Maryland Colleges and Universities

 

Are you a student or the parent of student at a Maryland 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 Maryland 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 Maryland protect their academic and professional future, and he can do the same for you. Contact him today at 888-535-3686.

An Overview of Maryland Student Discipline and Student Rights

Maryland has several major universities, including the United States Naval Academy, St. Mary's College of Maryland, and Morgan State University. Except for the three schools just listed, all of the state's public universities are part of the University System of Maryland, of which the University of Maryland, College Park is the largest. There are also private universities in Maryland, spread throughout the state. All told, both public and private colleges and universities in Maryland enroll nearly 400,000 students.

With this many students, it's nearly impossible to avoid conflict, and you may find yourself involved in a student misconduct disciplinary setting or facing other school-related issues or concerns which can impede your academic and professional goals. Facing serious sanctions from or other consequences at your school, you may not know where to turn. Fortunately, there's help available. An experienced student misconduct and student rights attorney-advisor can help you battle your school's sanctions and protect your rights. Don't let a Maryland school push you around and harm your ability to finish your education and set your future self up for success. The right attorney-advisor working for you can take the mystery out of the disciplinary process, making sure you understand your rights, and you do everything in your power to protect those rights. Your future depends on it.

Misconduct Allegations in Maryland

The University System of Maryland was created in 1988 with the merger of the University of Maryland and the Board of Trustees of State Universities and Colleges. While the system's schools operate independently, they are overseen by the Board and have similar codes of conduct.

There are 18 private colleges and universities in Maryland, including four religious institutions. Within all of these schools, the codes of conduct vary on who is involved in the decision-making but are very similar in the process of handling complaints and the sanctions provided. We'll highlight the process for some big schools below.

University System of Maryland

The University System of Maryland (USM) has 12 schools under its jurisdiction:

  • Bowie State University
  • Coppin State University
  • Frostburg State University
  • Salisbury University
  • Towson University
  • University of Baltimore
  • University of Maryland, Baltimore
  • University of Maryland, Baltimore County
  • University of Maryland, College Park
  • University of Maryland, Eastern Shore
  • University of Maryland Global Campus
  • University of Maryland Center for Environment Science

The largest school in the USM umbrella is the University of Maryland. Most schools have one enormous code of conduct, outlining the prohibited conduct for students. The University of Maryland, however, has taken a different approach. They have a Code of Student Conduct, a Code of Academic Integrity, and Policy and Procedures on Sexual Harassment and Other Sexual Misconduct.

Each of these documents provides details on prohibited conduct and possible sanctions. We'll look at each one next.

Grounds for Discipline

Code of Student Conduct

The University of Maryland's Code of Student Conduct list of prohibited behaviors includes the following:

  • Causing injury to another person
  • Engaging in hazing activities
  • Intentionally interfering with the lawful freedom of expression of others
  • Unauthorized distribution of any controlled substances or illegal drugs
  • Unauthorized use, production, manufacture, or possession of any controlled substance or illegal drug
  • Providing alcohol or alcoholic beverages to a person under the legal age of consumption or possession
  • The illegal or unauthorized consumption, possession, or sale of alcohol or alcoholic beverages
  • Operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated or impaired by alcohol or other drugs
  • Theft of property, services, or resources, or the unauthorized use of services
  • Knowingly possessing stolen property
  • Intentionally or recklessly destroying, damaging, vandalizing, tampering with, or defacing University property or the property of others
  • Trespassing on or the unauthorized use of University facilities, property, or resources
  • Unauthorized on-campus or illegal off-campus use, possession, or storage of any weapon or explosive
  • Intentionally initiating or causing any false report, warning, or threat of fire, explosion or other emergency
  • Rioting, assault, theft, vandalism, fire setting, or other serious misconduct
  • Engaging in disorderly or disruptive action that interferes with university or community activities
  • Intentionally or recklessly misusing or damaging fire safety equipment
  • Public urination or defecation
  • Intentionally furnishing false information to the university
  • Making, possessing, providing, or using any forged, altered, or falsified University document

Code of Academic Integrity

The Code of Academic Integrity focuses on academic dishonesty, including prohibited conduct as follows:

  • Cheating
  • Fabrication
  • Facilitating academic dishonesty
  • Plagiarism
  • Self-plagiarism

Sexual Harassment and Other Sexual Misconduct is also prohibited under the University of Maryland's policies. These policies include Title IX, which is explained further below, and prohibit the following:

  • Sexual harassment of any kind, including:
    • Quid pro quo
    • Hostile environment
    • Sexual assault (non-consensual sexual penetration, fondling, incest, and statutory rape)
    • Dating violence
    • Domestic violence
    • Stalking
  • Other sexual misconduct, including:
    • Sexual harassment that occurred against a person outside of the United States or not within an Education Program or Activity, or otherwise does not fall under Title IX
    • Sexual coercion
    • Sexual exploitation
    • Sexual intimidation
    • Attempted sexual assault
    • Unwanted sexual advances
    • Unwelcomed requests for sexual favors
  • Retaliation of any kind

Possible Sanctions

For each of the different codes, there are different sanctions available to reprimand students.

Code of Student Conduct

  • Expulsion
  • Suspension
  • Disciplinary probation
  • Disciplinary reprimand
  • Educational sanctions
  • Other sanctions

Code of Academic Integrity

  • XF grade for the course
  • Degree revocation
  • Expulsion
  • Suspension
  • Letter grade reduction
  • Zero on assignment
  • Other sanctions

Sexual Harassment and Other Sexual Misconduct

  • Expulsion
  • Suspension
  • Removal from University housing
  • Disciplinary probation
  • Community service
  • Other sanctions

Johns Hopkins University

One of the largest universities in Maryland and the largest private university in the state, the Johns Hopkins Student Conduct Code specifies prohibited activities and the potential sanctions. The school also has a separate policy regarding sexual misconduct, the Johns Hopkins University Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedures. Similar in nature to the USM codes, this gives us a good comparison between the public and private schools in Maryland.

Grounds for Discipline

Student Code of Conduct

Johns Hopkins Student Code of Conduct specifically states that any prohibitions apply to both on and off-campus activities. It also prohibits all conduct against any member of the University community, members of the general public, and against University property.

  • Conduct that disrupts or interferes with the orderly functioning of the university, the performance of the duties of University personnel or other University business or activities
  • The physical or emotional abuse of any person or any action that threatens physical or emotional harm or endangers the physical or emotional well-being, health or safety of any person
  • Any physical or verbal threats against or harassment, bullying or intimidation of any person
  • Conduct or a pattern of conduct not of a sexual nature in which a person approaches or pursues another person with intent to place the person in fear of physical harm or with intent to harass, bully or intimidate the person
  • Conduct that violates the University's Policy on Hazing
  • The theft, destruction, damage to, or wrongful appropriation or vandalism of university, public or private property, or knowingly possessing stolen property
  • The unauthorized or illegal use, possession, storage, transportation, sale, distribution, manufacture, or transfer of any weapons
  • The unauthorized or illegal use, possession, manufacture, sale, storage, transfer, transportation, or distribution of any controlled substance
  • The possession, consumption or manufacture of alcohol by individuals under the legal drinking age under applicable law or the provision, distribution or sale of alcohol to individuals under the legal drinking age under applicable law
  • The unauthorized or improper use or misuse of University property, facilities, resources, or services
  • The misuse or abuse of any University computer, computer system, or computer, internet or communications service, program, data, network, or resource
  • The violation of any international or U.S. federal, state or local law, statute, regulation, code, or ordinance
  • Conduct that disturbs the peace or impinges on the rights of residents of neighborhoods
  • The hosting or conducting of an event in violation of university
  • Conduct that hinders, obstructs, or interferes with investigations, hearings, sanctions/corrective actions, appeals, and other implementation or administrative processes
  • The possession, sale or manufacture of any false or altered form of identification, the improper use of any identification card

Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedures

  • Sexual misconduct of any kind, including:
    • Failure to obtain consent
    • Dating violence
    • Domestic violence
    • Stalking
    • Rape
    • Statutory rape
    • Sodomy
    • Sexual assault with an object
    • Fondling
    • Incest
  • Retaliation
  • Intimidation
  • Threats
  • Coercion
  • Discrimination

Possible Sanctions

Student Code of Conduct

  • Formal warning
  • Educational activity restriction
  • Restitution
  • Denial of privileges or associations
  • Probation
  • Deferred suspension
  • Suspension
  • Expulsion

Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedures

  • Reprimand
  • Changing the student's academic schedule
  • Disciplinary probation
  • Revocation of honors or awards
  • Loss of privileges
  • Restricted access to university facilities
  • Mandatory training
  • Community service
  • No contact order
  • Removing student from campus housing
  • Transcript notations
  • Deferred suspension
  • Suspension
  • Expulsion
  • Revocation of degree

Disciplinary Procedures

While there are differences between the public and private schools' approaches to what makes up misconduct, they align more closely on the procedures for what happens after a report of misconduct. For all Maryland schools, this is the general process that is followed:

Complaint: A person files a complaint with the school alleging misconduct and a violation of the school's code of conduct

Review: A dean or designated administrator of the school reviews the complaint, attempting to resolve the matter based on the information provided, or recommends sanctions

Hearing: A hearing is scheduled for both parties to present their case in front of a board made up of faculty and administrators, and for the accused to have an opportunity to rebut the allegations

Sanctions: If the accused student is found to have violated the school's code of conduct at the hearing, the board will recommend sanctions

Determination: Based on the recommendation of the hearing board, the president or other designated representative of the school will make a final decision as to the sanctions

Appeal: Upon determination of sanctions, the accused student can appeal to the board of trustees

What is Title IX?

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is a federal law that prohibiting discrimination based on sex in federally funded schools. Because USM and other public universities take federal funds, they are subject to Title IX. Private schools that do not take any federal funding, however, are not subject to Title IX. But these schools are extremely rare. Federal funding can be as miniscule as providing subsidies for school expenses. Taking this money would subject the school to Title IX restrictions.

Title IX protects students from discrimination in the admissions process, participation in sports, employment, and financial aid. Sexual harassment and misconduct are also Title IX violations. The law states that whenever a school learns of a sexual harassment complaint, the school must investigate. This becomes a quasi-judicial process and can impede on the rights of accused students.

Title IX Regulations

If you are facing a student misconduct violation that includes a Title IX infraction, your rights are at risk. When that happens, you must have a right to hear the charges against you and defend yourself. Here is the full list of what due process requires for you:

  • Written notice of the charges against the person with enough detail that the student can defend themself
  • The notice must provide the student with adequate time to prepare before a hearing
  • The hearing must be unbiased
  • The accused student must have the chance to provide evidence and witnesses, as well as cross-examine other witnesses
  • The right to consult an attorney or advisor
  • The right to inspect and review evidence
  • The right to have an attorney or advisor present to guide and consult
  • The right to receive a written investigative report at least ten days prior to a hearing

Maryland colleges and universities may choose a more informal hearing process but both parties must consent in writing. Title IX regulations do not require informal procedures but it does require the use of one of two standards of proof:

  • Preponderance of the evidence: This is the lowest standard of proof where the accuser must simply prove that it's more likely than not that the accused committed the violation.
  • Clear and convincing evidence: This is a higher standard of proof but less than what you frequently see on TV and in criminal courts of beyond a reasonable doubt.

At present, USM, Johns Hopkins, and all other colleges and universities in Maryland use the lower burden of proof, a preponderance of the evidence.

Title IX Hearing Procedures

Title IX hearings do not require the use of Maryland or federal rules of evidence. So when a Maryland college or university accuses you of a Title IX violation, more evidence may be available, and it will not be subject to the same strict requirements that it would in court. As a result, it's common that hearsay enters a student misconduct hearing, something that is rare in a courtroom.

After a hearing, the committee overseeing the hearing will provide a recommendation on course of action and potential sanctions. The president or other designated official from the school will render a final decision, which you can appeal.

How Due Process Rights Apply to Maryland Schools

Due process rights are afforded to every person accused of wrongdoing. But the protections from due process may vary. The more serious the accusation, the more protections you receive.

Due Process Origins

Due process rights apply when the government is trying to take something away from you. Because your Maryland school likely takes federal funds, it is an agent of the government, as far as due process is concerned. So when the school tries to take something from you, like your education, because they are an agent of the government, you are entitled to due process rights.

There are two types of due process: procedural and substantive. Procedural due process includes the way your school attempts to take away your rights. Substantive due process restricts the government and government agents from taking away your rights, without providing you due process.

Property Interest

One right your school may try to take away from you during a misconduct hearing is your property interest in your education. This sounds strange, but your education is a property right. Think of it this way — you pay for an education that eventually gives you a degree which eventually gives you a job and financial stability, giving your degree great value. If your school takes away your education, it could impact the rest of your life.

When another person accuses you of wrongdoing under your Maryland school's code of conduct, your school cannot simply take away your property interest in your education without first affording you due process. The level of due process you are afforded directly relates to the severity of your punishment. The more serious the possible punishment, the more due process you must receive.

Liberty Interest

Liberty interests involve intangibles like reputation and your good name. According to the U.S. Supreme Court, when “a person's good name, reputation, honor, or integrity is at stake because of what the government is doing to him,” this is enough to invoke a liberty interest and require due process.

It's important to recognize your liberty interest in your reputation and integrity. Just like your degree can set you up for success, your reputation can take it all away. If you are accused of misconduct that would degrade your integrity, that requires your school to provide you ample due process protections.

Suing Your Maryland School

If your Maryland school has violated your due process rights, you may need to sue them to protect yourself. There are several grounds you might have for a legitimate claim against your school. Partnering with an experienced student misconduct attorney-advisor can help give you the leg up you need to battle such a large institution.

Title IX Violation

You may have a valid Title IX violation against your Maryland school if you can prove:

  • The outcome was wrong, and you can show actual evidence of bias, or
  • Statements by the school demonstrating gender bias

Breach of Contract

When you enroll at your Maryland school, you enter into a contract through your code of conduct. In the code of conduct, your school promises to adhere to certain steps and procedures if they accuse you of student misconduct. If your school fails to follow its own process, you could sue them for breach of contract.

Due Process Violations

Your school may have further violated your rights by the way in which they investigated or otherwise handled your student misconduct accusation. For example, if your school did not provide you with adequate notice of a hearing, that could be a due process violation.

Statutes of Limitations

Every state has a statute of limitations, setting a time limit for the time you have to file a claim against your school for a violation of your rights.

Breach of Contract

In Maryland, you have three years to bring a breach of contract claim from the date of the breach. But don't wait this long. If there were witnesses to the incident in question, they may not remember after much time. It's important that you get their statements on record as soon as possible. The longer you wait to challenge your school, the tougher it is for you and your attorney-advisor to be successful.

Due Process Violations

Depending on the severity of the sanction you faced and whether Maryland law, federal law, or both, are at play, the statute of limitations here will vary. This is why it's vital to your ability to have a successful outcome from your student misconduct accusation that you speak with a skilled attorney-advisor as soon as possible.

Hire an Experienced Student Discipline Attorney-Advisor

When you face a student misconduct violation or other school-related issue or concern, it never is a trivial matter. Whether you face a plagiarism accusation or a more serious Title IX violation, you need to have a skilled advisor with advanced knowledge of how student misconduct processes work. It's also beneficial to have an attorney-advisor working with you who has superior negotiating skills and a team ready to fight to help you protect your rights.

To help you get through this, you need an attorney-advisor with years of experience helping students like you with a wide range of student misconduct matters. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has unparalleled experience as an attorney-advisor negotiating with, and litigating against when necessary, countless colleges and universities nationwide. He can help you, but you have to call today. Contact Attorney Lento online or at 888.535.3686.

 

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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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