Case Studies: Failure to Academically Progress

Senior Student Graduates After Facing SAP Dismissal in Final Year

A prominent public university in the capital of a Central state placed our client, in her junior year of a public administration program, on academic probation. The registrar's notice that our client had failed to satisfactorily progress warned of her impending dismissal. When she received low marks again at the end of that semester, the last semester before her senior year, the registrar sent her a notice of dismissal describing the school's SAP appeal procedures. The school's SAP procedures required detailed explanation, substantial documentation, and an achievable recovery plan. Our client's academic performance had been well below her own standards for the prior two years because of a combination of personal and household circumstances, including National Guard training and duties, the serious illness of a child, and financial challenges requiring extra hours at part-time work. Lacking the skill, time, and energy to evaluate her circumstances, form a recovery plan, and prepare an effective SAP appeal, our client hired the Lento Law Firm's student defense team. Our research and evaluation showed that our client could probably qualify for reinstatement under the school's exigent circumstances exception, depending on the quality of her appeal presentation. We documented not only the fact of her child's serious illness but also how it directly and indirectly impacted our client's study time and energy. We also got statements from family, military, and other witnesses attesting to how diligently our client attempted to continue with her studies. Our recovery plan convinced the university's SAP appeal committee that our client could improve her grades in her final two semesters to within the university's minimum standards. The university granted our client's SAP appeal, reinstating her and allowing her to finish her degree program and enter a new career.

Provisionally Admitted Student Gains Restart After Initially Failing to Meet Conditions for Regular Admission

A prestigious state university along the Atlantic Coast provisionally admitted our client through a summer program that required our client to meet certain preliminary academic benchmarks before regular admission with the Fall entering class. Unfortunately, our client suffered a serious sports injury training for the upcoming intramural season. Treatment for the injury kept our client from attending some classes and completing some coursework at the level that the provisional admission program arguably required. Our client retained the Lento Law Firm's student defense team when the university denied our client regular admission. Our prompt analysis of our client's academic performance showed that he may have just barely met the provisional admission program's requirements, depending on the interpretation one gave the program's vague published standards. We helped our client present his arguments to an admissions appeal committee. The university maintained that it had discretion to interpret the provisional admission program standards. But the committee agreed with our arguments that the standards were sufficiently clear to make our client's arguments reasonable, that our client had relied on those standards, and that the university must admit our client. Our presentation also showed that our client was very likely to succeed academically after having recovered from his sports injury. The committee granted our client regular admission to the university in time for him to attend the Fall's first classes. The key to our effective response was the speed with which our team acted, the research our team did into the university's standards, and the full presentation we helped our client make, showing the fairness and justice of our client's regular admission.

Doctoral Student Gains Readmission After Proving Conflict of Interest in Grade Appeal Panel Decision

An assistant dean in a doctoral program at a small public university in the Northeastern United States surprisingly failed our client in a clinical course despite the fact that clinical supervisors had given our client positive evaluations. Our client had no warning of any clinical deficiency before the failing grade, which threatened our client's satisfactory academic progress. Without a successful grade appeal, our client could have ended up suspended or even dismissed from his doctoral program. Our client appealed his failing grade to a university grade appeals committee, but the committee surprisingly denied the appeal without supporting grounds or expressed rationale. When the doctoral student retained the Lento Law Firm's student defense team, we were able to show that the assistant dean's husband, whose marital conflict of interest should have disqualified him from deciding the appeal, had improperly served on the appeals committee, resulting in a biased and groundless decision. The university granted a new appeal before an unbiased committee. We then helped our client obtain a proper diagnosis of his undisclosed learning disability, strengthening his appeal case for Americans with Disabilities Act accommodations. Our appeal presentation showed our client's new approaches to reading, studying, test preparation, test taking, and other academic skills, adjusting for his ADA-protected learning disability. The university granted our client a second chance to show his capability of completing the doctoral program, toward entering a rewarding healthcare-related career. Our strategic approach of showing both a procedural issue and substantive remediation proved the key to victory.

Dental Student With Undiagnosed Disability Gains Reinstatement After Failing Three Courses

​A dental school at a small Southwestern public university dismissed our client after he failed three courses in his first two years. At that point, our client had clearly not met the dental school's minimum academic standards. His only hope for continuing with dental school was to prove exigent circumstances for his dismissal. But our client couldn't point to any specific reason, like divorce, illness, or a death in the family, for his failing coursework. Our client was fully committed to becoming a dentist. He came from a family of dentists and had worked in his family's dental office, where he confirmed his career choice. Our client was studying as hard as ever. He just suddenly couldn't seem to pass his courses. When our client retained the Lento Law Firm's student defense team and explained his predicament, we promptly helped our client accept that he might have an undiagnosed learning disability interfering with his effective studies. Our client submitted to examination and testing with an expert qualified to diagnose learning disabilities, resulting in a proper diagnosis of the previously undiagnosed condition. Our client's diagnosis of a learning disability protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act, his related prescription medication, and the other plan we helped our client develop to remediate his learning issues provided a compelling basis for our prompt and winning appeal of our client's dismissal. The dental school's dean reinstated our client in less than a month from the date of his initial dismissal, enabling him to proceed toward his deeply desired dental career.

Master's Degree Candidate Successfully Appeals SAP Dismissal After Divorce and Housing Loss

A small private liberal arts college in the Southwestern United States dismissed our client, a master's degree candidate planning a doctoral program to pursue teaching jobs in the field of literature, after she was well into the program. Our client had outstanding academic credentials and good grades. Yet a series of separations from her abusive spouse and, ultimately, a divorce involving restraining orders had badly disrupted our client's life. Our client had been treated physically and mentally for domestic abuse and had moved several times, even once having been homeless. As a consequence, our client had withdrawn from several college courses, left courses incomplete, and taken off terms until she could no longer meet the college's SAP credits-attempted and program duration requirements. Our client had kept her family situation to herself, out of embarrassment, without notifying her professors and advisors, who were generally unaware of her challenges. When college officials told our client that they were skeptical that an SAP appeal would be successful, our client retained the Lento Law Firm's student defense team. Our SAP appeal documented not only the fact of our client's multiple separations, divorce, and physical and mental abuse but also its direct and indirect impacts on our client's ability to attend to her coursework. We also helped our client show that all her submitted work was well above minimum standards and that her situation had finally improved so that she was sure to succeed if granted reinstatement, without further withdrawals or incompletes. The college's SAP appeal committee granted our client's appeal and reinstated her to the master's degree program so that she could pursue her teaching career.

Sexual Assault Victim Gains Relief From University Academic Progress Standards

A small public university in the Central states dismissed our client for failing two courses and earning other low course grades that together did not meet the university's minimum grade point average. The university initially placed our client on SAP probation but then dismissed her when her next grades did not pull up her grade point average to the required minimum. Our client entered the university with a high entrance exam score, high school grade point average, and strong academic skills. She had also earned decent grades in her first term. But a male student at the university had sexually assaulted our client early in her second semester at the university. Our client did not initially report the sexual assault out of embarrassment and fear that the university or male student would retaliate against her for her report. But our client reported the assault later in the semester when our client realized that the assault's effects were debilitating her in her campus life and school studies. The university's disciplinary proceedings against the male student further distracted our client, who should have withdrawn or taken incomplete grades but instead insisted on completing her courses. Her failing and low grades ultimately resulted in the registrar's SAP dismissal notice. When our client retained the Lento Law Firm's student defense team, we promptly reached out to the disciplinary officials in the male student's proceeding. Those officials worked with us, our client, and the registrar to immediately reinstate our client so that she missed no classes in the upcoming semester. The registrar also offered our client other transcript relief for retaking the failed courses.

Student Avoids SAP Probation and Dismissal After Administrative Grade Appeal

A local suburban campus of a public university system in a Midwestern state notified our client that he was on academic probation for having failed to meet the school's satisfactory academic progress standards. Our client's grade point average had been right at the minimum 2.00 / 4.00 for most of his matriculation until his third year, when a single failing grade pulled his grade point below the 2.00 minimum. Our client would have had another semester to pull his grade point average back above the 2.00 minimum before suffering SAP dismissal, except that our client had little confidence that he could earn the higher grades he needed to do so. Our client believed that the following term would be his most difficult term with challenging courses he had avoided taking earlier in his program. When our client retained the Lento Law Firm's student defense team, we helped our client obtain the academic records relating to his failing grade, which had surprised our client. Those records showed that the instructor or department secretary had made mistaken entries in our client's scores throughout the course in a way that pulled our client's total score to the failing level. Correct entry of the scores would have resulted in a passing grade. We then helped our client make an administrative numeric grade appeal rather than an SAP appeal, with the result that the department chair corrected the grade, and the registrar made the corresponding correction on our client's transcript. The registrar then withdrew the SAP notice of academic probation, leaving our client in good academic standing for entering his next challenging term. We completed this work within two weeks so that our client's status was clear by the time the next term began.

Dismissed Student Wins SAP Appeal Enabling the Student to Transfer to Home University

Our client, an undergraduate student in the teaching field in her junior year at a large out-of-state private university, needed to transfer to a public university in her hometown to complete her teaching degree. Her mother had a serious illness, leaving her younger siblings without the care and home support they needed while their father helped their mother through extensive treatment. But our client could not complete her transfer because of her academic probation at the out-of-state private university. Her mother's illness and her siblings' needs, requiring our client to travel back and forth to her home state, had already burdened and distracted our client to the degree that her studies had suffered. When she retained the Lento Law Firm's student defense team, we were able to help our client prepare an SAP appeal based on her exigent circumstances. Our appeal documented her mother's illness and family circumstances while also showing how those emergency circumstances were adversely impacting our client's studies. Our appeal also showed our client's private university that our client could meet her home state school's academic requirements after transfer, if only she were not on academic probation that barred her from transfer. Our appeal included documentation of the home state school's lower academic standards. Our client's out-of-state private university granted the appeal, the result of which was to remove our client from SAP academic probation. Our client then successfully transferred to her home state university, where she could care for her siblings without the long-distance travel her private university studies had required.

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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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