Are you a student or the parent of student at a New Mexico 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 Mexico 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 New Mexico protect their academic and professional future, and he can do the same for you. Contact him today at 888-535-3686.
An Overview of New Mexico Student Discipline and Student Rights
If you or your child is getting ready to attend university in New Mexico, there's probably a lot on your to-do list. Whether you're most looking forward to selecting college courses or meeting new people, there's a lot to get done in advance.
Although it's not the most fun thing to think about, one of the ways to prepare for your college experience is to make sure you're ready academically. After all, college or university will almost always represent a steep step up in terms of the effort you're going to need to put in to achieve good grades. To many students, this comes as a shock. Many students, even extremely intelligent, high-achieving students, experience academic difficulties (especially within their first year of college).
Your New Mexico school should have supports in place to make sure that you or your student has the resources they need to succeed. However, in other circumstances, a New Mexico college or university could look at a student's failure to progress as simply a failure on their part. As a result, your school may decide to dismiss or suspend your student because of poor academic performance.
This isn't the only way a student can receive disciplinary sanctions. Your New Mexico school will have an extensive code of conduct that details the behavioral expectations it has of your student. Stepping outside of those boundaries, no matter how well or how vaguely they're documented, can also net your student sanctions.
It's important not to underestimate the long-term effects of these sanctions. A suspension or expulsion can wreak havoc on your student's plans, even influencing whether or not they're able to get a good job years down the line. At the Lento Law Firm, it's our goal to make sure that you and your student have all of the information you need to avoid these pitfalls. To make sure you're ready for a positive experience at your New Mexico school, check out all of the important information we've collected for you on this handy resource page.
The Public and Private Higher Education Institutions in New Mexico
New Mexico, or the Land of Enchantment, is home to many top-tier colleges and universities. No matter what you're hoping to study, one of the academic institutions in this state will likely offer you all of the options you need. Here, we'll present a brief list of the most popular public and private schools in this Southwestern state:
Public schools in New Mexico
- New Mexico Highlands University
- Eastern New Mexico University
- New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
- New Mexico State University
- Northern New Mexico College
- University of New Mexico
- Western New Mexico University
The University of New Mexico is one of the largest university systems in the state. As such, when we are listing out some of the common code of conduct regulations at New Mexico schools, we may use the University of New Mexico's regulations as a model.
Private schools in New Mexico
- St. John's College
- University of the Southwest
- Brookline College
- EC-Council University
It's key to note that, although private schools may tend to operate under fewer regulations than public schools, most are still required to comply with a long list of government regulations (for example, Title IX). Even if a private school doesn't technically need to follow these regulations—for example, if they receive absolutely no government funding—most schools will still follow these or similar regulations anyway, since they represent a certain standard of health, academic excellence, and safety that most students have come to expect anyway.
In the next section, we'll briefly mention a few higher education laws that oversee academic experiences in New Mexico.
Statewide Higher Education Laws in New Mexico
The following regulatory bodies and pieces of legislation work to oversee the way New Mexico schools run their schools:
- The New Mexico Higher Education Department, which oversees the academic institutions in the state and acts as a resource for college students (providing everything from financial support information to a place where students can register formal complaints)
- New Mexico Statutes Chapter 21 on State and Private Education Institutions, which provides guidelines and regulations as a set of standards for both public and private academic institutions
Academic Issues and Concerns: What to Expect at Your New Mexico School
It takes many students by surprise that their failure to progress or poor academic performance could actually result in disciplinary action from their schools. It happens more often than you might think. While you might expect that an instructor could respond to consistent poor grades from a student by flunking them or increasing their workload, other types of sanctions may be less expected.
If you show a failure to progress in one of your courses—perhaps because it's much harder than you expected, or you're having a hard time balancing the hours of study needed with athletic performance demands (or other requirements for potential scholarships, for example), you could receive a suspension. As a result, you could suddenly become ineligible for scholarships, your academic plans could be thrown off considerably, and you may also experience long-term career-related ramifications.
Let's talk about what this offense may look like. Academic issues and concerns that could seem problematic to your New Mexico school may include:
- Your repeated failure to prepare (adequately or at all) for labs and coursework
- Your repeated failure to complete any required reading or coursework
- Your repeated failure to obtain a passing grade on exams
- Any repeated withdrawals or incompletes in courses you attempt
- Your failure to enroll for a minimum threshold of required credits
- Your apparent failure to make academic progress (in the eyes of your instructors)
- Your failure to complete any requirements in the allotted time frame
- Your alleged substandard performance
If your teacher raises concerns to your school's administration about your performance, your school could launch its disciplinary processes. This isn't the only reason your school may start to investigate your behaviors. A code of conduct infraction could also result in your school's adjudicative process.
Code of Conduct Infractions and Types of Misconduct at Your New Mexico School
Your school's code of conduct is a lengthy document that may be included in your school's student handbook (alternatively, it should be freely accessible on your school's website). This document can be confusing, densely written, and otherwise hard to understand.
It may also contain information unique to your school, so it's a good idea to review its regulations so you can get a sense of your school's guidelines. Your student defense advisor will be able to assist you with this process.
In the meantime, we'll quickly review some of the most common code of conduct regulations that will likely be in place at your New Mexico school.
Sexual misconduct is an area of concern for schools in America, so every school's code of conduct should contain at least some information about expected safety standards. In addition, there does exist federal legislation—Title IX—that governs the ways that schools need to respond to allegations of sexual assault or other misconduct.
In short, any sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the express consent of all persons involved in that contact or behavior is likely sexual misconduct. A more itemized list might include such behaviors as:
- Dating violence
- Domestic violence
- Sexual exploitation
This list is not comprehensive, and the criteria for an allegation against you may vary from school to school. At some schools, sending sensitive photos or making lewd jokes could be enough to warrant school attention.
We've already discussed academic issues and concerns or situations where a school may punish a student for struggling with a heightened collegiate workload. How do academic misconduct or academic integrity issues differ?
Academic dishonesty occurs when a student breaks a rule that relates to academic progress instead of simply failing to progress. Therefore, while a student's failure to progress may influence their decision to break a rule and, say, cheat, the two groups of offenses are considered distinct.
Academic misconduct is an umbrella term that includes such actions as:
- Fabrication of Data
- Unauthorized Collaboration
- Illicit Access of Materials
- Destroying School Property (e.g., lab materials or books)
This is also not an exhaustive list. Additionally, most schools consider helping another student cheat or plagiarize to be its own type of punishable academic integrity infraction.
General Code of Conduct Infractions
Outside of sexual and academic misconduct, your school may also note that there are other behaviors worthy of investigation and disciplinary action. These may include alcohol and/or drug use, hazing, hate crimes, or residential misconduct.
In the next section, we'll discuss what could happen once your school learns about your alleged actions.
Your New Mexico School's Method for Investigating and Adjudicating Misconduct
Before your school's systems of due process can begin, someone at your school will need to file an allegation against you. The specific way this can happen will likely depend on the specific (alleged) misbehaviors triggering this process.
Academic Progression Issues
If your apparent substandard performance is the reason that your school is recommending you for disciplinary action, this allegation will very likely come from your instructor. Your instructor may reach out to you first to alert you of your failure to progress. They may try to work with you first, so this will not be a surprise. They may also not do this and simply reach out to the administration instead.
Code of Conduct Concerns
For a code of conduct concern, the person who files the allegation can be almost anyone: An instructor, a peer, the alleged victim of your actions, or even an apparently uninvolved bystander.
Once your school receives an allegation, it will take some time to review the high-level information presented. Based on this information, it will decide whether to move forward with or dismiss your case. If your school wishes to move forward, you'll experience some subset of the following events:
- You'll receive a notification from your school detailing the allegations against you.
- You'll be invited to participate in an investigation or be otherwise made aware that your school will be investigating your alleged infractions. This could involve reviewing your school file, speaking with your peers and instructors, checking out your social media, and more.
- You may have an initial meeting with a representative from your school, such as an instructor. At this initial meeting, you may have an opportunity to tell your side of the story.
- After your school has gathered enough information, your school may invite you to a formal hearing in front of a panel of school representatives. At this hearing, you will again have an opportunity to present your narrative. You may also get a chance to interview any present witnesses and review the evidence your school may have against you.
- At the end of this hearing, your school should come to a decision regarding your responsibility in the alleged incident or infraction. If your school decides that you are not responsible, the matter may close. If your school decides that you were responsible, your school will proceed to recommend disciplinary sanctions.
After your school recommends sanctions, you'll have the choice to either accept and carry out your sanctions or try to negotiate with your school, so you don't have to. First, we'll review some of the more common sanctions and discuss why you shouldn't just accept them as a matter of course.
Your school's code of conduct should contain information about the various sanctions that you could face as a result of your alleged infraction. Depending on your school, this list may range from detention and written warnings through monetary fines, behavioral contracts, and expulsion.
Regardless of what's written in your code of conduct, the most common sanction by far is a suspension or an enforced period of time where you're not at school. This may not seem like a big deal, but it's key that you consider the long-term repercussions of a seemingly simple suspension.
For example, if you're suspended, by definition, you won't be in school for a time. As a result, you'll have a gap in your academic transcript. Later, when you're applying to a subsequent school, a great job, or a key internship, you'll need to produce your transcript and explain that gap. This will be a tough conversation. Because of that gap, it's very likely that you won't get the opportunity that you otherwise would have clearly deserved.
At the Lento Law Firm, we believe that you shouldn't have to deal with this outcome. To start working towards a more favorable endpoint, you could consider filing an appeal with your school. Next, we'll talk about the appeal-filing process.
Your New Mexico School's Process for Filing Appeals
If you and your advisor believe that filing an appeal would be a good way for you to proceed, here's what you need to know.
First, you likely only have a very short window of time in which to file your appeal. At many schools, you may have five business days to get your strategy and needed documents together. For this reason, it's a good idea to make sure that you're already working with a defense advisor at this point.
Secondly, you'll probably only have one chance at an appeal. After the appeal process, your school's decision will be final. Therefore, it's a good idea to make your one attempt as high-quality as possible.
You'll need to write a persuasive argument in favor of your appeal, pull together any evidence you can to substantiate your appeal, and file the required documents with your school within a tight timeframe. Your school will deliberate and come back to you with their decision.
If your school is ready to negotiate a lesser sanction, your advisor will be able to assist so those discussions will be as productive as possible.
If your school is not amenable to negotiations, it may be time to consider alternative action.
What if It's Time to Sue My School in New Mexico?
Pursuing litigation against your school is an effective way to work towards a successful outcome, but it's also an effective way to terminate your relationship with your school. Prior to filing a suit, consider some of the following preliminary actions:
- Make sure that you've exhausted your school's process for obtaining relief (e.g., the appeals process).
- File a complaint with the New Mexico Higher Education Department. This government entity may be able to exert external pressure on your school to help you achieve your stated ends.
- Have your defense advisor reach out to your school's office of general counsel. This will very often have the intended effect without your having to initiate a difficult and expensive lawsuit.
If you and your advisor both believe that it's time to file a suit, do so! Your advisor will be able to help you determine the best ways for proceeding.
Are There Any Other New Mexico Laws That I Should Know About as a College Student?
While you're attending school in New Mexico, you'll need to be compliant with laws in the area. Most of your on-campus actions will be overseen by campus regulations, but if you're off-campus, local regulations will apply.
One good example of laws you should know about are the statute of limitations laws. Each state designates a window of time after an event during which one person can bring legal action against another with respect to that event. These statutes are good to keep in mind! Here's the information you need to know:
- New Mexico Laws about Underage Drinking: At your New Mexico school, it is illegal to drink or possess alcohol unless you're over 21.
- New Mexico Laws about Drinking and Driving: New Mexico has extremely stringent rules about drinking and driving. If you are caught doing so, you will face steep consequences.
- New Mexico Tenant Responsibilities: Living off-campus? You'll need to stay in line with your rental agreement, which includes paying rent on time.
- New Mexico False Identification Laws: In New Mexico, it is illegal to present a fake ID to a police officer or purchase alcohol with fake identification.
Statute of Limitations Laws in New Mexico
- Injury to Person: 3 years
- Libel: 3 years
- Slander: 3 years
- Fraud: 4 years
- Injury to Personal Property: 4 years
- Trespassing: 4 years
- Contracts: 6 years
- Judgments: 14 years
Joseph D. Lento is Ready to Assist with Reliable Expertise as a National Student Defense Attorney-Advisor
If the information we've presented on this page seems like a lot, that's because it is. We understand that you want to be excited about your college experience. We believe that nothing should stand between you, having a great time at school, and ultimately achieving your hard-earned degree.
Unfortunately, whether it be the result of a miscommunication or misunderstanding, a code of conduct infraction could easily make that goal difficult to attain. In addition, the heightened rigor of academics at many New Mexico colleges and universities can take many students by surprise. What's more, any failure to progress could net students suspensions instead of sympathy from their school administrations.
In either of these circumstances, you or your student will benefit from expert representation and strategic defense. Joseph D. Lento, an expert national student defense attorney, is ready to provide the assistance you need. Through your school's investigative, adjudicative, and disciplinary processes, Joseph D. Lento will help you with coaching, research, obtaining evidence, creating a defense, negotiating with your school, and more.
Reach out to the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to schedule a consultation, or simply fill out our online contact form, and we'll get back to you shortly.