Suppose you or your child is a New Jersey college or university student and has landed themselves in trouble. Then, the final decision from a disciplinary hearing has been given, leading to a suspension or expulsion. The student may begin to worry that their future academic career has effectively ended once that threshold has been crossed. While the disciplinary process at New Jersey institutions of higher education is complex and can be emotionally overwhelming, that does not mean the opportunity for redress is gone.
Although many students and parents do not seek assistance in these procedures until it is late in the process and the punishment has been handed down, options are available. It is imperative that you contact a national academic attorney like Joseph D. Lento immediately to preserve your educational and professional future.
New Jersey Disciplinary Process
Students do not go to college just to commit misconduct that will leave them suffering from wide-ranging consequences. Discipline can occur against hardworking, committed, honest students of good character. Between the nuances of the prevailing cultural and political climate and federal guidelines New Jersey schools must abide by to remain eligible for federal funding, the handling of misconduct is usually quick and harsh.
For example, colleges and universities throughout New Jersey, like New Jersey City University, hold as its standard in all matters of student discipline the basis of its determination for the responsibility of allegation on a preponderance of evidence. This means the accused (respondent) is proven to a 51 percent probability that they committed the allegations, or as the school puts it, "a subtle conviction based upon the facts presented."
When a student is notified of their misconduct allegations, they will receive a letter requesting that they meet with school administration officials to discuss the situation before the college or university's grievance process commences. Just three business days are given for a student to respond, leaving them little time to grasp the situation and mount a proper defensive response. Suppose a student fails or refuses to respond to the institution's notice. In that case, the proceedings are not delayed or dismissed. The institution will begin the adjudication process, thus treating the student's absence as a default claim of responsibility for the allegations. Stockton University's Student Code of Conduct is an example in which the school deems a student's failure to respond to a proposed administrative resolution as an agreement with it.
Even more alarming, school administration officials may also act on false or exaggerated accusations and serve other interests, even carrying out secret agendas. Remember, the school disciplinary process is not the same as a court of law. Therefore, a student does not have to be afforded due process. Fortunately, most New Jersey colleges and universities allow an advisor to assist and, in some cases, represent the student during disciplinary proceedings, including hearings.
Appealing Disciplinary Measures
Suppose your New Jersey college or university has already placed you on a term of separation like suspension or has ultimately dismissed you from your school. In that case, you have the right to appeal in the effort to challenge the school's action and restore your status as a student. Most institutions of higher education in New Jersey and elsewhere detail in their code of conduct that appeals may be filed for just a few specific reasons. According to guidelines from Rutgers University, an appeal may be filed if:
- There is significant new evidence that was not available at the time of the original proceeding
- There was a procedural error so significant that it deprived the student of a fair disciplinary process
- The finding of responsibility is not supported by the facts of the case
Nevertheless, a student that has just been handed down an academic career-ending blow may become overwhelmed by their future opportunities threatened. Moreover, how will the student know the grievance process was fair according to a college's typically vague guidelines? How will the student understand when new evidence suddenly emerges? Given that the student is not versed in academic administrative policy, how will they deduce whether the punishment handed down can be proven excessive given the charges? Most students are not prepared for these situations, especially when they are focused on their studies. They need an experienced national academic attorney to assist them through the complicated process.
A student may still believe that even though they have to suffer through a term of separation from their studies, it will not affect them too much in the long run. This line of incorrect thinking can lead a student to endure long-lasting consequences.
What Are The Consequences of Suspension or Expulsion?
Unless effectively challenged by a national academic attorney, a separation from school ends the opportunity to complete the degree that the student was pursuing when dismissed. It can also prohibit a student's transfer to or enrollment in other schools.
For instance, if a Princeton University student is suspended or expelled for misconduct, the university can disclose official records without a student's prior consent to another school where the student attempts to transfer. Although many schools cannot reject a prospective student's application on separation from studies alone, it will place them further down in the applicant pool, possibly derailing their chances to continue their studies.
Suspension or expulsion can impact a student's eligibility for financial aid scholarships. Suppose a student receiving financial aid through a federal grant is required to separate from the college or withdrawal from a program. In that case, the student may have to reimburse the federal government, which can ruin a student's credit score, causing dire financial impacts. Many organizations issuing private scholarships require full disclosure regarding prior misconduct allegations and convictions. This could mean the student will be less competitive to receive much-needed funds the following year.
Furthermore, disciplinary investigations may have to be disclosed on some applications for professional licenses and applications for a federal clearance required for many government jobs. Indeed, any measure of discipline can interfere with academic opportunities and career prospects.
Why Choose Joseph D. Lento to Represent You in Student Disciplinary Cases?
Students and their parents may think it is wise to retain a local lawyer who claims they know the college or university officials. They may tout their legal prowess based on civil and criminal court cases. However, the world of academic administrative disciplinary proceedings is vastly different. While many lawyers can serve clients well in the court of law, those skills do not translate into proven tactics used with school administration officials in disciplinary hearings. Very few attorneys have the skills and finesse needed to defend students in hearings or negotiate relief from the sanctioning bodies.
Attorneys usually begin their work in these situations by threatening lawsuits at New Jersey colleges and universities. However, it is not an effective strategy to protect a student's career. While a formal suit is a possible strategy, in many instances, Joseph D. Lento and his team at the Lento Law Firm have settled on behalf of the student with the school's Office of General Counsel (OGC).
Countless experiences like that have helped Lento and his team form fruitful relationships with many representatives in schools' internal OGC and those representing the school retained from regional law firms. He and his team know how to help college and university officials see positive options that serve both the student and the institution far better than suspension, expulsion, or other harsh and punitive forms of discipline. That is the value proposition the Lento Law Firm promotes: a negotiation the school can live with and the preservation of the student's opportunity to continue and complete their desired and highly-valued education.
What you need if you have been suspended or expelled from a New Jersey college or university is an attorney-advisor with the experience and reputation to gain you prompt, private, negotiated relief that gets you back in school to complete your degree.
Just because your New Jersey college or university has given up on you, that does not mean you should sit idly by and have your education and future ruined by with unfair discipline. Instead, pursue professional assistance and preserve your opportunity to obtain the education you desire.
It is time to retain national academic attorney Joseph D. Lento and the expert team at the Lento Law Firm. Their experience defending students in New Jersey and across the country has a proven track record and is second-to-none in their service to their student clientele. For expert advice from a proven national academic attorney in New Jersey and throughout the U.S., call 888-535-3686 to discuss how Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm can defend you.