Students who get into college never imagine they might face formal accusations of academic misconduct. You are dreaming of the classes you will take and the friendships you will form, not who you can trust in a hearing proceeding to help defend you. So, when you are suspected of academic misconduct, it can be completely overwhelming. Who do you turn to for help? What steps should you take next? Florida Southwestern State College is dedicated to maintaining an educational environment that fosters learning and personal development. As such, students are expected to act responsibly and abide by the college's rules.
If you are accused of academic misconduct, working with an attorney-advisor from the moment you learn of these claims might mean the difference between a failing grade in the course and full expulsion from the college. Attorney-advisors work tirelessly to gather evidence, question witnesses, and build strategic defenses that are sure to provide the best possible outcome for your case. The Lento Law Firm has helped hundreds of college students navigate allegations like these. Call the Firm today.
Academic Misconduct at Florida Southwestern State College
At Florida Southwestern State College, students are expected to abide by the university's student code of conduct, which includes academic integrity. While the definition of academic misconduct varies from university to university, it generally encompasses any behavior that gives a student an unfair advantage over other students. A violation of academic integrity would constitute academic misconduct. At FSW, academic misconduct includes:
- Plagiarism: using another's ideas, words, or results without giving them credit
- Cheating: using course materials, information, or devices during an exam or assignment without permission
- Allowing another student to copy from you
- Submitting a paper or project to more than one course without explicit permission
Florida Southwestern State College Academic Dishonesty Procedure
At FSW, anyone can report a student for violating the code of conduct. Once the report is received, the university will launch an investigation into the incident. During the investigation, the investigator will meet with the accused student for questioning and gather evidence or witnesses. They will then provide an evaluation of the accusations, along with the evidence or witnesses they have uncovered, to the Vice Provost or their designee.
The Vice Provost or their designee will review the evaluation, evidence, and witness testimony and determine if there are reasonable grounds to believe the student could have committed an act of academic misconduct. If they decide there are reasonable grounds to move forward, they will begin an initial review. The initial review is a discussion between the Vice Provost, or their designee, and the accused student in an effort to resolve the issue outside of a formal hearing.
If during the initial review, the accused student does not accept responsibility, a formal hearing will be initiated. The formal hearing will be held before the Student Conduct Board or a College Hearing Officer, either of which the accused student can choose, but must make this choice in writing within three days of the initial review outcome letter being received.
At the formal hearing, the Student Conduct Board or a College Hearing Officer, whichever is chosen, will review the initial review assessment, the investigator's evaluation, and the accused student's argument. You will also have the opportunity to present witnesses and evidence, as well as cross-examine the university representative's witnesses and evidence.
When both parties have been fully heard, the Student Conduct Board or the College Hearing Officer will determine whether or not the student is more than likely to have committed academic misconduct. They will also decide which sanctions should be imposed. Possible sanctions may include:
- A warning
- Referral to an outside program
- Service hours
- Educational activities
- Loss of privileges
- Prohibited contact
- Removal from the classroom or course
- Counseling assessment and compliance
- Transcript notation
- Change in housing assignment
- Exclusion or removal from housing
Appealing an Academic Misconduct Decision at Florida Southwestern State College
Once you receive the Student Conduct Board or the College Hearing Officer's decision, you will have the opportunity to appeal it to the Vice Provost or their designee. All appeals must be postmarked or received within five business days of receiving notice of their decision. There are only certain grounds that appeals can be made at FSW. These grounds include:
- There were due process errors, including failing to provide the student with notice or an opportunity to be heard
- There is new evidence or information present now that was not reasonably available during the hearing that would affect the outcome of the case
- The sanctions imposed are disproportionate to the facts at issue
The Vice Provost or their designee will review the appeal and decide whether or not to reopen the hearing or decide to uphold or reverse the Student Conduct Board or College Hearing Officer's decision. This determination must be made within ten business days of receiving the appeal. Whatever the Vice Provost or their designee decide, it is binding and cannot be appealed further.
How an Attorney-Advisor Can Help
Accusations of academic honesty violations can have serious consequences beyond the sanctions imposed during your hearing or appeal. For instance, if you are found responsible for committing academic misconduct and sanctioned with suspension or expulsion, those punishments will be noted on transcripts. When you try to apply to another college to finish your degree or to a graduate school to continue your education, you will have to explain those notations to any admissions officer who inquires. Additionally, if you are failed from a prerequisite course you need to continue in your major, you will have to wait until it is offered again to retake it, which could mean pushing back your graduation date.
If you are suspected of academic misconduct at Florida Southwestern State College, it is imperative you contact an attorney-advisor as soon as possible. Attorney-advisors, like Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm, will create strategic defenses to minimize any adverse penalties you might face. Attorney Lento is highly experienced student defense attorney who has worked with hundreds of students across the county accused of academic misconduct. Call 888-535-3686 today to schedule your consultation.