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PRESS RELEASE – REASONING FOR LAWSUIT BY STUDENT VETERANS AGAINST UNC BOARD OF GOVERNORS
WHO ARE THE PARTIES? • Plaintiff(s) – Hayleigh Lynn Perez, a 26-year old U.S. Army Veteran, a student attending Methodist College in Fayetteville in North Carolina, and a resident of Hoke County, North Carolina. Jason Ray Thigpen, a 35-year old disabled U.S. Army Veteran, a student attending the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and resident of New Hanover County, North Carolina. Defendant(s) – The University of North Carolina Board of Governors (UNC BOG); Peter D. Hans, Chairman; H. Frank Grainger, Vice Chairman; Ann B. Goodnight, Secretary; in their official capacities.
WHAT IS THE COMPLAINT? • Complaint for Violations of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution (Zobel v. Williams, 457 U.S. 55, 67 (1982); Shapiro v. Thompson, 339 U.S. 618 (1969) for Discrimination, Discrimination of Veterans Diagnosed with PTSD, Violation of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) without Consent, Negligence, Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress. Demand for Jury Trial
WHEN/WHERE WAS THE COMPLAINT FILED? • • Filed on November 8, 2012 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Raleigh Division. On November 13, 2012 was assigned a case number - 7:12-cv-322-BO. JURISDICTION AND VENUE • This civil rights action is brought pursuant to, inter alia, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”), 28 U.S.C. §§ 2671, et seq. and other state and federal laws for relief from commission of tortious acts. This Court has jurisdiction over federal claims pursuant to the constitutional provisions enumerated and 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and §1343 (3) and (4), as they are brought to redress deprivations of rights privileges and immunities secured by the United States Constitution and by law.
Jurisdiction is also proper pursuant to the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201(a) and 2202. This Court has jurisdiction over the supplemental state claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367. Venue is proper in the Eastern District of North Carolina, under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b), in the Defendants are located in this state and district, and a substantial part of the acts and/or omissions giving rise to Plaintiff’s claim occurred in this district.
WHY WAS THE LAWSUIT FILED - SPECIFICS? • This civil rights action seeks injunctive relief and compensatory and punitive damages as a result of the wrongful acts of discrimination and release of federally protected and private educational records, without consent, to Plaintiff Hayleigh Lynn Perez, a 26-year old U.S. Army Veteran, a student attending Methodist College in Fayetteville in North Carolina, and a resident of Hoke County, North Carolina; and seeking the same as a result of the wrongful acts of discrimination to Plaintiff Jason Ray Thigpen, a 35-year old disabled U.S. Army Veteran, a student attending the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and resident of New Hanover County, North Carolina. Without the adequate services, facilities, resources, and assistance necessary to aid in the facilitation of successful transition for respective Veteran students attending said constituent UNC System Schools – Mrs. Perez, Mr. Thigpen, and other Veteran Students were, and are, discriminated against as a consequence of their Veteran status. Without the necessary basis required, the University of North Carolina at Pembroke classified Mrs. Perez as an out-of-state resident for tuition purposes, at the same time another UNC System School, Fayetteville State University indeed classified her as an in-state resident for tuition purposes, as Mrs. Perez provided the same ample evidence to both UNC System Schools in order to substantiate her domicile as a resident in and of the State of North Carolina. After which time, Mrs. Perez filed for a residency appeal hearing with UNC Pembroke, was denied any representational assistance and in turn her appeal was denied after being treated with malice and contempt by UNC Pembroke officials, and was denied without ever receiving any just cause or reason for such. To further aggravate the discrimination toward Mrs. Perez at UNC Pembroke, and Mr. Thigpen at UNC Wilmington; when seeking similar services, facilities, resources, and assistance offered at UNC System Schools to other minority groups such as: African-Americans, LGBT, Hispanics, and women – they’re nearly none offered commensurate with having such high Veteran student populations, being approximately 10,200 in 2011 and representing nearly 9% of the total undergraduates attending the 16 UNC System Schools. The University of North Carolina School System and the UNC Board of Governors, lacks the authority to not abide by state and federal regulations
that protect citizens of the state and nation. The Constitution vests certain rights in every individual born within our national borders and to Veterans whom have made such considerable sacrifices to ensure our continued freedoms, among these the protection of Veterans from discrimination. It is the obligation of the government, both at the state and federal level, to protect the liberty and security of its citizens. In this case, the UNC System Board Of Governors which is responsible for the public institutions of higher education within the UNC School System failed to protect Mrs. Perez’s and Mr. Thigpen’s constitutional rights, causing Mrs. Perez and Mr. Thigpen profound psychological injuries and undue financial distress. WHAT RELIEF AND DAMAGES ARE PLAINTIFFS SEEKING? • The Plaintiffs, Mrs. Perez and Mr. Thigpen are seeking injunctive relief, compensatory, and punitive damages in the amount of 10 Million Dollars from the Defendants - as a consequence for the profound financial hardship and psychological injuries, caused by such irresponsible actions of a public school system of higher education, which advertises and purports itself to be one of the most “military friendly” in the country.
HOW WOULD ANY AWARD BE UTILIZED AND JUSTIFIED? UTILIZED • • 25% of an award will go to the Plaintiffs for the cost and expenses incurred as a result of the their efforts to resolve the inequities suffered. 75% of an award will go to a fund the Plaintiffs will establish – 75% will be awarded to other student Veterans whom have also been detrimentally affected by similar problems within the UNC System, while the remaining 25% will go to fund the programs and services offered through the Student Veterans Advocacy Group.
JUSTIFIED • • To cover the cost incurred and suffered by Plaintiffs. Seeking a high amount, in part, is a method of punitive relief – which is to punish a defendant(s) for such negligent and discriminatory actions, in hopes of preventing and mitigating the potential of similar mistakes being made in the future. Expectation of settling for less than what is initially sought, as is the case for mediation and negotiations of any kind. In order to have expectations of swift action to attain an expedient resolution, it is necessary to apply pressure via media/press, which ultimately aids in educating and informing the public of such inequities. If the Defendant(s) were doing the “right thing” by our Veteran students 3
attending UNC Schools, such as following the laws currently existing and providing the commensurate services, facilities, resources, and assistance that are granted to other minority groups attending UNC Schools – this complaint wouldn't even be necessary. **Please feel free to contact me personally, with any additional questions you may have regarding this lawsuit. Very Respectfully, Jason R. Thigpen Founder/President Student Veterans Advocacy Group Website: www.studentveteransadvocacygroup.org Follow us on: Facebook: www.facebook.com/SVANC Twitter: www.twitter.com/Student_Vets “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing." Theodore Roosevelt
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