When students enroll in colleges and universities seeking a four-year degree, they will be challenged by demanding academic course loads, transitioning into adult life, and an uncompromising disciplinary process if they violate their school's code of conduct. Students do not plan on committing misconduct while focusing on their studies, but mistakes can happen. Conscientious students can be suspended or expelled from school and feel like there is no option to defend themselves properly.
The 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 they have crossed the final threshold. You can obtain prompt, comprehensive, negotiated relief that gets you back in the classroom. If you or someone you love faces suspension or expulsion at a Montana college or university, contact college dismissal advisor Joseph D. Lento immediately to preserve your educational and professional future.
Appealing Disciplinary Sanctions
When disciplinary boards hand down 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 in Montana 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 to determine responsibility for misconduct charges.
The codes of conduct supervising student life at institutions of higher education in Montana and elsewhere will explain the few circumstances under which appeals are allowed. The University of Montana details that students can file requests for appeals for the following reasons:
- Excessive sanctions: The punishment handed down by the disciplinary board is disproportionate to the charges handled in the matter and unreasonable based on the findings during the investigation, subsequent determination of responsibility, or the accused student's conduct history.
- New evidence: Novel evidence or witnesses emerge after the initial investigative and hearing phases. Those mentioned above must have been undiscoverable before sanctions were levied, and the accused student must have been unaware of their existence.
- Procedural errors: Any member of the disciplinary body failed to follow the procedures outlined in the school's code of conduct. Appeals may also be filed for conflict of interest or bias allegations on the part of any member of the disciplinary body.
Students have limited time to file for an appeal once the school administration has handed down a suspension or expulsion. Typically, the timeframe is as long as ten days or as short as two days, but it varies from school to school. Carroll University allows students five business days to file an appeal, whereas Montana State University provides a timeframe of seven calendar days.
Many colleges and universities will allow students to have their advisors present during the appellate hearing and any prepre- and post-hearing conference. However, according to some schools like the University of Providence, the advisor cannot address any appeals board member and may only "confer quietly" with their client.
Once the appellate hearing concludes, the members will deliberate and make their final decision. Montana State University explains in its code of conduct that the following may occur:
- Findings and determination of responsibility reversed
- Original findings affirmed, and sanctions remain in place
- Modification of the sanctions handed down by the disciplinary board
- The case is readjudicated by the disciplinary board
Once the appeals panel has decided, it is regarded as final, meaning there is no longer 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 established?
- Was there any conflict of interest or bias from the disciplinary board members?
Most, if not all, students are not prepared to handle these critical 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 reassurance from harsh punitive measures.
Separation From Studies
Your Montana 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). At Carroll University, a student must pass at least 67 percent of their attempted course credits, or they risk losing their eligibility for financial aid, sending them down a path towards academic dismissal.
In another instance, suppose someone alleges that you have committed misconduct leads the school to believe that you must be temporarily and immediately removed from campus? At many Montana schools, including the University of Montana Western, students may be suspended before or during university disciplinary procedures through their temporary suspension or eviction policies.
Schools in Montana sometimes make errors in applying these policies and dismiss students without good cause. Students can be subject to extenuating circumstances that drop their grades or target them for misconduct allegations.
Some unfortunate but relatively common life events that may affect student performance that your advisor can utilize 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
With the immense pressure schools are under to promote an amicable public perception, students of good character are at risk of being punished unfairly. Furthermore, it is crucial to understand that the grievance process is not the same as a court of law. 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 Montana school has thrown you out, that does not mean you should sit idly by while your future academic career is endangered. There is a route 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 Montana 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.
Rocky Mountain State University's Admission Review Committee will scrutinize all transfer students whom any prior institution has dismissed. Such prospective students may be required to submit additional materials to qualify for enrollment. At Carroll University, an expelled student may be trespassed banned indefinitely from the school and any off-campus activities.
Terms of separation significantly impact a student's financial aid eligibility. If a student receiving financial aid through a federal grant is suspended or expelled, they must reimburse the government. Students will have to pay back thousands of dollars to federal loan providers, and it can indeed ruin a young adult's credit score, cause them to be unable to apply for other loans for school or homes, and even lead to bankruptcy.
Afterward, students must also disclose disciplinary sanctions on various applications and 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 Montana attorney is your best option for defending yourself. They may try to persuade you by a shock-and-awe strategy of threatening lawsuits. However, that isn't a practical 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 Montana 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 Montana 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.