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Bias in Misconduct Investigations

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Oct 27, 2022 | 0 Comments

When students are accused of misconduct, they need to undertake their own investigation and not rely upon their school. The lawsuit, Doe vs. Dordt University, highlights why students should not trust schools to undertake balanced and impartial investigations.

Colleges and universities are not bound by the same rules as legal courts. Accused students pay a high price if an improperly conducted investigation results in sanctions against them.

Background

In the Dordt case, a sexual encounter between two students led to one of the students, Doe, being dismissed from the school after the second student, Jane Roe, claimed the encounter had not been consensual. Evidence existed that suggested the encounter may have been consensual, but Roe, under pressure from classmates, reported it as an assault.

During the investigation, both Dordt University and the investigator ignored and dismissed evidence. They declined to further examine some of this evidence or ask follow-up questions, to Doe's detriment.

Faculty and Staff Bias

Bias may prevent a student from receiving an impartial investigation. Staff and faculty members tasked as investigators may not discard their own opinions when conducting an investigation.

In the Dordt case, evidence existed that the staff member assigned to the case disapproved of underage drinking and extramarital sex. These beliefs may have affected the investigator's judgment and his ability to conduct an impartial investigation. He failed to follow up on evidence or dismissed information that could have helped Doe disprove the allegations.

Even well-meaning investigators may lack the time or resources to conduct a full investigation. Misconduct investigations are often on a tight timeline, sometimes as little as two or three weeks.

Knowledge of Rules

Members of disciplinary committees may not be up-to-date on the current or relevant laws and policies. These hearing panels are not members' full-time jobs or their specialties. As demonstrated in the Dordt lawsuit, a college or university may not provide members of a hearing panel or committee with any information or inform them of changes to the law.

If schools fail to inform hearing committees of the relevant rules and policies, the committees may not make accurate decisions or correctly evaluate a case. Student needs to make sure that a hearing operates using updated and relevant laws and that committee members are aware of them.

This is why hiring a qualified legal team can be to a student's advantage. A law firm experienced in student defense will know the relevant laws and understand school policy.

Protect Your Future

Accused students should not rely on their college or university to conduct a thorough investigation. Accused students need skilled assistance to complete their own investigations and check that the college or university is providing a hearing committee with the necessary information on the current and relevant laws and policies.

If you're a student accused of sexual assault, investigator bias, lack of resources, or knowledge of the relevant policies can also hurt have serious repercussions for you. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm represents clients nationwide and we can help you. Contact us at 888-535-3686 or online.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients nationwide. Attorney Lento and his team represent students and others in disciplinary cases and various other proceedings at colleges and universities across the United States. Attorney Lento has helped countless students, professors, and others in academia at more than a thousand colleges and universities across the United States, and when necessary, he and his team have sought justice on behalf of clients in courts across the nation. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide, and he can help you or your student address any school-related issue or concern anywhere in the United States.

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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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