Arkansas Law Provides Students in Disciplinary Appeal Proceedings with Right to Counsel

The U.S. Constitution entitles all persons within the territory of the United States the right to due process, which can be broken down into two categories: procedural due process and substantive due process. Procedural due process is based on principles of fundamental fairness and addresses which legal procedures must be followed in state proceedings in order for those proceedings to be fair. Procedural due process considerations include notice of allegations, opportunity for a hearing, basis of decision, and availability of counsel.

Arkansas Law Provides Narrow Due Process Protections for Students in School Disciplinary Proceedings

Arkansas Code 6-60-109 gives students enrolled in state-funded institutions of higher education the right to request a disciplinary appeal proceeding, if the student has received a suspension of ten or more days or an expulsion as a result of an alleged violation by the student that has resulted in disciplinary action against the student (other than an allegation of academic dishonesty). Under such circumstances, the student may choose to be represented by a licensed attorney or a non-attorney advocate who may fully participate during the school's disciplinary appeal proceeding. If the disciplinary appeal proceeding arises from a complaint by a student against another student, both students have the right to representation by their own licensed attorney or non-attorney advocate.

By granting the right to be represented by counsel in the form of a licensed attorney or advocate, the Arkansas statute grants university and college students relatively narrow due process protections. Rather than explicitly enumerate several rights like Arizona Revised Statutes 15-1866 and the Kentucky Campus Due Process Protection Act, Arkansas Code 6-60-109 only grants a limited right to representation by counsel who may fully participate during the school disciplinary proceedings. This narrow right to representation only applies when the alleged student conduct is for a violation other than an allegation of academic dishonesty, and only in cases where the student has received a suspension of ten or more days or an expulsion.

Students Accused of Code of Conduct Violations Face Serious Risks

Notably, Arkansas Code 6-60-109's limited right to counsel requires that the student already have received a serious punishment for the student's alleged misconduct: suspension of ten or more days or an expulsion as a result of an alleged violation by the student (other than an allegation of academic dishonesty). While a suspension may not sound like a serious sanction, missed school days mean missed learning opportunities, which may result in an incomplete grade or transcript gap that the student may need to explain to potential employers. Suspensions and expulsions can also lead to financial hardship for the student and the student's family if the student is unable to find a job and/or graduate on time and within budget.

Joseph D. Lento is an Experienced Attorney-Advisor Dedicated to Defending Students in School Disciplinary Actions and Appeals

Arkansas law mandates that a student in state-funded institutions of higher education who has received a suspension of ten or more days or an expulsion as a result of an alleged violation by the student that has resulted in disciplinary action against the student (other than an allegation of academic dishonesty) has the right to counsel in the form of a licensed attorney or a non-attorney advocate who may fully participate during the school's disciplinary appeal proceedings.

In other cases, where the right to counsel is not explicitly protected, a student discipline attorney is still an invaluable resource to a student who is facing disciplinary proceedings. The school cannot prevent you from getting professional help preparing your case.

If you or your family member has been suspended, expelled, or otherwise sanctioned for an alleged a school conduct violation, contact the Lento Law Firm online or call 888-535-3686. Attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento is dedicated to representing students against allegations of misconduct and has several years of experience handling appeals. Joseph Lento will navigate the complicated school bureaucracy to work towards an effective resolution for you and your family, because the stakes are too high to face alone.

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If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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