Are you a student or the parent of student at a Ohio 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 Ohio 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 School Issues
- And more...
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An Overview of Ohio Student Discipline and Student Rights
Ohio has many varied, high-quality options for higher education. It houses 14 public universities with several branch campuses and over fifty private universities. Each college has its own rules, traditions, expectations, and policies—but each one will likely have confusing disciplinary systems. In any of these schools, if you're a student accused of misconduct, you can feel like you're in over your head—fast.
No matter how impenetrable the policies at your Ohio school may seem, it's important to remember that you have rights. As your school investigates your alleged misconduct, your school has to stick to its own procedures and give you a fair chance to tell your story.
Unfortunately, with the rising misconduct trends in the United States, many schools are more interested in closing disciplinary cases quickly than bringing justice to light. If your Ohio school is investigating you for misconduct, you need to take action to ensure your school's officials take you seriously—and that a sloppy hearing or rushed investigation doesn't result in discipline that can affect your entire career.
This seems like a tall order—but there's one simple thing that you can do to work towards the successful outcome you need. Finding and hiring an experienced, empathetic, and skilled national student defense lawyer will be the best thing you can do to protect your name, your education, and your future.
What are the types of misconduct Ohio colleges and universities discipline?
There are many different types of misconduct that your school could investigate you for. To know exactly what's on the table at your university, it's a good idea to take a look at your school's code of conduct. You can likely find this document on your school's website, or in your student handbook. Your school's code of conduct is a lengthy document that details the expectations that your school has of you—and what your school will do if they learn that you might be involved in less-than-licit activities.
The three main categories of misconduct are:
The first category concerns academic integrity, and can often net a student an academic punishment such as a grade reduction. Academic misconduct often includes actions such as cheating, plagiarism, unauthorized collusion, and other types of actions that violate a school's honor code or integrity policy. The second category concerns actions like stalking, lewd behavior, and Title IX offenses such as sexual assault and harassment. General misconduct serves as an umbrella category that categorizes any code of conduct violation that doesn't involve academic or sexual activities.
Your school will likely have policies to help your school in its adjudication of your behavior. When you learn that your school suspects that you might be guilty of one of these behaviors, you should immediately find your school's relevant policies to find out what may be in store for you.
How do public colleges in Ohio handle Title IX?
According to the Ohio Department of Education, the Department and all schools in Ohio comply with all Federal laws—including Title IX—and with the requirements of the United States Department of Education with respect to all regulations that prohibit discrimination.
Title IX is a federal rights law. The United States implemented this law as a part of the Education Amendments of 1972. It bans discrimination on the basis of sex in public schools. Under Title IX, any public university that receives funds from the U.S. government must quickly investigate any allegations of sexual misconduct, harassment, assault or discrimination or risk losing its funding.
On its website, the Ohio Department of Education states that it is a recipient of financial assistance from the government and is therefore subject to Title IX and its associated regulations. On a routine basis, schools in Ohio need to update their Title IX policies to match new interpretations or guidelines coming from the United States government.
Additionally, Ohio is in the Sixth Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over all federal appeals happening in the Buckeye State. The Sixth Circuit has recently made several relevant decisions regarding the handling of Title IX cases, including a reversal that has already made a difference for many students in recent cases. Once such case is Doe v. Oberlin College. In the original case, the student—expelled for sexual misconduct—alleged that the school had demonstrated “serious procedural irregularities” while adjudicating his case. Among these irregularities, the student said, was severe gender bias on the part of the college. Initially, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio had dismissed his claim. In mid-2020, the Court reversed this dismissal.
These actions can provide hope for students in Ohio who feel that their schools may have gone too far in pursuit of student discipline, particularly in matters regarding bias, harassment, or discrimination.
Examples of Title IX Violations
If an Ohio school learns of allegations against one of their students that contains the following illicit activities, that school will need to investigate:
- Sexist or derogatory remarks
- Gender-based bullying
- Gender discrimination
- Obscene communications
- Inappropriate touching
- Sexual assault
Examples of Ohio Title IX Regulations and Hearing Procedures
One large Ohio school, Ohio University, revised its University Policy 03.004 regarding sexual assault to comply with federal regulations. The Title IX Coordinator at Ohio University noted, at the time, “As we continue to comply with the law, Ohio University's commitment to due process will remain unchanged.”
The school's due process and relevant code of conduct did change slightly per the new guidelines and the major provisions of Title IX. As of August 14, 2020, the university implemented updated titles for specific sexual misconduct violations, as well as an expanded scope to distinguish between sexual misconduct and other types of violations. Other Ohio universities made similar changes to their policies, such as Ohio Wesleyan and Ohio State. The latter's Title IX page goes into a little more detail about the recent changes, stating that their policies have been updated to include:
- A stated right for students to participate in a grievance process after they file their complaint
- The inclusion of a cross-examination in the hearing
- Specific definitions regarding the validity of the formal complaint
- The right for all parties to have an advisor present
- The right for any party to submit an appeal
- Updated sexual harassment definitions
Public colleges and universities in Ohio need to comply with the federal rulings regarding Title IX. If you're in need of assistance with a Title IX case in Ohio, it's important to know that you don't have to seek help from an Ohio lawyer. You need to seek one who has relevant experience helping students avoid undue consequences, no matter where they are.
What are the academic misconduct expectations at universities in Ohio?
The specific guidelines regarding prohibited conduct at each Ohio school or university may differ slightly when it comes to academic misconduct, as this type of misconduct is not regulated by a national policy like sexual misconduct under Title IX.
Common types of academic misconduct include:
- Cheating, or the use of unauthorized materials to give yourself an unfair academic advantage over your peers
- Falsification of data, academic information, academic records, or quotes for an assignment or assessment
- Plagiarism, or the act of using someone else's thoughts, words, or work as your own without proper citation
- Abuse of school materials for sabotage or obstructing access
- Helping another student cheat, plagiarize, or otherwise break your school's honor or integrity code
Differing schools across Ohio have varied resources for students and methods for meting out punitive measures for academic misconduct. For example, the University of Cincinnati provides ‘decision-making seminars' and a plagiarism module on its academic misconduct website in order to proactively reduce cases of academic misconduct. At Miami University, the university response to a first or even second count of academic misconduct (with the exception of very severe instances of misconduct) is that the student attend an online academic integrity workshop.
The other repercussions most commonly seen throughout Ohio public school codes of conduct involve grade reductions, probations, and suspension—particularly at institutions that offer remote university classes in Ohio, such as Ohio Online. These punitive measures may not seem like a big deal, but they can throw a big wrench in your plans. Having these types of disciplinary measures on your permanent record can also make it difficult to get a job or work towards admittance at another university.
Clearly, the stakes are quite high. If you're a student at a university in Ohio struggling to manage your student misconduct case, you need to reach out to the best to ensure that your future remains bright.
Ohio Schools, Due Process, and Student Rights
Each school in Ohio preserves its own written set of policies and procedures regarding the administration of discipline. However, there are certain rights that Ohio students should be able to enjoy regardless of their specific location in the Buckeye state.
- The Opportunity to be Heard: If you face discipline at your university, you should have the right to hear the extend of the allegations against you and have the chance to tell your side of the story.
- The Right to be Present During Your Hearing: You have the right to be in the room where your school is making the decisions about your future.
- The Right to Enjoy an Unbiased Hearing Panel: The people who sit on the committee that will decide the extent of your discipline shouldn't have any explicit, obvious biases against you. If you believe that this may be the case, it might be a good idea to file an objection. Your advisor will help you decide if this is the right move for you and your case.
Your advisor will help you comb through your school's policy to learn more about your inherent risk for a harsh sanction. Your advisor will also help you form a strategic defense for avoiding outsized disciplinary consequences, if at all possible. When you're looking for a top-tier advisor, look for one with a history of helping student in Ohio (or across the nation) negotiate their way out of these types of risky situations.
What happens if a student in Ohio decides to sue their university? What is the statute of limitations for misconduct issues in Ohio?
In mid-2020, two Miami University college students sued their school for suspending them for alleged violation of COVID-related school guidelines. In their claim, the students stated that the school had relied on incorrect information in order to rationalize