Plagiarism, cheating, and other forms of academic misconduct are prevalent in high schools across the country. To reduce instances of academic dishonesty, schools hand out harsh punishments for these kinds of offenses. Unfortunately, when it comes to cheating, many schools don't give students the benefit of the doubt. They find a student guilty of academic misconduct without looking at all the evidence. Often, school administrators are more concerned with student discipline than with student growth.
Since the penalties for academic misconduct are strict and long-term, a student accused of such actions could feel panicked and overwhelmed—especially if the accusation is false. If your child's South Dakota high school has cited them for an academic dishonesty offense and you don't want your child to suffer unnecessary consequences, you can turn to a student defense legal advisor for help.
What Is Academic Misconduct in South Dakota?
Academic misconduct is any dishonest or deceitful attempt by a student to gain an unfair advantage in an academic setting. Cheating, copying answers, or lying to get out of class are all examples of academic misconduct. Many educators feel that academic dishonesty disrupts the learning process, both for the student committing it and for their classmates. For this reason, South Dakota schools have harsh punishments for this kind of behavior
Both you and your child should read your high school's policies concerning academic misconduct, so you're well informed of what constitutes an infraction. Some schools may refer to it as academic dishonesty, academic integrity, or an honor code.
Common examples of academic misconduct in South Dakota
- Plagiarism: Plagiarism is taking the ideas and opinions of someone else and claiming them as one's own. Students can get in trouble for plagiarism if they don't cite their sources properly on a resource paper or if they copy a friend's assignment. Copying work for a previous project or paper into a new one is also plagiarism—self-plagiarism. Students can easily commit plagiarism without meaning to and receive harsh penalties for it. To avoid false accusations, students should ask teachers about properly citing sources if they have questions.
- Cheating: Cheating is intentionally going against a teacher's instructions regarding an assignment, project, or test. Obtaining answers to a test beforehand, paying someone to write a paper, or using materials in class that the teacher has forbidden are all examples of cheating. Cheating is a broad category that high schools usually don't define clearly in their academic honesty codes. Whether something constitutes cheating or not is often left to the discretion of a teacher or school administrator, giving accused students little recourse.
- Unauthorized group work: When students work together on a project, and they're not supposed to, they could receive an academic misconduct infraction. Academic dishonesty could also be students giving each other answers on an assignment rather than helping each other. When it comes to group work, it's not always clear when academic dishonesty is involved. Students could, therefore, receive an infraction when they had no malicious intent at all.
- Falsification: Most high school students today are aware of how serious plagiarism is. To avoid this accusation, they might make up sources instead. They may also fabricate facts or information for a project or paper. Inventing sources and information is still academic misconduct. Falsification is also attempting to tamper with academic records or giving false information to a teacher to get out of an assignment.
- Improper technology use: Today's high schools lacking computers, laptops, tablets, or other electronic devices would be unthinkable. Increased technology use brings more potential for academic misconduct, however. Using a smartphone during an exam or without permission on an assignment could be academic dishonesty. Submitting an online assignment with another student's account could also result in an academic misconduct accusation.
How Do South Dakota High Schools Handle Academic Misconduct?
Penalties for academic misconduct may vary by the severity of the offense. The Sioux Falls school district considers academic dishonesty as an academic infraction, punishable on the first violation by either in-school suspension or after-school suspension of one day. The suspension time goes up to three to five days for the second violation, and the student is withdrawn from the relevant class with a failing grade on the third violation. The Sioux Falls district-wide discipline handbook lists some examples of academic dishonesty, but it isn't a comprehensive list, leaving the final definition up to teachers and administrators.
Many schools may not include a disciplinary hearing as part of the academic misconduct process—but your student has rights. If a student is facing a long-term suspension from school (more than 10 days), they have a federal right to due process. They can request a hearing, or a chance to defend their case. Some states also allow students to have legal representation present at their hearing.
How Can a Student Defense Advisor Help?
While most schools take academic misconduct seriously, they tend to ignore the student's perspective. Academic misconduct violations are a permanent stain on a student's academic career. Yet, high schools expect students and parents to handle the accusation and penalty process on their own, without professional legal help. It's not a crime, so you don't need a legal advisor, right?
Wrong. When it comes to academic misconduct offenses, the odds are stacked in the school's favor. A student defense attorney-advisor can even the playing field. A legal professional will examine all the relevant policies from the school, the district, the county, and the state to put together the best defense strategy for your student. Something as grave as academic misconduct shouldn't be up to teachers' and administrators' discretion. An academic dishonesty accusation should be subject to formal written policies.
If your child is facing an academic misconduct violation and you want to help secure their future, Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm can help. Our firm has defended thousands of high school and college students for academic misconduct cases around the country. Call today at 888-535-3686 for a consultation with a trusted academic misconduct legal advisor.
South Dakota 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:
- Appoquinimink School District
- Academy of Dover Charter School
- Brandywine School District
- Caesar Rodney School District
- Campus Community Charter School
- Cape Henlopen School District
- Capital School District
- Charter School of Wilmington
- Christina School District
- Colonial School District
- Delmar School District
- East Side Charter School
- Family Foundations Academy
- Gateway Lab School
- Indian River School District
- Kuumba Academy Charter School
- Lake Forest School District
- Las Americas Aspira Academy
- Laurel School District
- Milford School District
- MOT Charter School
- Moyer (Maurice J.) Academy
- New Castle County Vocational-Technical School District
- Newark Charter School
- Odyssey Charter School
- Pencader Business and Finance Charter High School
- POLYTECH School District
- Positive Outcomes Charter School
- Prestige Academy
- Providence Creek Academy Charter School
- Reach Academy for Girls
- Red Clay Consolidated School District
- Seaford School District
- Smyrna School District
- Sussex Academy Of Arts And Sciences
- Sussex Technical School District
- Thomas A. Edison Charter School
- Woodbridge School District
It is critical to make certain academic misconduct charges at your child's South Dakota 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 South Dakota 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.