Legal Lessons in Nursing School: GWU’s Nursing Policies Land Them in Federal Court
Written by: Sam Orlando
LOUDOUN COUNTY, VIRGINIA — In the hallowed halls of academia, one would think that fairness, clarity, and due process would be as essential as textbooks and lecture halls. However, a lawsuit involving George Washington University (GW) and its former nursing student, Ashley Capurso, raises questions about how the educational institution applied—or failed to apply—those principles.
The case, initially filed in the Circuit Court for Loudoun County, has been moved to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. It primarily revolves around a perceived issue of "professional comportment," but if you dig deeper, it uncovers a Pandora's box of procedural missteps that would leave Franz Kafka scratching his head.
A Murky Tale of Professional Comportment
Ashley Capurso, the plaintiff, alleges that she was summarily suspended in June 2021 from her ABSN (accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing) program at GW's Virginia Science and Technology Campus. The suspension was due to an anonymous tip about her "professional comportment," but what that entails remains as opaque as a bureaucratic manual.
Capurso was then subjected to a "comportment hearing," despite being kept in the dark about the specifics of the allegations against her. The Ad Hoc Committee involved in her case, rather than illuminating her supposed transgressions, recommended her expulsion without much investigation. Thus, the proverbial sword of Damocles hung over Capurso's academic career based solely on a shadowy claim.
Due Process, GW Style
George Washington University's Code of Student Conduct sets forth clear procedural guidelines for comportment hearings, including prior notice of charges, the ability to produce witnesses, and the right to know the names of authors of any statements against the student. Capurso argues in her suit that these procedures were honored more in the breach than the observance.
Not only was she not provided with the specifics of the allegations against her, but the committee also apparently didn't even investigate the claims. Imagine a trial where the accused isn't told what they're accused of and where no evidence is presented. Sounds fair, doesn't it?
A Costly Game of Academic Whack-a-Mole
Capurso's dismissal was eventually overturned, thanks to the intervention of legal counsel. However, the damage was done. She had to retake her spring semester classes, incurring a tuition fee of $30,117, and graduate three months later than planned. If the allegations against her were dubious, the financial and emotional costs were all too real.
Contractual Obligations and Consumer Protection Laws
In her suit, Capurso claims breach of contract and violation of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act. She argues that by failing to adhere to its own Code of Student Conduct and Nursing Handbook, GW essentially breached the educational contract she entered into, leading to damages of $58,000.
The case takes an interesting turn with the inclusion of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act, which protects consumers against fraudulent practices. Capurso's legal team argues that GW's missteps fall under this category. If the court concurs, she could be entitled to triple damages and attorney's fees.
The Final Exam
As this lawsuit awaits its day in court, it serves as a reminder that even educational institutions, places meant to illuminate young minds, can sometimes lose their way in the dark corridors of bureaucracy and legal quagmires. For Ashley Capurso and students like her, the real test isn't about clinical skills or nursing theory but navigating an educational system that sometimes seems perversely engineered to confound rather than enlighten.
So, when it comes to professional comportment, perhaps it's time for educational institutions to study up and get their own grades in order. After all, due process isn't just for courtrooms; it's a fundamental right that should be respected in classrooms as well.
Important: This report is based on legal filings received by Breaking Through News. A lawsuit is news worthy, but remember it is only one side of the story. Please stay tuned to Breaking Through News, as this story will be updated when we receive GWU's response or answer.