If you or a loved one is an Alabama college student who has to face a college disciplinary board, the process ahead of them is intimidating. After a fast-paced grievance process, the final decision could end with severe penalties like suspension for one or more semesters or even expulsion. The student may be concerned that their academic career has effectively ended once that threshold has been crossed. However, although the disciplinary process at Alabama institutions of higher education can be overwhelming for anyone to endure, that doesn't mean the opportunity to defend yourself is gone.
Many students and parents fail to retain professional assistance until the school administration has handed down punishments, but options for redress are available. An inexperienced local lawyer may give you false hope by touting their competency in a court of law. Yet, skills used to argue before a judge and in front of a jury often don't translate into the finesse necessary to negotiate with school administration officials.
Engaging your school in litigation could last for months or even years. Your intention should be to gain prompt, private, negotiated relief that gets you back toward completing your degree. It's imperative that you contact a college dismissal advisor like Joseph D. Lento immediately to preserve your educational and professional future.
Appealing Disciplinary Sanctions
When disciplinary boards levy punishments like suspension or expulsion over unsatisfactory academic progress or various forms of misconduct, the student has the right to appeal the decision. As part of the grievance process in Alabama colleges and universities, students will receive notice of the time they have to file an appeal and the guidelines governing the process.
Most institutions of higher education in Alabama and elsewhere detail in their codes of conduct the few circumstances under which appeals are allowed. The University of Alabama-Huntsville details that students can file requests for appeals for the following reasons:
- Appropriateness of the penalty: The appeals board may consider student grievances wherein the sanctions handed down by the school's Conduct Review Panel were excessive based on the findings of the allegations and their determination of responsibility.
- New evidence: In matters appealed on the grounds of new evidence, such evidence must have been undiscoverable during the review process.
- Due Process: The respondent or complainant must demonstrate that the adjudicatory process lacked conformity with the procedures outlined in the school's code of conduct. This could include bias regarding any school's Conduct Review Panel members.
Students and their advisors have little time to waste after the school administration has determined responsibility regarding the allegation to appeal the decision to suspend or expel. Typically, the timeframe is between two and ten days, but it varies from school to school.
This scenario may cause students to feel overwhelmed as their academic career, and future opportunities are suddenly at risk. Moreover, how will the student know the disciplinary board adhered to due process, that the punishment can be proven excessive given the allegations, or that new evidence emerged germane to the case? Most students aren't prepared to handle these critical situations, especially when their main concern is their studies. A professional college dismissal advisor will ensure that you are familiar with all facets of the appeals process and how to find the best outcome.
Separation From Studies
Your Alabama college or university may seek to separate students from their studies for failing to achieve minimum academic standards to qualify for full-time enrollment—known as "satisfactory academic progress" (SAP). Each college and university establishes its particular SAP policy, including specific criteria for minimum Grade Point Average (GPA), semester credit load, and completion requirements. Schools throughout Alabama will have similar quantitative and qualitative standards outlined in their code of conduct.
At the University of Alabama at Birmingham, a student that fails to meet its minimum SAP requirements will be placed on "WARN – Warning, Failing SAP" for a semester. A student hit with a second WARN designation is no longer eligible for federal aid and may be subject to disciplinary action.
In another instance, suppose someone alleges that you have committed misconduct that warrants the school to temporarily but immediately remove you from campus? At many Alabama schools, including Auburn University, a student may be suspended before or during university disciplinary procedures through its "Temporary Disciplinary Action" policy.
Nevertheless, schools in Alabama sometimes make errors in applying these policies and dismiss students unfairly. Students can be subject to extenuating circumstances that lead to their grades dropping or targeted for misconduct allegations.
These circumstances can include many unfortunate but relatively common life events such as:
- Death of a family member
- Emotional instability
- Tough transition into student life
Honest and hardworking students of good character are at risk of being disciplined. Disciplinary boards may also act on false or exaggerated accusations that serve interests other than reparation. It's important to understand that the disciplinary process isn't a court of law. A school isn't required to grant a student due process. Considering the federal funding streams a school may need to remain open for enrollment and attempts to craft an esteemed public image in today's political and cultural climate, colleges and universities don't hesitate to remove students from their studies.
Just because your Alabama school has given up on you, that doesn't mean you should. Students have the opportunity to retain professional guidance to preserve their academic careers and prospects.
Even if your school has already sanctioned you, there is a path to relief. You must contact college dismissal advisor Joseph D. Lento and the expert team at the Lento Law Firm. They have proven experience defending students against harsh punishments from school disciplinary boards in Alabama and across the country.
What Are The Consequences of Suspension or Expulsion?
Unless effectively challenged by a college dismissal advisor, a separation from school ends the student's opportunity to complete their degree. It can also prohibit a student's transfer to or enrollment in other schools.
For instance, a University of Alabama student expelled for certain offenses is permanently banned from readmission and trespassed from the campus and all related university events, including those off-campus. At Troy University, suspended students will have special requirements that they must fulfill before they can apply for readmission, with no guarantee that the school administration will let them back into the school.
Terms of separation can significantly impact a student's financial aid. If a student receiving financial aid through a federal grant is required to separate from the college or withdrawal from a program, they may have to reimburse the government. Paying thousands of dollars back to federal loan providers can potentially ruin someone's credit score and cause long-lasting financial consequences with years of recovery.
Disciplinary investigations may also have to be disclosed on some professional licenses and federal clearance applications. Any measure of discipline leading to dismissal from school will undoubtedly interfere with internships, career opportunities, and applying for loans to continue your education elsewhere.
What Can Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Do?
When you face a suspension or expulsion from school, you may believe that a local Alabama attorney is your best option. They may try to win you over by explaining how they are a part of the community and know the college personnel on the appeals board. This reasoning only gives false hope and can mean that you derail your academic and professional career just because you didn't know how to determine who can advise you properly in a college dismissal situation.
Joseph D. Lento is an experienced professional in handling student disciplinary cases. He and his team at the Lento Law Firm have represented hundreds of students in Alabama and throughout the U.S. They have always protected their clients' academic careers against harsh school administration officials and disciplinary boards.
Lawyers typically begin defending student clients by issuing threats of lawsuits at Alabama colleges and universities. However, that isn't an effective strategy that will provide a more favorable outcome for the student. Although a formal suit is a possible course of action, in many instances, Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have brokered beneficial resolutions on behalf of the student with the institution's Office of General Counsel (OGC).
Countless experiences like that mean Lento and his team have formed invaluable relationships with many representatives in Alabama schools' internal OGC and those acting on behalf of the school recruited from outside law firms. He and his team know how to help school administration officials view positive options that serve the student and the institution better than suspension, expulsion, or other harsh sanctions. The unique point of offering the Lento Law Firm promotes is a negotiation the school accepts and preserving the student's education.
For expert advice from a college dismissal advisor defending students in Alabama and throughout the U.S., call 888-535-3686 to discuss how Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm can defend you or visit the online consultation form. Your academic and professional future depends on it.