Kean University became the first public post-secondary educational institution in New Jersey in 1855. The University's enrollment has now grown to more than 16,000. The leadership is committed to preserving an environment where individuals demonstrate “mutual respect” for one another. Various departments work together to ensure that potential acts of misconduct are subject to a “complete investigation” and appropriate sanctions are imposed.
How a Student Rights Lawyer Can Assist
Institutions of higher learning today are increasingly focused on their reputation. To maintain high standards of academic integrity and campus safety, administrators may be pressured to hold students accountable for any violations. This may lead to disproportionately harsh sanctions and penalties. Also, overworked administrators may hastily conduct proceedings without affording you due process.
Colleges and universities are generally permitted to use their discretion in developing their disciplinary procedures and processes. Variations exist in how parties are notified, processes regarding hearings and investigations, etc. Having an attorney to properly interpret your school's unique guidelines in vital.
Students and their families are often making sacrifices in time and money to pursue post-secondary education. An unfavorable outcome such as suspension or expulsion in a student disciplinary matter may jeopardize these goals. In many instances, students and their parents may not initially recognize the long-term consequences that can result.
Emphasis should be placed on retaining an attorney that is familiar with this realm of practice. This should occur shortly after being made aware of the allegations to allow sufficient time for preparation. Most institutions allow parties to choose an advisor for support. It is critical to have an attorney serve in this role for sufficient preparation for delivering effective statements and responses to questions.
Your attorney may potentially enter into discussions with administrators to negotiate a favorable resolution. When an attorney is representing you there is an increased likelihood that these lines of communication will exist.
Student Rights Attorney
Disciplinary matters are typically grouped into three different categories. These include “general” disciplinary violations, acts of academic misconduct, and violations of Title IX federal guidelines.
Understand Violations of Title IX
The Kean University Division of Student Affairs has drafted a policy on Sexual Assault, Misconduct, and Violence that outlines their Title IX process. Title IX was a measure implemented in 1972 to address sexual discrimination in U.S. educational institutions. Adherence is necessary for maintaining eligibility for federal funding.
Acts of sexual violence including rape or battery may be committed against the will of a victim, which violates Title IX. These physical actions involve victims that have either not granted consent or are incapable of granting consent.
Acts of sexual harassment may be committed verbally or nonverbally. The victim may be subjected to a hostile environment that results from slurs or stereotypes. Discrimination may occur when anyone is denied entry or the right to participate based on their gender or sexual orientation. Other violations include making inappropriate sexual advances or unwelcomed appeals for sexual favors.
General Disciplinary Issues
The University Policy and Procedures for Addressing Disruptive Behavior outlines how the Vice President for Student Affairs will use disciplinary measures when appropriate. This applies to those who are disruptive or fail to respect the rights of others.
“General” disciplinary misconduct may involve underage alcohol possession or consumption, possession of illegal drugs or paraphernalia, and presenting false identification to obtain alcohol. Hazing is another strictly prohibited activity involving abuse or demeaning acts often committed against those seeking to join a fraternity or sorority.
The Office of Residential Student Services also has a detailed guide regarding the behavioral expectations of those residing on campus.
Some of the most common violations may include underage alcohol possession, excessive noise, tampering with fire-safety equipment, smoking, and more.
Potential Violations of Academic Misconduct
The Kean University Department of Academic Affairs created an Academic Integrity Policy that contains its guidelines. Within this policy, violations are grouped into four primary categories as follows:
- Cheating: Acts of “deception” where a student is involved in misrepresenting their “mastery of the material.”
- Plagiarism: A student may use “words, ideas, phrases, sentences, or data” from another source as if it was their own. It also may be demonstrated by “copying or paraphrasing” material without properly referencing (citing) the source.
- Fabrication: This includes creating information or falsifying work. One example is intentionally listing material sources that were not used.
- Academic Misconduct: This category addresses acts of dishonesty that are not appropriate for classification within the aforementioned categories. It may involve conspiring or otherwise providing assistance to others.
This University further classifies violations as being a Level I, II, III, or IV. This is based on the severity of the violation. Level IV offenses are punishable by “permanent dismissal” from the institution.
The majority of institutions use a “preponderance of the evidence” standard in determining the outcome of disciplinary actions. Federal guidelines specifically related to Title IX were recently expanded to allow for the usage of a “clear and convincing evidence” standard. These are both a lesser standard compared to “beyond a reasonable doubt” that is used in criminal matters. These three standards can be summarized as follows:
- Beyond a reasonable doubt: The evidence was sufficiently satisfied to a moral certainty
- Clear and convincing evidence: The evidence was proven to a reasonable certainty or it satisfied a “highly probable” standard
- The preponderance of the evidence: The evidence suggests that a violation was more likely than not
Negative Information Contained in Records or Transcripts
There has been considerable debate regarding the practice of noting disciplinary sanctions on student transcripts. According to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, documenting sanctions in this manner is “legally permissible.”
Students may encounter difficulties when seeking admission to another institution or entrance to graduate-level programs. At Kean University, they will disclose records “to officials of other educational institutions to which the student has applied or intends to enroll.”
Student disciplinary actions may coincide with criminal charges involving the campus police or local agencies of law enforcement. Joseph D. Lento has many years of experience defending clients in criminal matters in courts across New Jersey. He can aggressively defend you on both fronts.
Attorney Represents College and University Students Accused of Misconduct
The Lento Law Firm defends the rights of students in various types of proceedings. They understand how allegations that relate to sexual harassment, academic misconduct, or criminal wrongdoing can negatively impact your future. Promptly contact the office at (888) 535-3686 for assistance.