Where We Can Help - Louisiana Colleges and Universities

Are you a student or the parent of student at a Louisiana school, college, or university facing a school-related issue or concern?  Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm can help. The world of academia is unique, and the Lento Law Firm has unparalleled national experience bringing its problem-solving approach and fighting spirit to address school-related injustice.  Attorney Lento and his Firm have helped countless students and families in Louisiana and across the United States at the school level and in court.  Please click on the following links for more information.  Please also see our expanded list of school practice areas

Joseph D. Lento has helped countless students and others in academia in Louisiana protect their academic and professional future, and he can do the same for you.  Contact him today at 888-535-3686.

An Overview of Louisiana Student Discipline and Student Rights

Are you or your student headed to a Louisiana school?

If so, then you're both going through a very exciting time. Applying to college, getting ready to move out for the first time, and embarking on a satisfying academic career are among some of the most momentous occasions in a young person's life. However, these events are usually important because they represent stages along the journey towards a college degree.

It may be far easier than you think to experience academic struggles or become embroiled in misconduct that could put your degree in jeopardy. From failure to progress to academic misconduct, behavioral issues, and more, college can be much harder than many expect. You may struggle to keep up. You could experience tough interpersonal issues or even become the subject of a false allegation.

Even if you don't do anything wrong, you could end up with severe disciplinary repercussions and gaps in your transcript that could cause your reputation and career lifelong harm.

At the Lento Law Firm, we believe that you should be able to count on the benefits conferred on you by your college degree. That's why we're here to get you the information you need to navigate your college career as successfully as possible.

On this page, we'll provide information about the types of misconduct your school may investigate, typical Louisiana school disciplinary processes, your options for pursuing relief, local laws, and more.

Academic Issues, Concerns, and Misconduct at Your Louisiana School

If your school learns that you are failing to progress as quickly as expected, they may decide to take administrative action, or even disciplinary action—up to and including dismissals.

While this may not make much sense, it is a reality. You may be in a position where you simply need more time or more support. You may feel like your school is betraying or abandoning you at the worst possible time. That will not negate the hard facts of what could actually happen.

Depending on the academic standards at your school or university, the following actions could constitute severe enough concerns that your school may decide to take action:

  • Your alleged substandard performance in the eyes of your instructors
  • You're repeatedly withdrawing from courses
  • Your repeated failure to pass any required examinations
  • Your repeatedly earning incompletes in coursework
  • Your alleged failure to prepare for lab work or coursework
  • Your failure to complete any required supporting work for courses (e.g., papers or readings)

If you feel that your school has failed to support you in critical ways or failed to keep any promises it made you, you need to speak up. If you don't, you may find yourself facing expulsion.

Code of Conduct Infractions and Types of Misconduct

Outside of academic issues and concerns lies misconduct. As opposed to academic struggles, misconduct tends to involve intent to complete actions outside of the behavioral norm. Your school should have a code of conduct that outlines its expectations for your actions. (This document should be freely available on your school's website). If you perform (or are accused of performing) any actions that break those guidelines, your school could punish you for misconduct.

Very generally speaking, code of conduct infractions fall into two categories.

Sexual Misconduct

On one level, it's simple: Any sexual or intimate contact that occurs without the freely given consent of all persons concerned is sexual misconduct. This overarching definition includes such actions as rape, incest, domestic or dating violence, stalking, sexual manipulation, exposing yourself or someone else, creating an unsafe environment, or releasing sensitive media or materials online.

Schools in the United States have to follow very specific guidelines when responding to allegations of sexual misconduct. Ever since 1972, when Title IX (a federal rights law) came into effect, United States schools have operated under a requirement to take action in response to sexual misconduct allegations as quickly as possible. Otherwise, they may risk losing their funding.

Title IX and the way schools integrate it into their processes tends to be a sensitive subject for many. Each of the most recent presidential administrations has issued its own take on how schools should follow Title IX. As a result of this relatively frequent shift in interpretations, many schools have implemented a dual-policy system (e.g., a Title IX policy and a more general sexual misconduct policy) to keep up.

Understanding your school's system is a good idea, but your experience as a student accused of sexual misconduct will likely be the same regardless of the policy your school follows when disciplining you.

Academic Misconduct

Where academic issues and concerns tend to concentrate on your potential difficulties with staying caught up, academic dishonesty or misconduct tends to focus on your integrity.

For example, the following actions are likely prohibited under your school's academic honesty policy:

  • Cheating
  • Fabrication of Data
  • Falsifying of Information
  • Disrupting Your Classroom
  • Plagiarism
  • Accessing Unauthorized Materials
  • Destruction of School Property

If you assist anyone else with these actions, you will also be responsible for breaking your school's integrity policy. Once your school learns that you may be involved in academic misconduct, it may decide to take investigative or adjudicative action.

What Are Some of the Public and Private Higher Education Institutions in Louisiana?

Louisiana is home to many top-tier colleges and universities. These include:

Public schools in Louisiana

  • Louisiana Tech University
  • Louisiana State University
  • University of Louisiana
  • University of New Orleans
  • Northwestern State University of Louisiana

Private schools in Louisiana

  • Tulane University
  • Loyola University New Orleans
  • Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University
  • Xavier University of Louisiana
  • Centenary College of Louisiana
  • Louisiana College
  • Dillard University
  • University of Holy Cross
  • Remington College

Statewide Higher Education Laws in Louisiana

While it's true that public schools will have more oversight and operate under more stringent requirements than many private schools, it's key to remember that private schools can't exactly do whatever they want. In Louisiana, all schools operate with respect to certain laws and with the guidance of certain regulatory authorities. These include:

  • The Board of Regents of the State of Louisiana, which may be a good resource for external oversight if one is needed
  • Title 17 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes, which concerns education and provides guidelines for everything from educator professional development to the way schools must maintain their grounds and buildings
  • The Fifth Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals, a judicial entity that offers opinions on cases and could ultimately affect the way your school operates on a daily basis

Having knowledge of these overarching systems is a good idea, but your specific experience in your school's disciplinary system will deal more closely with your school's internal processes. We'll use the University of Louisiana, one of the largest school systems in the state, as an example of how your school's adjudicative system could operate.

After an Identified Academic Issue or Misconduct Concern, What Will Happen at My Louisiana School?

Once your school learns of your alleged misconduct, the disciplinary process will begin. The specific events that will occur should be listed in your school's code of conduct. You can likely expect some version of the following sequence of events:

  • Your school will notify you via email or student mail of your alleged infraction. This notification should contain information about follow-up steps, such as a meeting with a representative from your school.
  • You'll meet with an instructor or other school official to discuss the allegations against you. If your infraction was relatively slight (or academic, such as a suspected cheating offense), you might receive a sanction on the spot.
  • Your school may, alternatively, choose to investigate your alleged actions to discover more about what happened.
  • You may face a more formal disciplinary hearing in front of a panel of school officials. At this hearing, you should have a chance to make your case and hear the full extent of the evidence against you.
  • At the end of the adjudicative process, your school will come to a decision regarding your responsibility for the event in question. Your school will also issue a recommendation for disciplinary repercussions.

While there may be a list of sanctions on the table, the most likely outcome of your alleged infraction is a suspension.

This may not seem like a big deal. It is. If you're suspended, there will be a gap in your transcript. You will have to figure out how to explain that gap. Later, when you're applying to other schools, internships, or even jobs, prospective employers or schools will notice that gap. It may not make sense, but the simple presence of disciplinary notations on your record will make it far less likely that anyone will offer you a job or an internship.

In other words, this experience, as noted by disciplinary repercussions or a gap on your transcript, could follow you around for the rest of your career.

Since there's so much at stake, it's key to start fighting for your reputation as soon as possible. One of the first ways you'll be able to do so is with a strategic appeal.

Filing a Strategic Appeal at Your Louisiana School

At the University of Louisiana, the appeals process is as follows:

  1. After your school has reached a decision and recommended a sanction through the initial disciplinary process, you should receive confirmation in writing. That confirmation should include information about the specific appeal timelines at your school.
  2. Within that defined window, you will need to file a letter of appeal with the correct authority. At the University of Louisiana, that's the University Administrator. Your letter should contain specific information regarding your rationale for requesting reconsideration of your case.
  3. After receipt of your appeal, your school will decide whether to reconsider your sanction, open negotiations, or stand firm with its original recommendation.
  4. Your school will notify you of its decision in writing.
  5. That decision will be final.

Since there may be little flexibility for negotiations at your school after the appeals process, it's a good idea to file an appeal that's as strategic as possible. To increase your chances of success, the University of Louisiana recommends only filing appeals under the following conditions:

  • If a procedural error has occurred during the adjudicative process
  • If you have secured new evidence
  • If the recommended sanction is clearly disproportionate

Unfortunately, you only have a few days to gather the basis for a strategic appeal. There's also no guarantee that (even with a very strong appeal) your school will reconsider your sanctions. That's one reason why it's a good idea to work closely with your student defense advisor to make the best appeal possible and to be prepared for what could happen next.

What if It's Time to Sue My School in Louisiana?

What happens if your school denies your appeal or makes it clear that it won't be amenable to future negotiations?

Fortunately, this isn't the end of the road. You do have options. For example, if push comes to shove, you could consider litigation against your school. It's key to realize that this is a very drastic step. After you pursue a lawsuit against your school, you probably won't be able to be a student there anymore. You may not want to continue going there, either! As such, this is only a step you should take if you've exhausted all of your other options.

Prior to initiating a lawsuit, there are other strategies you can pursue that are less expensive and relationship-ending. For example:

  1. Make absolutely sure that you have gone through every part of your school's appeals process. Even if it's quite clear to you that your school won't reconsider its recommendations or budge an inch in negotiations, completion of this step will help form the basis for your further actions.
  2. File a complaint with the Board of Regents of the State of Louisiana. This governmental body has some level of oversight that may be able to exert influence over your school and its disciplinary decisions. Again, at the very least, filing this paperwork will help you strengthen any subsequent lawsuits you may initiate against your school, so it's a good strategic step to pursue.
  3. Have your student defense attorney-advisor reach out to your school's office of general counsel. This action will be considerably less antagonistic than a formal lawsuit. It may be able to pave the way for negotiations and bargains or compromises that may be much better for both you and your school.

In order to accomplish this last step, you do need to be working with a student defense attorney who you can trust. If you haven't been working with a lawyer prior to this point, you absolutely need to be before you can consider initiating legal action of any kind.

Are There Any Other Louisiana Laws That I Should Know About as a College Student?

Outside of your school's disciplinary process, there will be local laws in your area that you should at least be aware of. While the bulk of your time and actions may be on campus, any time you leave your school, you may be subject to these laws. In addition, your school may use these laws as a basis for its own regulations.

Laws that may affect your time as a Louisiana college student include:

  • Louisiana Laws about Underage Drinking: It is illegal for any person under the age of 21 to purchase or possess any alcoholic beverages. Doing so could put you at risk of a fine or even a short jail sentence.
  • Louisiana Laws about Drinking and Driving: It is illegal for any driver to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or higher.
  • Louisiana Tenant Responsibilities: Living off-campus? If so, you'll need to abide by any rental agreement you sign. For example, you will need to pay your rent on time and follow any guidelines your rental agreement has in place for notifying your landlord about your living arrangements.
  • Louisiana False Identification Laws: In Louisiana, it is against the law to use a fake ID to purchase alcohol. You also can't show a fake ID to a police officer.

Statute of Limitations Laws in Louisiana

If you're wondering just how much time you have to initiate legal actions after an event takes place (or how long someone else has the same right), the answer is simple. Check your state's statute of limitations laws, and you'll have all the information you need.

Statutes of limitations define the window after an event in which an involved party can file a related lawsuit. Every state has its own timelines, so it's always good to check your local laws and have accurate information.

Louisiana is relatively unique when it comes to statute of limitations laws. Instead of having windows of differing lengths for the range of events that could happen, Louisiana statutes of limitation are almost all just one year. Here's more detailed information for your perusal:

  • Injury to Person: 1 year
  • Libel: 1 year
  • Slander: 1 year
  • Fraud: 1 year
  • Injury to Personal Property: 1 year
  • Trespassing: 1 year
  • Collection of Rents: 3 years
  • Contracts: 10 years
  • Debts: 3 years
  • Judgments: 10 years

This can seem like a lot of information you need to take in (because it is!). We'd recommend reading through it on your own to get a handle on things and then working with a student defense advisor to assist with any academic issues or concerns you may face.

Should I Hire a National Student Defense Attorney? Or Could I Consider Hiring Someone Local or Someone My School Recommends?

While your school may offer you the option to work with a school advisor, this is definitely an option that you shouldn't take advantage of.

Student defense is a very niche type of practice. The advisors at your school won't have the targeted experience you need to succeed. In addition, if you find yourself in a tense adversarial position against your school, you may find that your school's advisors will remain loyal to your school (even when it's to your direct detriment).

It's well worth the extra effort it may be to find and hire your own lawyer. Your own lawyer will be solely dedicated to your cause and will help you navigate the process from start to finish. Furthermore, it's also worth it to go the extra mile (perhaps, literally) and hire a great lawyer no matter where in the nation they are. While proximity may seem like a great perk in an attorney, that matters far less than their history of winning cases similar to yours, especially on a nationwide basis.

When you're working with a student defense attorney with specific expertise, you can expect benefits such as:

  • Assistance delving through your school's detailed disciplinary policies
  • Confidence as you file persuasive appeals and negotiate with your school
  • Increased time to concentrate on your own studies
  • More energy and bandwidth to manage your own mental, emotional, and physical health
  • Coaching for every meeting, argument, or conversation that you need to ace during your disciplinary experience
  • Support meeting every needed deadline
  • The likelihood that your school will consider you and your case more seriously than if you were just on your own

Do You Need a Supportive Defense During Your Louisiana College Career? If So, Call Joseph D. Lento

Whether you're facing misconduct accusations or academic issues, when you run into difficult days in college, you're going to need some help.

The problem is, when you're in college, many people expect you to operate a little more independently. Plus, once you're associated with any type of misconduct or even school struggles, your friends and instructors may suddenly seem much less reliable and available than they have in the past.

However, you also shouldn't try to get through this alone. Student defense is a tricky subject, even for most lawyers. You're going to need to know how to delve deep into your school's disciplinary codes, negotiate skillfully, protect your own rights and write persuasive arguments. You'll have to remember deadlines and know how to say the right thing at the right time. You'll have to do all of this while under high levels of stress—and even while you're trying to maintain other relationships, your status as a student, and a handle on your future.

That's overwhelming. Don't do that to yourself. Instead, rely on attorney Joseph D. Lento to help with your academic concerns or misconduct processes. Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a successful student defense advisor who has been assisting students throughout the nation with top-tier defense strategies for years. He and his team at the Lento Law Firm have helped hundreds of students in Louisiana and across the United States overcome challenges to become the successful students and graduates they are today. Give Attorney Lento and his team a call, and they can do the same for you.

Just reach out today at 888.535.3686, or, alternatively, you can always connect with us online.

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If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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