Army ROTC Disenrollment ProcessDecember 17, 2021
A Cadet most commonly faces the Army ROTC Disenrollment Process for the following reasons:
- Withdrawal or dismissal from the Academic Institution
- Medical disqualification
- Failure to maintain a minimum semester or quarter cumulative academic GPA of 2.0 on a 4.0 scale and at least a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale in all ROTC courses
- Personal Hardship as defined by AR 635-200, chapter 6
- Failure to meet Army Weight Control Program and/or Army Physical Fitness Test standards prior to the end of the last school term of the MS III year
- Being a conscientious objector
- Being dismissed from advanced camp, receiving a recommendation not to receive credit for advanced camp, or withdrawal from advanced camp for reasons other than breach of contract
- If information is discovered that will bar a Cadet for appointment as a commissioned Officer, such as a positive urinalysis, pending criminal charges, and/or a pending investigation
- Misconduct, demonstrated by disorderly or disrespectful conduct in the ROTC classroom or during training, or other misconduct that substantially interferes with the ROTC mission, including participation in unlawful demonstrations against the ROTC, illegal interference with rights of other ROTC students, or similar acts
- Inaptitude for military service as demonstrated by a lack of general adaptability, skill, hardiness, ability to learn, or leadership abilities
- Undesirable character demonstrated by cheating on examinations, stealing, unlawful possession, use, distribution, manufacture, sale (including attempts) of any controlled substances, discreditable incidents with civil or university authorities, falsifying academic records or any forms of academic dishonesty, failure to pay just debts, or similar acts
- Indifferent attitude or lack of interest in military training as evidence by frequent absences from military science classes or drill, an established pattern of shirking, failure to successfully complete an established weight control program, or similar acts
- Breach of contract, defined as any act, performance, or nonperformance on the part of a student that breaches the term of the contract regardless of whether the act, performance or nonperformance was done with specific intent to breach the contract or whether the student knew that the act, performance or nonperformance breaches the contract
With a few exceptions, a Cadet cannot be disenrolled without an Army ROTC Disenrollment Board. The Board typically consists of either one or three Commissioned Officers. There must be at least one Field Grade Officer on the Board. The Army ROTC Disenrollment Board acts as the jury and will, typically, make findings and recommendations on the following issues:
- Did the Cadet enter into a valid ROTC contract
- How much academic assistance (money), if any, did the Cadet receive
- If the Cadet in question breached the terms of his/her ROTC contract for a variety of reasons (see above)
- If the Cadet should or should not be required to pay back any money to the Federal Government (Recoupment)
- If the Cadet should or should not be retained as scholarship/non-scholarship Cadet
- If the Cadet should or should not be disenrolled from ROTC
- If the Cadet should or should not be released from any ROTC contractual obligation
- If the Cadet should or should not be ordered to active duty in an enlisted status for a period of 3 years
- Any other recommendations as appropriate
During the Army ROTC Disenrollment Process, including at the Board, a Cadet has to represent him/herself. However, a Military Lawyer can be present and assist the Cadet in question. The lawyer is not allowed to talk or advocate to the Board; however, he/she can prepare the Cadet before and advise him/her during. A Cadet has the following rights at an Army ROTC Disenrollment Board:
- Question the Board Members and Challenge them for Cause (i.e. bias or partiality)
- Make an Opening Statement
- Object to Evidence
- Cross Examine any Government Witnesses
- Present Evidence
- Present Witnesses
- Make a Closing Argument
A prosecutor (JAG), may, or may not, be present to advocate against the Cadet in question. When this happens, the Cadet is put in a further position of disadvantage.
An Army ROTC Disenrollment Board is typically a one-day hearing. Sometimes, the Board will deliberate on-the-spot and render a decision that day. Other times, the Board will take days to deliberate and render written findings and recommendations. Said findings and recommendations will be provided to the PMS, or higher appointing authority. The PMS, or higher appointing authority, then either approves or disapproves each of the Board's findings and recommendations, and explains any non-concurrence.
At this point, the Cadet will be provided the Board's Findings and Recommendations and the appointing authority's approval/disapproval. The Cadet will have the opportunity to provide a rebuttal, within 10 working days. The PMS, or higher appointing authority, will then review the Cadet's rebuttal and provide a final recommendation to the approval authority. The approval authority for an Army ROTC Disenrollment Board for non-scholarship Cadets is the Brigade Commander; for scholarship Cadets, it is the CG of ROTCCC. The CG's decision is the final step in the Army ROTC Disenrollment Process.
The Board's findings and recommendations, along with any recommendations post-board, are not binding on the approval authority. Regardless, a positive outcome at a Board is a huge victory for the Cadet in question and is more likely to result in a favorable outcome.
Any Cadet facing the Army ROTC Disenrollment Process should immediately consult an experienced Military Lawyer. It is unlikely that a JAG will be available to assist. Furthermore, both U.S. Army Trial Defense Services (TDS) and Legal Assistance do not typically deal with the Army ROTC Disenrollment Process, and are likely very inexperienced in this area even if they do.
As mentioned above, Cadets can be represented by Civilian Counsel during the entire Army ROTC Disenrollment Process (from initiation of any investigation until final action). Said Counsel can advise during any investigation, collect evidence, prepare witnesses, create a trial plan (voir dire, cross examination, opening statement, witness questions, testimony, closing argument, etc.), assist the Cadet at the Board with physical presence, and advocate after the Board, if necessary.
Quality legal representation during the Army ROTC Disenrollment Process can make all the difference. As the phrase goes, anyone who represents themselves has a fool for a client.
This Article was written by Attorney Matthew Barry, a West Point Graduate, Iraq/Afghanistan War Veteran, former Company Commander, former JAG Officer, and retired Army Major.