The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) was founded back in 1855 and boasts an undergraduate enrollment that now exceeds 6,500. The administration and Board of Trustees have developed a Student Conduct Code. These provisions contain standards for general behavior and academic integrity. Those who fail to adhere to guidelines are subject to disciplinary measures.
Importance of Having an Attorney to Protect Student Rights
College or university students that have been accused of violating the school's code of conduct or rules related to academic integrity may face challenges. These include their current academic standing with the institution and their future educational and professional endeavors. Students and their parents may be confused about how to proceed in these situations.
Students and their families are often making tremendous sacrifices to obtain a college education. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has the experience necessary to effectively defend students in these matters. He understands what is at stake and employs strategies that reduce the potential for short and long-term difficulties
College and universities are faced with pressure to maintain a positive reputation. They hold students to high standards of conduct and academic integrity. Allegations of misconduct are often investigated by overworked administrators who are focused on swiftly resolving these matters. Based on the circumstances, the accused student may not be properly afforded his or her rights.
An attorney that is familiar with this realm of practice will effectively interpret the school's policies and guidelines. This will better ensure that the process is equitable and that any evidence is closely scrutinized. Your attorney may accompany you to interviews, hearings, and other potential disciplinary proceedings.
Your attorney may engage the administration and negotiate on your behalf. Examples of those responsible for disciplinary investigations include academic integrity officials, the Title IX Coordinator, and others. Students must promptly consult with an attorney when allegations surface, as doing so following an adverse ruling places you at a significant disadvantage.
Student Rights Lawyer
The majority of institutions will allow parties involved in disciplinary matters to be accompanied by an advisor. Choosing experienced legal counsel to serve in this role is important. This will ensure you have some realistic expectations and that you are sufficiently prepared.
Three general types of disciplinary action usually exist in college and university settings. These include:
- “General” disciplinary issues
- Violations related to academic misconduct and integrity
- Complaints that violate federal Title IX guidelines
Title IX Matters
The majority of U.S. educational institutions are responsible for maintaining compliance with federal guidelines contained in Title IX. This civil rights amendment was initially established in 1972 by the U.S. Department of Education. It prohibits sexually-based discrimination in education and noncompliance may result in losing eligibility for federal funding.
The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) provides ongoing guidance and enforcement. Institutions must all designate a Title IX Coordinator who drafts written procedures outlining how complaints are managed. Schools are afforded some latitude in creating their provisions, with the primary goal of ensuring fairness to all parties.
Violations of Title IX may involve denying or otherwise hindering someone's ability to participate in any programs or activities based on their sex or sexual orientation. Title IX applies to acts of sexual harassment, which may be verbal or nonverbal. These actions may involve promoting stereotypes, making unwanted sexual advances, and more.
Acts of sexual violence or assault are also considered a form of harassment. The acts may involve a victim that has not given consent to participate in sexual activity. It also applies when the victim is deemed as incapacitated or otherwise unable to legally consent.
At The College of New Jersey, the Title IX Coordinator is an administrator from the Division of Student Affairs. The leadership maintains a very detailed Title IX program in the TCNJ Policy Prohibiting Discrimination in the Workplace/ Educational Environment.
General Disciplinary Issues
“General” disciplinary issues are outlined in the Student Conduct Code. Acts of general student misconduct often pertain to drugs and alcohol. Examples include underage consumption of alcohol or possession of illegal drugs. Hazing is a problem that educational institutions also take very seriously. Many incidents of hazing are associated with abuse or intimidation of those joining fraternities and sororities.
Students that live in college or university housing typically have some specific residency rules that must be followed. Examples of violations may include excessive noise and disruption, smoking, and possession of weapons or explosives. Schools may terminate your campus housing privileges when violations occur.
Some of these violations include:
- Plagiarism: Using another person's words or ideas and submitting it for credit as your original work
- Communicating with someone else during an examination
- Participating in schemes to obtain copies of an examination
Sanctions and Penalties
Significant sanctions may be imposed for violations that relate to conduct, academic dishonesty, and Title IX. These include suspension or expulsion from the university and/or university housing. Most schools allow those that are issued an unfavorable ruling the opportunity to appeal. Having legal representation is critical in pursuing an appeal and they typically have rigid deadlines for filing.
Keep in mind that violations may be documented on student records and transcripts. This can potentially create difficulties if transferring to another school or seeking admission to graduate-level programs.
An effective student disciplinary defense attorney should also be experienced in criminal defense. In some instances, the campus or local police may bring criminal charges that coincide with student code violations. Criminal convictions can have further long-term consequences in future employment opportunities and more. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has the unique blend of skills to handle concerns that are inside or outside of the courtroom.
New Jersey Lawyer Defends the Rights of Students in Higher Education
The Lento Law Firm understands that students at colleges and universities may face allegations such as those of harassment, misconduct, or criminal violations that pose a risk to their future. In these situations, you should promptly secure seasoned representation that will protect your rights and best interests. Contact the office today at (888) 535-3686 for more information.