Black Student Accuses Liberty University of Purposely Allowing Her to Flunk Out of School

Civil Rights Activist Essie Berry is asking for a state and federal investigation against Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, for allegedly allowing Alexis Reason, an African American student, to purposely flunk out of school. The charges are being brought against the institution’s President Dr. Dondi E. Costin, Chairperson Dr. Maria Garcia de La Noceda, and reviewer Dr. Renita P. Ellis-Watson. Dr. Renita and Dr. Maria, in particular, are being accused of displaying “premeditated malicious intent” and punishing Alexis for simply exercising her rights as a student.

Alexis, who is currently enrolled as a student pursuing her Doctorate of Business Administration in HR, says that she has been put on financial suspension for not having signed up for her class that started yesterday.

Activist Berry comments, “It is clear to state that my client’s rights have been violated, and Title IX law requires schools to seriously investigate my client’s formal complaints.”

Unfortunately, many colleges and universities mishandle Title IX complaints or even dismiss them altogether, that is why my client has reached out to me for help. President Dondi Costin has sat by and done nothing to look into my client’s complaints that she has filed.”

The President’s secretary Elizabeth Collins allegedly once stated that the President was in a board meeting about Alexis’ case, and she told Berry during a phone call “We did not know that it was that serious.”

“They are having conversations about my client and not doing anything to resolve the issues that she has encountered with these two teachers. Retaliation is forbidden by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973,” Berry adds.

Berry states that Liberty University is looking the other way on how these isolated incidents have impacted my client’s life and health because she has stated her concerns and complained to them multiple times.

Berry is even requesting that the Department of Education get involved because her client’s due process has failed her every time that she filed a complaint when in fact the law is supposed to protect all students’ rights to enjoy educational opportunities. When my client used her rights under Title IX, the university should have never allowed any employee to punish her for exercising her rights.

According to Berry, Dr. Renita has a history of mistreating students. She says that there is proof that when Dr. Renita worked for DeVry University in 2016, that school was sued as well for the same type of allegations that Liberty University is being accused of. Berry comments, “I cannot make this up. Dr. Renita’s misconduct is clearly showing a form of retaliation against my client for her previous complaints against her.”

Nothing new for Liberty University

Liberty University, however, is no stranger to controversy. In March 2024, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) announced that its office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) would impose a $14 million fine as a result of a settlement agreement with Liberty University for material and ongoing violations of the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act), including with respect to its published crime statistics and treatment of sexual assault survivors.

This was the largest fine ever imposed for violating the Clery Act, which requires institutions to provide important information about public safety issues to current students, parents, employees, prospective students and employees, and the public postsecondary schools participating in the federal student aid programs.

As a part of the settlement, Liberty agreed to spend $2 million over the next two years for on-campus safety improvements and compliance enhancements.

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