Getting into college is an incredible feat, one that you, or your child, have likely spent years preparing for. They've taken the tests, gotten the grades, and fulfilled their community service hours. They've worked hard to get where they are, which is why it can feel so overwhelming if their university accuses them of academic misconduct. Your mind jumps ahead to all the hopes and dreams they've been striving for; suddenly, their imminency seems less certain. But, hiring an attorney-advisor to help from the moment the student is accused will ensure the best possible outcome.
At Lento Law Firm, the attorneys work meticulously to mitigate any possible negative consequences an accusation like this might cause. You don't have to navigate these murky waters alone. Lento Law Firm can help.
What Counts as Academic Misconduct at the University of North Texas
Like many schools around the country, the University of North Texas employs a code of academic integrity. This policy hopes to protect the legitimacy of the academic degrees they are awarding, and it defines academic misconduct as:
- Cheating: a student is found cheating if they used any type of unauthorized assistance while taking an exam, test, quiz, or other assignment; they used a source beyond what the instructor allowed when writing a paper, report, or solving problems; they used an instructor, staff, or other students' notes or other academic materials on an exam, test, quiz, or other assignment; submitted a paper or project to multiple classes without permission; or any other act that was meant to give them an unfair advantage over other students.
- Fabrication: a student falsified or invented research findings, data, or information.
- Forgery: the student intentionally falsified or altered a grade, score, or other official record.
- Plagiarism: the student is found using the words or ideas of another without citing them; whether intentional or unintentional, it does not matter. Plagiarism also includes hiring agencies or writers to write papers, assignments, or exams for you and passing them in as your own.
- Sabotage: a student behaved in a way that prevented other students from finishing (or turning in) their work.
What is the Academic Misconduct Process?
If a student is suspected of academic misconduct, it is usually the instructor who takes the first steps. They will notify the student in writing of their suspicions. If the student does not respond within five days, the instructor can apply academic penalties. If the student does respond, the instructor and student will have an in-person conference where the instructor will review all the relevant evidence and allow the student to respond.
After this meeting, if the instructor determines the student did not engage in academic misconduct, the student will not receive any sanctions. But, if the instructor does find upon a preponderance of the evidence that the student has engaged in academic misconduct, the instructor will notify the student and submit an online Academic Integrity Single Violation Report. This report will lay out the factual summary, any relevant documents, and the imposed academic penalty.
A student has the right to appeal this decision and must do so within five days. The Academic Integrity Officer and the Office of Academic Integrity will review the matter and determine if the student is a repeat violator and whether this was a minor or major violation.
- Minor violations are simply errors in judgment. The student did not have a clear intent to violate the Academic Integrity Policy.
- Major violations are more serious acts or acts of academic misconduct. These acts are clearly supported by evidence that shows a significant disrespect for academic integrity.
The student's appeal will also be turned over to the department chair, who will determine whether a review of the appeal will be conducted by themselves or a faculty committee. Whatever the department chair decides on the matter, it is final. There are no further appeals.
What are the Consequences of Academic Misconduct?
Allegations of academic misconduct can have long-lasting consequences. The immediate consequences range from a verbal or written warning to complete expulsion from the university. Their severity depends on the accusation's seriousness and whether or not the student is a repeat violator. At the University of North Texas, the academic penalties include:
- Admonition: verbal or written warning
- Educational assignment: an additional piece of coursework not assigned to other students
- Partial or no credit for an assignment or exam
- Failing the course
- A lower grade
- Academic probation
- Expulsion from the university: the student is required to leave the school with no expectation to return.
- Revocation of their degree
Beyond these immediate consequences, being accused of academic misconduct, especially if it's a false accusation, can severely impact a student's self-esteem. They may become jaded, thinking the world views them one way, despite never having actually behaved that way. Additionally, universities catalog instances of academic misconduct on a student's transcripts for eternity. Anytime a student applies for a graduate school or post-graduate job, they will have to explain the circumstances surrounding the behavior.
How an Attorney-Advisor Can Help
Attorney-advisors work to protect your student's future goals and dreams. They've worked hard to get into college and deserve to graduate without a reputation for academic misconduct and all the long-term consequences those accusations may cause. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has unparalleled of experience helping hundreds of college students across the country accused of academic misconduct. He works tirelessly to gather all the information and evidence surrounding the incident to ensure the universities uphold due process. Unfortunately, many schools allow students falsely accused of academic m