Where We Can Help - Oregon Universities

Are you a student or the parent of student at a Oregon 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 Oregon 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.

Joseph D. Lento has helped countless students and others in academia in Oregon protect their academic and professional future, and he can do the same for you. Contact him today at 888-535-3686.

An Overview of Oregon Student Discipline and Student Rights

Is it time for you or your child to head to an Oregon college or university?

There's a good chance that your entire family has looked forward to this moment for years. After all, you've put in a large amount of work, effort, and resources to make this happen. In the span of a few short years, you or your child will be able to work towards a life-changing degree—one that they'll be able to use to enter the industry or field of their choice.

That's the idea, anyway. It's important to realize that there's a lot that can stand between your child and their degree.

From academic issues such as a failure to progress all the way to repeated instances of misconduct, there are situations in which your school may decide to dismiss, suspend, or expel your student. These and other disciplinary measures can make your or your student's life much more difficult than it needs to be. Even if your child's simply part of a misunderstanding that results in a false allegation of misconduct, you could find that a suspension makes it hard for them to get the job of their dreams.

That can't happen. At the Lento Law Firm, we couldn't agree more. We're here to make sure that you and your child have the resources you need to achieve your degree without any undue struggles. To start, we've put together this helpful page to support new college students in Oregon as they navigate academic struggles, disciplinary matters, and more. After mentioning some of the most well-known colleges in Oregon, we'll begin by talking about how truly difficult it can be to succeed when faced with the sudden intense pressures of college. Then, we'll discuss the options you have to pursue a favorable outcome if you find yourself in an adversarial position against your school.

What Are Some of the Public and Private Academic Institutions in Oregon?

Private schools in Oregon

  • Reed College
  • Lewis & Clark College
  • University of Portland
  • Willamette University
  • Pacific University Oregon

Public schools in Oregon

  • University of Oregon
  • Oregon State University
  • Oregon Institute of Technology
  • Portland State University
  • Southern Oregon University

All of these schools are subject to some level of oversight from Oregon higher education commissions and regulations, as we'll discuss in the next section.

Statewide Higher Education Laws in Oregon

The Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission, or HECC, helps ensure that all Oregon schools abide by Oregon higher education laws. These laws include statutes that govern student health initiatives, financial aid, accreditation, and the specific way that Oregon public universities need to operate. The HECC also maintains a database of Oregon private universities that have been approved to operate in the state.

Aside from the HECC, there are a few statewide regulatory bodies that may be worth keeping an eye on. For example, the Oregon Legislature will pass bills from time to time that may influence how schools in Oregon may operate (including this recent one regarding student fee transparency).

In addition, Oregon is part of the Ninth Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals. From time to time, this court will issue an opinion that could affect educational operations in the state — e.g., the way that Title IX cases need to be overseen at Oregon schools. From time to time, check the educational cases in the queue at the Ninth Circuit's Court to see if there is anything coming up that could affect your college experience.

The Types of Issues You May Face at Your Oregon College or University

While your specific school may have unique reasons for handing out suspensions and dismissals, there are generally two different types of large-scale issues that can be associated with problematic disciplinary sanctions. These two types are academic concerns and code of conduct infractions.

Academic Issues and Concerns

Academic issues at your Oregon school can be insidious. You may not even realize you're struggling before your school begins to express concerns. If you're coming to college straight from high school, you may even be surprised at how quickly your instructors are moving—and how much work you're expected to do on your own time.

With all of the different courses you're taking, under the various pressures you're experiencing while navigating a brand-new environment in unfamiliar territory: You're struggling, and this isn't surprising. Unfortunately, your school will likely not be very lenient about the identified academic issues you experience.

Many schools will consider placing you on probation or even expelling you for:

  • Your failure to complete any required supporting work for courses (e.g., papers or readings)
  • Your alleged failure to prepare for lab work or coursework
  • Your repeatedly earning incompletes in coursework
  • Your repeated failure to pass any required examinations
  • Your alleged substandard performance in the eyes of your instructors
  • You're repeatedly withdrawing from courses

Your school should have some type of support system or other resources available to you in the event that you begin to fall behind. If you need help and your school isn't helping you (or is failing to follow through on promised support), you need to speak up and protect your rights.

Code of Conduct Infractions and Types of Misconduct

Your school should have a code of conduct or student handbook that details the specific behaviors it expects of each of its students. (This document should be freely available on your school's website.) If you are involved with any action that goes against one of those codes of conduct, or regulations, or school policies, your school may take action.

There are two large categories of code of conduct infractions. We'll cover each briefly below.

Sexual Misconduct

Sexual misconduct is any sexual act that occurs without the consent of everyone involved. Examples of prohibited sexual conduct could include the following:

  • Rape
  • Incest
  • Domestic Violence
  • Dating Violence
  • Stalking
  • Sexual Exploitation

This is not a comprehensive list. For example, many schools will also consider situations in which it is impossible for all involved parties to give consent as instances of misconduct.

Sexual misconduct can be tricky for schools to investigate and adjudicate. Under Title IX—one of the Educational Amendments of 1972—all schools must investigate all allegations of sexual misconduct in a timely manner or risk losing their funding. Since 1972, the government has issued several updated sets of recommendations to guide schools as they implement Title IX. Sometimes, these sets of recommendations have advised different practices. This can make it difficult for schools to stay compliant and up-to-date.

Many schools have established a dual-policy workaround. Your school may have a Title IX policy that they change as needed as well as a more general sexual misconduct policy to provide students with a consistent experience.

Academic Misconduct

Academic misconduct, as opposed to academic struggles or concerns, involves breaking a rule or committing an infraction against your school's code of conduct. Common types of academic dishonesty include:

  • Cheating
  • Plagiarism
  • Falsifying Information
  • Unauthorized Access to Course Materials
  • Classroom Disruption
  • Fabrication of Data
  • Destruction of School Resources

Assisting another student with any of the above actions is also considered dishonest and largely punishable.

Once your school learns about your academic struggles, dishonest actions, or sexual misconduct, your school will initiate its disciplinary processes. We'll discuss those procedures next.

After an Identified Academic Issue or Misconduct Concern, What Will Happen at My Oregon School?

Your school's disciplinary procedures will begin when someone files an allegation against you (or when one of your instructors raises concerns to you or the administration).

The specific activities you may experience could depend on the nature of your alleged offense and the processes at your school. You will likely experience some mix or subset of the following:

  • A notification from your school. Your school will send you an email or letter to keep all processes noted on the record. This initial notification may include information about the allegations against you, the relevant portion of your school's code of conduct, and any next steps that you need to know about.
  • An informal meeting with someone from your school. Next, you may meet with an instructor or administrator. This meeting may be brief, mostly a chance to review the allegations and for you to tell your side of the story. If your alleged infraction is academic, your instructor may recommend a sanction for you at this time. (For example, if they believe you cheated, they may lower your grade or fail you.)
  • An investigation from your school. In some situations, your school may deem it necessary to find out more about what happened. During an investigation, your school may speak to your friends, review your past schoolwork, examine your social media, or access other information.
  • A more formal meeting or hearing before a panel of school officials. If your misconduct is more severe, you may experience a disciplinary hearing. At this hearing, you should have a chance to review all of the evidence against you and to state your case. At the end of the hearing, your school will come to a decision regarding your responsibility in the alleged infractions.
  • Another notification from your school regarding its decision. Your school should send a formal notice, again to keep things on the record, of the decision it came to.
  • A recommendation for disciplinary sanctions. Your school will also decide what punitive measures you will undergo. Your school's documentation should include information about the types of sanctions that are on the table. In theory, these can range from remedial classes to suspensions and even expulsions.

It's key to note, though, that the most common form of discipline by far is a suspension in many instances. If your alleged infraction was particularly severe, you will likely face an expulsion.

An expulsion is clearly a large issue. You may wonder, though, why it's worth going to the trouble of fighting a suspension.

Here's the thing: If you net a suspension, your transcript will have a gap in it where you did not earn any credit. Later, when you apply for an internship, try to matriculate at another school, or even start to search for a great job after your education, you'll have to explain that gap. If your school makes a transcript notation about your suspension and the reason for it, you'll need to produce that record, and be open about your disciplinary history.

It may not seem fair (particularly if you're the victim of a false allegation), but learning that you were suspended while in college can be enough to cause a graduate school admissions panel, for example, or future employer to think twice before offering you an opportunity. Your sanctions can go before you for years, closing doors for you that would otherwise have been open.

This is unacceptable. You're attending college to open doors, not close them!

Your first step towards a more favorable outcome—a lesser sanction, for instance, or a clean record—will likely be an appeal.

The Process of Filing a Strategic Appeal at Your Oregon School

At the end of your disciplinary processes, after your school has recommended sanctions, your school should give you information about the appeals process.

We'll use the procedures at the University of Oregon as an example:

  1. Within ten days of the university's decision, you need to file your appeal. This includes coming up with the bases for a successful appeal as well as writing a persuasive argument to open negotiations and filing all of the appropriate paperwork.
  2. After this is done, you will send your appeal to the relevant authority at your university.
  3. They will reconsider your case and issue a final decision.

Since you can only submit one appeal, it's a good idea to make sure that you have as strong a rationale as possible for doing so. The University of Oregon recommends the following as potentially strong bases for successful appeals:

  • A conflict of interest or a demonstrable bias in one of the parties involved in the investigation or adjudication
  • Evidence that your school did not follow its own policies during your disciplinary procedures
  • New information that might reasonably alter the school's decision, information that was not available during the initial investigation

In addition, if you are able to argue that the recommended sanction is simply disproportionate to the alleged infraction, that may also provide a rationale for an appeal.

Again, you only have a few days to put together a strategic and strong appeal. For this reason, if you haven't started working with a student defense attorney before now, the appeal stage is an excellent time to do so.

What if It's Time to Sue My School in Oregon?

If your school denies your appeal or otherwise refuses to allow any negotiations at all, it may be time to consider taking more drastic action.

Pursuing litigation against your school is, indeed, quite drastic. This is a relationship-severing step. After you have sued your school, it is extremely likely that you will not be able to go back to enjoying any type of student status at your school.

However, you may not think that this is in your future anyway. If this is the case, pursuing litigation against your school (or even one of the supporting steps) may be able to help you get where you need.

Here are some actions to consider after you have completed your university's appeal process and prior to initiating a lawsuit:

  1. File a complaint with the state of Oregon. The Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission has some level of authority over schools in the state. Their complaint process may be able to yield you favorable results. At the very least, it will also help you build a foundation for any later legal action.
  2. Have your lawyer reach out to your school's legal office. This step is a good precursor to any type of formal lawsuit. A frank conversation between your legal teams may result in a resolution that doesn't involve a lawsuit. Again, even if it doesn't work, forming this connection will assist during any later events.
  3. Do your research to make absolutely sure that you're working with a lawyer who can get you results. If you're just working with the legal offices at your school or those down the street, this is a good time to find someone with specific experience in the niche field of student defense.

Your student defense attorney will also be able to help you with any other issues or concerns that you may have with your school or campus activities. For example, they will be a good resource to help you navigate any confusing local laws as well.

Are There Any Other Oregon Laws That I Should Know About as a College Student?

While the vast majority of your on-campus activities will be under the governance of your college's regulations, it's still good to be aware of the local laws in your area. Your college might use them to shape its regulations. You'll also need to follow local laws whenever you're not on campus.

Some regulations to keep in mind include:

  • Oregon Laws about Underage Drinking: People under the age of 21 cannot consume or possess alcohol. (Anyone providing alcohol to a minor will be in trouble as well.)
  • Oregon Laws about Drinking and Driving: It is illegal to drive in Oregon if your BAC is .08 or higher.
  • Oregon Tenant Responsibilities: If you live off-campus, you will need to uphold any rental contracts that you sign.
  • Oregon False Identification Laws: In Oregon, you cannot use a fake ID to purchase alcohol or show a fake ID to an officer of the law.

Statute of Limitations Laws in Oregon

You'll also want to pay attention to the statute of limitations in Oregon.

After an event occurs, there's only a certain window of time in which those involved can initiate related legal action. That window is defined in state-specific statute of limitations laws.

No matter why you want to know how much time you have after an incident occurs, this is excellent information to know. Oregon's statute of limitations laws include:

  • Injury to Person: Two years
  • Libel or Slander: Two years
  • Fraud: Two years
  • Injury to Personal Property: Six years
  • Trespassing: Six years
  • Written Contracts: Six years

If you're feeling like this is a lot of information to take in prior to heading to college, you're right: It is a lot.

Fortunately, you don't need to figure all of this out on your own.

Call Joseph D. Lento for Student Defense in Oregon

If you or a loved one is attending college in Oregon, it's best to be prepared. While the years you spend in college can be among the best of your life, they can also be wildly difficult. Worse, if the pivotal college years don't go as planned, there can be associated ramifications that affect the rest of a student's academic and professional life.

At the Lento Law Firm, we believe that every student should be able to work towards and achieve the degree of their choice. Academic issues and concerns shouldn't stand in their way. Neither should any allegations of misconduct or disciplinary sanctions. When you're trying to figure out how to navigate your code of conduct, negotiate for a lesser sentence, file an appeal at your school or simply make a good choice about what to do next, you need an experienced legal professional at your side.

You need attorney Joseph D. Lento. For years, Joseph D. Lento has assisted students across the nation through intense investigations and aggressive adjudications. Now, he's ready to help you with persuasive arguments, strategic defenses, or anything else you need to safeguard your reputation and your future.

Give attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm a call today at 888.535.3686 to learn more about how we can assist, or, alternatively, you can always reach out to us online.

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If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact our offices today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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