POMONA — A law student who was expelled after allegedly cheating on an exam has failed in her first effort to win a court-ordered reinstatement.
Diana Kazolis, an Alhambra resident, is suing the University of La Verne, its college of law, a law professor and others over her December dismissal, which stemmed from allegations that she used prepared notes during an exam. The practice is forbidden by the law school.
But Kazolis' request for a preliminary injunction, which would have allowed her to continue taking classes, has been denied by Superior Court Judge Eric Younger.
School Has Autonomy
Younger refused to issue the injunction because, he said, the university is a private school that has greater autonomy in making such decisions than a public institution.
Kazolis, whose suit seeks her reinstatement and clearance of her record, argued that the school's administrative hearing on the charges was not conducted fairly. She said interruption of her studies would destroy her chances of success in the legal profession. No trial date has been set.
School administrators said the expulsion of Kazolis for disciplinary reasons was the first in the law school's 15-year history.
Kazolis' case was heard by a panel of three "judges"--a student and two law professors--last September. Nine student witnesses were called, and attorneys representing both sides were present. Kazolis was expelled late in December.
Midterm Was in May
Six students testified during the hearing that Kazolis used a pre-written outline during the May midterm.
Kazolis contends that the outline she turned in was written after she sat down to take the test, a strategy she says helps keep her thoughts in line as she answers questions.
"In our opinion, the evidence was clear and convincing," said law professor Paul Egly, a retired Los Angeles County Superior Court judge who taught the class Kazolis allegedly cheated in and who was one of the three panelists. Egly said the panel chose the harshest penalty possible--expulsion--to uphold the ethics of the legal profession.
"As far as I'm concerned," Egly said, "the profession has gained and the public has gained (from the panel's decision). There was a possibility that if we didn't take certain steps she could have become a member of the Bar."
Kazolis said the evidence presented in the case was entirely circumstantial. "The fact is nobody saw me come in with any crib sheets," she said. "It was never proven."
Brett Klein, a law professor at the school whose role during the hearing was similar to that of a prosecutor in a court of law, said it would be difficult but not impossible for Kazolis to enter another law school with the cheating charge on her record.
Kazolis is uncertain about her future. "I do want to stay in the legal field," she said. "But I think this rather precludes me getting into law school."
Kazolis, 40, said she worked as a secretary for 20 years before quitting her job in 1981 to go back to school. She said she may seek work again as a secretary. She said that Younger's decision not to issue an injunction was a major personal setback because it could take years to bring the case to trial.
"I have nothing against the accusers and nothing against the school," Kazolis said. "I just want to get on with my life."