Here's a question for you: As a Kansas college student (or the parent of one), what are your hopes for your time in college?
If you're like most students, you're hoping for many things, including:
- New friends
- Time to figure out who you are
- Time to take intriguing courses
- Time to decide what you want to do with your life
- New experiences
- And, of course, your hard-earned degree
While new experiences and camaraderie are (extremely) nice, your college degree is the reason you're putting in so much time and effort. With a degree, you'll be ready to apply for a career full of jobs you're interested in and prepared for. Your degree will unlock a lot of doors for you and make you eligible for incredible opportunities.
It would be a shame if anything happened during your college career that endangered your career, right?
Unfortunately, there are many situations that could actually make it very difficult to obtain your degree. From academic failure to progress scenarios to code of conduct issues, tense negotiations, reputation repair, and more, there are lots of stressful situations that college students and their families need to be ready to handle.
Fortunately, you don't have to be ready to handle them solo. In fact, you never should. Hiring a student defense advisor who can help you delve through your school's complicated procedures and be ready to represent yourself and your interests during tough conversations is the single most effective thing you can do to ensure that you're able to work towards a successful outcome. Bookmark this page for later reference; if you find yourself in a sticky academic situation, you'll be very glad that you already have the resource at hand.
In this guide, we'll go through the most popular schools in Kansas, the types of laws that Kansas colleges and universities need to follow, and some of the academic standards and behavioral expectations that Kansas schools may have. Then, we'll discuss the types of things you can do to help protect your degree and your future should a stressful situation occur!
What Schools Are in Kansas?
Whether your school is a public or a private one in the Sunflower State, it's in good company. If you look up the colleges and universities in Kansas, you'll find the following schools:
Public schools in Kansas
- Kansas State University
- University of Kansas
- Emporia State University
- Fort Hays State University
- Wichita State University
- Washburn University
- Fort Hays State University Online
Since the University of Kansas is one of the largest and most ubiquitous colleges in the state, we'll use its code of conduct and policies as an example for many of the misconduct and academic issue cases in this guide. However, it's a great idea to look at your own school's code of conduct, too. Sometimes schools have unique behaviors that they consider punishable or special procedures for adjudication that aren't found elsewhere. So, while the examples in this guide should be largely illustrative of the procedures a Kansas college student should expect, check out your own school's code of conduct for more specialized information.
Private schools in Kansas
- Newman University
- Baker University
- Kansas Wesleyan University
- Sterling College
- Friends University
- Benedictine College
- McPherson College
- University of Saint Mary
- Tabor College
- Ottawa University
Before we start talking about the specific types of actions that your Kansas college or university might investigate and sanction, let's take a moment to dispel a commonly held misconception regarding the governance of private schools.
Even though private schools may not have to follow the exact set of laws that public schools must follow, there's more overlap than you may think. Rules overseeing the ways that public schools operate may be written into the state legislature, whereas private schools may have a little more ownership over their operations. For the most part, both private and public schools must follow all federal regulations, even if a private school doesn't specifically depend on federal funding.
For one thing, almost all schools will want to remain eligible for funding in case funding is needed in the future. Private schools may also wish to provide students with an experience that's up to state standards in order to remain competitive and safe or to remain accredited. A good example of this is Title IX. Private schools definitely need to follow Title IX regulations, too — even though the specific ways both private and public schools in Kansas need to follow Title IX can be confusing at times. (We'll talk more about this in a later section.)
We'll next provide a quick overview of the types of laws and governing bodies overseeing higher education in Kansas.
Statewide Higher Education Laws and Government Bodies in Kansas
- Since 1925, the Kansas Board of Regents has collected educational laws and overseen the governance of public schools in Kansas. The statutes on the Board of Regents website cover everything from school fees to data collection, prohibited acts, and more.
- The Kansas State Department of Education also has a curated list of laws that affect the schools in the state, from K-12 institutions to colleges and universities. These laws discuss everything from the way the academic achievements of a school's students are reported through licensing, accreditation, age of entrance, school discipline, and more.
- Finally, Kansas is part of the Tenth Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals. This Court will occasionally hear cases and issue opinions that could potentially have an effect on the way that your school will be able to run (for example, the court could hear a case about sexual discrimination in higher education and issue an opinion that may require an update to your school's sexual discrimination policy). It's likely worth keeping an eye on the types of cases the Tenth Court will be hearing in the near future.
Next, let's discuss one of the most common reasons that a Kansas college student might need to retain the services of an attorney: Academic issues and concerns — including so-called “failure to progress.”
What Does “Failure to Progress” Mean at My Kansas School? Is There Anything I Can Do About It?
“Failure to progress” is a pretty vague phrase. In short, schools may believe that a student has failed to progress adequately if a student is:
- Failing to take an adequate or minimum number of credits for either your program or your specific student status
- Failing to do the background reading for your courses
- Failing to do everything that is required for your course (e.g., as denoted in your course curriculum)
- Failing to prepare specific (required) materials for courses or labs
- Repeatedly withdrawing from courses
- Repeatedly or consistently low grades in your coursework
- Repeatedly earning incompletes in courses
This is not an exhaustive list. Unhelpfully, your school may leave the discernment of your alleged failure to progress up to your teacher — a person who, unfortunately, may or may not have your back. If you and your teacher do not have a particularly good relationship, it may seem that there is little you can do to avoid a depressing end to your college career.
That may seem like a severe escalation of the apparent risk. It's important to realize that the stakes here are, in fact, high. While your teacher could simply slap you with a failing grade and move on, your teacher could also escalate your apparently concerning situation to the administration. As a result, you could be facing a suspension or even a dismissal.
(And a failing grade could be damaging in and of itself! A low enough grade or series of grades could place you at risk of probation or make you ineligible for financial aid, so protecting your rights from the first is extremely important.)
You may have thought — or hoped — that your school would have your back a little more concretely if it was obvious that you were struggling. Your school may even publicly state that it has options available for students who need a helping hand, such as extensions, tutoring, or even mental health resources. When the rubber meets the road, these resources may not help. If you feel that you're in a challenging situation where your school has expressed concerns about your ability to meet academic expectations, don't wait for something dramatic to happen before you contact a defense advisor. Instead, get in touch with an experienced professional immediately, so you'll be prepared to defend your name, your reputation, and your degree in the most strategic way possible.
What Are Code of Conduct Infractions? What Does My Kansas School Consider Punishable?
Fortunately, as opposed to failure to progress scenarios, code of conducts infractions should be very clear (at least, on paper). Your school should have an easy-to-find document known as the code of conduct. This document might have been included in the handbook your school gave you during orientation. If you don't still have it, it should also be freely available on your school's website, along with detailed information about your school's policies and procedures. (At some schools, this will be on your Student Life page; at others, it may be on your school's Dean of Students website.)
While this document should be easy to access, the content inside won't exactly be accessible. Instead, it will be very complex and full of a lot of legalese. Even if you think you're up to the task of delving through your school's documentation, there are likely nuances surrounding the implementation of those policies that could be over your head. If you need assistance understanding your school's code of conduct and how it applies to you, your student defense attorney will be able to help.
While your school's documents might note some unique behaviors and expectations, there are some actions that most schools will find punishable. Using the code of conduct at the University of Kansas as a guide, we'll discuss some of these universally sanction-worthy actions here.
Sexual Misconduct at Your Kansas School
This likely won't be a surprise, but most schools in Kansas (and across the nation) take a very harsh stance against sexual misconduct.
What may be more of a surprise is the types of actions that can net you a sexual misconduct allegation. Depending on the environment at your school, sharing sensitive photos or making lewd jokes could result in a complaint to your school's administration. A miscommunication or misunderstanding from a previous relationship or even a report from a bystander with misplaced concern might also result in an allegation.
While this might not seem like it's worth worrying about, it is. Under Title IX - a federal regulation that governs the way schools in the United States must respond to allegations of sexual misconduct - all schools must provide a timely response to all allegations of sexual misconduct.
Once there's a notation on your student record regarding sexual misconduct disciplinary sanctions, you'll find that your future will likely be more difficult than it needs to be. If you believe that an allegation of sexual misconduct could be in your future, you'll need to reach out to a student defense attorney with all haste.
The types of more clear sexual misconduct that most schools will find problematic include:
- Sexual exploitation
- Domestic violence
- Dating violence
Your school may also have a couple of different policies that they could use while they're adjudicating your case — e.g., a sexual misconduct policy and a Title IX policy. Title IX receives updated interpretations every few years, so many schools do have a dual policy system in order to stay both current and consistent. Your experience as the accused student may vary wildly depending on which policy your school uses and the current political climate. Speaking with a student defense attorney who will be well-versed in these complex issues may make a huge difference in your case.
Academic Misconduct at Your Kansas School
Earlier, we discussed failure to progress scenarios, which are often disheartening academic situations where, despite a student's best efforts and above-board behaviors, they are at risk of sanctions from their school.
Academic misconduct is a little different. These code of conduct infractions occur when a student breaks a more defined rule that relates to academic integrity. Common examples of academic integrity infractions include:
- Fabrication of Data
- Collaborating with Other Students (at inappropriate times)
- Accessing Unauthorized Materials
These actions should be clearly outlined in your school's code of conduct or even mentioned in a specific curriculum for a class that you're taking. Sometimes, a teacher may tailor a punishment to fit the crime — e.g., by giving you a failing grade on an assignment you may have cheated on. However, it's very likely that you will receive a suspension, particularly if your educator decides to file a complaint or escalate your case to your Kansas school's administration.
Are there other types of misconduct at my Kansas school?
While academic and sexual misconduct represent some of the most clear-cut examples of misconduct, there are types of behaviors outside of those general categories that many schools may find problematic. Some examples of these types of actions include:
- Drug or alcohol use: If you're under the age of 21, your school will likely have a hard-and-fast rule about your alcohol consumption on campus. The use of recreational controlled substances by anyone may also merit a misconduct allegation.
- Residential misconduct: Do you live in the dorms at your Kansas school? Your school likely has strict rules in place to make sure they're a safe place to live. For example, your school may specifically consider any instances of violence or theft in your dorms as punishable behavior.
- Hate crimes: Hate crimes are a category of offense that can be hard to define, as many different types of misconduct (violence, theft, destruction of property, and many others) can also be classified as hate crimes. If your alleged offense can be tied to the race, religion, identity, gender, or orientation of the alleged victim, your behavior could be labeled as a hate crime.
- Hazing: If your social club, sports team, fraternity, or sorority has elaborate initiation rituals that can turn violent, destructive, or severely embarrassing, it may be worth reconsidering them. Schools across America are taking a harsh stance against harmful hazing, as several recent hazing-gone-wrong stories have swept across the national media.
Whether the allegations against you concern sexual misconduct, academic integrity issues, or an escalated failure-to-progress situation, your school's due progress will launch into high gear when your school receives an allegation against you. Next, let's talk about what happens after your school receives that information.
What Will My Kansas School's Due Process Be Like?
After your school receives an allegation of misconduct, representatives from your school will take some time to consider whether your alleged actions merit a response. If your school does decide that it wants to learn more (which, as noted above, will almost always be the case in a Title IX scenario), then it will launch an investigation.
If this is what happens, your school will initiate things by sending you a notification. This notification should detail the allegations against you, reference the language in your school's code of conduct relevant to your misdeeds, and give you some idea about what your school's next steps are.
When you receive this notification, it's important to do a few things as soon as possible.
- Refrain from speaking with anyone about your allegation, even friends or trusted faculty members. Sadly, anything you say could be twisted against you. If you need support, rely on family members or your student defense attorney.
- Compile a timeline of what happened. As your school begins to conduct its own investigation, put together as much evidence you can by yourself. If you have materials that back up your side of the story, gather them. Make sure you can articulate the full story clearly. This will come in handy later.
- Reach out to a student defense attorney as early in the process as you can. This may feel like an overreaction, but know this: These types of cases are often won or lost as early as the investigative stage. Having a defense attorney at your side will help you ensure that you're set up for a successful outcome from the earliest stages of your school's adjudicative process.
After your school has completed its investigation, some version of the following sequence of events may take place:
- A meeting with a representative from your school
- A chance for you to review the evidence against you
- A formal hearing in front of a full panel of representatives from your school
- A chance to hear from witnesses relevant to your alleged infraction
- A decision from your school regarding your responsibility for the alleged infraction
- A recommendation from your school regarding the sanctions you'll need to undergo
If your school opts to invite you to a full panel hearing, you'll likely want to bring your advisor with you to that hearing. However, at some schools, outside advisors are not welcome. This may feel confusing, but at the Lento Law Firm we're prepared for such an eventuality. Your student defense attorney will coach you before the hearing to make sure you're very comfortable saying all of the things you'll need to say.
At the end of this process, if your school believes that you're responsible for the alleged actions, you'll face a sanction. Let's talk about what's on the table in the next section.
What Sanctions Am I at Risk for After an Investigation by My Kansas School?
Here's the thing: Your school likely has a long, scary-sounding list of sanctions that could, potentially, be on the table. Your school's specific list of punishments may have unique items on it. However, these tend to be the most commonly seen:
- Written warnings
- Mandated course changes
- Loss of privileges
- Loss of scholarships
- Behavioral contracts
- Monetary fines
- Housing changes
This is an intimidating list. There's good news, and there's bad news. Firstly, the good news: You probably won't have to deal with most of these potential punishments. Very likely, you'll experience a suspension or an expulsion, almost no matter what your alleged infraction happens to be.
The bad news? Suspensions are a far bigger deal than you likely think. Consider what happens when you're suspended: You're gone from school for some portion of time. As a result, you don't have transcript data for that period of time. Your suspension will show up on your transcript as a gap, even if your disciplinary experience isn't otherwise noted.
That gap on your transcript will be very difficult to explain away. Later in life, when you take an interview for the job of your dreams (or more schooling or a key internship), your interviewer will see that gap and ask what happened. That conversation will not go well. You probably won't get that job. It's as simple as that.
This is why it's important to make sure — now — that you don't have any sanctions that have a long-term effect on your future. At the Lento Law Firm, safeguarding student reputations is our specialty. Let's start to talk about the strategies you can take to work towards a more successful outcome.
At My Kansas School, How Do I File an Appeal?
There's more good news: If you're ready to file an appeal (which will happen immediately after your school recommends a sanction), you likely already have a student defense attorney. That's the first step you can take towards a good outcome. If you haven't already contacted an advisor by now, do so with all haste.
Once that is accomplished, you can work with your advisor to determine the appropriate basis for your appeal. You will only have one shot at your appeal, so it's in your best interest to make sure it's as compelling as possible.
Your basis for your appeal will depend on your case, but it might be something like more information that has come to light since your school's investigation or a clear, demonstrable mismatch between your recommended sanction and your alleged offense.
You'll file an appeal by writing a persuasive argument and filing it with your school's noted representative (typically, the Dean of Students). That office will consider your appeal and issue a response. That response will be final.
If your school indicates that it's interested in negotiations, your student defense advisor will help you move forward. If your school does not respond favorably to your appeal, it may be time to consider another strategy.
What if It's Time to Sue My School in Kansas?
Litigation against your school may feel like a drastic step. It can be. That's why, even though filing a lawsuit may feel like the next logical tack to pursue, we advise trying to negotiate with your school first. If you've already filed an appeal and received a negative response, have your student defense advisor reach out directly to your school's office of general counsel. Your lawyer, speaking directly to your school's lawyers, may be able to reach a good compromise without the expense and drama of a lawsuit. At the Lento Law Firm, we've seen great results when we've employed this strategy.
If this doesn't work, however, your defense advisor will be able to help you determine whether you have the basis for a successful lawsuit.
Are There Other Kansas Laws I Should Know About?
Yes! Whether you spend much time off-campus or stay on campus, it's a good idea to keep local laws in mind, as well as the state's statute of limitations laws. Here are a few worth remembering:
- Kansas Laws about Drinking and Driving: Kansas has extremely strict policies about driving under the influence. You will face steep penalties if caught doing so.
- Kansas Tenant Responsibilities: If you live off-campus, you must pay your rent on time and follow all other stipulations in your tenant agreement.
- Kansas False Identification Laws: In Kansas, you cannot show a fake ID to a police officer or use one to purchase alcohol.
Statute of Limitations Laws in Kansas
- Injury to Person: Two years
- Libel: One year
- Slander: One year
- Fraud: Two years
- Injury to Personal Property: Two years
- Trespassing: Two years
- Collection of Rent: Three years (if there is an oral contract)
- Contracts: Five years
If this seems like a lot of information to take in, that's accurate. Luckily, you don't have to handle all of this on your own.
Contact Joseph D. Lento for Timely Defense Assistance in Kansas and Nationwide
Are you or your student facing frustrating failure to progress issues?
Have you been accused of plagiarism, fabrication of data, sexual misconduct, or anything else outlined in your school's code of conduct as punishable behavior?
If so, you may be facing a suspension or a dismissal. These types of sanctions may seem lackluster, but they can do a lot of harm to your reputation and your chances of enjoying the benefits of your college degree. At the Lento Law Firm, we don't want to see that happen - and we know you don't either! That's why Joseph D. Lento is ready to help you with the benefit of years of expertise. For years, Joseph D. Lento has helped people in your specific situation ensure that they're able to achieve a favorable outcome.
Whether you require assistance in your school's investigative or adjudicative phase, whether you need help pulling together evidence or filing a strategic appeal, Joseph D. Lento will help you keep your student record clear.
Call Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 for more information. You can also fill out a contact form online to receive a timely response.
Are you a student or the parent of a student at a Kansas college or university facing a school-related issue? Attorney Joseph D. Lento can help. Click on the following links as applicable for more information: