Thomas Edison State University's Academic Integrity Procedural Standards
Complaint and Notification
Every member of the college community is encouraged to file a complaint against a student if there are any suspicions of a possible violation of TESU's academic integrity policy. Any complaint should be drafted with the understanding that it will be shared with the student in question. If a faculty member (typically an instructor) wishes to report a student, he or she is obligated to notify the student of the complaint via email. Either way, respondents are required to notified of the charges, whether it be by an instructor or another party in order for the charges to be official.
A student defense attorney should be retained immediately upon notification of charges. Having the help of a legal professional throughout the entire process will serve as a great advantage overall. An attorney can help you strategize for the future, and avoid pitfalls that could arise throughout these processes. Many students wait until they've received an unfavorable finding by their school to get serious and call a lawyer, but at that stage in the game it is often too late. Contact an attorney as soon as possible to maximize your likelihood of success.
The complaint will be referred to the Academic Integrity Officer, who will be responsible for conducting an investigation. The school's code proceeds to mention that a routine investigation must include discussion with the individual(s) who submitted the complaint, discussion with relevant witnesses, and the review of relevant documents. During the course of an investigation, the student (who will now be known as a respondent) will not be able to withdraw from a course in which the alleged violation is suspected.
Meeting with the Academic Integrity Officer is the second part of the investigation. At this meeting, a respondent will be informed of the charges brought, the process for resolution, potential sanctions, and notice for an impending hearing. After receiving all of this information, respondents will be to request documents relevant to their case ahead of the hearing.
A student defense attorney is very useful in this stage of the process. Lawyers prepare for hearings for a living, and the skills they use to do so are the same ones you'll need to acquire to present a compelling case to a panel. With the help of an attorney, you'll be able to collect evidence, and establish a case that you can feel confident about presenting to a panel.
Formal rules of process, procedure, or technical rules of evidence used in criminal proceedings or civil court are not used in academic integrity proceedings. These hearings are intended to incite discussion as to what occurred, and the circumstances of this case. A board comprised of members from the Academic Integrity Committee will be the objective party to mitigate the case. During the course of a hearing, testimony from the person bringing the complaint, the respondent, and relevant witnesses will be delivered. Questions from the panel may be posed for further clarification.
When all sides are heard, the panel will determine whether a respondent is responsible for any violation of the academic integrity policy through a majority vote. This decision will be based on the preponderance of evidence standard - a basis of whether it is more than likely than not that the student charged violated school policy.
It's important to remember that during a hearing, an attorney is prohibited from speaking on your behalf. However, they are allowed to attend and help you all throughout these processes.
The following sanctions, alone or in combination, may be imposed upon a student with a “responding” finding for a violation. Prior violations and the severity of a violation will be considered when assigning sanctions.
- Loss of privilege: a student may be denied privileges of access to college resources. These privileges range from being prohibited from taking a certain course to partaking in benefit programs.
- Resubmission: an instructor may allow a respondent to redo an assignment in part or completely, and provide a full or diminished grade for the assignment.
- Diminished grade on assignment: an instructor may assign a diminished grade for the assignment. This includes assigning a “0.”
- Failing grade for the course: an instructor may feel it is necessary to assign a grade of “F” to the entire course. This sanction requires an explanation of the failing grade as a disciplinary action for academic misconduct.
- Pending suspension: the termination of course registration for a limited time. The suspension may be during the semester in which the violation occurred, or for a subsequent semester.
- Expulsion: the permanent dismissal from TESU may be imposed. This sanction is only an option for subsequent offenses and incredibly severe cases.
Fortunately, a finding that indicates a respondent is, in fact, responsible for a violation of the school's academic integrity policy can be appealed. An appeal is a request for the school to reconsider a decision it previously made. In order for an appeal to granted it must be based on reasonable grounds, rather than mere dissatisfaction with a case outcome. The limited appeal grounds are:
- Evidence of procedural irregularity: there was an error in the procedural that led to a case outcome
- New information: there was new information discovered after finding that could have substantially affected this decision
- Disproportionate sanction: the sanction imposed was disproportionate to the offense committed
Students have within ten business days of the date of the written decision to submit an appeal.
New Jersey Student Defense Attorney
Many students wait until their school processes are nearly over, and things are looking bleak to hire a student defense attorney. Although it's a good thing that hiring an attorney is an option, it's more wise to retain one right from the start. An attorney can help you avoid setbacks and pitfalls that can sabotage your case, and help you prepare for a hearing. If you're invested in your education, your degree program, and your academic and professional future, hiring a student defense attorney when facing allegations is a must.