With academic misconduct on the rise in America's high schools, many school administrators and teachers are taking a harder stance on cheating, plagiarism, and dishonesty in the classroom. Many high schools consider academic misconduct a serious offense and implement penalties that have long-term consequences.
In some cases, academic dishonesty goes on a high school student's academic record, which colleges and potential employers can see. Some schools prevent students accused of academic misconduct from participating in sports or extracurricular activities. They might end a student's membership in an honor society, lower their grade, or even fail them out of a class. These kinds of punishments don't hold students accountable for their actions just once. A student must face up to their academic misconduct accusation every time they have to sit out a basketball game, or when they have to explain a failing grade in a college scholarship essay.
Dealing with an academic misconduct charge is difficult for high school students—especially if they're falsely accused. If you want to protect your child from the negative repercussions of an academic misconduct accusation, you can turn to an experienced student defense legal advisor for help.
What is Academic Misconduct in Alaska?
Academic misconduct is any intentional action that provides a student with an unfair advantage in the classroom. In Alaska high schools, academic misconduct most often refers to plagiarism and forms of cheating.
Most high schools require students to read and sign the student handbook at the start of each term, holding them accountable for understanding their rights and responsibilities. Parents should also read the handbook to understand the school's policies about academic misconduct. Schools may refer to this policy as an honor code, academic integrity policy, or academic dishonesty policy.
Academic misconduct policies tend to be vague or all-encompassing, using phrases such as “including but not limited to” when defining academic dishonesty. Parents and students should know that although they can read the handbook thoroughly, academic misconduct can also be left up to teachers' and administrators' discretion.
Common examples of academic misconduct
- Cheating: Cheating is a dishonest action that goes against the teacher's classroom rules to obtain an unfair advantage on an assignment, test, or project. Cheating could involve copying another student's work, using unauthorized materials during an exam, or attempting to steal test answers. Cheating is usually both dishonest and intentional.
- Plagiarism: Plagiarism is stealing someone else's ideas without giving them credit. Not citing sources properly or submitting work done for a previous assignment as part of a new assignment are both examples of plagiarism. Violating intellectual property and copyright laws also fall under plagiarism. Students with questions about proper source citation should always ask their teachers for help to avoid a potential plagiarism accusation.
- Forgery: Knowingly submitting false information on an assignment could be academic misconduct. Inventing sources for a paper or project or giving a teacher false information to get out of class or an assignment are examples of forgery. More serious forms of forgery might be attempting to tamper with academic records or grade books.
- Improper use of technology: Most high schools let students access computers or electronic devices during class. Using this technology to cheat, store answers, or complete someone else's work are usually both a violation of the technology policy and the academic dishonesty policy.
How Do Alaska High Schools Handle Academic Misconduct?
The penalties for academic misconduct depend on the seriousness of the incident. The punishment could be having to do an extra assignment, or it could be an in-school suspension. Often, classroom teachers are the ones to notice academic dishonesty, and some Alaska high schools allow teachers to issue penalties as they see fit.
Most school districts in the state have general guidelines concerning academic misconduct, and individual high schools can elaborate on the policy. The Anchorage Public School District handbook for high school students mentions cheating, forgery, giving false information, and violating copyright laws as against school rules. Concerning penalties, Anchorage district high schools must allow students the opportunity to explain their side of an incident if it may result in a “simple discipline” action.
The Fairbanks North Star Borough School District prohibits and defines academic dishonesty and gives a few examples. For high school students, different punishments depend on which offense it is—first, second, third, fourth, or subsequent. Each level of offense leaves a part of the punishment up to the principal's discretion. A first offense doesn't result in suspension, but a second, third, fourth, and subsequent offense does. After the fourth offense, the student can receive expulsion as a punishment.
What to Do if Your Child is Accused of Academic Misconduct in Alaska
Your child's school may not inform you right away of an academic misconduct offense, depending on the severity. As soon as you know that your child has been accused of academic misconduct, you should start gathering as many facts as you can. If the school hasn't contacted you, call them and ask for the details. Ask your child to tell you exactly what happened, from their point of view. Also, review the school's academic dishonesty policies with your child, so both of you understand the school's rules.
After you understand the situation clearly, your next step should be contacting a student defense attorney-advisor.
Can a Legal Advisor Help?
If your child hasn't broken the law, there's no need to seek legal support, right? Many high schools would have you believe that you don't need an attorney-advisor to handle your child's academic misconduct case. But an experienced legal professional is exactly what you need in this situation.
A student defense legal advisor can review the school's policies, the district handbook, and any other relevant rules to create a defense strategy for your child. An advisor will help protect your student's rights and hold the school accountable to its own policies.
Joseph D. Lento of the Lento Law Firm has defended thousands of high school and college students in academic misconduct cases across the country. If you want to safeguard your child's future, call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to discuss your options with a student defense legal advisor.
Alaska high schools where Joseph D. Lento can help as your child's student's academic misconduct advisor during investigations, hearings and appeals include, but are not limited to, the following school districts:
- Alaska Gateway School District
- Aleutian Region School District
- Aleutians East Borough School District
- Anchorage School District, Alaska
- Annette Island School District
- Bering Strait School District
- Bristol Bay Borough School District
- Chatham School District
- Chugach School District
- Copper River School District
- Cordova School District
- Craig City School District
- Delta/Greely School District
- Denali Borough School District
- Dillingham City School District
- Fairbanks North Star Borough School District, Alaska
- Galena City School District
- Haines Borough School District
- Hoonah City School District
- Hydaburg City School District
- Iditarod Area School District
- Juneau School District
- Kake City School District
- Kashunamiut School District
- Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, Alaska
- Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District
- Klawock City School District
- Kodiak Island Borough School District
- Kuspuk School District
- Lake and Peninsula School District
- Lower Kuskokwim School District
- Lower Yukon School District
- Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District, Alaska
- Nenana City School District
- Nome Public Schools
- North Slope Borough School District
- Northwest Arctic Borough School District
- Pelican City School District
- Petersburg City School District
- Pribilof School District
- Saint Mary's School District
- Sitka Borough School District
- Skagway City School District
- Southeast Island School District
- Southwest Region School District
- Tanana School District
- Unalaska City School District
- Valdez City School District
- Wrangell Public School District
- Yakutat School District
- Yukon Flats School District
- Yukon-Koyukuk School District
- Yupiit School District
It is critical to make certain academic misconduct charges at your child's Alaska high school are handled properly and that the accused student's interests and rights are protected from as early as possible during the investigative and disciplinary process. One reason, among many, is because even at high schools where a finding of responsibility for academic misconduct is made at a hearing, the investigation will set the stage for what the hearing panel is provided prior to a hearing (and what the hearing panel will in large part rely on at a hearing), and at high schools where the finding of responsibility is made solely through the investigative process, what takes place during the investigation itself will determine whether the accused student is found responsible or not responsible for academic misconduct.
Unfortunately, some parents make the mistake of not taking the necessary precautions as soon as possible when their child is accused of academic misconduct. Some people will mistakenly believe that if they "just explain what happened," their school will be fair and impartial and will arrive at the truth. In a perfect world this may be the case, but in a perfect world, being called to answer for alleged academic misconduct would not exist.
Fighting passionately for the future of his clients at schools throughout the nation for many years, Joseph D. Lento knows how important it is to mount the strongest defense because he understands that an accused high school student's academic future is on the line. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph Lento is a licensed attorney in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, is admitted as an attorney pro hac vice in state and federal court if needed when representing clients nationwide, and serves as an academic misconduct advisor to high school students facing investigations and disciplinary cases in Alaska and throughout the nation. Make certain your or your student's interests are protected - Contact National High School Academic Misconduct Defense Attorney Joseph D. Lento today at 888-535-3686.