Jun Yu versus Idaho State University (ISU) is an ongoing civil lawsuit in US Federal Court and Idaho State Court. ISU is facing 18 counts involving discrimination, due process violations and contract breaches, and
a trial date of November 13, 2018 has been set in US Federal Court a new trial date of February 26, 2019 has been set in US Federal Court. The case has been reported in Inside Higher Ed, the Idaho State Journal (in 2015 and 2016), the Bengal and AsAm News (in 2016, 2017 and 2018).
“At the time of dismissal, Mr. Yu was a student in good standing with a cumulative GPA of 3.69, and he had only one pre-doctoral internship to complete prior to receiving his Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. Prior to the May 3, 2013 dismissal letter from ISU, Mr. Yu had never been on probation and had never been informed that he was in danger of being dismissed from the doctoral program.” – Expert report of Dr. Shannon Chavez-Korell, page 8
When compared to other similarly situated students, Jun was unfavorably treated by Idaho State University in at least six (6) identified areas, proving that ISU unlawfully discriminated against him.
In a decision to allow the case to proceed to trial, the Court said:
Yu argues that he has adequately alleged intentional discrimination, including by alleging facts supporting a finding of disparate impact based on race and by introducing expert reports concluding he was the victim of intentional discrimination. Pl.’s Resp. 9–11 (Dkt. 56).
The Court is not persuaded by ISU’s argument that the precise words Yu invoked in his amended complaint preclude the possibility of intentional discrimination. In light of Yu’s argument on this point and the facts in the record, the Court finds the claim is adequately stated and supported to survive ISU’s challenge based on lack of factual support. In this setting, Yu is entitled to all reasonable inferences that can be drawn from the evidence and with the benefit of such inferences his claims are sufficiently pled to survive summary judgment. Therefore, the Court will not grant summary judgment on Yu’s Title VI claim….
Yu has made a prima facie case establishing his Title VI [discrimination] claim, which is not time-barred.
FACT: Mr. Yu is supported by leading psychology experts who have concluded ISU violated professional and academic standards; meanwhile ISU has no psychology experts supporting their case. Mr. Yu’s experts include:
- Ethics expert Dr. Gerald Koocher, a past President of the American Psychological Association and author of Ethics in Psychology and the Mental Health Professions, the same textbook ISU used to train Mr. Yu in ethics in psychology in 2009 and 2011. (see Dr. Gerald Koocher’s expert report)
- Ethics expert Dr. Linda Campbell, a co-author and first author of the APA Ethics Code Commentary and Case Illustrations (2010) who has served as a member, Vice-Chair, and Chair of the APA Ethics committee and also serves as a Member at Large, APA Board of Directors and is a Council of Representatives Member representing the APA Board of Directors. (see Dr. Linda Campbell’s expert disclosure)
- Cultural competency expert Dr. Nadya Fouad, who served in leadership roles for many committees for the American Psychological Association, including as the Co-Chair of the Multicultural Guidelines Writing Team (published in 2003), Chair of the Board of Educational Affairs, Chair of the 2006 Competencies Workgroup, and Chair of the Ethics Committee. (see Dr. Nadya Fouad’s expert report)
- Cultural competency expert Dr. Shannon Chavez-Korell, who served on the 2012 revision team for the American Psychological Association’s Guidelines on Multicultural Education, Training, Research, Practice and Organizational Change for Psychologists (APA, 2002). (see Dr. Shannon Chavez-Korell’s expert report)
- Aversive racism expert Dr. Leslie Zorwick, whose scholarship centers broadly upon stereotyping, prejudice, identity, perspective taking, and the social benefits of integrated educational settings. (see Dr. Leslie Zorwick’s expert report)
- Prejudice and racism expert Dr. Erin Cooley, an Assistant Professor at Colgate University who specializes in the field of Social Psychology and whose research examines the cognitive, affective and physiological components of prejudice and discrimination. (see Dr. Erin Cooley’s expert report)
FACT: ISU had never warned Mr. Yu he was at risk of dismissal.
Expert testimony regarding ISU’s failure to warn Mr. Yu he was at risk of dismissal:
- “No evidence is provided to show that Mr. Yu was on notice regarding a risk of dismissal from the program for any reason.” – Expert report of Dr. Gerald Koocher, page 7
- “…Mr. Yu had never been on probation and had never been informed that he was in danger of being dismissed from the doctoral program.” – Expert report of Dr. Shannon Chavez-Korell, page 8
- “…the psychology department never placed Mr. Yu on probation or told him he was at risk of dismissal from the program.” – Expert report of Dr. Leslie Zorwick, page 27
ISU testimony regarding ISU’s failure to warn Mr. Yu he was at risk of dismissal:
- “Q. Now, Dr. Roberts, did you inform Mr. Yu that if Mr. Yu were dismissed from the only requirement that he had to complete his doctorate, that he would be dismissed from the Doctor of Clinical Psychology program? A. No.” [emphasis added] (Deposition of Dr. Mark Roberts, page 76 line 11 and Exhibit “D”.)
- “Q. I’ve looked at this record of Mr. Yu very carefully, and I can’t find a single document that says, You’re in professional trouble. Should you not do X, Y, or Z, you’re facing dismissal. Is there any document like that? A. There is no document like that that includes the threat of dismissal.” (Deposition of Dr. Mark Roberts, page 79 line 5 and Exhibit “D”.)
- In response to the question, “Was there any warning given by the administration, or I could say the psychology department, that should [Mr. Yu] fail this internship, he would be subject to dismissal? Was there ever anything given that way?” Dr. Mark Roberts, Director of Clinical Training for the ISU program while Mr. Yu was in the program, responded, “The answer to that is, correct, I did not tell him that.” [emphasis added] (Deposition of Dr. Mark Roberts, page 82 line 8 and Exhibit “D”.)
- “Q. Did you inform Mr. Yu that if Mr. Yu were dismissed from the CCA internship, that he would be dismissed from his doctorate in the clinical psychology program? A. Did I personally? Q. Yes ma’am. A. No. Q. Did you instruct a faculty member or administrator to inform Mr. Yu that, if he were dismissed from in the CCA program, that he would be dismissed from the Doctor of Clinical Psychology program? A. No.” [emphasis added] (Deposition of Dr. Shannon Lynch, ISU Psychology Department Chair, page 56 and 57, and Exhibit “E”.)
- Dr. Shannon Lynch testified, “Did we explicitly say to him, if you fail at this internship,
you will be dismissed? No.” [emphasis added] (Deposition of Dr. Shannon Lynch, ISU Psychology Department Chair, page 98, and Exhibit “E”.)
- “Q. So to be sure that I understand it right, from your testimony, that you — no one, to
your knowledge, ever told him that, if he failed this internship, he would be dismissed from the university, from the program. Is that correct? A. Correct.” [emphasis added] (Deposition of Dr. Shannon Lynch, ISU Psychology Department Chair, page 98, and Exhibit “E”.)
FACT: Mr. Yu’s grades (all As and Bs in required coursework) and supervisory ratings/evaluations are not consistent with ISU’s allegation of “unsatisfactory progress”.
- “The assigned grades are inconsistent with unsatisfactory progress, and due process was not followed.” – Expert report of Dr. Gerald Koocher, page 5
- Regarding the conclusions in the dismissal letter, Dr. Koocher wrote, “These statements which stand in direct conflict with the grades he earned and supervisory ratings he accumulated between 2008 and 2012.” – Expert report of Dr. Gerald Koocher, page 6
- “The assigned grades and formal evaluations across semesters are inconsistent with unsatisfactory progress; due process was not followed.” – Expert report of Dr. Shannon Chavez-Korell, page 9
FACT: ISU violated Mr. Yu’s due process rights.
- “The ISU faculty also appears to have failed to provide due process in the course of dismissing him…” – Expert report of Dr. Gerald Koocher, page 6
- “ISU faculty failed to provide due process in Mr. Yu’s dismissal from the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program.” – Expert report of Dr. Shannon Chavez-Korell, page 7
- “There are many ways in which Dr. Leslie Speer violated the minimal due process that was available to Mr. Yu – ranging from not offering a second assessment until after his dismissal to not working with him to develop a remediation plan in the face of performance concerns to not assembling the group of supervisors in Ohio to discuss his performance before dismissal….” – Expert report of Dr. Leslie Zorwick, page 27
FACT: ISU failed to develop remediation plans, if needed, as per APA ethical and accreditation standards.
- “…there were no written documentation of substantive guidance, remedial feedback, or corrective action.” – Expert report of Dr. Gerald Koocher, page 7
- “…failure of timely written notice of any inadequacies (if they existed), and failure to prescribe or plan remediation (if needed).” – Expert report of Dr. Gerald Koocher, page 8
- “There is no documentation of a single remediation plan that directly addressed the specific concerns raised about Mr. Yu.” – Expert report of Dr. Shannon Chavez-Korell, page 9
- “…Dr. Speer did not work with Mr. Yu to discuss a plan for remediation before dismissing him….” – Expert report of Dr. Leslie Zorwick, pages 15-16
FACT: ISU denied Mr. Yu the PhD degree he rightfully earned.
- “By further failure to offer an alternative Ph.D. degree option, based on the clear doctoral quality of his work, the university attempted to trivialize the previously recognized quality of his scholarly accomplishments.” – Expert report of Dr. Gerald Koocher, page 8
- “The university has the obligation and responsibility to award Mr. Yu a Ph.D. in general psychology at a minimum. Mr. Yu successfully completed all doctoral level program requirements of the Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, including successful defense of a doctoral dissertation, with the sole exception of successful completion of internship.” – Expert report of Dr. Shannon Chavez-Korell, page 7
FACT: ISU faculty substantially deviated from accepted academic norms in their treatment towards Mr. Yu, thus violating the law as per the Supreme Court case Regents of University of Michigan v. Ewing (1985).
- “Taken as a whole, the actions of the faculty at ISU in dismissing Mr. Yu as they did constitute, in my opinion, substantial arbitrary and capricious and departures from accepted academic norms in clinical psychology doctoral programs.” – Expert report of Dr. Gerald Koocher, page 8
- “In my opinion, the actions of the faculty at ISU in dismissing Mr. Yu as they did, was a substantial departure from accepted academic norms.” – Expert report of Dr. Shannon Chavez-Korell, page 9
- “On the basis of these facts, it is my opinion that the behavior of the members of the Idaho State University psychology department was arbitrary and capricious and deviated from accepted professional norms in psychology.” – Expert report of Dr. Leslie Zorwick, page 27
FACT: ISU violated a number of APA ethical standards; as APA Ethics are part of the state board rules for licensed psychologists, ISU violated the law:
- “A number of ethical and accreditation standards have been violated in Mr. Yu’s case. These include ethical violations by faculty members related to following through with program descriptions (Code: 7.02), flaws in assessing and responding to student performance (Code: 7.06), and avoiding harm (Code: 3.04).” – Expert report of Dr. Gerald Koocher, page 6
- “In Mr. Yu’s case, there are ethical and accreditation standards that have been violated by ISU faculty and clinical supervisors…[these] include boundaries of competence in training international students who speak English as a second language (APA Ethics Code Standard: 2.01), avoiding harm (APA Ethics Code Standard: 3.04), and assessing student and supervisee performance (APA Ethics Code Standard: 7.06).” – Expert report of Dr. Shannon Chavez-Korell, page 6
FACT: Experts have concluded that ISU was culturally incompetent and aversively racist towards Mr. Yu.
- “In particular, the program did not appear to adequately address the diversity challenges faced by [Mr. Yu]….” Expert report of Dr. Gerald Koocher, page 7
- “Mr. Yu has clearly suffered serious harm due to the cultural incompetence of the ISU faculty…” – Expert report of Dr. Shannon Chavez-Korell, page 9
- “…it is hard to imagine a situation that more strongly demonstrates all of the hallmarks that are typically present when aversive racism is occurring, which strongly suggests that the behavior of the ISU Psychology department was influenced by Mr. Yu’s race and international status.” – Expert report of Dr. Leslie Zorwick, page 27
Want to explore the case in further detail? You can view all the public documents for Jun Yu versus Idaho State University.