Nothing leaves a stain on your child's academic career quite like a misconduct accusation will. When your child's school accuses them of academic misconduct, whether they are found guilty of the conduct or not, they will face some serious repercussions. It can be damaging to both their reputation and their college applications. So, what do you do when these allegations come up? The first step should always be to contact a legal advisor. Attorney-advisors can improve the chance of a positive outcome for your child's case by gathering evidence and witnesses who can attest to your child's character and the allegations' nature. You don't have to fight this alone.
What is Academic Misconduct?
Nearly every school around the United States asks its students to uphold specific standards, including academic integrity. Students are asked to refrain from plagiarism, cheating, and other behaviors like class disruption. If a student violates these values, they are subject to disciplinary action. Most schools go beyond the simple requests to create binding contracts with students upon enrollment. The idea is that if the student is contractually bound to upholding their academic integrity and know the punishment for violating it, they are less likely to do so. But many students still find themselves facing allegations year after year. The consequences of academic misconduct just don't seem real until they are.
Some examples of academic misconduct are:
- Cheating – submitting work someone else completed; allowing another student to copy their homework or test answers
- Plagiarism – trying to pass off another's work or ideas as their own
- Multiple submissions
- Classroom disruption
- Disseminating answers to an exam without the teacher's permission
- Utilizing resources for an assignment without the teacher's permission
Academic Misconduct Procedures Vary by District
Every school might have academic misconduct explained in their code of conduct, but the actual behaviors vary from district to district.
New Haven School District
Like most schools in the U.S., the New Haven School District asks its students to sign a code of conduct within the first week of enrollment. This code states that cheating, disruption of a school activity, skipping classes, or directing profane, obscene, or vulgar language all constitute academic misconduct. These infractions are considered intermediate offenses, and a support staff member is expected to discipline the student. The school must notify the parents of the behavior and the actions taken.
In this school district, the disciplinary action can include behavioral contracts, detention, extended loss of privileges, peer mediation, compensation, remediation, or community service. The idea is to prevent the child from exhibiting behavior like this in the future. The principal is also given the power to decide whether the behavior is so extreme or repetitive that the principal should raise it from an intermediate offense to a major offense. Major offenses are subject to suspension (in or out of school), assignment to an alternative educational program, compensation, community service, or recommendation for expulsion. Generally, expulsion and suspension are only for such egregious behavior that it puts the classroom community at risk.
Bridgeport School District
The Bridgeport School District also asks the parents and students to abide by a code of conduct. It makes them aware that if the school catches the student performing academic misconduct, they will be disciplined accordingly. Academic misconduct is considered cheating and plagiarism, like in most states, but it also includes any other conduct that disrupts the classroom community. If the offense took place during class-time, the student would be removed and sent to the administration. The teacher or support staff will notify the parent of the incident and request a parent-administrator conference. The student may also be subject to a student-teacher conference.
Now, Bridgeport School District is different from the New Haven School District in one specific way – Bridgeport is a lot quicker to give out suspension and expulsion as a punishment for academic misconduct. Of course, it still depends on the level of disruption the violation caused, but it is not as uncommon as it is in New Haven.
Danbury School District
Danbury School District's Discipline Code considers cheating, disrupting the educational process, and skipping class consistently as academic misconduct. The punishment for these actions start at 1-hour detention with a zero grade and no make-up option for the work and rises to suspension and expulsion.
It's important to note that all of these districts view suspension and expulsion as the absolute last resort and say they will use every effort to prevent that from happening. But what if they don't? Your child could be subject to disciplinary action that could have long-lasting effects on their future prospects.
Long Term Consequences of Academic Misconduct
If your child's school has accused them of academic misconduct, you may be thinking of the immediate consequences, but what about the way this accusation could affect them long-term? Students who are wrongfully accused of academic misconduct may start to misbehave in earnest. If the teachers and administrators already view them as cheaters or disruptors, and they are already being punished for that behavior, why not adopt it for real? Additionally, academic misconduct accusations can affect a child's ability to get into college. Disciplinary actions, and sometimes even false accusations, are left on their permanent record, following them for the rest of their academic careers. They may not be able to take certain advanced placement courses, which would make them more competitive for their college of choice. The ramifications of academic misconduct could prevent them from having the life you've always dreamed for them.
How an Attorney-Advisor Can Help
Attorney-Advisors are skilled professional attorneys who help students mitigate these accusations. They find witnesses and gather evidence to get the allegations dropped at the very start. But, if that is unsuccessful, the attorney-advisor will work diligently to ensure the school gives your child a fair punishment. The attorney will guarantee the school fairly investigates all allegations, especially for students subject to expulsion or suspension hearings. Having an experienced attorney-advisor on your side from the beginning will protect your child from any unfairness, discrimination, or prejudice.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and Lento Law Firm have spent years working with high school and college students who have been accused of academic misconduct. They will help resolve the situation before your child's reputation is ruined. They will fight for your peace of mind and your student's future. Don't fight these allegations alone. Call 888-535-3686 today to schedule a consultation.