The majority of colleges and universities in Pennsylvania have their own code of conduct that likely references academic integrity to some degree. Clearly, these rules vary from school to school, but at the core of each policy, schools promote honesty and responsibility in all scholarly endeavors. This means actions like cheating plagiarism are forbidden and therefore punishable.
When a faculty member speculates that you have somehow violated its academic integrity policy, you will be required to undergo the disciplinary process. This process generally entails an investigation and/or hearing to determine if you are “responsible” for committing the misconduct you were accused of.
If your school happens to determine that you're responsible for academic misconduct, here's some good news: you always are granted the right to appeal. I've provided all the information you need to know about academic appeals and the appeals process. If you have further questions, don't wait to contact the Lento Law Firm today. My practice is in Pennsylvania, so I'm familiar with a lot of the college's rules and regulations pertaining to academic misconduct and the disciplinary process.
What is an Academic Appeal?
An appeal is a letter that challenges the validity of a school's adverse disciplinary decision. When an appeal is filed, a panel is responsible for reviewing the initial decision and your reason for why this decision is unjust or unwarranted. Then they will conduct a hearing to ultimately decide if there is a valid reason to affirm your appeal and reverse or reform the decision.
When is it Appropriate to Appeal?
You should appeal if you truly believe that you didn't do what you were accused of. I've taken on the role of an appeal advisor for a number of students, and I can attest to the fact that a minor misunderstanding or misjudgment can turn into a serious problem for students. From faulty plagiarism detection software to group projects gone wrong, I can assure you that innocent students get accused of academic misconduct all the time. You shouldn't be labeled a cheater for something you didn't do. This is why the appeals process exists.
Another reason to appeal is if you feel your sanction is too harsh. The severity of a sanction should be proportionate to the action you committed.
You should not appeal if you have admitted guilt in any capacity to the school. If your reason for appealing is to give the panel an explanation as to why you committed academic misconduct, you're wasting your time. Being unhappy with a determination isn't enough to justify an appeal in the eyes of an appeals panel. An element of injustice must be involved.
Here are some other reasons for appealing that won't be relevant to the panel:
- You were under stress when the incident occurred
- You did not realize you were violating your school's policies
- Other students did what you did, but didn't get caught
- Your professor didn't tell you it was against school policy
The bottom line is that the appeals process only concerns whether the violation occurred, not why it occurred.
Filing an appeal means writing a letter to your professor or faculty member's dean to explain why you have been falsely accused. This letter should be clear, concise and very detailed. During this point in the process, an attorney-appeal advisor can prove to be useful, especially if you don't feel your writing skills are up to par. An advisor can help you draft a letter that is convincing enough for a panel to grant your appeal.
Pennsylvania Academic Appeal Advisor
Being falsely accused of academic misconduct can throw a wrench in your plans to graduate. When your college or university makes a decision that hinders your academic progress, you have every right to appeal. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has successfully helped a wide range of students in all stages of their educational journey prevail in the appeals process. Contact him today at 888-535-3686 to get back on track.