Where We Can Help - Connecticut Colleges and Universities

Are you a student or the parent of student at a Connecticut 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 Connecticut 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.

Joseph D. Lento has helped countless students and others in academia in Connecticut protect their academic and professional future, and he can do the same for you. Contact him today at 888-535-3686.

An Overview of Connecticut Student Discipline and Student Rights

If you or your student is preparing to go to a Connecticut college or university, you're probably both very excited about the joy and growth the next four years will bring. However, when you or your student is undergoing academic issues or misconduct concerns, college can be an extremely trying time.

Instead of enjoying your time with friends, applying yourself in your courses, and forming relationships that will impact your future, you're finding yourself stuck. You're weathering tense meetings and receiving paperwork with lots of scary terminology. You feel like you can't trust anyone at your school, and it seems like there's no way out of your current situation.

Whether you're having trouble progressing in your academics or you're facing disciplinary action after a misconduct allegation, you're going to need help. You shouldn't try to do this alone. It's time to call in a professional to help you overcome any obstacles that stand between you and the degree you've worked so hard to obtain. It's key that you do this now, too, before any adverse consequences, including the prospect of suspension or dismissal, end up influencing the opportunities you're able to achieve in your future.

At the Lento Law Firm, we believe that every Connecticut college student should be able to work toward and win at their educational goals. However, there are times when attending a Connecticut university simply won't be a walk in the park. That's why we've compiled this handy guide to all the information you'll need to succeed. We'll start by going over the main types of concerns and issues that could trigger sanctions at your Connecticut school, and then we'll discuss the different ways you may be able to work towards a favorable outcome.

Non-Conduct-Related Academic and Misconduct Issues at Your Connecticut School

We'll break down the types of concerns that could result in sanctions into two groups: Academic issues and code of conduct infractions.

Academic Issues and Concerns

No matter what type of program you enroll in, you'll find that your Connecticut college or university will have expectations about how well you do and how quickly you progress. Sometimes these expectations feel sky-high and nearly impossible to meet. However, failing to meet your school's standards in a timely manner can net you steep consequences that could last the rest of your life.

Your program's paperwork (such as a code of conduct or student handbook) will clarify your school's expectations in this area. Some standard situations that your school could find problematic include:

  • Failing to complete required work for courses (e.g., readings or papers)
  • Failing to prepare for courses or labwork on a routine basis
  • Repeatedly withdrawing or earning incompletes in coursework
  • Failing to pass required exams
  • Substandard performance in the eyes of your instructors
  • Failing to make satisfactory progress in the eyes of your advisors

If you are experiencing these types of issues on a routine basis, your school will likely notice and take action. It's key to remember that sometimes you may not totally be in control of whether these events happen. For example, we realize that going to college can be a lot in and of itself. You may struggle with resolving mental and emotional issues, navigating social dynamics, living away from home for the first time, or simply managing the heavy workload that comes with being a Connecticut college student.

Your school may have support systems ready to help you succeed—for example, counseling, health coaching, or tutoring. If you don't feel your school is helping you in the way that it should, it's time to speak up for yourself. Joseph D. Lento can help you negotiate for your rights, for more time, or other benefits that will help you get back on track.

Code of Conduct Infractions and Types of Misconduct

There are two general types of misconduct allegations that you could experience while in college. Anything that falls outside of these two categories will tend to be a more simple general misconduct infraction (e.g., drug offenses) or possibly something particular to your school.

Sexual Misconduct

Very simply put, any type of sexual conduct that occurs without the consent of any involved party will likely be against your school's sexual or gender misconduct policy. The University of Connecticut Policy Against Discrimination, Harassment, and Related Interpersonal Violence defines sexual misconduct as:

  • The creation of a hostile environment
  • Sexual contact or intercourse without consent
  • Force, coercion, or incapacitation in order to perform non-consensual sexual acts
  • Stalking
  • Dating or domestic violence
  • Sexual exploitation, which may include recording intimate actions without consent, disseminating private materials without consent, voyeurism, non-consensual fetish behaviors, prostitution, manipulation of contraception, knowingly exposing another person to a sexually transmitted infection, or any interaction with illegal pornography.

Your school will have a sexual misconduct policy, a Title IX policy, both, or one policy that covers both sexual misconduct and Title IX procedures. Title IX is a federal rights law established in 1972 that governs the way United States schools must respond to allegations of sexual misconduct.

Title IX, due to the sensitive nature of the events it oversees, tends to be a relatively hot-button issue. The past several presidential administrations have each issued guidance updating the specific ways schools must implement Title IX. Since this is the case, many schools will have one specific Title IX policy that it updates to be current and compliant and another more general policy that it uses to keep students safe.

Academic Misconduct

Academic honesty issues differ from academic issues and concerns in several important ways. For one, there's the matter of intent. If you are struggling to progress or experiencing academic difficulties, it's likely that you're still staying within the letter of the law; you're just having a very difficult time.

When students are involved with academic integrity infractions, they actually step outside the bounds of authorized conduct.

At the University of Connecticut, these types of infractions are summarized by way of the Community Standards Office as follows:

“Dishonest or unethical academic behavior that includes, but is not limited to, misrepresenting mastery in an academic area (e.g., cheating), failing to properly credit information, research, or ideas to their rightful originators or representing such information, research, or ideas as your own (e.g., plagiarism.”

It's always a good idea to check out your school's specific code of conduct or student handbook to see if there are any unique regulations at your school. This information should be fully available on your school's website. For the purposes of this piece, we will use information from some of the larger schools in Connecticut as illustrative examples.

What Are Some of the Public and Private Academic Institutions in Connecticut?

Connecticut is home to many great colleges and universities. Some of the most well-known are as follows:

Private schools in Connecticut

  • Yale University
  • Wesleyan University
  • Fairfield University
  • Trinity College
  • Connecticut College
  • Quinnipiac University
  • University of St. Joseph
  • University of New Haven
  • Sacred Heart University

Public schools in Connecticut

  • University of Connecticut (and its many locations)
  • Eastern Connecticut State University
  • The United States Coast Guard Academy
  • Charter Oak State College

Both public and private schools in Connecticut will operate under some level of state regulation—i.e., for accreditation and for distribution of funds. In some cases, private schools may not necessarily be subject to the same laws. However, for the most part, even private schools will follow state laws in some way, at the very least, to ensure a standardized experience for college students in Connecticut.

Statewide Higher Education Laws in Connecticut

There are several laws and statewide organizations that could influence procedures and regulations at your school. These include:

  • Chapter 185 of the Connecticut State Code, which oversees the way the University of Connecticut school system works (and sets the standard for many other schools in the state)
  • The Connecticut State Government, which, in addition to other functions, oversees the public health requirements (e.g., immunizations) that apply to all schools in the state
  • The State of Connecticut Office of Higher Education, which helps make decisions about which schools get financial aid, performs school inspections, makes decisions about school accreditation status, and more
  • The Cincinnati Board of Regents, which oversees the state universities as well as some of the community colleges in the state
  • In addition, Connecticut is in the Second Circuit of the Court of Appeals. This court will occasionally issue opinions on cases that can influence the way that your school can operate. From time to time, it may be a good idea to see if there are any educational cases (e.g., Title IX opinions) that are in the Second Circuit's queue.

These statewide laws may influence the way your school writes your code of conduct and metes out discipline as necessary.

After an Identified Academic Issue or Misconduct Concern, What Will Happen at My Connecticut School?

Once your school learns about your alleged violation or issue, your school's disciplinary or administrative processes will begin. While the specific procedures you experience will depend on the way your school operates and the nature of your issue, you will be able to expect some mixture or subset of the following activities:

  • Your school will send you a notification regarding your alleged violation. This notification should include a reference to the portion of your school's code of conduct that discusses the relevant regulations, as well as an indication of the next steps your school will pursue.
  • You will have a meeting with an official from your school. For academic concerns or integrity violations, this will likely be your instructor. For more severe misconduct matters, this could be the dean of students or a panel of university officials.
  • You will have a chance to review the allegations against you and make a statement on your behalf.
  • Your school may take time to initiate an investigation to learn what really happened. This could involve speaking with your friends, reviewing your social media, reading your school file, and more.
  • Either in writing or during a disciplinary hearing, your school will make a decision as to your responsibility for the alleged infraction.
  • Your school will also make a recommendation regarding the disciplinary sanctions you will face because of that infraction.

At this point, your disciplinary procedures may be complete. You will have the chance to appeal if that is something you wish to do.

Why should you consider filing an appeal? First of all, you may wish to negotiate a lesser sentence. In most cases, you will receive a recommendation for a suspension when you are found responsible for an infraction. Repeated academic issues can result in dismissals, and very severe misconduct (or repeated misconduct) can result in expulsion.

Even if you are willing to experience your sanction for the sake of moving past this, it's key to realize precisely what your disciplinary sanction means. Whenever you are seeking internships, applying to professional or graduate school, or looking for employment in the future, your future school or place of work will ask you about your disciplinary past. When this happens, you will need to share your transcript, which will detail what happened and the sanction you experienced. Unfortunately, this can cause doors to close for you that would have otherwise remained open.

Since this is the case, it's highly advised that you take the time now to clear your name. Otherwise, your future may be far harder than it needs to be.

The Process of Filing a Strategic Appeal at Your Connecticut School

Your school should inform you at the end of your disciplinary hearing regarding its specific appeal procedures. Typically, you will have a brief window of time (between five and ten business days) to file an appeal. This will involve writing an argument, filling out paperwork, and sending that paperwork to an authority at your school (e.g., the Dean of Students). That entity will review your appeal and make a final decision.

Since you only have one chance to file an appeal, you need to make it as strong as possible. It may be good to wait to file until you can demonstrate one of the following:

  • That your school did not follow its own regulations during your disciplinary procedures
  • That you have new, relevant information that the school did not have at the time of adjudication
  • That the sanction your school recommended is clearly disproportionate to your alleged infraction.

However, as you only have a short window of time in which to figure out the best basis for your appeal, it's a great idea to ensure that you're working with an experienced student defense attorney at this time.

Unfortunately, your school may refuse to negotiate your sanction or simply deny your appeal outright. In this case, it may be time for more serious action.

What if It's Time to Sue My School in Connecticut?

Pursuing litigation against your school may seem drastic. It is. It's key to realize before you begin that suing your school will have a negative impact on your relationship with your school. You may not be able to return to your status as a student in good favor ever again.

If it's the only way you and your student defense advisor can see to pursue the relief you require, it can be a very strong way to get to your needed outcome. Since it is such a decisive step, consider the following steps prior to filing a suit:

  1. Make sure that you have exhausted all available avenues at your school for relief (e.g., an appeal or any available negotiations). Even if you don't feel they'll work, it will show external authorities that you tried.
  2. File an appeal with the State of Connecticut Office of Higher Education. This organization may hold some sway over your school. Even if the complaint doesn't work, it will help form the basis for an appeal.
  3. See if you or your defense advisor can speak with your school's Office of General Counsel. This step may pave the way for a lawsuit, but efforts at this level can also be successful (and help you avoid the rigors of litigation).
  4. Finally, make absolutely sure that you are working with a defense advisor who has the necessary expertise and experience to get you where you need to be. Student defense is a niche area of the law, and not every lawyer will have this capability. The lawyers who work for your school, especially, will not have this type of expertise—and they will be loyal to your school over you. It's always best to bring in your own counsel!

While the vast majority of your experiences at school will be under your school's regulations, if you spend time off-campus or live in an apartment around town, you should be aware of the local laws in your area. We'll discuss these next.

Are There Any Other Connecticut Laws That I Should Know About as a College Student?

In Connecticut, there are several laws that may affect some common college student activities. These include:

  • Connecticut Laws about Underage Drinking: It is illegal for people under the age of 21 to purchase or possess alcohol.
  • Connecticut Laws about Drinking and Driving: If an officer catches you driving with more than a trace of alcohol in your system, you will face a license suspension for three months.
  • Connecticut Tenant Responsibilities: If you live off-campus, you'll be subject to all of the terms in your rental agreement.
  • Connecticut False Identification Laws: It is illegal in Connecticut to show an officer a fake ID or to use a fake ID to purchase alcohol.

Statute of Limitations Laws in Connecticut

After an event occurs, there's a limited amount of time in which someone can take legal action regarding that event. This amount of time is defined by statute of limitations laws, and every state in the country has a different set of definitions. Whether you're interested in how long you could receive a suit or want to know how long you have to plan your next steps, it's good to keep these laws in mind.

In Connecticut, these laws are:

  • Injury to Person: Two years
  • Libel or Slander: Two years
  • Fraud: Three years
  • Injury to Personal Property: Three years
  • Trespassing: Three years
  • Written Contracts: Six years

We've provided a lot of information on this page. It's very possible that you're overwhelmed! If this is the case, remember that you are not alone as you figure your way out of a stressful situation at school.

Do You Require Support and Defense During Your Connecticut College Career? If So, Call Joseph D. Lento

College is a wonderful, life-changing experience. It can also be very difficult at times. Unfortunately, it's not always in your school's best interest to be in your corner as much as it should be.

Whether you're struggling with academic concerns such as a failure to progress or poor grades, you need help with academic appeals, you are facing overly steep sanctions and require help negotiating, or you're undergoing an investigation, and you need support, one thing is clear: You're going through a lot.

You're going to need professional help to make sure that you achieve a favorable outcome. It's time to call in Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm to provide expertise and experience during this stressful time.

Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a successful student defense advisor who has assisted hundreds of students with tense negotiations, delicate arguments, reputation protection, and more. If you're facing adjudication at your school or disciplinary outcomes you can't stomach, Joseph D. Lento will be there for you.

Don't take on the burden of resolving your academic concerns or misconduct issues yourself. Call Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686, or alternatively, you can always reach out to us online.

Contact Us Today!

If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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