Are you a student or the parent of student at a North Carolina 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 North Carolina 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 North Carolina 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 - North Carolina Colleges, Universities, and Schools
When you or your student is getting ready to head to a North Carolina college, you're likely getting excited about all of the good things that will happen.
You or your child will meet new people, make lifelong friends, embark on life-changing studies and work towards the degree and career of their dreams.
While all of that and more can certainly happen, it's important to be prepared for disappointments, as well. The realities and hardships of college can make themselves clear as early on as the first semester. From failures to make expected grades, progress quickly through required programs, meet all of the requirements necessary for a degree, or simply complete all of the required coursework, there's a lot that can go wrong.
College contains many obstacles between your student and successful graduation.
Whether it's academic concerns, miscommunications regarding conduct, actual missteps or anything else, your student needs to be prepared for college to be a bumpier road than they may expect.
Fortunately, with a little key information, you and your student can work towards a favorable outcome. Your student can earn the degree of their choice. At the Lento Law Firm, we believe that every student should be able to achieve that end! That's why we've put together this page, full of critical information for North Carolina college students and families. We'll go through the types of conduct issues, academic concerns, and other situations college students most typically face—and then we'll discuss the way that North Carolina colleges handle these types of situations, from disciplinary hearings to appeals and beyond.
Misconduct and Non-Conduct-Related Academic Issues at Your North Carolina School
Your school's handbook or code of conduct, a document that should be freely available on your school's website, should detail the specific conduct standards and expected academic achievements of all incoming students.
Expected Academic Achievements
It isn't always easy to meet these failing to meet them can have steep consequences. For example, you may find yourself struggling with academic concerns that could lead to a dismissal from your program or school. Similar academic situations that could attract the notice of your school include:
- Failing to prepare for courses or on a routine basis
- Failing to complete required work for courses (e.g., readings or papers)
- Failing to pass required exams
- Repeatedly withdrawing or earning incompletes in coursework
- Failing to make satisfactory progress in the eyes of your advisors
- Substandard performance in the eyes of your instructors
Sometimes, these situations may be due to influences beyond your control. As a student at your North Carolina school, you may struggle with peer pressure, social dynamics, mental and emotional issues, or the realities of managing the sheer amount of coursework and achievement expected from someone in your program.
Your school should have support systems in place to help you manage your life as a college student. If you feel in any way that your school has failed to deliver on any promises they've made, you need to speak up for yourself. Failure to progress can lead to an unwanted educational outcome, just as much as repeated misconduct can—so it's key to ensure that you have what you need in order to meet your school's requirements for moving forward.
Code of Conduct Infractions and Types of Misconduct
Failing to meet conduct standards can attract the attention of your school as well. There are general types of behavior that tend to be an issue at any school. Two specific types of conduct issues are sexual misconduct and academic misconduct.
The University of North Carolina's Policy on Prohibited Discrimination, Harassment and Related Misconduct cites the following actions as examples of punishable sexual behavior:
- Discrimination on the basis of sex
- Sexual harassment
- Sexual assault or sexual violence
- Sexual exploitation
- Dating violence
- Domestic violence
Since 1972, when the United States government implemented Title IX as a federal rights law, all schools operate under a requirement to investigate all matters of sexual misconduct quickly but thoroughly. Otherwise, they risk losing their funding.
It's important to realize that Title IX applies to all schools that receive federal funding, including both public and private schools. Even at the very small number of private schools that don't receive federal funding, these schools may still have similar policies even without the strict necessity.
Whether public or private, and whether obligated under Title IX or not, schools will address claims of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct. In enough instances to be of significant concern, however, the process can often be to the detriment of respondents, but schools can also fail to appropriately address claims made by complainants.
With regards to Title IX specifically, although the obligation for schools to conduct a fair investigation and to appropriately adjudicate allegations sounds promising in theory, much is left to be desired for students facing Title IX cases in practice.
In addition to this fundamental concern, Title IX is a relatively hot-button issue, and as such tends to receive updated guidance every so often. In order to maintain a consistent experience for their students, many schools have adopted a dual-policy system, in which they have a Title IX policy and a more general sexual misconduct policy.
Most United States schools continue to punish sexual misconduct very harshly these days. Generally, a case of sexual misconduct will merit an allegedly involved student at least a suspension, if not an expulsion. A more serious offense, or a repeated instance, will likely result in expulsion for a student found responsible.
Actions of academic dishonesty are distinct from academic struggles. There are several specific types of actions are generally against a school's integrity policy. According to the University of North Carolina academic misconduct policy, these are as follows:
- Falsification of information
- Fabrication of data
- Misrepresentation of information or citations
- Unauthorized assistance on examinations or assignments
- Unauthorized collaboration
- Helping other students complete any type of academic misconduct
The way in which your school will manage any type of academic concern, instance of academic dishonesty, sexual misconduct, or any type of infraction will depend on the policies at your school. It's always a good idea to examine your school's documentation to learn the most accurate information possible in your case.
However, there are general processes that most North Carolinian schools will have in place. Next, we'll go over some of the most well-known academic institutions in North Carolina, the laws that govern the way they operate, and some of the procedures you can expect as you work towards a favorable outcome in your case.
North Carolina is home to many schools. These include both private and public institutions.
Public schools in North Carolina
- University of North Carolina
- North Carolina State University
- Appalachian State University
- University of North Carolina School of the Arts
- East Carolina University
- North Carolina A&T State University
- Western Carolina University
- Winston-Salem State University
- Fayetteville State University
- Elizabeth City State University
Private schools in North Carolina
- Duke University
- Wake Forest University
- Davidson College
- Elon University
- Queens University of Charlotte
- Meredith College
- Gardner-Webb University
- High Point University
- Barton College
- University of Mount Olive
- Catawba College
Statewide Higher Education Laws in North Carolina
North Carolina legislature contains a lot of language meant to help schools across North Carolina craft a safe, secure, and high-value experience for both in-state and out-of-state students. Some examples of laws and regulatory or influential bodies in North Carolina include:
- The North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities organization provides oversight for the various private institutions in the state, including managing diversity initiatives and helping make responsible decisions about financial aid.
- The North Carolina Department of Public Safety provides guidelines that help North Carolina colleges craft student safety regulations and acts as an authority when statewide circumstances demand necessary emergency management.
- The North Carolina Constitution, Section 8, talks about the formation of the University of North Carolina, as well as the people who should be able to access it and other higher education institutions in the state.
North Carolina is in the Fourth Circuit of the Court of Appeals in the United States. This Court will occasionally oversee cases that may have some influence on the way that your North Carolina school is able to function. It may be worth keeping tabs on the cases they see and the consequent opinions of the court.
While North Carolina educational laws may not specifically apply to every school in the state—for example, private schools that receive no funding may be exempt—these provisions tend to set the standard for how North Carolina schools should operate. As such, most private schools will likely have similar processes in place, even if they're not specifically required to.
After your school learns about your alleged involvement in an infraction, your academic struggles, or anything that might be of concern, a variety of processes may occur. You can expect some combination or subset of the following:
- A notification from your school that details the allegations against you or the specific concerns your school may have
- A meeting with an instructor or an official at your school to discuss your situation and go over next steps
- Some type of investigation into the alleged infraction
- A formal hearing, at which your school will make a decision regarding your responsibility
- An opportunity to tell your side of the story
- An opportunity to review the evidence against you
- A decision from your school about next steps, discipline, or your future at the school
Your school will likely send some type of written confirmation to inform you of (or remind you of) the disciplinary recommendations it gave you. Depending on your school's processes, there may be many different types of sanctions on the table, including community service, fines, detentions, mandatory remedial classes, and more. However, the most likely repercussions tend to be suspensions and, in more severe cases, expulsions.
While a suspension may not seem like a big deal, it is. When your dream employer later sees your infraction and disciplinary action on your transcript, they will think twice before offering you an opportunity you would otherwise have easily won. It's key that you take the time and effort now to ensure that your past alleged actions don't harm your future.
If you reach the end of your disciplinary process and find that you do not agree with the decisions that your school has made or wish to avoid a disciplinary mark on your record, you will have an opportunity to file a strategic appeal.
The Process of Filing a Strategic Appeal at Your North Carolina School
One of the first options you may have as you work towards your intended outcome is to file an appeal with your school.
In most cases, you will only have a few days after your school's initial disciplinary recommendation to file this appeal. Additionally, you will likely only be able to file your appeal one time, as the ensuing decision that your school makes will be final. Since the pressure in this situation is relatively high, it's a good idea to make sure that you're working with a smart student defense lawyer before this time.
Most schools recommend that you only file an appeal if one of the following conditions are met:
- You have new information that was not previously available during your school's investigation
- You can demonstrate that your school did not follow its own rules during your investigation
- You have a clear argument that the recommended sanction is not proportionate to your alleged infraction.
If your school does not really consider your appeal or does not respond in the way that you want, it may be time to consider more drastic action. Your next step may be to think about litigation against your school.
It's important to realize that this represents a point of no return. You likely won't be able to return to enjoying your student status after you file your suit. However, if you need to pursue effective mechanisms for relief, a lawsuit might be your best choice.
Prior to filing your suit, confirm that you have completed the following foundational steps.
Make sure that you have gone through all of your school's existing procedures for relief. It's important to show that you tried, so going through the adjudicative and investigative procedures your school has in place is a good idea.
File an appeal or complaint with a higher education regulatory body. For state schools, this could be the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority; for private schools, you could speak with the North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities. Even if you don't expect this complaint to do much on its own, it will show your school that you mean business—and it will do a lot of good as a basis for your eventual lawsuit.
Make absolutely sure that you are working with a lawyer who has direct experience with winning student defense cases. While working with a professional, up until now, will have been extremely helpful, after this point it will be a clear necessity.
If you have completed these steps, your student defense advisor will know how to help you work towards successful litigation in an efficient, effective way.
North Carolina Laws about Underage Drinking: North Carolina has extremely strict laws about underage drinking. It's illegal for anyone under 21 to consume or possess alcohol.
North Carolina Laws about Drinking and Driving: Similarly, North Carolina has very strict policies about driving under the influence. It is illegal to do doing so will net you steep consequences.
North Carolina Tenant Responsibilities: If you decide to live and in an apartment, you will need to follow all terms listed in your rental agreement.
North Carolina False Identification Laws: In North Carolina, it is illegal to use fake identification to purchase alcohol as or for a minor. It's also illegal to show a police officer false identification.
Statute of Limitations Laws in North Carolina
Every state places certain limits on the amount of time after an incident someone can file a lawsuit or take legal action against another. These limits are referred to as statute of limitations laws. Whether you're interested in knowing how long you have to initiate a suit against someone else or you're wondering how long you might be in danger of receiving one, it's good to know the statute of limitation laws where you live.
In North Carolina, these laws are:
- Injury to Person: Three years
- Libel or Slander: One year
- Fraud: Three years
- Injury to Personal Property: Three years
- Trespassing: Three years
- Collection of Rents: Three years
- Written Contracts: Three years
If you're dealing with statute of limitations laws, other local laws, lawsuits and more, it's definitely time to find and hire a student defense attorney you can trust. However, a lawyer can help you with much more than legal issues. Let's talk about the benefits you'll experience when you work with someone who has an innate understanding of how the law works, how to negotiate with school officials, how to draft deft arguments and more.
Although typically not the case, if your school recommends a lawyer hired by the school to assist you during your disciplinary experience, for example, to conduct questioning during a Title IX hearing, you should definitely turn that offer down. While it may seem like a kind gesture, it likely won't help you as much as you think. Student defense is a very niche, rare form of legal practice that requires specific expertise. A lawyer hired by the school may primarily be experienced in other areas of law. Regardless of a school-provided lawyer's ability, too much is at stake to take a piecemeal approach to your defense and representation. You need an experienced advocate who will solely dedicated to your cause from the opening bell to the final round. Every step in a disciplinary process is critical and requires the necessary attention and dedication to the cause.
Your degree, your reputation, and your future are all extremely important. It's best to trust your case to a professional student defense advisor whose sole concern is fighting for a fair process and the best possible outcome for you. Only someone in your corner with this specific expertise will know exactly how to go through your school's policies, file persuasive appeals, and negotiate with your school to get to where you need to be.
If you're wondering whether it's worth it to hire an advisor, it is. When you work with a student defense advisor, you'll enjoy benefits such as:
- More time to concentrate on your studies
- More energy to manage your own emotional, mental, and physical help
- Confidence that you can tackle every conversation, investigation, hearing, and meeting you encounter because of the years of experience coming to your aid
- A professional lawyer's expertise with documents, deadlines, persuasive arguments, and more
- Coaching for every obstacle in your path
- Assistance with tense, delicate negotiations
- The likelihood that your school will take you much more seriously
Most importantly, when you decide to work with a student defense advisor, you'll enjoy the benefit of feeling like you're not on your own.
For the Support and Defense You Need During Your North Carolina College Career, Call Joseph D. Lento
Whether you need assistance with navigating academic appeals, figuring out how to get the support you need for your scholastic concerns, gathering evidence for a strategic defense, or negotiating for a lesser sanction, the first thing that you need to know is simple: You're in the right place.
If you feel confused and overwhelmed, know that that's normal, too. School codes of conduct contain a lot of information. Academic concerns are incredibly stressful. What's more, when you're in an adversarial position against your school, it's very probable that you feel very alone.
You aren't alone. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm are here to help you get the most out of your college career. From providing expert support during disciplinary investigations, adjudicative processes, and appeals, to helping defend you and negotiate on your behalf during tense meetings over academic concerns, attorney Joseph D. Lento will be there for you. Attorney Lento and the Lento Law Firm have been able to help countless students in your precise situation get where they need to be. He can do the same for you.
Just reach out today by giving the Lento Law Firm a call at 888.535.3686, or, alternatively, you can always reach out to us online.