District of Columbia college students do not attend four-year programs only to land themselves in front of a disciplinary board answering for alleged misconduct. Respectable young adults can make mistakes between acclimating to student life, strenuous academic course loads, and preparing for future careers. Nevertheless, those missteps can leave students fighting for their academic careers after the school hands down a suspension or expulsion.
District of Columbia colleges and universities do not hesitate to address misconduct with a speedy grievance process that can end a student's opportunity to earn an education. Students and their parents often fail to hire professional help until disciplinary boards levy severe punishments leading to a separation from studies. Even though the investigative and hearing phases and subsequent sanctions can be overwhelming, that does not mean you have lost your chance to remain in school.
The opportunity to defend yourself is available. College dismissal advisor Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm can ensure that students in the District of Columbia are protected against stringent school disciplinary boards and remain focused on their academic work.
Appealing Disciplinary Sanctions
The codes of conduct at District of Columbia institutions of higher education will list the charges—academic misconduct, non-academic misconduct, Title IX violations— for which a disciplinary board can remove a student from enrollment. The code of conduct also lists the regulations governing how students can appeal decisions to suspend or expel.
There are a limited number of situations that grant a student the right to file an appeal. American University explains in its code of conduct that students may appeal disciplinary decisions if the following criteria are met:
- Due process: The accused student must demonstrate that the grievance process 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 disciplinary board members.
- Excessive sanctions: The appeals board may review a case outcome if the punishments handed down are unreasonable based on the findings of the allegations and the disciplinary board's decision.
- New evidence: Emerging evidence that would "substantially" affect the findings or outcome can be reviewed if it was undiscoverable during the review process and unknowable to the accused.
Schools in the District of Columbia do not provide much time after the determination of responsibility for a student to appeal a suspension or expulsion. Hiring a college dismissal advisor to assist you will ensure that you understand your school's specific appeals process and do not abandon your chance to remain in the classroom.
Typically, the timeframe to file an appeal is between two and ten days, but it differs from school to school. Georgetown University, for example, gives students seven business days upon written notification of the disciplinary board's sanctions to file an appeal. The George Washington University, on the other hand, offers students five business days.
Once the school's appeals review board concludes its review, it will do one of the following:
- Affirm the finding
- Deny the appeal
- Modify the consequences
- Reopen the case
- Reverse the results and punishment
The appellate body's decision is final and is not subject to additional appeals. Once students reach this point, they could be dismayed about the end of their academic careers.
After the outcome of the case and sanctions are affirmed, a student may wonder if they could have provided a more coherent, cohesive argument to mitigate the school's disciplinary actions. They may also be asking themselves:
- Has new evidence emerged that could change the outcome of my case?
- How can infringements on my due process be proven?
- Was a suspension or expulsion warranted for my misconduct?
Students are not prepared to manage a process like this as they are not trained, experienced college dismissal advisors. Moreover, within 24 hours of the decision, students are often forced to leave campus and begin their semesters of suspension or permanent expulsion. Although the appellate period remains active, students will not be able to review pertinent facts about how the school administration investigated and carried out their case or build a substantial appeal.
Retaining the assistance of a college dismissal advisor will give you the confidence that you can fight back against your District of Columbia school. Even if they have given up on your academic future, it does not mean you should throw in the towel.
Separation from Studies
District of Columbia school administrations may seek to suspend or expel students to protect their public reputation, academic or otherwise. At the University of the District of Columbia, if a student fails to complete 67 percent of their attempted credit hours, they will lose their federal financial aid eligibility. Even if a student or their parents can pay semester costs out of pocket, a school will not allow them to enroll. Trinity Washington University may temporarily dismiss a student through an emergency usage of its separation power pending a disciplinary hearing for misconduct, which is neither reviewed by the school nor appealable by the student.
Institutions of higher education in the District of Columbia sometimes misuse school policy when suspending or expelling students. A student could have underlying circumstances that affect their academic performance or behavior on campus like: