Are you a student or the parent of student at a New Hampshire 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 New Hampshire 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 Charge
- Student Rights
- Academic Issues
- Medical Student Issues
- And more...
Joseph D. Lento has helped countless students and others in academia in New Hampshire 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 - New Hampshire Colleges, Universities, and Schools
When you're applying to colleges, you're typically not thinking about what might go wrong for you (or for your student). That's how it should be: You should be focused on the exciting things that are about to happen in the next chapter of your life. You'll make new friends, grow academically, and move towards a fulfilling career and a successful future.
That's what your college experience should be able to do for you. However, it can be all too easy to run into mistakes, miscommunication, and unfortunate events that lead to drawn-out investigations and consequences that could affect your entire life.
Colleges nationwide and in New Hampshire are cracking down on many different types of misconduct with harsh disciplinary measures. As strange as it may seem, even small consequences can make your future much more difficult than it needs to be. That's why it's critical that you take the time now to make sure that you're protecting your future.
That's where the Lento Law Firm comes in. We believe that your college experience shouldn't damage your reputation. Let's talk about all of the vital information you should know before you head off to college in New Hampshire.
Private Colleges and Universities in New Hampshire
New Hampshire is home to many high-quality academic institutions; and, although the larger ones in the state might be publicly funded, there are many very well-known private schools that attract lots of incoming students each year.
Just a few of the private colleges and universities in New Hampshire are:
- Dartmouth University
- Saint Anselm College
- Southern New Hampshire University
- Colby-Sawyer College
- Rivier University
- Franklin Pierce University
- New England College
- Thomas More College of Liberal Arts
While many private colleges and universities do not receive support or funds from the federal government, there are some that do; and most (if not all) private schools will hold themselves to similar standards and regulations, so they are eligible for funding should the need arise. This is also helpful for attracting new students and providing a consistent, competitive, and safe learning environment for their students.
In addition to private schools, New Hampshire is also home to several larger college systems.
Public Colleges and Universities in New Hampshire
In New Hampshire, you'll find many superior public colleges and universities. Among the most well-known are:
- University of New Hampshire
- Keene State College
- Plymouth State University
- Granite State College
As state-funded schools must adhere to all statewide educational regulations, they constitute an ideal example for many of the ways that higher education occurs in the Granite State. Since the University of New Hampshire is the largest public school system in the state, we'll use it as an example of the various types of misconduct regulations and disciplinary due processes a prospective New Hampshire college student might expect.
Higher Education Laws in New Hampshire
Both private and public colleges and universities in New Hampshire must operate under some level of state oversight. For example, the New Hampshire Department of Education has a division called the Higher Education Commission. This commission approves schools for accreditation, administers federal aid programs, and also acts as a higher authority for students seeking relief from their school in some cases.
There are also many laws governing the regulations and processes that must exist at New Hampshire academic institutions. Title XV of the New Hampshire state code states that every school must have a sexual misconduct policy. The code also covers drug-free school zones in NH, the training that individuals who are involved in school disciplinary processes must undergo, and the types of support schools need to provide for those who have special needs.
New Hampshire also resides in the First Circuit, a division of the United States Court of Appeals. From time to time, the First Circuit will make a decision that impacts the way New Hampshire schools can operate. It may be a good idea to keep an eye on the upcoming cases in this court, as they may have an influence on your collegiate experience.
The Various Types of Student Misconduct in New Hampshire Schools
The specific types of misconduct that your New Hampshire school finds punishable may be unique to your school. It's always a good idea to double-check your school's regulations. Your school will likely have a list of examples of conduct that it finds punishable, as well as other information regarding conduct that may be applicable to your school alone.
That said, there are many actions that tend to be universally labeled as ‘misconduct.' There are three types of infractions that schools will focus on.
Academic misconduct or academic dishonesty
According to the University of New Hampshire code of conduct, misconduct in scholarly activity may include any of the following actions:
- Helping someone else cheat
- Fabrication of data
- Destruction of school property
- Accidental plagiarism
- Improper access to school materials
This is not an exhaustive list. Any actions that cause one of your instructors or peers to file an allegation of academic misconduct could provide the basis for an investigation into your behavior.
Sexual misconduct or discrimination
Title XV mandates at a state level that all NH schools must have a sexual misconduct policy. At the federal level, Title IX governs the ways that schools oversee sexual misconduct, too. For example, under Title IX, all schools must respond quickly to all allegations of sexual misconduct or risk losing their funding. Even schools that do not regularly receive state funding tend to adopt similar policies in the interest of keeping their student safe.
As noted in the University of New Hampshire student handbook, the following actions constitute sexual misconduct:
- Dating violence
- Domestic violence
- Sharing personal images or media without consent
- Inappropriate comments
The handbook sums it up with the following sentence: Sexual misconduct is “Any sexual act directed against another person, forcible and/or against that person's will; or, where the victim is incapable of giving consent.” Your New Hampshire school will likely recommend very harsh punishments in any case where sexual misconduct has occurred.
Code of conduct infractions
Aside from instances of academic dishonesty and sexual misconduct, there are other ways in which students can engage in punishable activities. While the specifics may differ from school to school, some common code of conduct infractions may include drinking underage, any drug activity, bullying, or similar actions. The University of New Hampshire leaves this category of misconduct vague, noting that it could include “any behavior that tends to disturb the public peace or decorum, scandalize the community, or shock the public sense of morality.”
Regardless of the specific type of misconduct or infraction that has occurred in your case, you'll find that your school's disciplinary system begins when someone—e.g., an instructor or a student—files an allegation against you with your school.
Due Process in New Hampshire Schools
While some details of the disciplinary process may depend on the type of infraction involved, it's very likely that you can expect the following elements before your school makes a decision regarding your responsibility.
- Your school will issue you a letter containing the full allegations against you and information about the next steps. This letter should also contain the part of your school's code of conduct relevant to your alleged infraction.
- You will have an opportunity to speak with an instructor or an official at your school to discuss the allegations and tell your side of the story.
- Your school may then launch an investigation into your behavior or the relevant event. This may involve speaking with witnesses, surveying your social media activity, looking into your academic background, and more.
- At a second meeting or hearing, your school will review the evidence in your case. You may have a formal opportunity to deliver a persuasive argument. At the end of this hearing, your school will make a decision about your responsibility and, if applicable, issue a recommendation for disciplinary action.
The length and intensity of your disciplinary processes will depend in part on the severity of your alleged infraction. For example, if your school believes that you are responsible for a relatively minor type of academic misconduct, your instructor may simply speak with you privately and mete out a targeted repercussion—e.g., a failing grade on a specific assignment.
If, on the other end of the spectrum, your school believes that you have been involved in serious or repeated sexual misconduct, you will likely undergo a full investigation.
What Disciplinary Consequences Could I Face at My New Hampshire School?
There are several different types of repercussions that your school could recommend. In theory, the punishment that you receive should match the severity of your alleged infraction.
However, in practice, many schools simply recommend suspensions as the most common consequence in a majority of misconduct cases. While you could receive detention, mandated community service, tailored academic punishment, or even expulsion in severe cases, you will most likely face some type of suspension.
That isn't the end of the consequences you will undergo. When your school metes out disciplinary action, it will make some type of note about what happened on your permanent transcript. Even if, for some reason, your school does not do this, there will be a gap on your transcript due to your suspension. In either case, this creates an easily accessible record of your alleged infraction.
In the future, when your dream employer is about to offer you a job, they will first request your transcript as proof of your education. If your transcript reveals that you were involved in misconduct, there's a good chance that your prospective employer will rethink your candidacy. If you attempt to apply to another school, your future school will do the exact same thing.
It isn't fair to let this alleged infraction destroy any chances of success you may later have. Your reputation is important, and it's definitely worth taking the time and effort now to make sure that you keep your transcript clear of any disciplinary notations.
One of the first steps you may be able to take to pursue this outcome involves filing an appeal.
How do I File a Strategic Appeal at My New Hampshire School?
After your school decides that you are responsible for an alleged incident, you will have a short window of time in which you can appeal that decision. (At the University of New Hampshire, it's five business days.) You can choose to initiate the appeals process by filing a specific document with a specific office at your school. This will typically be the Dean of Students or someone in a similar position. The specific form and person should be referenced in your school's code of conduct or in your student handbook.
Once you file your appeal, your school will take time to consider whether to reconsider your responsibility or recommend a different disciplinary measure. Your school will make a decision, inform you, and close the matter. This decision will be final.
Since you only get one chance to file an appeal, most schools recommend that your appeal includes at least one of the following pieces of information:
- Updated or more comprehensive information regarding the specifics of the alleged incident
- A clear demonstration that your school did not follow its own rules throughout your disciplinary experience
- A persuasive argument that the disciplinary consequences your school recommended were disproportionate to the alleged infraction
As you only get one chance to appeal, it's an excellent idea to ensure that you're working with a student defense advisor before you file. Filing an appeal is an act of negotiation, and being informed and persuasive can go a long way. A student defense lawyer will have specific experience writing strategic appeals and negotiating with schools. In order to achieve the most favorable outcome possible, file your appeal with a professional student defense advisor at your side.
Suing Your New Hampshire School: What You Need to Know
Your school may decide not to budge, even if you write the perfect appeal.
This can seem like the end of the matter. This isn't the case; you do have a few more things that you can do. If you find that you still need to pursue relief in your situation, you do have the option to initiate litigation against your school.
This is not a step that you should take lightly. After you sue your school, it will be very difficult (or even impossible) to enjoy any kind of relationship with your school.
Before you file the lawsuit, there are three steps you should consider taking first.
- File an appeal with your school. While this may not seem like an exciting step, it establishes that you tried to pursue relief by working within your school's systems.
- File a complaint with the New Hampshire Division of Educator Support and Higher Education. This will let the state of New Hampshire know that you are at odds with your school. This division may be able to provide more authority and backing in your case, and it will show your school that you mean business. Even if this step does not work by itself, it will also provide a basis for a lawsuit.
- Make very sure that you are working with a student advisor who has a history of helping students in your exact situation. While working with an advisor well before this point would have been strategic, hiring a student defense advisor before you file a lawsuit against your school is completely necessary.
You don't have to rely on the first lawyer you find in New Hampshire when you need help; in fact, you probably shouldn't. Your school may also offer you some form of support. Do not accept this offer.
Instead, do your own research and find a student defense advisor who has been helping students fight misconduct charges for years, regardless of location. Quality is far more important than proximity in this case.
Statutes of Limitation in New Hampshire
Every state has a certain set of rules about the period of time in which a person can file a lawsuit. After an event happens, in other words, you only have a certain amount of time to act.
This period of time is called a statute of limitation. In New Hampshire, relevant statutes of limitation include:
- Injury to Person: Three years.
- Libel or Slander: Three years.
- Fraud: Three years.
- Injury to Personal Property: Three years.
- Trespassing: Two years.
- Written contracts: Twenty years.
Other Laws New Hampshire College Students Should Know
While you're going to school in New Hampshire, most of your actions will be under the governance of campus regulations. However, if you live, work, or spend a lot of time off-campus, you will need to follow the local laws. Some laws that may be relevant during your college career include New Hampshire's strict policies against underage drinking (or supplying alcohol to minors), the state's harsh DWI consequences, and the laws against possessing, consuming, or selling certain controlled substances. It is also illegal to use a fake ID to purchase alcohol.
Ultimately, there are many things that you'll need to keep in mind during your years in New Hampshire to make sure that your college years are good ones. That's why we've created this handy page to give you all the information you need for a successful educational experience.
The Benefits New Hampshire Students can Achieve by Working with a National Defense Advisor
When you're in an adversarial position against your school, it can be easy to feel like you're all alone. You may not be able to confide in trusted mentors and even friends as you struggle to figure out what you need to do to protect your future.
Fortunately, you're not alone. When you partner with a successful student defense advisor, you can know that there's always a knowledgeable expert at your side. In fact, when you hire and work with a student defense advisor, you can expect:
- Increased confidence throughout every step of your disciplinary experience
- Experience-driven advice about the best ways to proceed
- Assistance with strategic documents
- Help meeting deadlines
- Coaching to help you through the most stressful of hearings
- Increased ability to focus on yourself and your coursework during a difficult time
- Increased chance of achieving a favorable outcome
New Hampshire Students, Partner with a Skilled Defense Advisor to Protect Your Future
It may seem like an overreaction to think about the possibility of representation, defense, and negotiation before you head to college in New Hampshire.
It's not. When it comes to your future, it's impossible to be over-prepared. Unfortunately, allegations of misconduct can spiral out of proportion very quickly, making it essential that you're informed about your school's procedures, the realities of what could happen, and the steps you can take to mitigate any adverse effect on your reputation.
However, you also must concentrate on being a student, enjoying your social life, and acing your coursework! When it comes to learning the complexities of your school's disciplinary system, preparing for investigations, managing detailed paperwork and deadlines, and defending yourself at hearings, you'll definitely want a professional to help you make sure that you're working as strategically as possible.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a successful student defense advisor who has helped hundreds of students in your exact position. He can assist you with persuasive arguments, delicate negotiations, years of targeted experience and expertise, and more. You can trust that Joseph D. Lento will take timely action to help you pursue a favorable outcome in your case.
Give the Lento Law Firm a call today at 888.535.3686 to learn more about how we can help or reach out to us online for additional information.