Are you a student or the parent of student at a Missouri 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 Missouri 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.
- Title IX Defense
- Academic Misconduct
- Code of Conduct Disciplinary Charges
- Student Rights
- Academic Issues
- Medical Student Issues
- And More...
Joseph D. Lento has helped countless students and others in academia in Missouri protect their academic and professional future, and he can do the same for you. Contact him today at 888-535-3686.
Where We Can Help - Missouri Colleges, Universities, and Schools
Are you or your college student ready to head to a Missouri college?
If so, there's likely a lot on your mind! After all, college constitutes a life-changing opportunity to get your degree, meet friends you'll know for years, and even grow more into the person you want to be.
Unfortunately, college can offer experiences that are life-changing in less positive ways, as well. Miscommunications and missteps that result in misconduct charges can alter the course of your career's trajectory before it even begins. Even outside of specific instances of misconduct, you may realize that college is much harder than you expected.
For example, you may find that the academic load you experience as a freshman is far heavier than you'd imagined. You could fail to progress as quickly as your instructors would like or struggle to perform as well as your school requires. Both conduct-related and non-conduct academic issues can result in problematic consequences, from probation to suspension and even dismissal.
Since this is the case, it's a good idea to make sure you know as much as possible about academic and disciplinary procedures and due process before you even set foot on campus.
This may seem like an overreaction. Trust us—it's not! Think about it as an investment in your peace of mind. When you or your child matriculate in a Missouri school and prepare to live independently, potentially for the first time, it could be very easy for anyone involved to get extremely stressed and worried.
Take some time to make sure that you have all the information you need at your fingertips, and you'll feel much less stressed. At the Lento Law Firm, we believe that every student should be able to enjoy their college career and the degree that they work hard to achieve. That's why we've collected the key information every Missouri college student needs to know on this handy resource page.
What Schools, Colleges, and Universities are in Missouri?
The Show-Me State is home to a wide range of high-quality academic institutions. Whether you're headed to a big city like St. Louis or Jefferson City or matriculating at a school with a more remote feel, you'll enjoy studying in this Midwestern state.
There are both publicly-funded and private schools in Missouri. Some of the most well-known are:
Public schools in Missouri
- University of Missouri (and its many satellite campuses)
- Missouri University of Science and Technology
- Truman State University
- Northwestern Missouri State University
- Missouri State University
- University of Central Missouri
- Southeast Missouri State University
- Missouri Western State University
- Harris-Stowe State University
Private schools in Missouri
- Washington University in St. Louis
- Saint Louis University
- College of the Ozarks
- Rockhurst University
- Maryville University
- Avila University
- William Jewell College
- Drury University
- Fontbonne University
While public schools may have to follow state laws for higher education more closely (as they rely much more heavily on state funding), private schools do operate under state oversight as well—and even when they aren't required to follow the same laws, they tend to do so in order to ensure that incoming students have a competitive, consistent, and safe experience. In the next section, we'll discuss the various higher education laws that Missouri has in place.
Are There Any Statewide Higher Education Laws That Govern My School's Actions?
Yes. The state of Missouri has put together legislation to help guide schools in the state as they make decisions to support student welfare. These include:
- Division 10 of Title 6 of the Missouri Code of State Regulation defines the roles of the Commissioner of Higher Education. This section of the law includes information about the ways students can transfer between schools, the various incentive programs for specific student programs (e.g., nursing, military), higher education contracting, financial assistance, and the way college departments should be organized.
- The Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development similarly has a slew of policies available for reference. These policies guide schools as they determine accessibility standards, campus maintenance, admissions selectivity, and various grievance procedures.
In addition, Missouri is in the Eighth Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals. From time to time, this court will oversee cases that may have some effect on the way that MO schools can operate. For example, the Eighth Circuit recently presided over a case where a pair of St. Louis parents were alleging that a school did not provide adequate (and mandated) support for their child with special needs. It may be worth keeping an eye on the types of cases that the Eighth Circuit will be reviewing, particularly with regards to the way Missouri schools have to follow federal laws such as Title IX.
What Types of Misconduct Do Missouri Schools Investigate?
Every Missouri school will have its own set of policies and internal regulations that will detail the way it expects students to behave on campus. This set of guidelines should be freely available in your student handbook or on your school's website.
Here, we'll provide a general overview of what you may be able to expect. To do this, we'll delve through the code of conduct at the University of Missouri, as it's the largest school system in the state. While the rules it posits may vary slightly for your Missouri school, it should provide a good idea of the types of misconduct out there and the ways a school will likely respond.
In 1972, the United States established Title IX, a federal rights law. Under Title IX, all schools must investigate all allegations of sexual misconduct in a timely manner or risk losing their funding.
Title IX is a relatively hot-button issue. The past few presidential administrations have each issued updated guidance as to how schools must implement Title IX regulations on campus. Since this is the case, many schools have evolving Title IX policies, as well as a more general or overarching sexual misconduct policy just to ensure they're able to provide a consistent student experience.
According to the University of Missouri’s sexual misconduct policies, the following actions constitute punishable sexual misconduct:
- Sex Discrimination
- Sexual Harassment
- Nonconsensual sexual intercourse
- Nonconsensual sexual contact
- Exposing one's genitals to another in an inappropriate context
- Sexual exploitation
- Dating violence
- Domestic violence
- Invasion of sexual privacy
- Prostituting another person
- Taping or recording a sexual activity
- Engaging in voyeurism
- Knowingly transmitting an STI to another person
- Use of a controlled substance to create a situation where another person is incapable of consenting to sexual activity
Schools across the nation are recommending extremely harsh punishments for sexual misconduct at this time. Even an allegation of sexual misconduct, even if it's based on a miscommunication or is not precisely accurate, can result in a lifetime of reputation damage.
Academic dishonesty or any action which may stray from your university's honor code or integrity policy may constitute punishable behavior. At the University of Missouri, the three primary actions that the school concentrates on are cheating, plagiarism, and sabotage.
- Cheating includes unauthorized assistance during any academic activity, including using illicit sources, collaborating without permission, accessing testing materials without permission, or providing another student with unauthorized access.
- Plagiarism includes paraphrasing or directly quoting the published work of another person without proper credit, using another person's materials without proper acknowledgment, or failing to specify the extent of collaboration on a project when appropriate.
- Sabotage includes any interference with another person's work, such as the destruction of the intellectual property of another student at your university.
This is not an exhaustive list of actions that your university may decide to investigate as academic misconduct. It's always a good idea to check your school's specific integrity policy to ensure that you're prepared for any situation that could arise.
General code of conduct infractions
Aside from academic dishonesty and sexual misconduct, there are other types of behaviors that your school may deem punishable. These types may be less easy to categorize or possibly specific to your school. Possible examples of these activities may include:
- Drug or alcohol infractions
In any case, your school's disciplinary procedures will begin when someone else—e.g., an instructor or a fellow student—makes a report to the administration about your alleged misdeeds.
What Are the Disciplinary Procedures I'll Face in Missouri?
Once your school learns about the allegations against you, you will likely experience a subset of the following events:
- A notification from your school. Your school will reach out to you with some type of statement that includes the allegations against you, the section of the school code of conduct that you have allegedly violated, and information about what will happen next.
- A meeting with an official from your school. You will have an opportunity to meet with a school representative or panel of representatives to tell your side of the story, discuss the allegations against you, and learn more about your school's disciplinary process.
- Some type of investigation into your alleged actions. If it is not immediately clear to your school what has happened, your school may take time to review security footage, social media activity, statements from witnesses, your personal or academic file, and any other information they can find.
- A decision regarding your responsibility. After your school has collected all pertinent information and allowed you to make your case, your school will come to a determination about what likely happened.
- A recommendation for repercussions. Based on its assessment of your responsibility, your school will decide what should happen next. It will then communicate this decision to you directly.
Depending on the type of misconduct and the severity of the situation, this disciplinary process could look very different. For example, if an instructor believes you have cheated, you may just meet with your instructor and receive a related disciplinary sanction (e.g., a failing grade on that specific assignment) over the course of that one meeting.
In a more serious case, such as repeated or severe sexual misconduct, you may be subject to a prolonged investigation and panel hearing before several university officials.
In any case, after the disciplinary procedures come to a close, you will have the choice to carry out your disciplinary sanctions or attempt to negotiate for a better outcome. The typical sanction for most cases of misconduct is a suspension from your school.
This may seem underwhelming. You may not be all that worried about a suspension. You should be. When your school metes out a disciplinary action, such as a suspension, they make a note of it on your transcript. Later, when you apply for the job of your dreams (or a subsequent academic institution), you'll need to share that transcript. When your dream employer or an admissions officer reviews that transcript and sees evidence of your disciplinary sanction, they'll likely think twice about giving you the opportunities you'd otherwise deserve.
That's why you need to take action now. The first recourse you'll have will involve filing a strategic appeal.
How Do I Appeal Disciplinary Sanctions at My Missouri School?
Typically, in order to file an appeal, you'll need to have one of the following pieces of evidence or information:
- A clear indication that your school did not follow its own regulations during your disciplinary procedure
- An argument that the sanction recommended was disproportionate to the allegations
- New information that your school did not have when they determined responsibility and recommended sanctions
You'll have a short window of time—usually between 5 and 10 business days—in which you can file your appeal. If you're not already working with a student defense advisor, now's a good time to make sure you do so. You will only have one chance to appeal, so working with a professional to draft the most strategic argument possible is in your best interest.
If your school does not appear amenable to negotiations and declines your appeal, it may be time to consider litigation in order to pursue a favorable outcome.
What if It's Time to Sue My School in Missouri?
Before you file a suit against your Missouri school, make absolutely sure that you have completed the following actions:
- A strategic appeal. Even if you don't feel that this step is necessary or will be productive, it's important to establish that you've pursued all possible steps for relief at your school.
- A complaint with the Missouri Department of Higher Education. This governmental body may have leverage with some schools in Missouri. Even if this isn't the case, this complaint will provide a good basis for your lawsuit.
- Hire a student defense attorney. Filing a productive lawsuit will absolutely require the specialized knowledge of a student defense advisor. Make sure that you find a professional who's specifically helped students file and win suits against their schools before!
Are There Any Other Missouri Laws That I Should Know About as a College Student?
Although the majority of your misconduct and behaviors will come under the purview of policies at your Missouri school, it's a good idea to be aware of the local laws that may influence policies at your school. For example:
- Missouri Laws about Underage Drinking: It's against the law to purchase, consume, or possess alcohol if you're under 21.
- Missouri Laws about Drinking and Driving: Missouri has very harsh penalties associated with any incident where a person drives while under the influence.
- Missouri Tenant Responsibilities: If you decide to live off-campus, you'll need to comply with all the stipulations in your rental agreement.
- Missouri False Identification Laws: In Missouri, it's illegal to use false identification to purchase alcohol as a minor or for a minor.
Statute of Limitations Laws in Missouri
Every state has its own set of statutes of limitations—or the amount of time after an event during which you or another party can file a suit regarding that event. In Missouri, the statute of limitations laws are as follows:
- Injury to Person: Five years.
- Libel or Slander: Two years.
- Fraud: Ten years.
- Injury to Personal Property: Five years.
- Trespassing: Five years.
- Collection of Rents: Ten years.
- Written Contracts: Five years.
- Collection of Debt: Ten years.
Other Academic Issues and Concerns
When your student is in college, they'll likely find that they'll encounter frustrating situations that lay outside of strict legal matters or the types of misconduct we've talked about. Whether your student struggles with their academics, has difficulties with peer pressure or social dynamics, or perhaps needs help managing their mental health, it's also important to remember to protect your student's mind and health as well.
Unfortunately, this can be difficult in the high-pressure environment that college can create. You may find that you're having a hard time keeping up with the fast-paced progression expected at your school. With the load of courses you're taking, you could easily find that you simply need more time, more help, or more support.
Your school may not be so understanding. Your Missouri school could easily decide to administer consequences instead of providing support. For example, if your school realizes that you're demonstrating any of the following issues, they could place you on probation or even recommend dismissal:
- A failure to complete any or all of the required supporting work for your courses (e.g., papers or readings)
- An alleged failure to prepare for labwork or coursework on a consistent basis
- A repeated sequence of incompletes earned in coursework
- Your repeated failure to pass any required examinations
- Your repeatedly withdrawing from courses
- Your alleged substandard performance in the eyes of your instructors
Your school should provide resources and support to help your student thrive as well as survive. Your student's handbook should contain information about these services. For example, your school may offer tutoring, extended deadlines on assignments, or other health services such as counseling, therapy, gym access, access to a nutritionist.
While these types of concerns may seem less pressing than misconduct, a student's emotional and mental welfare is of critical importance. If you feel that your school has failed to support your student, you need to feel empowered to fight for their rights. At the Lento Law Firm, we're here to be a resource for misconduct matters, reputation rebuilding, and anything else your student may require in order to succeed.
Why Should I Hire a National Student Defense Attorney?
When your disciplinary processes begin, there's a chance that your Missouri school will offer you an advisor. This is definitely something that you should decline. Not only will your school's advisors not have the niche experience and expertise needed for smart student defense when push comes to shove, but they'll also remain loyal to your school over you.
You also shouldn't limit yourself to hiring the lawyer down the street just because they're nearby! Student defense is a rare specialty, and you need someone who's experienced in the specific skills that you need.
Why? Your future is important, and you shouldn't leave it in the hands of someone who's not 100% ready to help you get where you need to be. You'll find that there are many benefits of working with a hard-working, competent student defense attorney-advisor. These include:
- More time to concentrate on your status as a full-time student, including managing homework, your social life, and more
- More energy to prioritize your physical, mental, and emotional help
- Years of expertise in student defense that will come in handy during every meeting, hearing, conversation, and investigation you experience
- Specific assistance with persuasive documents, arguments, and more
- Help meeting deadlines and preparing for every tense negotiation in your path
- Feeling like you're not alone during a very stressful time
- Having your school take you more seriously, making it less likely that they'll steamroll over your rights
Ready for Your Missouri College Experience? Reach Out to Attorney Joseph D. Lento for More Information
We've presented a lot of information on this page. It can be easy to be overwhelmed. At the Lento Law Firm, it's always our goal to make sure that you don't feel alone during your college career. We want you to be able to enjoy the benefits of your college degree for the rest of your life. Your path to making sure that happens begins right now.
Navigating collegiate disciplinary processes can be tough. Your Missouri school's code of conduct and student handbook weren't written to be accessible and transparent. Moreover, when you're in an adversarial position with your school, you'll likely feel scared and confused.
Having a professional on your side can completely change everything. Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a successful student defense advisor who has been able to help hundreds of students across the nation work towards a better outcome for their future. He can do the same for you.
Whether you need assistance with preparing for a hearing, drafting strategic documents, sticking to deadlines, and more, attorney Joseph D. Lento can help. From expertise with delicate negotiations to a readiness to defend you aggressively when your school does not regard your rights, Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm will be there to help you protect your reputation and your future.
Just reach out today by giving us a call at 888.535.3686, or, alternatively, you can always reach out to us online.