Understanding the Appeals Process in Student Disciplinary Actions at Colleges and Universities

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Dec 23, 2018 | 0 Comments

Colleges and universities maintain standards regarding behavior and conduct that students are responsible for understanding. Administrators have procedures in place for assessing the alleged misconduct and imposing sanctions or penalties. Students have an opportunity to appear before a panel to rebut the allegations. Rulings are based on whether a preponderance of the evidence shows the violation did occur.

Acts of Academic Misconduct

Various acts may be considered as academic misconduct. A student may have taken credit for the work of another party without citing the source. Allegations may involve fabricating or forging documents or records. Students may be accused of academic dishonesty by attempting to cheat on an exam or assignment, or collaborating with others to do so.

Sanction Reviews

Some institutions allow for violators of the code of conduct that acknowledge the violation to ask the disciplinary staff to review the imposed sanctions. At Penn State University this request is made in writing and must contain some rationale that suggests the sanctions imposed are excessive. The Sanction Review Officer may modify the sanctions if they feel it is justified. A sanction review should not be confused with the appeals process, which challenges the ruling (findings) of the violation itself.

Grounds for Appeal

Schools have specific provisions that contain the grounds for pursuing an appeal. Some examples include:

  • Princeton University: The judicial committee will consider appeals that suggest an error was made in procedure or that the decision was unfairly reached. Sufficient cause may also exist when the relevant information was not considered by the committee.
  • University of Wisconsin: An appeal may be permitted if the accused believes that the evidence was insufficient to support the decision. The student may also assert that proper procedure was not followed or that the decision is contrary to federal or state rules involving educational equality.
  • Penn State University: An appeal may be considered when the process did not adhere to procedural guidelines or potentially violated the rights of the accused. Another possibility is when new relevant evidence exists that was not available before.

Appeals Process

Schools typically have a clearly defined deadline for filing an appeal. For example, at Penn State a written request must be received within five business days or 14 days at Boston University. If an appeal is granted there may be a subsequent hearing conducted.

Attorney Involvement in Disciplinary Proceedings

Often those facing allegations of misconduct mistakenly do not consider retaining legal counsel until after an initial ruling has been made. At this phase, an attorney will assist you with drafting a document that clearly presents the grounds for an appeal. It is also possible that more favorable sanctions may be negotiated.

Student Disciplinary Defense Attorney

Are you a student facing allegations of academic misconduct in a campus disciplinary action? Attorney Joseph D. Lento has the experience necessary to successfully defend those who are seeking to avoid harsh sanctions and penalties in these matters. Contact the office today for a complimentary consultation at (888) 535-3686.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience passionately fighting for the futures of his clients. Mr. Lento represents students and others in disciplinary cases and other proceedings at universities and colleges locally and nationwide while concurrently fighting in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, and New Jersey. Mr. Lento has helped countless students, professors, and others in academia at more than a thousand universities and colleges across the United States. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide.


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Contact Us Today!

Footer 2

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.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations – the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Berks, Lancaster, Lehigh, and Northampton County. In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County, In New York, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New York's 62 counties. Outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance may not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, New York, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.