California University's Academic Integrity Policy
At California University of Pennsylvania, also known as Cal U, students are expected to embrace academic integrity in each and every one of their academic endeavors. In the school's code of conduct, academic integrity is defined as doing your own work in seeking intellectual truth. Therefore, actions like cheating, academic impersonation, plagiarism, improper research practices, or dishonesty in publication are not tolerated and otherwise prohibited by Cal U. The handbook emphasizes that each proved violation of the school's policy will not be ignored and will become part of the student's permanent academic record at the University.
Intentional vs. Unintentional Academic Misconduct
It's important for accused students to remember that their intentions will not be considered in these cases. This means that you could have made a genuine mistake by accidentally plagiarizing, or turning in an unfinished version of your work, but the disheartening fact of the matter is that the school doesn't care. Instructors are required to assess the academic work that was submitted, not the work that was intended to be submitted. The main determining factor in these cases is whether or not a violation of school policy occurred, the existence of an error is irrelevant.
With this in mind, it is important that you consider retaining a student defense attorney. Many students in this predicament rely on their institution to sympathize with them and let things slide in the event of a mistake, but this rarely occurs. Once you've been suspected of a charge as serious as academic misconduct, you are now in an adversarial relationship with your school. Violations are taken seriously, and you will have to fight hard to defend yourself in order to prevail in your school's processes. One of the only ways to maximize your likelihood of a favorable outcome is to have a student defense attorney help you make preparations and avoid setbacks in your case.
The initial meeting
A faculty member (typically an instructor) who suspects that a student has violated the school's academic integrity policy has an obligation to meet with the student before assigning an official penalty. During this confrontation, a number of facts must be discussed. An accused student must be notified of an instructor's suspicions, the evidence that fuels this suspicion, and his or her intentions of filing officials charges. Once a student has been notified, he or she should be given a time and space to provide an explanation. It's basically up to an instructor to either let a student off with a warning or to continue the process.
Academic Integrity Form
If, at the end of a meeting, an instructor still feels as if a violation has occurred. He or she will present an “Academic Integrity Form” to the student for it be read and signed by the student. The student has one of two options when signing a form: to either admit to the violation or to challenge it. If the violation is admitted, the instructor will provide his or her recommended course-level sanction and submit it to the dean. If the student challenges these allegations, the form will be sent to the Academic Integrity Committee, who will schedule a hearing.
A hearing is intended to incite conversation about the allegations, the circumstances of a case, and the stories of everyone involved. Based on the information presented at a hearing, a decision will be made by members of the Academic Integrity Committee. The order of a meeting follows as such:
- The faculty member presents his/her case to the committee, and witnesses that have testimony that backs their side of the story are called.
- The student will present his or her case, and witnesses with testimony that backs this version of events will be called.
- Committee members will be given a space and time to question either party of witnesses involved.
- When the committee believes that both sides have presented their cases fully, and when questioning has closed, all those present will be dismissed and deliberations will start.
- The committee's decision will be determined by a majority vote of those present. This decision is based on the preponderance of evidence - it is more likely than not a violation has transpired.
- Within ten working days, the committee will inform the student and instructor of its decision.
If a student is found “not responsible” for allegations of academic misconduct, the institution will see that all paperwork relating to the charges is removed from a student's permanent record and that the charges are dismissed. However, if a student receives a finding of “responsible,” the sanctions recommended will be implemented.
Any of the following sanctions may be applied:
- Written disciplinary reprimand
- A re-submitted assignment or examination
- A lower grade or failure on an assignment or exam
- The failure of the entire course
- Suspension from the university for a limited time
- A notation on a student's transcript
- The withholding or rescinding of a Cal U degree, diploma, or certificate
- Retroactive failure of the course with a transcript notation of the reason for the grade change
If a hearing is unsatisfactory to a student he or she has ten working days to file an appeal. An appeal is a request for a school to reconsider its decision based on certain grounds. Grounds consist of procedural errors that occurred in a hearing that was unfair and would have otherwise led to a different case outcome. For more information about your school's appeal process, and the grounds that could be applicable to your case, contact my firm.
Pennsylvania Student Defense Attorney
Academic misconduct is a serious allegation that could endanger the goals you've set for your academic and professional future, so using all of your resources to prevail in a hearing and possibly avoiding academic misconduct charges would be in your best interest. For students who are invested in their Cal U education, retaining a student defense attorney for academic misconduct charges is a must. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has over 15 years of experience helping students make preparations for hearings, and arming them through counsel to create a solid defense. He can do the same for you. Contact him today.