinary proceedings arising from a complaint by a student or students against another student or students, where the charges are punishable by a suspension of 10 or more days or expulsion, both the accused student(s) and the student complainant(s) shall have the right to be represented, at their own expense and at their sole discretion, by a licensed attorney (or, if the student or students prefer, a non-attorney advocate) who may fully participate during any disciplinary procedure or other procedure adopted and used by the institution of higher education regarding the alleged violation.
(d) Before a student may be questioned by an institution of higher education or by an agent of the institution of higher education about allegations of violations of the institution's disciplinary or conduct rules, where the charges are punishable by a suspension of 10 or more days or expulsion, the university must advise the student of his or her rights under this Act.
(e) This Act does not apply to disciplinary proceedings regarding allegations of academic dishonesty as defined by the applicable institution of higher education; and
(f) This Act does not create a right to representation at a disciplinary proceeding of an institution of higher education at public expense.
SECTION 2. Upon discovering any exculpatory evidence related to a student under investigation for or charged with a crime, the school administration or law enforcement component of any post secondary state or private educational institution in the commonwealth shall immediately notify, in writing, the relevant law enforcement agency, federal prosecutor, district attorney, or the state attorney general, as well as the student, of the exculpatory evidence."
SECTION 3. Nothing in this Act shall be deemed to prevent the temporary suspension of a student pending an investigation.
SECTION 4. (a) Any student who is suspended or expelled from an institution of higher education in violation of this Act, or any student organization that is sanctioned in violation of this Act, may bring an action in any Massachusetts Trial Court of competent jurisdiction.
(b) In an action brought under this Act, if the State Court finds a violation of this Act, the Court may award the aggrieved person or student organization Compensatory damages, reasonable court costs, and attorneys’ fees, including expert fees, monetary damages of not less than the cost of tuition paid by the student or on the student's behalf to the institution of higher education for the semester during which the violation of the Act occurred plus monetary damages of not less than the amount of any scholarship funding lost as a result of the campus discipline, and any other relief in equity or law as deemed appropriate including, but not limited to, a de novo rehearing at the institution of higher education, in accordance with this section.
(c) A person or student organization must bring suit for violation of this Act not later than one year after the day the cause of action accrues. For purposes of calculating the one-year limitation period, the cause of action shall be deemed accrued on the date that the student or student organization receives final notice of discipline from the educational institution.
SECTION 5. This Act is effective when it becomes law and applies to all allegations of violations beginning on or after that date.
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