Have you been notified of an academic misconduct allegation against your child? At the Lento Law Firm, they know how jarring these notifications can feel. You think you know what your child is capable of, and you've spent their entire life, and a good chunk of yours, dreaming about their future endeavors. But this academic misconduct accusation can make those dreams fizzle out. You may worry about how they'll get into a good college or qualify for scholarships. These fears are why having a qualified attorney to guide you through this uncertain time is so helpful. The unfortunate truth is that many students across the country are wrongfully accused of academic misconduct, don't seek advice, and are punished unnecessarily, altering their path forever.
What is Academic Misconduct?
Whether it is elementary or college, every school gives out a specific student handbook at the start of the new school year. Inside this handbook are particular behaviors the school expects each student to enact. Academic misconduct is a catchall phrase that covers any action that violates your respective school's educational code of conduct. Generally, academic misconduct includes:
- Plagiarism – submitting words or ideas as your own that you copied from another source.
- Cheating – violating rules for the assignments or exams your teachers give you; copying another's work; checking notes during an exam when it is not allowed; allowing another to copy your work.
- Multiple submissions – submitting the same work for multiple courses
- Disrupting classroom time so that the other students cannot learn and the teacher is unable to teach effectively.
Academic Misconduct Varies by School
Springfield Public Schools
In the Springfield School District, the students accused of cheating, plagiarism, or forging documents will be subject to different punishments depending on if it was done in an online or in-classroom learning and whether this is their first, second, or third offense. For the student who cheats in their e-learning courses, and it is their first offense, they will be allowed to redo the assignment for half-credit. If it is their second offense, they will receive a zero grade. And if it is their third offense, the teacher will refer them to the online principal for disciplinary action. For the student who cheats on their in-school work, whether they do so at home or on campus, they will be subject to disciplinary actions lead by the teacher or school delegate.
St. Louis Public Schools
St. Louis Public Schools lay out the guidelines for what constitutes academic misconduct and the punishments the children will be subject to in their student handbook. Cheating and forgery are considered academic misconduct. Forgery is defined as akin to plagiarism or altering writing so that it was supposedly made by another. These examples of academic misconduct would fall under the school's third type of infractions and would be subject to the teacher's disciplinary actions. They do not require referral to the principal or administration unless they are continuous behaviors that the teacher is unable to curb.
In all Missouri school districts, expulsion and suspension are last-ditch efforts to show the student that their continued academic misconduct is unacceptable. Students referred for suspension or expulsion will be allowed to explain their side of the story to their Principal or Superintendent. The school administration will send a notice home to their parents and set up a time for such a hearing.
Every Missouri school district expects its students with disabilities to abide by their school's handbook rules. But for students with disabilities who are suspended or expelled, their due process rights are a bit different. For instance, a student with a disability who is suspended is eligible to receive services under Part B of the IDEA. Additionally, suppose the school suspends them for more than ten days. In that case, the school would schedule a meeting with the parent, relevant members of the IEP team, and a district representative to conduct a functional behavioral assessment and revise the student's IEP.
Having an attorney on your side from the very beginning will ensure you are aware of all of your options as the parent of a student accused of academic misconduct.
Consequences of Academic Misconduct Can Be Lifelong
Students whose school accuses them of academic misconduct will face long-term consequences if the school and student cannot resolve the dispute amicably. For instance, the wrongfully accused student may decide to cheat or disrupt the classroom because they feel their teachers already suspect them of being capable of these acts. Why be an honorable student when the school has already labeled you as dishonorable? Additionally, accused students may have a more challenging time getting into advanced placement courses, making them less competitive for college admissions. When applying for college, or qualifying for state and federal scholarships, some of the first questions they will have to explain are accusations for violating the student handbook or the district's honor code. Having a skilled attorney to help you navigate these tricky issues can prevent any unfair trauma from following your child around for the rest of their life.
How an Academic Misconduct Advisor Can Help
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm are knowledgeable attorneys who have worked with thousands of students across the country accused of academic misconduct at the high school and collegiate level. They know how to traverse the terrain, gather evidence and witnesses, and build a solid defense. They will work tirelessly to ensure the school upholds your rights to fair and just hearing. Having them involved with the issue from the start can prevent wrongful accusations from turning into punishments that could affect your child's future. Academic misconduct allegations, and subsequent disciplinary actions, end up on your child's permanent record. Let the Lento Law Firm help allay these damaging consequences. Call 888-535-3686 today to schedule your consultation.