Student Defense: Claude W. Pettit College of Law

The Claude Pettit College of Law (Pettit) is a private law school established in 1885. Pettit is the second-oldest law school in the state and is a founding member of the Ohio League of Law Schools. The College is also among the oldest nationwide, and its parent is Ohio Northern University. Although Pettit is a relatively small college, it consistently maintains high rankings due to its high-caliber quality standards. Pettit had a 100% bar pass rate in 2019. It offers students 100+ course options and clinical and externship placements that combine theory and practice. Law graduates have multiple career opportunities, but only if they demonstrate principles of ethical integrity.

Pettit imposes sanctions for engaging in any action that it considers improper or unethical, including academic misconduct. If accused students cannot adequately defend themselves against allegations and provide strong evidence, they risk suspension or expulsion. These charges also have severe impacts on a student's future career and may damage their reputation. Without the help of an attorney-advisor, students may lose years of hard work and effort with little chance to start over.

Defining Academic Misconduct

According to the Student Handbook, academic misconduct is an offense that goes against the institution's ethical principles and leads to sanctions on the educational and University level. The handbook applies to all students who attend Ohio Northern University and its colleges. The actions listed in the document include a general description of offenses and lists specific examples that fall under a category. These categories are:

  • Examination Offenses: This section lists examples of offenses that may occur during an examination. They include moving unauthorized materials to or from an exam room, cheating, improper collaboration, or facilitating unethical behavior.
  • Written Work Offenses: This category lists examples of cases that may happen when a student submits an academic exercise unrelated to an exam. It includes resubmission of old work, using prohibited sources, improper collaboration, plagiarism, and deception.
  • Improper Knowledge of Contents: Students must not engage in any activity that leads to them copying and distributing the contents of an exam or seeking to purchase a copy of one.
  • Improper Resource Use: In this context, improper use of computer or lab resources to commit academic misconduct.
  • Misrepresentation: According to the handbook, this action means intentionally misstating facts and information in an academic exercise or intake about the student related to academic matters.

The institution may investigate and prosecute any attempt not listed in the Student Handbook related to academic misconduct. Although the violations are honest – yet severe – mistakes in some cases, others are unfounded allegations that lead to the same result. And for law students, any negative notation on their transcript may prevent them from getting a coveted job placement in the future.

Investigation and Hearing Process

Initially, the faculty member is responsible for dealing with a violation if they suspect a student engages in academic misconduct. Every College may deal with the situation differently. If the student or professor can't resolve the matter, both can refer to the University Committee on Academic Conduct. It is then that the UCAC will review the case details and determine whether it warrants a hearing. During the hearing, the student may have another individual present as support. Still, they cannot directly participate in the proceedings. After the witnesses make their statements and the Committee reviews the evidence, it deliberates in private. It decides on the sanction, if any, and informs the student in writing.

Appeals Process

Unlike other institutions, students and accusers may appeal the decision of the University Committee on Academic Conduct to the Vice President for Academic Affairs. After the Committee receives the Vice President's proposal, it makes its decision. The Vice President has the authority to sustain or remand the recommendation. Still, the final and binding decision ultimately rests in the hands of the Committee.

Sanctions for Academic Misconduct

Law students who commit academic misconduct violations face sanctions that range in severity. The penalties depend on the severity of the infraction and the student's prior behavioral record. If a student commits multiple offenses, they have a higher chance of receiving severe punishments. According to the Student Handbook, they include:

  • A written warning that informs the student that they are on probationary status
  • A written reprimand that states the code violation and includes the possibility of more severe sanctions if the student engages in further misconduct
  • Re-taking a test or course
  • Administrative Withdrawal from the course with no financial recompense
  • Suspension that lasts for up to one calendar year
  • Permanent dismissal from the institution with no chance for re-enrollment

Unsurprisingly, the standards of academic integrity are as rigorous as the ethical expectations at Pettit. However, in some cases, wrongful accusations can ruin a student's future and prevent them from actualizing their dreams. In these instances, the help of an academic misconduct advisor with experience can make all the difference in the outcome.

Contacting an Attorney-Advisor

Attorney-Advisor Joseph D. Lento has years of experience helping law students nationwide when they face accusations of academic misconduct. With his eye for detail and passion for helping students, Attorney-Advisor Lento works tirelessly to advocate for accused students, and when necessary, to negotiate with law school administrations for a fair case outcome. Regardless of the case complexity and the severity of the allegations, every law student deserves a second chance.

Your future as an attorney depends on how well you do in law school. Academic misconduct can end up on your permanent record. Moreover, employers may ask to see your transcript in the future. A notation of suspension or expulsion may alarm them and cause them to pass on your application. As significant as these potential hurdles can be, these concerns may pale in comparison to having to pass the character and fitness portion of the bar exam after being found responsible for academic misconduct. Fortunately, you don't have to go through the law school adjudication process alone.

If you or someone you love faces sanctions for academic misconduct at Claude W. Pettit College of Law, there are options. Call Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm today for a transparent and discreet consultation at 888-535-3686.

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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 the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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