St. Petersburg College (SPC) is a Florida-based public university. It is a crucial steppingstone for many pursuing higher education and a well-paying career. It may also be the locus of an allegation of academic dishonesty against you or your child.
While academic integrity is a pillar of any institution of learning—from SPC to Harvard—so is due process. With a pending allegation against you, it is vital that you understand the grave consequences of a de facto conviction.
Hiring Joseph D. Lento and Lento Law Firm to fight your case is, quite simply, the move.
Why Online Schooling Can Lead to Academic Violations
Online classes offer a unique experience from the live classroom. You don't have to write test answers on the palm of your hand like you might for an in-person examination. There are plenty of ways to run afoul of the academic honor code in online courses, though.
In fact, cheating may be an even greater temptation when you don't have a teacher roaming around your work area. As online coursework has come under scrutiny, one thing has become clear: cheating is a problem.
As an online student, you may:
- Have easy access to the internet and the answers it contains
- Be able to complete assignments, homework, and examinations without a proctor
- Be restrained only by your moral compass
You may sense that other students are cheating, and that you are being graded unfairly because you choose not to. This can increase the pressure to cheat.
Unfortunately, other students' actions will not matter if you're accused of an academic violation.
St. Petersburg College's Academic Honesty Policy
According to SPC’s Academic Honesty Policy, you agree to “adhere to high standards of academic honesty and integrity” when you enroll at the College. It states unequivocally: you can be expelled if you violate the Honor Code.
What Does SPC Consider Academic Dishonesty to Be?
The SPC Honor Code specifies several specific forms of academic dishonesty. Some of these offenses may be more common to online coursework.
Offenses that may lead to sanctions include:
- Plagiarizing another student's work
- Allowing another student to plagiarize your own work
- Compelling a third party to complete work for you
- Using notes, textbooks, calculators, or other forbidden materials during an examination (or other assignments for which such aids are forbidden)
- Exchanging answers or information when doing so is prohibited
The SPC Honor Code goes into great detail about what constitutes plagiarism. It includes failing to properly cite a source, claiming another's ideas as your own, and submitting a work that someone else completed.
If a faculty member decides that you've violated academic rules, then you should prepare for the following process.
How St. Petersburg College Adjudicates Alleged Honor Code Violations
SPC's Academic Integrity Policies and Procedures document (link here) explains how the school will handle your case.
Initial reporting of your alleged misconduct begins the formal process. The faculty member overseeing the course you are alleged to have cheated in will report the allegation to a specific person in their department. At this time, they will present any evidence related to your supposed wrongdoing.
This stage culminates with the faculty member filing an Academic Integrity Incident Report.
Assignment of Facilitator
The school will assign a “Facilitator” to your case. This Facilitator will be a faculty member, and they will not be from the department in which your actions were reported.
The accusing faculty member will meet with the Facilitator for your case. Together, they will attempt to resolve your case. The Facilitator acts as a sort of mediator between you and the accusing faculty member.
The accusing faculty member will meet with you to discuss what sanctions they will or will not hand down.
What Are the Possible Outcomes for Your Case?
The faculty member may choose to either:
- Drop the charges against you
- Impose sanctions
If you agree to the sanctions, you can sign an Academic Integrity Form detailing the allegations and punishment. This will insulate you from further punishment, but is essentially a guilty plea. Note: do not sign this form without first consulting Lento Law Firm.
If you do not agree to the sanctions, then the faculty member may impose them anyway. At this time, you can turn your focus towards an appeal.
What Sanctions Can St. Petersburg College Impose?
SPC's Honor Code makes clear distinctions between first and second offenses. However, you may face consequences like expulsion or suspension if a first offense is deemed as a “serious offense.”
Potential sanctions for an academic integrity violation include:
- Lowering of your grade
- Issuance of a failing grade
- “Discretionary education assignment”
Additional sanctions are possible.
How to Initiate an Appeal
You have seven days to file an appeal of a faculty member's decision and sanctions. You must pen a written letter to the faculty member and your case Facilitator stating your reason for appeal.
Your case will then proceed to the Academic Integrity Committee. It will schedule a hearing, hear your case, and issue a decision for your appeal.
During this process, “The student and the other party may, at their own expense, employ an attorney to be present, assist and counsel them” (per St. Petersburg College's Academic Integrity Policies document).
Academic Sanctions Reach Beyond Your College Career
Academic sanctions can end up being life sanctions. Academic penalties may impact you professionally. Professional hardship may take a personal toll. You should take the appeals process especially seriously, as this is where the final decision on your case will be rendered.
Choose Joseph D. Lento as Your Attorney-Advisor
St. Petersburg College has a particularly complicated process for handling academic dishonesty allegations. And yet, you face strict deadlines for appealing a decision. Your time is invaluable.
Having an attorney-advisor like Joseph D. Lento will be an immense benefit during a high-stakes period in your life. The Lento Law Firm has unparalleled experience defending students from academic misconduct allegations.
Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to arrange a consultation about your case. You can also request help online here.