COVID-19 Causing an Uptick in Academic Misconduct Cases

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Feb 26, 2021 | 0 Comments

From the University of Houston to Texas A&M, academic misconduct cases are on the rise – and the culprit is COVID-19. The spike, highlighted in a recent article by the Daily Cougar, indicates a troubling online cheating trend plaguing universities and colleges countrywide.

While more administrations are implementing safeguards and expect their students to maintain academic integrity, it's still challenging to predict when and how students will cheat. Whether it's the lack of oversight or out of desperation for a better grade, some students may not realize how their actions impact their academic records.

Rising academic misconduct concerns are enough for colleges around the US to shill out on expensive programs that promise to reduce cheating and reward ethical behavior. Others use remote proctors and Artificial Intelligence software to monitor test-takers. However, their imperfect flagging systems and privacy risks may cause more harm than good.

Why Cases Are Rising

COVID-19 may be one reason for the upticks in academic misconduct cases, but there are other reasons as well. Since the system is imperfect and leaves much room for error, some students are facing false cheating accusations.

If a student wants to leave the room during an exam to use the restroom, an AI system may flag this behavior as cheating. In another example, looking away from the screen may cause an online proctor to stop the exam. The only way a student can re-take the test is after an investigation.

Risks of Academic Misconduct Charges

Even if a student doesn't engage in cheating behavior, a false accusation can lead to multiple obstacles in their academic path. Since college administrations treat online cheating cases as if they are on-campus events, a similar process outlined in the code of conduct applies to their investigation and handling. Others have an entirely separate code for online integrity.

Students accused of cheating on an online test or course face:

  • Receiving an F on their assignment or exam
  • Failing the course
  • Probation
  • Suspension
  • Expulsion
  • Have a cheating record kept by the software program

Most colleges and universities also distinguish between academic sanctions such as the student failing the course versus a disciplinary sanction such as being placed on probation. An accused student must be mindful that such issues need to be navigated both in the short and long term. If a student is found responsible, there will be immediate consequences such as academic and disciplinary sanctions, and there often will be potential long terms consequences, such as how the academic misconduct case will affect future opportunities such as internships, graduate and professional school applications, obtaining security clearances when working in certain fields or for the government, military officer candidacy, and so forth. The list of what can be affected by allegations of academic misconduct or dishonesty is expansive.

The best way to fight academic misconduct cases is by speaking to an advisor who understands the gravity of these allegations and conducts a thorough investigation on the student's behalf. An advisor helps gather evidence and has sound knowledge of online testing platforms and what can go wrong during their use.

Call the Lento Law Firm

Although many college administrations are doing their best to cope with the rising cases of cheating, a false allegation or mistake can delay graduation and can also have serious consequences far beyond graduation. Additionally, with some programs keeping records of student cheating, the information can make your online actions more susceptible to scrutiny by proctors and even AI algorithms.

This environment causes undue stress for a student, and ignoring the repercussions may exacerbate your case if you don't have an aggressive defense strategy.

Attorney Joseph D. Lento works with students facing academic misconduct charges and helps them fight allegations of cheating.

With unparalleled experience helping students face – fight – and appeal as necessary – unfair decisions by college administrations, advisor Joseph Lento can help you avoid harsh punishments by overwhelmed administrators.

Call the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535 – 3686 to discuss your case options immediately.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients nationwide. Mr. Lento represents students and others in disciplinary cases and other proceedings at colleges and universities across the United States. Mr. Lento has helped countless students, professors, and others in academia at more than a thousand colleges and universities across the United States, and when necessary, he has sought justice on behalf of clients in courts across the nation. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide, and he can help you or your student address school-related issues and concerns anywhere in the United States.


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