Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

February 11, 2012

Court: former VSU president may be found liable

Former student sues in due process case

NAYLOR — he 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously decided Tuesday that former Valdosta State University president Ronald Zaccari may be found personally liable for violating the due process rights of former VSU student T. Hayden Barnes.

In 2007, Barnes protested against Zaccari’s plan to spend $30 million of student fee money to construct two parking garages on campus. He posted flyers and sent e-mails to Zaccari, student and faculty bodies and the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia to propose environmentally friendly alternatives.

Barnes was administratively withdrawn from VSU in May 2007 when Zaccari claimed that Barnes presented a “clear and present danger.” Court records indicate that Zaccari monitored Barnes’ Facebook page and held numerous meetings about the student.

In January 2008, Barnes filed suit in cooperation with First Amendment attorney and Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and Legal Network member Robert Corn-Revere, which worked the case pro-bono.

David Will, attorney for Zaccari, stated that his defendant made his decision “in light of Virginia Tech” shootings.

“Essentially what is left is the claim that Barnes was denied procedural process,” said Will. “When Dr. Zaccari was president and he was presented with this situation, he viewed his role as protecting the safety of the university and the campus community.”

Barnes, who is currently in his second year at Baltimore School of Law, said he wants the opportunity to set the record straight along with compensation for emotional and financial hardships acquired during his educational career.

“I simply don’t want this to happen to anyone else,” he said. “Without FIRE and my local council, without any of them, it would have continued unanswered and this injustice could have happened to someone else.”

Will Creely, director of legal and public advocacy at FIRE, said the case is still “at a relatively early stage,” and Zaccari can appeal the decision by the 11th Circuit.

According to Creely, Barnes also sued the Georgia Board of Regents for breach of contract which was denied in the 11th Circuit on Tuesday. A settlement is not currently being pursued by Zaccari’s defense team, Will said.

“There was not a lot of case law ahead of time in the abstract. Zaccari understands the constitutional principles, but there wasn’t a finite guiding principal that said he was supposed to do this,” said Will. “Although Dr. Zaccari hopes that it would not be at his expense, he does hope that there is guidance for other university administrators.”

For more on this story and other local news, subscribe to The Valdosta Daily Times e-Edition, or our print edition

Text Only
Local News
  • doug henderson.jpg Memorial tourney returns

    The Doug Henderson III Memorial Golf Tournament has raised thousands of dollars for scholarship funds and to help organizations throughout the region.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • 041914-WA-Egghunt021.jpg Park puts wild spin on Easter tradition

    Adventurous egg hunters braved overcast skies and a persistent drizzle to search for hidden prizes Saturday during Wild Adventure’s first Ostrich Egg Hunt.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • FallenTree003.JPG More spills reported

    City of Valdosta employees have spent the weekend responding to spills caused by several inches of rain that have again drenched the city during the past few days.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Underwater Easter_Rich copy.jpg Stories behind ‘The Greatest Story Ever Told’

    Christ comes from the Greek word, “Christos,” meaning “the anointed one.”

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140418_valwood001.jpg Valwood students register to vote

    Valwood teaches its students about the importance of voting. Each year, the school has encouraged eligible seniors to register to vote and participate in local elections.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • wadebrandon14.jpg Police still seeking missing mother, son

    Though their assignments have changed during the past dozen years, Valdosta Police Capt. Bobbi McGraw and Sgt. Chris Crews continue working the case of a missing mother and her son.

    April 19, 2014 3 Photos

  • 041814-TreeDownonRobinHood.jpg Minor flooding expected

    Minor flooding of the Withlacoochee River is expected this weekend thanks to the day-long rains across South Georgia Friday, according to the National Weather Service.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 041814-TreeDownonRobinHood.jpg Wastewater hazards assessed

    During heavy rain events, five to 15 manholes throughout the city are at risk of overflowing into local waterways, according to the City of Valdosta.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140418-VSU_HSBA003.jpg Valdosta State cuts ribbon for health, business building

    Eighteen months after breaking ground on the project, Valdosta State University held the official ribbon cutting Friday for its Health Sciences and Business Administration Building.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140417-Rail_Plan-001.jpg State Transportation seeks public input on rail plan

    The Georgia Department of Transportation held public meetings across the state this week to discuss its 2014 Georgia State Rail Plan.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

Top News

Given the amount of rain recently, what's your favorite “rain” song?

Singing in the Rain
Purple Rain
Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
November Rain
Rainy Night in Georgia
     View Results