Are you a student or the parent of student at a Colorado school, college, or university facing a school-related issue or concern? Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm can help. The world of academia is unique, and the Lento Law Firm has unparalleled national experience bringing its problem-solving approach and fighting spirit to address school-related injustice. Attorney Lento and his Firm have helped countless students and families in Colorado and across the United States at the school level and in court. Please click on the following links for more information. Please also see our expanded list of school practice areas.
- Title IX Defense
- Academic Misconduct
- Code of Conduct Disciplinary Charges
- Student Rights
- Academic Issues
- Medical Student Issues
- And more...
Joseph D. Lento has helped countless students and others in academia in Colorado protect their academic and professional future, and he can do the same for you. Contact him today at 888-535-3686.
Where We Can Help - Colorado Colleges, Universities, and Schools
You and your family have weathered college applications, visits, and high school frustrations. You've selected a college or university. You've packed your bags or bought your child their first coffeemaker. Now, you're ready to head to the Colorado school that will set your child up for a lifetime of success.
Before you go, you should know just how much there is to know about being a college student. From academic stressors to miscommunications gone wildly wrong to potentially life-changing legal issues, there's a lot going on! Enrolling in college brings with it a lot of new territory; Colorado has been making statewide education changes, such as its recent decision to ban legacy admissions at public colleges, that may influence your college experience.
That's where we come in. No matter what concerns or issues you or your child may face, the Lento Law Firm will be there to provide support and help you work towards a favorable outcome. On this page, we'll go over what Colorado college students really need to know before freshman orientation begins.
The Varied Public and Private Colleges, Universities, and Schools in Colorado
When deciding to pursue an education in the Centennial State, you'll find that you have options. Large schools, small schools, state schools, private schools—they all abound in Colorado! No matter what you're interested in, you'll find a school that has majors, programs, and resources that can help you achieve your goals.
Some of the most well-known universities and school systems in the state include:
Public colleges and universities in Colorado
- Colorado School of Mines
- University of Colorado (and its various locations)
- Colorado State University
- University of Northern Colorado
- Western Colorado University
- Colorado Mesa University
Private colleges and universities in Colorado
- Colorado College
- University of Denver
- Regis University
- Colorado Christian University
- Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design
- Colorado Technical University
Since the University of Colorado is one of the largest in the state—with over 33,000 students—we'll use its code of conduct, disciplinary procedures, and policies as an example of what to expect at your Colorado school. It's always a good idea to check the student handbook or code of conduct documents at your specific school to get an idea of rules that may be specific to your school. Still, there are general expectations of college student behavior that will be universal across most schools.
To that end, it's essential to realize that there are statewide rules and regulations in place to ensure that their students experience consistent, high-quality educations.
Laws and Governance: Education Regulations in Colorado
According to the Colorado Department of Education, all Colorado schools, both private and public, must follow certain education laws. All public schools in the state must follow the language outlined in Colorado Revised Statutes 2018 Title 23. While it's true that some private schools may not function under the same requirements as state-operated schools, most schools will have similar standards—at the very least, to remain competitive. (Private occupational schools have a separate statewide division and associated rules and regulations.)
Colorado is in the Tenth Circuit, the division of the United States Court of Appeals that issues decisions for several states, including Colorado. Recently, when a Title IX respondent tried to sue his university after he'd been found allegedly responsible for non-consensual sexual content, the Tenth Circuit ruled in the university’s favor--which resulted in a swift dismissal of the student's case. This type of precedent is good to know, just in case anything similar ever occurs while you're attending a Colorado school.
Unfortunately, misconduct, academic issues, health concerns, and any other incidents that may occur during your college years can spiral out of control before you know what's happening. Next, we'll discuss the types of misconduct that most Colorado schools recognize as well as what happens after an allegation of misconduct.
Misconduct in Colorado: What Actions are Punishable at My School?
There are three general types of misconduct.
All colleges and universities in the United States must have clear, written sexual misconduct policies. Since 1972, when Title IX was established as a federal rights law, all schools that receive federal funding must quickly investigate allegations of sexual misconduct or risk losing their funding. While private schools may not receive as much funding from the government, many private schools have Title IX policies anyway to remain eligible for such support. Even if this isn't the case, Title IX policies have become the standard for sexual misconduct case management in many ways, so most private schools in Colorado will have them.
According to the Title IX and sexual misconduct policy at the University of Colorado, the following actions constitute punishable sexual misconduct:
- Sexual assault and related violent behavior
- Dating and domestic violence
- Sexual exploitation
- Creating a hostile environment
- Sexual harassment
This is not a complete list of prohibited behaviors. Your Colorado college or university will likely investigate any allegation of even suspected sexual misconduct.
Many schools have a written academic integrity policy in place for all students. If a student faces allegations of any type of academic dishonesty, they may find that their entire academic reputation is suddenly in jeopardy.
The range of infractions that can merit an accusation of academic misconduct may vary considerably. Using the University of Colorado - Boulder's academic misconduct policy as a guide suggests that the following actions are examples of prohibited academic dishonesty:
- Fabrication of data
- Falsification of academic assignments
- Unauthorized access to protected academic materials
- Aiding academic dishonesty
Code of conduct infractions
Outside of these clear types of misconduct are other types of infractions such as drug- and alcohol-related misbehaviors, bullying, hazing, and other actions that may go against conduct policies at your specific school. When in doubt, it's always a good idea to check your school's policies for more detailed information.
Due Process at Schools in Colorado: What Happens Next?
Once a staff member—a teacher, a Title IX coordinator, the dean of students—at your Colorado school learns that you or your student may be responsible for misconduct, the school's due process will kick in.
At the University of Colorado, these procedures can involve anything from a simple meeting with a conduct officer to a full panel hearing before higher officials at the school. Regardless, the process will very likely include the following general elements:
- A notification of the allegations against the accused party
- An invitation to some type of meeting, be it formal or informal, to review the allegations and allow the accused to tell their side of the story
- An investigation on the part of the school into the alleged incident
- A decision of responsibility and associated recommendation for disciplinary action
After this process completes, the student will face the university's recommended punishment. In theory, this punishment will match the alleged infraction. In practice, most types of misconduct will net the accused student a suspension. In cases of severe sexual misconduct or repeated academic misconduct, it's key to realize that expulsion is definitely on the table.
However, the most severe consequence of school misconduct is likely something you haven't considered. It's tempting to think that misconduct now won't hurt your future; you'll carry out your punishment, and you'll be done. This couldn't be further from the truth. Your Colorado school will note your misconduct on your transcript. When future employers and prospective academic opportunities ask for your transcript—and they will—they'll see that note and very likely decide not to offer you opportunities you would otherwise have earned.
You need to make sure, as early in the process as possible, that your alleged misconduct doesn't unfairly hurt your future. One such way to do so involves filing a persuasive appeal to negotiate your punishment.
Appealing Sanctions at Colorado Colleges and Universities
At the end of your school's disciplinary due process, the accused student will have the choice to take the consequence of their alleged actions or file an appeal to negotiate a lesser sanction. There will likely only be a very short window of time when you can decide to file an appeal, typically only about five days. Once you have filed an appeal, the university will consider your case again before issuing a final decision.
Again, using the direction given by the University of Colorado as an example, your Colorado school may have specific recommendations to consider before filing an appeal. For instance, since you can only appeal once, most schools state that you must base that appeal on strong evidence such as:
- A procedural deficiency or abnormality
- New information that was not initially available
- A clear argument that the recommended punishment was not appropriate for the alleged violation
Filing an appeal does not mean that your consequence will necessarily be overturned, but it's important to pursue this anyway. Going through your school's procedures for relief may help you attain your desired end—or, if it doesn't, filing an appeal will constitute a basis for any further actions you need to take.
For example, if you are interested in filing a lawsuit against your school, it's recommended that you first file an appeal to establish a rationale.
Suing Your School: What You Need to Know
First, it's critical to realize that suing your school is a very final step. Recovering your previous relationship with your school and even with some specific individuals at your school will likely be very difficult (or impossible). You should not proceed with litigation against your school unless you're prepared to terminate your relationship with the institution entirely.
You may also need to act relatively quickly. Each state has specific parameters regarding the window after an incident where an involved party can take action. These parameters are known as statutes of limitation.
CO Statutes of Limitation
In Colorado, the statutes of limitation for specific actions, including actions that may have nothing to do with your school but could influence your time as a CO college student, are as follows:
- Injury to person: 2 years
- Libel or slander: 1 year
- Fraud: 1 year
- Injury to personal property: 3 years
- Trespassing: 2 years
- Collection of rents: 6 years
Laws College Students Should Know
While you're living in Colorado, there are other statewide laws that you should know. Indeed, most of your activities and behaviors will likely fall under school jurisdiction. Still, if you live, work, or spend a considerable amount of time off-campus, it's good to know what the local regulations are. The laws in Colorado may well influence how a school acts in specific cases, as well.
Some relevant CO legislation may include:
- Colorado Tenant Responsibilities: If you or your student lives off-campus, they have an obligation to follow the lease terms and pay rent on time.
- Colorado Drug Policies: It is currently a crime to make, sell, possess, or use certain controlled substances—particularly if you are under 21.
- Colorado Drinking and Driving Laws: Colorado's drunk driving laws explicitly prohibit driving a vehicle while under the influence of any alcohol or drugs.
- Colorado Fake ID Laws: Unlawful possession, manufacture, or use of a fake ID can net a person severe penalties in Colorado.
These laws may not directly influence your on-campus experiences, but they're good to keep in mind.
Of course, your college experience will likely include many experiences that do not include infractions, types of misconduct, or crimes. You may find yourself in need of support for other kinds of concerns.
Other Academic Issues and Concerns
When you're a college student, you're under a lot of stress. You feel immense pressure to make the right choices for your future, and you're dealing with the drama of living with hundreds of other ambitious people your age.
This can create conditions for unpleasant incidents spurred by jealousy, poor mental health, or unmet expectations. Some concerns that college students can tend to face while they work towards a degree can include:
- Anxiety (social, performance, testing, or other)
- Heightened (or impossible-to-meet) familial or instructor expectations
- Depression, homesickness, and loneliness
- Relationship drama and difficulties
- Discrimination due to age, race, sex, or anything else
- Increased (or impossible-to-meet) course loads or work/study requirements
Any of these stressors can lead to life-changing incidents such as false allegations, failed or missed coursework, harmful mental or physical health behaviors, or even, more simply, a poor relationship with your school or your peers.
If you feel that your Colorado college or university has not supported you as you need, particularly if they have promised to do so or provide relevant resources (e.g., counseling), that's not okay. If things escalate to the point where you feel you need to file a suit, there are some actions you need to consider first.
Steps to take before suing your Colorado school
- First, ensure that you have taken all the possible steps to pursue a favorable outcome that your school has in place. Follow due process, negotiate with your school, and file an appeal. Even if you don't think this will end with the result you want, you will need to show that you tried.
- File a complaint with the Colorado Department of Higher Education. This website contains a drop-down menu of every college or university—including private, public, occupational, and vocational schools. The Department of Higher Education may be able to provide additional authority to help you work towards the resolution you want, or, if that isn't the case, this is at least a secondary step to show that you are serious. It will also act as support for your lawsuit.
- Make sure that you're working with a lawyer who has the expertise you need. While it can be tempting to work with a lawyer from your school or just down the street, these convenient options will work against you in the long run. To win a case against your school, you will need to work with an attorney who has demonstrable experience successfully resolving the types of student defense cases you need to win.
At the Lento Law Firm, we're here to help you thrive as a Colorado college student, which may include having tough, persuasive, or strategic conversations with the staff at your school or even filing a lawsuit. No matter what you need, we're here to provide valuable expertise for you.
Why Working with an Experienced Defense Advisor is Key
As you're navigating the various disciplinary processes before you at your Colorado school, you're going to need a lot of skill to get to the result that you want. You'll need to be persuasive; you'll need to be able to finesse your way through frustrating situations, and you'll need to keep your stress levels low enough that you can survive through long weeks of negotiations!
If that sounds like a lot, that's because it is. Not everyone's up to the task. Few lawyers even are. That's why it's critical to find and hire a student defense attorney who's done this before.
You'll find that working with the right defense advisor will make it far more likely that you'll be able to work with your school and protect your future. You'll also experience the following benefits:
- The ability to focus more on your studies or work (remember, life goes on even though you're fighting for your future!)
- Lessened stress, which can lead to better mental and physical health experiences
- The possibility of a shorter, more successful series of negotiations with your school
- More strategic defensive documents written with the benefit of years of legal expertise
- Assistance with staying on top of deadlines and requirements
- Help untangling the complicated language in your school's detailed paperwork
- The likelihood that your school will take you much more seriously
- Enhanced ability to heal and/or rebuild your reputation
- Effective coaching for any tense meetings or hearings that you'll need to perform well at
Most of all, you'll benefit from knowing that you have a professional in your corner who will always be loyal to you.
Attending College in Colorado? We've Got All the Information You Need to Succeed
College can be an immensely rewarding time. It can also be frustrating and stressful: The same years that can set you up for the rest of your life can also set you back a considerable amount! That's why we're here to make sure that you know everything about the local guidance, relevant laws, and academic issues that you might face while you're attending your Colorado school.
If you ever face misconduct charges or other concerns that seem like they could grow out of proportion quickly, it's critical to get on top of the issue before it becomes a huge deal. For example, negotiating with your school in the early stages of a disciplinary process will likely be far easier and more rewarding than filing a lengthy lawsuit. For that reason, it's a good idea to get in touch with a student defense attorney the moment you suspect that you might need a strategy to succeed at your school.
Whether you need help navigating your school's disciplinary process, drafting persuasive documents, figuring out if it's time to appeal, or any other type of assistance, the Lento Law Firm is here to help. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has spent years supporting students in Colorado and across the nation as they pursue graduation and successful futures. He can do the same for you.
Don't tackle stressful college incidents on your own. Call attorney Joseph D. Lento to have your back and provide the targeted help that you need. The number is 888.535.3686, or you can always reach out to us online.