When young adults graduate high school and enroll in colleges and universities throughout Maine, they will be tested by the transition into life among their peers, academic rigors, and plans for future careers after obtaining their degrees. One of the most stressful situations students can encounter is having their goals threatened by misconduct charges that can leave them suspended or expelled from their school of choice. Unfortunately, even students of good character can make mistakes.
School disciplinary boards will put students through swift and stringent investigation and hearing phases. If students are not prepared with well-reasoned arguments and sufficient evidence for the alleged misconduct, grievance proceedings can quickly separate them from their studies, ending their journey toward higher education. While the disciplinary process at Maine colleges and universities can be demoralizing, you have the opportunity to hire a professional college dismissal advisor to help you or someone you love find a path to relief.
Many students and their parents do not retain assistance until school administration officials hand down severe punitive measures. Even so, addressing the situation is possible. College dismissal advisor Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm can ensure that Maine university students are shielded from overreaching school disciplinary boards and remain focused on their school work.
Appealing Disciplinary Sanctions
Every Maine college or university will have a code of conduct listing the various charges—academic misconduct, non-academic misconduct, Title IX violations— for which a sanctioning authority can suspend or expel a student found responsible for allegations. Codes of conduct will also include the guidelines by which the decision can be appealed.
There are only a few situations that will fulfill the requirements of the appellate process. Husson University details that students can file requests for appeals for the following reasons:
- New evidence emerges: Such evidence must not have been available to be discovered by the appellant at the time of the original investigation or hearing. The evidence must have a profound bearing on the outcome of the determination of responsibility or compel the alteration of imposed sanctions.
- Procedural errors: The adjudicatory process failed to follow the prescribed procedures outlined in the school's code of conduct. This could include bias or conflict of interest on the part of the disciplinary board members or punishments deemed excessive for the charges, per the code of conduct.
Institutions of higher education give students only a few days after the determination of responsibility to appeal punitive measures. Typically, the timeframe lies between two and ten days, but it differs from school to school. The University of Maine, for example, gives students seven calendar days upon written notification of the disciplinary board's decision to file an appeal.
Once a school's appellate hearing concludes its review, it can do the following:
- Affirm the original finding and subsequent sanctions
- Deny the student's appeal for failing to fulfill appellate requirements
- Modify the sanctions handed down by the disciplinary board
- Remand the matter to the disciplinary board to reopen the case
- Reverse the findings and allow the student to rejoin their studies
Once a decision has been made, there is no longer an opportunity to address the situation with the school. Under these circumstances, the end of an academic career can leave any student emotionally exhausted and ready to give up. They may believe there is nothing to fight for and depart the school. Without professional help, they may also be asking themselves:
- Do these punishments fit the charge?
- Has new evidence emerged?
- How can infringements on due process be proven?
Students focused on their studies are not prepared to navigate these complex situations. If students are suspended or expelled, they will be trespassed banned from campus even though the appellate period remains active unless given deliberate permission by the college, which is rarely granted. Therefore, they need a professional to help them with their last chance for defense.
Separation from Studies
Sanctioning bodies may impose punishments on students for failing to achieve "satisfactory academic progress" (SAP). At Bowdoin College, if a student does not maintain a 75 percent completion rate among their course load from their second semester onward, they risk the loss of financial aid eligibility and academic dismissal. St. Joseph's College of Maine allows for students to be temporarily suspended from the school pending formal grievance procedures. Such an imposition can hinder a student's ability to gather evidence for their defense. Moreover, a temporary suspension is not appealable.
Just because your Maine college or university has given up on your future at the school, it does not mean you should falter. Do not let them ruin your academic career and future opportunities with unfair discipline; fight back with sound defense. Institutions of higher education in Maine sometimes make mistakes in applying disciplinary policies like suspension or expulsion when they fail to consider a student's extenuating circumstances.
Some unfortunate but relatively common life events that may affect student performance that can be used to lessen disciplinary outcomes are:
- Death of a family member or close friend
- Hard transition to campus life and course loads
- Injury or illness of an immediate family member
- Trauma that impaired a student's emotional or physical health
Hard-working students are at risk of derailing their academic and career goals unless an experienced advisor effectively challenges the school's sanctions. Students and their parents must remember that the college grievance process is not a court of law, and they do not have to honor due process rights when addressing alleged misconduct.
These are just some of the reasons why you need a professional college dismissal advisor like Joseph D. Lento fighting for you. He understands when disciplinary boards go far beyond their authority listed in a school's code of conduct and college bylaws. He and his team at the Lento Law Firm know how to negotiate with college administration officials for a better outcome for student clients, preserving their chances of gaining a valuable education.
What Are The Consequences of Suspension or Expulsion?
When a Maine student faces suspension or expulsion for lack of academic progress or other misconduct allegations, a separation from school ends their opportunity to complete their degree, but it can also prohibit a student's transfer to or enrollment in other educational programs.
Some institutions of higher education in Maine do not allow students with a suspension or an expulsion on their record to matriculate. Even if admission is permitted to prospective students who have such punitive measures on their records, schools require the disclosure of disciplinary actions from other colleges and universities they attended. Therefore, a suspension or expulsion can mean someone is less attractive as a potential pupil to admissions personnel.
Terms of separation can also impact a student's eligibility for financial aid. If a student must reimburse the government for any unearned portion of federal financial aid, it will cause long-lasting economic consequences. This could ruin opportunities like:
- Applying to banks or federal programs for home loans
- Maintaining good standing with credit reporting agencies
- Obtaining scholarships to continue education
Severe disciplinary action can also follow former students after leaving campus. Those with a suspension or expulsion on their record must also disclose any imposed sanctions on various forms like:
- Counseling licenses
- Federal clearances
- Financial certifications
- Law enforcement applications
- Municipal internships
- Student transfer applications
What Can Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Do For You?
Local Maine lawyers typically start their defense of a student's academic career by threatening arduous, expensive lawsuits against the school. While a formal lawsuit is a possible course of action to keep a student in school, these aggressive strategies are rarely the correct means of redress.
Beware of advertising ploys that seek to persuade you that the local litigator can help you. Inexperienced lawyers may boast about their work in a court of law, but competency in front of a judge does not often translate into the negotiating skills necessary to convince school administration officials to alter sanctions for a more positive outcome for the student. The goal is not to engage your college or university in legal proceedings but to achieve prompt, private, negotiated relief from suspension or expulsion.
Joseph D. Lento is equipped with prudent, practical experience defending students against harsh disciplinary sanctions in Maine and across the U.S. He and his team at the Lento Law Firm have learned how to broker beneficial resolutions on behalf of the student with the school's Office of General Counsel (OGC). They rely on the relationships they have built with representatives with schools' internal OGC and those retained by the school from outside firms to provide more positive options that serve both the student and the institution far better than suspension, expulsion, or other harsh punitive measures.
For professional advice from a proven college dismissal advisor defending students in Maine and across the country, call 888-535-3686 to discuss how Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm can defend you or seek relief through the online consultation form. Your academic future and professional depend on it.