Can a School Admissions Expert Testify in a Contract Case?

Appellant appealed from the judgment entered in the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas in favor of Appellee Military Academy (“the Academy”), following the Academy‘s supplemental petition for attorneys’ fees resulting in a molded verdict and judgment in a breach of contract action. Appellee is a private, non-profit, education institution located in Wayne, Pennsylvania. Appellant is an attorney and the father of the cadet in question (“Cadet”) who enrolled as a cadet at the Academy. In the course of enrollment, the parties entered into several written agreements concerning Cadet‘s conduct and his father’s financial responsibility for payment of tuition and fees. Those agreements included a Billing and Payment Contract (“Contract”). 

Two months after enrolling in the Academy, Cadet and another student were involved in activity resulting in 21 charges being lodged against them, including alcohol-related charges. The Academy told Appellant that it had conducted a disciplinary board hearing concerning Cadet‘s actions, and he received punishment including placement on the Conduct Probation List, a recommendation for dismissal pending further information, and an out-of-school suspension. The Academy also notified Appellant that “violation of any of the terms of probation will be justification for automatic dismissal.” 

Six weeks later, the Academy tested Cadet for substance/alcohol abuse. That test returned a positive result for marijuana and amphetamines, constituting violations of the Academy‘s substance abuse policy as well as the conditions of Cadet‘s probationary status. Shortly after he tested positive on the drug screen, the Academy dismissed Cadet. His father appealed the decision to dismiss. The Academy rejected the appeal and provided the father with a transcript of the courses Cadet had successfully completed and for which he’d received credit. 

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