Education these days is serious business. Schools are one of the favorite punching bags for politicians of every political stripe. Federal and state governments seem always to be asking more of schools at the same time they're slashing funding. One student can make one mistake, and suddenly a school can find itself the subject of a CNN expose. Everyone's a stakeholder, and the stakes are enormously high.
With all of these forces at play, campuses sometimes become toxic environments. Administrators put pressure on faculty and students to perform. Students become too competitive. Everyone suspects everyone else of something. People don't talk their problems through; they make accusations, conduct investigations, hold hearings, and issue sanctions.
Whether you've got a kid in second grade or you're a senior in college, you have to be on your guard if you're involved in the education system. You have to know the rules, how those rules are enforced, and what happens if you're found responsible for breaking one. Unfortunately, you also have to know how to protect yourself if you're falsely accused or if you're facing a punishment that's out of proportion to the nature of your offense. These things can and do happen.
Most of all, though, you need to know how to get help when you find yourself in trouble. Taking on a school is no easy task, and you don't want to try and do it alone. In the Houston metropolitan area—including Houston, the Woodlands, and Sugar Land—no one provides better representation for students than Joseph D. Lento.
The Houston Metropolitan Area
There's no state quite like Texas, and there's no region within Texas quite like the Houston Metropolitan area. It's big. In terms of physical size, it takes up nearly 10,000 square miles. In terms of population, it contains 7.2 million residents. In fact, if it were a state, it would rank fifteenth in number of people.
It's not just size that makes the Houston area so unique, though. It's the mix of cowboy boots and Fortune 500 companies, five-star restaurants and barbecue juke joints, livestock shows, and PGA tour events. In fact, Houston is ranked the fourth most diverse region in the entire country. Nearly 25 percent of people in the area were born outside the US, and only forty percent are white. That diversity extends to politics and government. While the area generally votes Republican, for instance, it also contains a number of Democratic strongholds.
This kind of diversity makes for some unique challenges for attorneys in the region. It's difficult to know what kinds of personalities may show up in a courtroom, and those personalities don't always work well together. Success requires an ability to carefully navigate the legal system, and not every attorney is up to the task. Joseph D. Lento is. He's worked with clients from all over the area, from Texas City to Prairie View. He knows the players, and he knows the procedures.
Houston Metro Area Student Concerns
Students attending schools in the Houston metropolitan area have unique concerns. Of course, like all students, they worry over grades and standardized tests; they have to sort out complex peer relationships; they have to master the educational game, learn how to demonstrate respect to instructors, and practice showing due deference to administrators. Houston isn't like other places, though, and it can present special challenges for students that attend school there.
- Houston's location near the border makes it a battleground for issues of immigration. Those battles can sometimes play out in the classroom.
- Houston's diversity plays out in the area's schools. A CEO's daughter might sit next to a janitor's son. So many differing backgrounds can make for a vibrant educational experience, but it can also give rise to misunderstandings and conflict.
- As with any metropolitan area, everyone in Houston has an opinion about how the schools should operate. Often, this can result in unclear policies and inconsistent enforcement of those policies.
These concerns can be problems in their own right, but they can also exacerbate the other, more typical problems students deal with. Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm's student defense team understand what Houston students face, and they're experienced at handling Houston problems.
Houston Metropolitan Area Schools
Joseph D. Lento has spent his entire career working with students on disciplinary-related issues. He's dedicated to ensuring all students are treated fairly. His passion extends to all levels of education, from K-12 students to college, professional school, and even graduate school students. Whatever your school's program, level, or location in the Houston Metro area, the Lento Law Firm can provide you with an effective defense.
For example, the Lento Law Firm has experience working with many colleges and universities in the region, including:
- University of Houston
- Rice University
- Texas Southern University
- Houston Baptist University
- University of St. Thomas
- San Jacinto College
- Prairie View A&M University
In addition, the Lento Law Firm works with students in graduate, professional, technical, military, and specialty programs across the Houston area, such as:
- Art Institute of Houston
- University of Texas MD Anderson Medical Center
- Center for Advanced Legal Studies
- Pima Medical Institute
- College of Health Care Professions
- Chamberlain University College of Nursing
The Lento Law Firm represents K-12 students and is available to work with students in school districts in and around Houston, including:
- Houston Independent School District
- Aldine Independent School District
- Klein Independent School District
- Spring Branch Independent School District
- Channelview Independent School District
- Galena Park Independent School District
- Sheldon Independent School District
- Splendora Independent School District
- Tomball Independent School District
- Cypress Fairbanks Independent School District
- Cosby Independent School District
- Goose Creek CISD Independent School District
- New Caney Independent School District
- Spring Independent School District
The Lento Law Firm helps private elementary and secondary school students in the Houston metro area as well. This includes schools like:
- St. John's School
- John Cooper School
- Awty International School
- Kincaid School
- St. Agnes Academy
- Village School
- Strake Jesuit College Preparatory
- Emery/ Weiner School
- Episcopal High School
- Saint Thomas' Episcopal School
- Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart
- British International School
- Post Oak School
- Woodlands Preparatory School
- St. Thomas High School
Disciplinary Defense in the Houston Metropolitan Area
When it comes to disciplinary policies, every school is different, even schools that might be in the same district. Some schools have a lot of rules; others only a few. One school's policy may focus on “integrity,” another's on “responsibility.” A university where students live on campus may have strict residence life policies, whereas commuter schools usually have none.
In general, though, all schools divide misconduct into four categories:
- Academic progress: This relates to how well students are doing in the classroom.
- Academic misconduct: This has to do with ensuring no one gains an unfair advantage in completing their coursework.
- Behavioral misconduct: This involves infractions that happen outside the classroom.
- Sexual misconduct: This refers specifically to sexually-based offenses, including discrimination and harassment
As experts in student disciplinary defense, the attorneys at the Lento Law Firm are knowledgeable and experienced in all four of these categories.
Academic Progress Issues
A school's first priority, of course, is to educate its students, to prepare them for college, for the job market, or for whatever comes next in their lives. That's become a high-pressure, high-stakes endeavor. Parents push their kids to excel. Schools worry over test scores. States compete over who has the best schools. There are accreditation requirements, core standards, regular testing, and district report cards.
Often, students are the victims of all this pressure. Instructors assign more homework every year. Tests get harder. Consequences for failure grow more severe. Anyone who can't keep up gets left behind. Not everyone thrives under this kind of pressure, and often the standards are simply too high.
Or perhaps it's the school itself, faced with all this pressure, that makes a mistake: the overworked teacher who marks a question wrong when you had the right answer; the stressed-out professor who reports the wrong grade to the registrar's office; the advisor who miscalculates your grade point average.
Whatever your particular situation, Joseph D. Lento is here to make sure your school treats you fairly, that you're held to reasonable standards, and that you aren't punished with unreasonable sanctions.
Academic Misconduct Issues
Given all the pressure students are under, it's no surprise that cheating and plagiarism are on the rise. The simple fact is, many students feel like they have no choice but to commit academic misconduct just to keep up. It's a vicious cycle.
- Faculty impose standards that are too high
- Kids cheat
- Instructors make more accusations and issue more severe penalties
- Students feel even more pressure to keep up and wind up committing even more violations
Of course, no one is suggesting that students should deliberately break the rules. Academic integrity requires students avoid behaviors like:
- Cheating: The use of unauthorized materials in completing your coursework
- Plagiarism: Attempting to pass another person's work off as your own without giving them due credit
- Fabrication: Inventing sources or falsifying lab reports
At the same time, you shouldn't be punished if you're innocent, and you should never face a punishment that's out of proportion to the nature of your offense. If your school is mistreating you, you have the right to challenge that treatment. Joseph D. Lento can help.
Behavioral Misconduct Issues
Schools aren't just educational institutions. They're communities made up of students, faculty, staff, and administrators. Communities need rules if everyone is to get along and the community is to function effectively.
Every school, then, has a Student Code of Conduct that describes exactly how everyone should treat each other. Elementary schools like River Oaks have them. So, too, do universities like Rice. These codes cover every conceivable type of offense, from vandalism to noise violations. Obviously, different schools focus more or less on particular types of violations, but some offenses show up in virtually every school's policy, from kindergarten to graduate school.
- Drug possession and distribution
- Underage alcohol consumption
- Discrimination against protected status such as race, color, sex, religion, and disability
Schools have become more and more strict in recent years, not just about the kinds of behaviors they prohibit but also about how they punish rule breakers. Probation, suspension, expulsion: these are often the minimum penalties rather than the maximum.
Title IX Sexual Misconduct Issues
Technically, sexual misconduct offenses are a type of disciplinary offense. However, they are treated differently. This is primarily because they aren't just a matter of school policy but of federal law. Title IX prohibits all forms of sexual discrimination and harassment in federally-funded education programs. It requires schools investigate accusations, and it mandates a strict set of procedures schools must follow during these investigations.
Like most federal laws, Title IX can be complicated and difficult to navigate. For instance, accused students are entitled to a number of important due process rights, but it's not always obvious how to use them to your advantage.
Joseph D. Lento knows Title IX. He's familiar with its history and its politics. He's also represented literally hundreds of students, helping them defend themselves from every type of accusation. Whatever you've been charged with, Joseph D. Lento can help.
How Can Joseph D. Lento Help?
You probably have a sense by this point of why you might need a lawyer to protect you if you're a student or the parent of a student. Every accusation, large or small, is a threat to your academic future. Campus judicial systems are complex and often designed to put you at a disadvantage.
The bottom line is, you should never try to handle a charge yourself. You need premier student defense attorney Joseph D. Lento at your side. When you retain attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm's student defense team, you retain the best available school discipline defense representation. For more information, call 888.535.3686 or go online now.