- Associated Press - Sunday, September 20, 2015

BETHLEHEM, Pa. (AP) - A Pennsylvania community college must reinstate a nursing student who was expelled after refusing to take an impromptu drug test, a judge ruled.

Northampton Community College must reinstate Joseph Korpics III to the program from which he was dismissed last year, Northampton County Judge Craig Dally ruled on Friday.

College administrators had no good reason for requiring Korpics, 28, to immediately submit to drug screening or be expelled, Dally ruled.

Korpics filed suit after challenging the dismissal through the college’s internal appeals process, which upheld the decision. He also challenged a failing grade he received after submitting work late for a class, but Dally upheld that grade.

Korpics’ attorney, Matthew Deschler, said he and is client were pleased by the decision.

“Obviously, it is not everything we want, but I count this as a victory in my book,” he said.

College attorney John Freund III told The (Allentown) Morning Call on Saturday that school officials haven’t decided whether to appeal. He hailed the decision on the grade but said the college “respects the opinion of the court, but disagrees” on the matter of reinstatement.

The college argued that Korpics’ dismissal was driven by a “constellation of factors” beyond the drug screening, including failure to complete assignments on time, making excuses for that and disobeying decisions by teachers and faculty.

Officials had reason to suspect drug use given Korpics’ “recent behavior, including his pattern of misrepresentation and deception, coupled with Korpics’ known history of drug use,” Freund argued in a legal memo.

“Illegal drug use, as was understood by Korpics’ refusal to undergo the required urinalysis, is incompatible with the college’s nursing program,” Freund wrote.

The judge, however, said there was “no credible evidence” that Korpics was on drugs at any time during class or that drugs affected his performance.

In addition, the college ignored its own policies and took disciplinary action without following its own procedures in ordering on-the-spot drug testing, he ruled.

Deschler said in legal filings that as a nursing student, his client had already passed two drug tests that were required of everyone enrolled in the program.

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