Students attending Alaska colleges and universities will be challenged by rigorous academic course loads, transitioning into adult life, and a stringent disciplinary process if they violate their school's code of conduct. Students do not plan on committing misconduct during their four years of focusing on their studies, but mistakes happen. Sometimes even young adults of good character can be threatened with a suspension or expulsion and feel like they cannot defend themselves.
The college grievance process is intimidating. Although students and their parents often wait until a separation from studies begins to hire professional assistance, it does not mean options are not available. You have the opportunity to obtain comprehensive relief that gets you back in the classroom. If you or someone you love faces suspension or expulsion at an Alaska college or university, contact college dismissal advisor Joseph D. Lento immediately to preserve your educational and professional future.
Appealing Disciplinary Sanctions
When disciplinary boards levy punishments like suspension or expulsion over academic misconduct or other code of conduct violations, the student can appeal the decision. As part of the grievance process at Alaska colleges and universities, students will receive notice of when they can file an appeal and the guidelines governing the process following the disciplinary board's decision determining responsibility for the alleged misconduct.
The codes of conduct supervising student life at institutions of higher education in Alaska and elsewhere will explain the few circumstances under which appeals are allowed. The University of Alaska – Anchorage details that students can file requests for appeals for the following reasons:
- Due process: The investigative or hearing processes did not follow the procedures outlined in the school's code of conduct. The appeals board will also review allegations of bias or conflict of interest on the part of anyone involved during the grievance process that would have affected the findings and outcome.
- Excessive sanctions: The appeals board will consider appeals if the sanctions can be proven substantially outside the parameters of the code of conduct's guidelines and unreasonable based on the findings of the allegations and the disciplinary board's determination of responsibility.
- Incorrect conclusion: Appeals will be heard if it is proven that the disciplinary hearing's findings regarding alleged code of conduct violations were wrong or a preponderance of the evidence does not support the decision.
- New evidence: Evidence that emerges following the determination of responsibility must have been undiscoverable during the review process and unknown to the accused. An accused student's unwillingness to provide a statement or participate in the grievance process will not satisfy this ground for appeal.
Students have limited time to file appeals once the school administration decides to suspend or expel them. The timeframe can be as short as two days, but it varies from school to school. The University of Alaska – Fairbanks allows students seven business days to file an appeal, whereas Alaska Pacific University provides a timeframe of 15 calendar days.
Once the appellate hearing concludes, the members will deliberate and make their final decision. The University of Alaska - Anchorage explains in its code of conduct that the following may occur:
- Findings or sanctions are upheld
- Sanctions are lessened or altered
- The matter is referred back to the disciplinary board for further review
- The case will be reviewed by a select committee of school administration officials
- Dismissal of the case, charges, and sanctions
Once the appellate body hands down its decision, it is regarded as final. There will no longer be an opportunity to address punishments with the school. If a decision to suspend or expel a student remains, the effective end of an academic career can leave any student emotionally exhausted and not knowing where to turn for relief. They may believe there is nothing left to do but pack up and leave the school.
They may also be asking themselves:
- Could the sanctions be proven excessive given the misconduct findings?
- Has new evidence emerged that was not available during the investigation or hearing?
- How can infringements on due process be proven?
- Was there any conflict of interest or bias from the disciplinary board members?
Most, if not all, students are not prepared to handle these dire situations, especially when their main concern is their studies and career opportunities. Hiring a college dismissal advisor will ensure that you are familiar with all facets of the appeals process and have a solid defense against harsh punitive measures.
Separation From Studies
Alaska school administrations may seek to suspend or expel students to protect their public reputation, academic or otherwise. At Alaska Pacific University, if a student does not complete two-thirds of their credit hours, they risk losing their federal financial aid eligibility. Even if a student or their parents can pay semester costs without the help of financial aid, a college or university will not allow them to enroll because it affects the school's federal aid eligibility.
Alaska Bible College has even stricter student behavior guidelines. Their code of conduct states that any student may be expelled for "drunkenness," dishonesty," and "profanity."
Institutions of higher education in Alaska sometimes misapply their policies when suspending or expelling students. A student may be subject to extenuating circumstances that affect their academic performance or behavior on campus, such as:
- Death of a family member or close friend
- Hard transition into campus life
- Injury or illness of an immediate family member
- Overwhelming class schedule
- Physical or emotional trauma
With the immense pressure schools are under to promote an amicable public perception, students of good character are at risk of being punished unfairly. It is also crucial to understand that the grievance process is not the same as legal proceedings in court. College and universities are not governed by the U.S. Constitution and are not required to grant a student Fourth Amendment due process rights.
Just because your Alaska school has thrown you out, that does not mean you should sit idly by while your future academic career is endangered. There is a path toward 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 severe disciplinary sanctions in Alaska and across the country.
What Are The Consequences of Suspension or Expulsion?
Students separated from their students may think they go home and get a job for a semester and then walk back into the school fully enrolled. However, that isn't the case.
When an Alaska school suspends or expels a student, it can also obstruct young adults' ability to continue their education through another program. Considering schools require transfer students to disclose all other colleges and universities they attended, they will be seen as less attractive admissions candidates.
Suspension and expulsion will also wreck a student's financial livelihood. If a student must reimburse federal loan providers for any unearned amount of financial aid because of a separation from studies, it will cause long-lasting economic hardship. It will also hinder opportunities such as:
- Applying for auto, business, or home loans
- Being in good standing with credit reporting agencies
- Obtaining scholarships or grants for school
The consequences are not just financial in nature. Suspended or expelled students must disclose college disciplinary actions on various forms like:
- Behavioral counseling licenses
- Financial certifications
- Graduate school applications
- Law enforcement applications
- Municipal and state government internships
- Security clearances for federal jobs
- Transfer student applications
What Can Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Do For You?
When you face a suspension or expulsion from school, you may believe that a local Alaska attorney is your best option for defending yourself. They may try to persuade you by a shock-and-awe strategy of threatening high-dollar lawsuits. However, that is not a pragmatic approach. 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 school's Office of General Counsel (OGC).
Countless experiences engaging in meaningful negotiations have led Lento and his team to form invaluable relationships with internal OGC representatives in Alaska schools and others acting on behalf of the school retained from outside law firms. He and his team know how to help school administration officials view positive options that benefit the student and the institution over suspension, expulsion, or other severe punishments.
For expert advice from a college dismissal advisor defending students in Alaska and throughout the U.S., call 888-535-3686 to discuss how Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm can protect you or visit the online consultation form. Your academic and professional future depends on it.