The roots of higher education in Virginia run deep, with Thomas Jefferson founding the University of Virginia in 1819. That rich history has only flourished in the following centuries, and it's no surprise that Virginia's universities hold its students to high academic and behavioral standards.
In defense of its institutional reputation, your school may have hastily chosen to dismiss you for an alleged offense, academic struggles, or other reasons. Universities may prioritize their own name over a student's due process, and this is never acceptable. Even if your school exhausted established protocols, an attorney-advisor could negotiate a better outcome for you. Your case isn't over.
The Lento Law Firm specializes in student defense issues, and we proudly serve students facing dismissal in Virginia. Whether you've already completed your appeal or are at another stage of the disciplinary process, our team will step in and help.
You May Generally Challenge a Dismissal No Matter the Nature of Alleged Offenses
There are many reasons why a university in Virginia might dismiss a student. In most cases, you can challenge a dismissal through measures including, but not limited to, appeals and negotiations with a school's legal counsel.
Some alleged offenses that may lead to dismissal include:
- Prolonged academic hardship: Academic difficulty can lead to dismissal. As Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) policy illustrates, students generally receive warnings and undergo a probationary period before facing dismissal. However, continued academic issues could lead a school to dismiss you.
- Sexual misconduct: Allegations of sexual misconduct evoke strong negative emotions, and disciplinary bodies do not always act rationally towards the accused. Rather than provide true due process, a university may side with an accuser to avoid accusations of insensitivity. A strong defense is critical in cases of alleged sexual wrongdoing.
- Unprofessional behavior, including academic misconduct: Universities in Virginia hold every student to a certain standard of behavior. This standard generally prohibits academic misconduct, abusive or disrespectful behavior towards faculty and fellow students, and a slew of other behaviors. Depending on the nature of the alleged offense, you may face dismissal if you're accused of unbecoming behavior.
- Criminal acts: Though every school maintains unique behavioral policies, you may face great scrutiny for alleged criminal behavior. You still deserve due process from your school, especially if you've not been convicted of a criminal offense.
- Greek life issues: When universities want to sanction fraternities or sororities, individual students often pay the price.
Every student facing dismissal has a case to make. It may be in your interests to have an experienced attorney make the case for you.
Appealing a Dismissal Order May Still Be an Option
Universities generally allow students to appeal an order of dismissal. Schools recognize that dismissal could fundamentally alter the course of your life, and generally afford you the forum for an appeal. Whether or not a university hears an appeal in good faith varies case by case.
If it is still an option, our team will lead your appeal. If you've already exhausted your appeal allowances or cannot appeal for another reason, then we will devise an alternate plan for your case.
Consequences of Dismissal from Your University in Virginia
The potentially life-changing consequences of a dismissal are the greatest argument for hiring an attorney. There are the immediate consequences of a dismissal, which may include:
- Erasure of academic progress: Following a dismissal, you may not get transferable credit for the classes and exams you've completed up until this point. If you transfer to a new school, then you may enroll as the equivalent of a freshman. Though this is not always the case, those who accept a dismissal should brace for lost academic progress.
- Significant harm to your reputation: A dismissal has significant negative connotations. Trust that other schools, graduate programs, and prospective employers will not view your dismissal positively. Your reputation may suffer significant harm in circles where one's reputation is a dealbreaker.
- Financial harm: A dismissal from your university could also mean lost scholarships, financial aid, and wasted tuition. You may have paid tens of thousands of dollars (or more) to accrue the academic credits you've earned, and all that progress could be lost. You may also pay fees and accept additional loans to enroll in a new university.
- Personal struggles: Dismissal can wreak havoc on a student's psychological wellbeing. You may need counseling and other measures to help you cope with the mental toll of a dismissal.
You may also face long-term consequences, many of which may stem from reputational harm. Damage to your reputation may:
- Lead decisionmakers to overlook your applications: Those with the power to admit you to certain programs, offer you jobs, and influence your future may reject your inquiries because of your dismissal.
- Cap your earning power: Though resilient people can overcome hurdles, reputational harm may reduce the number of jobs you're offered, and possibly curb your earning opportunities as a result.
- Diminish your quality of life: Challenges resulting from your dismissal could hurt your overall quality of life, especially if professional success means much to you.
The best option for any student facing dismissal in Virginia is to dodge dismissal completely. An effective attorney may help you avoid the perils of an unceremonious dismissal, protecting your immediate academic future and long-term professional prospects.
Negotiating With Your School's Office of General Counsel (OGC)
The Lento Law Firm takes all possible steps to help students avert a dismissal. In many cases, negotiating with a university's Office of General Counsel (OGC) is a viable way to resolve a case of possible dismissal.
Different universities may refer to their legal counsel by terms other than OGC. Virginia Tech refers to its lawyers as “University Legal Counsel (ULC)”. Whatever your school calls its legal advisors, negotiating with university attorneys could prove fruitful for you.
Virginia Tech's ULC handles a number of responsibilities, from “Providing legal advice about how certain issues should be handled by the university” to “Responding to actual or potential lawsuits and grievances”. Each of these roles could be relevant to your case.
Our firm takes a non-litigious approach to OGC negotiations. We don't immediately threaten to file a lawsuit, as we genuinely want to secure a settlement that the university can accept and that will please you. We will negotiate in good faith, and the university may settle—most schools prefer to avoid a lawsuit, and settling your case is one way to do that.
We will work with you to determine acceptable outcomes to your case. We can file a lawsuit, and will do so if necessary. First, though, we will explore your university's willingness to resolve your case in a more efficient, painless manner.
Hire an Attorney With Student Discipline Defense Experience
You understand what is at stake should your school follow through with a dismissal. The tremors of your dismissal could run far and wide throughout your life. Right now, the smartest move you can make is to hire an attorney with applicable experience.
Attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento is prepared to fight for you. Lento and his team will:
- Acquire all the facts of your case: To prepare a thorough case, your attorney will speak with you, witnesses, and anyone else with insight into your case.
- Review existing evidence and pursue new evidence: Depending on whether you've had a lawyer help you prior to hiring the Lento Law Firm, evidence in your case may be incomplete. Our team will pursue any new evidence that could help your case.
- Reviewing your school's disciplinary protocols: We'll review university literature, recognize where you stand in the disciplinary process, and evaluate remaining options for resolving your case.
- Handling all communications with your university: When you hire us, we represent you in case-related matters. By handling case-related communications, we may prevent anyone from misrepresenting your words or actions.
- Accompanying you to case-related meetings: Your school may require you to attend hearings, meetings, interviews, and other in-person gatherings. Attorney Joseph Lento can accompany you to all such meetings, representing you when permitted.
- Seek the most favorable resolution to your case: We show persistence and resolve in representing our clients. We will fight tirelessly to secure the best possible outcome for you.
An attorney can be a significant stress reliever. You can resume focus on your personal affairs and wellbeing while your attorney resolves your case. We will inform you of all updates in your case and prepare you for any steps that you must take part in.
Don't Wait, Call the Lento Law Firm for the Legal Help You Deserve
Our firm has extensive experience leading students' defenses. Whether you're dealing with a Title IX issue, academic struggles, alleged misconduct, or another dismissal-related issue, our team will almost certainly have prior experience with your case type. Our firm is dedicated to student defense, and we have the case experience to prove it.
Don't wait to get the help you need. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888.535.3686 to discuss your case. You may also submit your details online now.