Have you received an allegation of misconduct from your Alaska school?
Has your teacher expressed dissatisfaction with how quickly you're progressing through your coursework?
Do you have a sneaking suspicion that someone from your school's community is going to file a report with the school about your actions (whether it's actually true or not)?
If any of these statements ring true, it's time for you to jump into action.
You might be tempted to ignore these types of allegations and accusations, after all. But that would do far more harm than good. You see, schools across the nation are currently cracking down on even minor cases of misconduct. After putting students allegedly responsible for misconduct through a grueling adjudicative process, schools slap these students with sanctions — sanctions that could disrupt their academic plans and even destroy their chances of starting successful careers.
Even if you don't feel that your chances of an adverse disciplinary experience are high, it's time to get to work. The long-term ramifications of even a seemingly insignificant sanction can be stark. Now's the time to make sure that you come out of your school's adjudicative processes with your head held high.
Joseph D. Lento, a national student defense advisor, is ready to support you through this tumultuous time. He can help you pull together a strategic defense, coach you through intense disciplinary hearings, and more. But first, the Lento Law Firm is here to equip you with the necessary information.
After all, your school's due process and other procedures can be tough to understand. In this helpful guide for Alaskan college students, we'll cover everything you need to know before getting started on a disciplinary case. We'll start with a basic overview of the academic institutions and school laws present in Alaska and then talk through what happens after someone at your school files an allegation of misconduct (or failure to progress) against you.
Bookmark this page for later reference, and let's dig in!
What Private and Public Colleges and Universities Are in Alaska?
Alaska — or, if we refer to it by its official state nickname: The Last Frontier — is home to several top-tier academic institutions. These include:
Public colleges and universities in Alaska
- University of Alaska (and its several locations, including Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Southeast)
- Ilisagvik College
The University of Alaska has a student population of over 26,000 — which makes it (by far) the largest university system in the state. Since this is the case, we'll use the University of Alaska's code of conduct and other documents whenever we feel that it'd be useful to have a concrete example to illustrate a point.
That said, it's always a good idea to check your own school's code of conduct — or, even if you attend the University of Alaska, to make sure that your specific campus doesn't have unique regulations and expectations that may not be outlined in more general statewide documentation.
To round out this overview of the academic institutions in Alaska, we'll turn to the private schools in this Northern state:
- Alaska Pacific University
- Alaska Bible College
While these schools may be private, it's important to note that they are typically bound by the same general rules and regulations as other, less privately-funded schools.
It mainly comes down to funding. In order for colleges and universities to remain eligible for federal and state funding, they will (for the most part) be required to comply with federal and state regulations. Even if a school does not accept any federal or state funding on a regular basis, the chances are high that they'll want to leave the door open for aid, just in case, it is required in an emergency situation.
As a result, even private schools in the state of Alaska can be considered under the governance of at least some statewide regulations. Let's take a moment to go over some of the legal language and governing educational bodies in the state of Alaska before proceeding to more discrete details regarding code of conduct and failure to progress situations.
Statewide Higher Education Laws and Government Bodies in Alaska
- The Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education is the go-to resource in the state for regulating the various institutions of higher education in Alaska. This group oversees financial aid, planning for the colleges and universities, and more.
- Alaska is also part of the Ninth Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals. This court will hear cases from a variety of sources before issuing an opinion. If this court hears a case and issues an opinion that relates to academia in any way, it could impact your college experience. Keeping an eye on these cases is therefore key!
Now that we've provided some establishing information, we'll pivot to talking about the specific rules your school may have — and the expectations your school may have of you.
What Does ‘Failing to Progress' Mean at Your Alaska School?
While an accusation that you're ‘failing to progress' may not sound great (and intuitively, you may know you're in some kind of trouble), it's hard to know exactly what this vague term is really driving at.
The gist of this allegation is simple: Your educator has some kind of standard, clearly stated or not, regarding your academic performance and progress. If they're alleging that you're failing to meet that standard, you could be at risk of sanctions such as failing grades, sanctions, or even dismissals.
The frustrating thing about failure to progress allegations is the fact that your school's administration will likely depend on your educator to assess whether an allegation is indeed merited. As a result, if you don't happen to have a stellar relationship with your educator, it could be very difficult to fight for your rights in a tense failure to progress situation.
Typical actions or inactions that could result in a failure to progress allegation may include:
- Failing to take an adequate or minimum number of credits for either your program or your specific student status
- Repeatedly withdrawing from courses
- Failing to prepare specific (required) materials for courses or labs
- Repeatedly earning incompletes in courses
- Failing to do everything that is required for your course (e.g., as denoted in your course curriculum)
- Repeatedly or consistently low grades in your coursework
- Failing to do the background reading for your courses
However, as noted above, this is not an exhaustive list.
There may be some attempt on the part of the administration to tailor your punishment to fit your alleged actions. For example, your teacher may simply fail you on a specific assignment (or in an entire class). This in and of itself is a big enough reason to start fighting for your rights: After all, a failed course could set back your entire hoped-for academic timeline.
That's not the worst that can happen, unfortunately. If your educator decides to escalate your case to the administration for investigative and adjudicative action, you could receive a suspension or an expulsion.
Either way, as soon as you suspect that a failure to progress allegation could be in your future, reach out to a national defense attorney for the help you need. This will likely feel like an overreaction but remember that these types of disciplinary situations can spiral out of control faster than you'd expect. It's far better to be prepared from the beginning than it is to be searching for high-quality representation when you're in a pinch!
What Are Code of Conduct Infractions at My Alaska School?
Outside of failure to progress allegations, we also have more specifically defined code of conduct infractions.
On one level, a code of conduct infraction is simple: It's any behavior, action, or inaction that goes against your school's defined expectation for student behaviors. These expectations should be written out and easily accessible as part of your school's code of conduct.
Your code of conduct is a lengthy, confusing document that you may have received when you first matriculated at your Alaska school. (If you need a new copy of it now, check online: Your school's code of conduct should be easily available on your school's website.)
If you scroll through that document, you should find a list of the types of behaviors your school prohibits, as well as the types of punishments a student could receive if they complete those actions anyway. While everyone's school has different standards (and you should definitely check your school's documentation if you believe a disciplinary event is in your future), there are certain types of misconduct that all schools will probably consider punishable.
We'll go over a few of the most common types of punishable behaviors in this next section.
Sexual Misconduct at Your Alaska School
Sexual misconduct can be surprisingly hard to define. In some cases, the specific actions that your school may consider punishable could depend on the environment or culture at your school. For example, if you attend a more conservative school, simply telling an off-color joke or talking about your sexual experiences with friends could be enough for someone to file an allegation against you.
Here's the thing: If your school receives an allegation of sexual misconduct, someone from your school absolutely must investigate. Why?
In order for your school to remain eligible for federal funding, it has to follow certain rules. One such rule is Title IX, one of the Educational Amendments of 1972. Under this regulation, schools must investigate all allegations of sexual misconduct in a timely manner or risk losing out on federal funding.
As discussed above, even if your school is a private institution and doesn't currently depend on state or federal funding, it will likely want to remain eligible for these funds.
Although the types of allegations that might fall under Title IX can differ (at least slightly) depending on the occasion, most schools will agree that the following clear-cut infractions constitute sexual misconduct:
- Domestic violence
- Dating violence
- Sexual exploitation
These actions can sound quite stark, but it's often the case that an allegation of sexual misconduct is based on a misunderstanding (or a mistake or some kind of miscommunication). Your school may not have the ability to dig further or see that type of nuance. In fact, because your school has a clear financial incentive to handle this type of misconduct efficiently and effectively, your school may steamroll over your rights just to close the matter swiftly.
Sexual misconduct on your student record can be particularly lethal for your reputation. If you believe that a sexual misconduct case could be in your future, you need to get a student defense advisor — fast.
Academic Misconduct: How Does It Differ from Failure to Progress?
The other most common type of misconduct allegation has to do with academic integrity. Earlier, we discussed failure to progress scenarios or circumstances in which a student may not be measuring up to some academic ideal. In those cases, the student's work may be (allegedly) substandard, but they have probably not broken any written codes of conduct.
If a student has broken an academic code of conduct, their behavior may be classed as academic misconduct (or as an academic integrity infraction or a similar term) instead of as failing to progress. Sometimes the two distinct types of behaviors could be linked, of course: For example, a student who is falling behind in class could use cheating as an attempt to get back on track.
Because academic misconduct and academic dishonesty issues are code of conduct infractions, you should be able to find a clear list of actions that fall into this category in your school's code of conduct. Common inclusions in these types of lists are:
- Accessing unauthorized materials
- Fabricating data
Although your school may indicate that it will tailor the sanction to fit the alleged crime, most students found responsible for academic misconduct will get slapped with a suspension.
Are Sexual Misconduct and Academic Misconduct the Only Issues My Alaska School Will Investigate?
Although sexual and academic code of conduct issues are among the easiest infractions to define, there's a good chance that your school will have several other smaller or more specific types of punishable behaviors in mind.
This is a very good example of a time where you'll want to check out your own Alaska school's documentation, as your school could have unique rules that you'll need to be aware of. To round out this section on code of conduct infractions, we'll provide a quick list of some common infractions your school could decide to investigate and punish. These include:
- Drug or alcohol use
- Residential misconduct
- Bullying or cyberbullying
- Hate crimes
If your school decides that you're responsible for these or any of the actions outlined above, your school's response to punishable behavior will kick in very quickly.
Wondering how to make sure you meet that response as strategically as you can? We're happy to help make sure you're prepared. Let's talk about the best actions you can take, from the moment you realize you're going to be involved in an adjudicative process all the way through to a (hopefully!) successful resolution.
What Happens After My School Investigates Me for Misconduct?
This might be the part that you're really interested in learning more about. It may not be something you're already familiar with, after all:
What does happen after your school believes you're responsible for sexual misconduct, an academic integrity infraction, or some kind of punishable failure to progress scenario?
Here's what you need to know upfront:
- Even if your misconduct allegations don't have any truth backing them up, you still need to act, anyway. There are some situations in which your school may not feel the need to actually uncover the truth — leaving you in a tough situation whether you're responsible or not.
- These investigations and adjudicative processes can move more quickly than you think. One moment, you're receiving an odd notification from your school about some allegations filed against you — and (seemingly) the very next moment, you're facing expulsion. Getting prepared early on in the process can help you a lot in this situation.
- On a similar note: Hiring a student defense attorney very early on in the process — as soon as you receive an official notification from your school, if not before then — may feel like a huge overreaction. It isn't. These kinds of cases are often won or lost as early as the initial investigative stage of your school's due process. Having a professional at your side from the very beginning can go a long way toward helping you achieve a favorable outcome.
Now that we've covered those basics, let's touch on a general timeline that your school might follow during a misconduct investigation:
- Your school should begin by sending you a notification regarding the allegations they have against you. This notification should include reference to the specific part of the code of conduct you're (allegedly) breaking, next steps, and more.
- Your school will then take some time to learn more about what happened to trigger the central allegations. During the course of this investigation, your school may look into your past record of behavior, speak with your teachers, look at your social media, and even interview your friends.
- After your school's investigation is complete, you may be invited to speak with a representative from your school to discuss the allegations against you.
- Alternatively, your school may simply invite you to a more formal hearing in front of a panel of representatives. During this hearing, you may have the opportunity to review all of the evidence the school has against you. You may also be able to defend yourself. Your advisor may or may not be able to attend this hearing (your school may have rules against this!), but your advisor will be able to coach you until you feel comfortable saying the things you need to say in your defense.
- At the end of this hearing, your school will come to a decision regarding your probable responsibility for the inciting event. Your school may or may not be correct in their assessment, but they will come to an understanding that will direct how they decide to proceed.
- Finally, your school will recommend a specific sanction that you will need to experience.
Next, let's talk about the specific sanctions that may be on the table.
My Alaska School's Most Likely Sanctions
If you flip to the part of your school's code of conduct dedicated to listing out the potential sanctions you could be experiencing, you could be met with a long list of possibilities. Your school may also have some kind of intimidating matrix that helps determine the proper way that sanctions should be escalated, the right sanctions for specific infractions, and more.
Your Alaska school's list of potential punishments may be unique, but some common inclusions in school sanctions lists include:
- Mandatory housing changes
- Behavioral contracts
- Written warnings
- Loss of privileges
This may seem like a scary list but think about the process of recommending sanctions from your school's perspective for one moment. When you consider how much time and energy it might take to write out a behavioral contract or monitor a student throughout a probationary period, it becomes clear that a school often won't have the resources or bandwidth to make that happen.
Perhaps because of this, by far the most common sanction that students experience is a simple suspension.
Unfortunately, the fallout from a ‘simple' suspension can be long-lasting. While a suspension might seem like a preferable punishment, being away from school for a certain period of time will result in a gap in your transcript. That gap on your transcript will be a gigantic red flag to people who might be reviewing your record (such as prospective interviewers or future employers). They'll see that gap on your transcript and ask more questions. Once they learn that you were associated with a disciplinary event while you were in school, they'll probably decide to pass you over for any opportunity you might have been otherwise considered for.
At the Lento Law Firm, we want to make sure that you don't work hard for a college degree and then find yourself handicapped in that way. If you find yourself in this situation, you can partner with your student defense attorney to work towards a more favorable resolution.
One of the first steps you may be able to take after your school's hearing is complete is a formal appeal.
How Do I File an Appeal at My Alaska College or University?
When you file an appeal, you formally ask your school to reconsider the sanctions they have recommended. They probably won't come to a new decision regarding your responsibility for the central event, but your school may be able to provide a lesser sanction that could wreak less havoc on your reputation.
Having a student defense attorney who's ready to help you put together a persuasive appeal is in your best interest. You'll only have one shot at filing an appeal — and you'll likely only have a very short amount of time (a few business days) to work.
Your advisor will help you determine the most compelling rationale for your appeal and assist you with filing the appeal in a timely manner. After your school takes some time to review your appeal, they will come back to you with a final decision.
If your school is open to negotiations, your advisor will help you with the next best steps. If your school does not wish to open negotiations, it may be time to consider more strategic action.
What if It's Time to Sue My Alaska School?
Thinking about considering a lawsuit? Again, your student defense attorney is the best resource to consult when you're ready to pursue this type of action. However, we'd caution you from filing a suit immediately after your appeal is rejected.
For one thing, lawsuits are very expensive. For another, if you file a suit against your school, it'll be hard to recover or enjoy any relationship you might have after the lawsuit is complete.
Before you sue your school, have your student defense attorney initiate a lawyer-to-lawyer conversation about your situation directly with your school's office of general counsel. These types of meetings are often incredibly productive, resulting in compromises that both you and your school are happy with. Ask your lawyer to take this step before you spend time, money, and stress on a lawsuit!
Are There Any Alaska Laws I Should Know About as a College Student?
If you're a college student in Alaska, you should keep the following state regulations in mind:
- Under the age of 21? Don't drink alcohol in the state of Alaska. In addition to strict laws about underage drinking, Alaska also takes a strong stance against driving under the influence.
- Live off-campus? Pay your rent on time! In Alaska, you'll need to uphold all the stipulations listed in your tenant agreement.
- In Alaska, it's against the law to either use a fake ID to purchase alcohol or show a fake ID to an officer of the law.
Statute of Limitations Laws in Alaska
- Injury to Person: Two years
- Libel: Two years
- Slander: Two years
- Fraud: Ten years
- Injury to Personal Property: Six years
- Trespassing: Six years
- Contracts: Three years
- Collection of debts: Ten years
- Judgments: Ten years
If you feel like this is a lot of information to take in, that's a natural response: It is! Fortunately, Joseph D. Lento is ready to provide the assistance you need.
Are You an Alaska College Student in Need of a Strong Defense? Joseph D. Lento is Ready to Help
When you're facing allegations of misconduct, the last thing you need is more homework on your plate.
The same thing goes for failure to progress allegations. If your educator has decided that your efforts aren't measuring up to their standard, you're going to be stressed out (to say the least). You're not going to want to spend time delving through your school's code of conduct, figuring out the best way to argue your case, and managing complex, incredibly tense negotiations with your school.
Instead, you're going to want to spend time quietly recovering, resting, and maybe focusing on your schoolwork. That's why you call in a professional to help make sure that your adjudicative process goes as well as it possibly can.
That's why you call Joseph D. Lento.
Joseph D. Lento is an expert student defense advisor who helps students across the United States — including Alaska — work towards a favorable outcome after misconduct allegations. When your reputation, degree, and future are on the line, Joseph D. Lento can help you protect your rights and stress levels.
Whether you need assistance with pulling together a strong defense, performing research for your case, speaking with representatives of your school, or working through your school's due process as successfully as possible, Joseph D. Lento can provide the support you need.
Call the Lento Law Firm today for more information about the services we offer; the number is 888-535-3686. Don't waste time and stress trying to figure out how to handle this solo. Instead, call in a national student defense attorney to help you take critical action to protect your future.
Are you a student or the parent of student at an Alaska college or university facing a school-related issue? Attorney Joseph D. Lento can help. Click on the following links as applicable for more information:
Joseph D. Lento has helped many students and others in academia in Alaska protect their academic and professional future. Contact him today at 888-535-3686.