Student Dismissal Defense in Texas

If you are a student enrolled at one of the many fine universities and colleges in the great state of Texas, and you have been accused of violating your school's Code of Conduct, it is essential that you learn everything you can about how schools adjudicate misconduct, your rights during the process, and how to survive this situation as unscathed as possible.

A Look at Texas's Universities and Colleges

The Lone Star State is home to 38 public universities and colleges and 53 private institutions. Combined, these schools serve more than 852,763 students—and that's just four-year universities. Another 700,000 students are enrolled in Texas community colleges.

Texas's HBCU Roster

Additionally, Texas boasts nine of the nation's 107 HBCUs, or historically black colleges and universities. According to language in the Higher Education Act of 1965—the law which first granted recognition to these schools—an HBCU is “any historically black college or university that was established prior to 1964, whose principal mission was, and is, the education of black Americans, and that is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency or association determined by the Secretary of Education.”

The HBCUs of Texas are:

● Huston-Tillotson University in Austin

● Jarvis Christian College in Hawkins

● Paul Quinn College in Dallas

● Prairie View A&M University in Prairie View

● Southwestern Christian College in Terrell

● St. Philip's College in San Antonio

● Texas College in Tyler

● Texas Southern University in Houston

● Wiley College in Marshall

The oldest of these, Dallas's Paul Quinn College, dates all the way back to 1872.

Public University Systems in Texas

They say that everything is bigger in Texas, and that's definitely true of the state's list of public university systems. There are six separate systems—that's even more than in California. They are:

● University of Houston System

● University of North Texas System

● University of Texas System

● Texas A&M University System

● Texas State University System

● Texas Tech University System

These six systems have a combined 34 colleges and universities.

Award-Winning Education in the Lone Star State

The U.S. News & World Report's annual list of Best Colleges includes six Texas schools in its Top 100 rankings for 2022. Those are:

● Texas Christian University, in Fort Worth

● Baylor University, in Waco

● Southern Methodist, in Dallas

● Texas A&M University, in College Station

● University of Texas at Austin

● Rice University, in Houston

Geographically diverse and comprising dozens of individual schools and programs, Texas institutions have something to offer every student who is interested in pursuing a secondary education, no matter what their interests, career goals, or income bracket.

Codes of Conduct and Why It's Crucial To Understand Them

Every university and college has a Code of Conduct that's published somewhere on its website. Sometimes this document is called an Honor Code or a Student Conduct Code, but no matter what the name is, everyone fulfills the same purpose: outlining the nitty-gritty of every behavior that the university considers transgressive. Additionally, these codes set forth the process for investigations, hearings, and disciplinary actions regarding misconduct.

No two schools' Codes of Conduct are the same. Even within a university system, the individual schools' documents might differ somewhat. While it's understandable that you or your student hasn't sat down to read the Code through from beginning to end, it's important to do so after an allegation has been made. There are some potential pitfalls that could make the situation worse if you're not aware of them. After such an accusation, it is vital to follow certain steps, refrain from certain actions, and generally use caution as you proceed.

Securing the services of an attorney-advisor like Joseph D. Lento has many advantages if you find yourself in this situation; one of them is the fact that he and his team at the Lento Law Firm are familiar with the language used in Codes of Conduct. Even if they're not deeply knowledgeable about the Code of your school, they will be able to quickly parse it and help you understand it. Moreover, the advice they will give you regarding the next steps and how to deal with this dilemma is based on extensive experience handling similar cases at colleges across the country.

Types of Misconduct That Texas Students May Be Accused Of

There are three general categories of misconduct outlined in every institution's Code of Conduct. They are academic misconduct, sexual misconduct, and general misconduct. Let's take a brief look at each in turn.

Academic Misconduct

Academic misconduct refers to cheating or any other attempt to advance academically by nefarious means. For example:

● Cheating or plagiarism

● Contract cheating, which means buying an essay or paying someone else to take an exam or test in your name

● Falsifying records

● Destruction of property in an attempt to undermine the learning process

● Any action that causes one or more students to have an unfair advantage

Sexual Misconduct

Sexual misconduct describes any unwanted sexual contact or action, including:

● Rape or attempted rape

● Harassment

● Solicitation of sexual favors

● Dissemination of any materials the victim may have created, such as pictures, videos, or texts that are sexual in nature. This is sometimes termed “revenge porn” but does not need to be an act of revenge to constitute misconduct

● Stalking

● Domestic or dating violence

General Misconduct

The biggest of these three categories is general misconduct, which could be:

● Drug use or possession

● Underage drinking or providing minors with alcohol

● Violence or threats of violence

● Destruction of property or vandalism

● Harassment is defined in the school's rules regarding speech, expression, and assembly

● Unlawful use of the institution's technology

● Hazing

● Disruptive behavior

It's important to know that these lists are not exhaustive but simply intended to give readers a broad overview of the types of misconduct. For specifics, refer to your school's Code of Conduct materials.

Dismissal and Other Potential Disciplinary Decisions

So, what happens to college students in Texas who violate these Code of Conduct misdeeds? Of course, the discipline that may be meted out depends on many different factors but is primarily informed by the nature and seriousness of the misconduct.

The student found responsible for the misconduct may face these repercussions:

● A written warning, along with a notation in the student's record that can be seen by college admissions boards, organizations that award scholarships or grants, and future employers

● Probation

● Suspension

● Loss of a work-study position, a scholarship, or other forms of student aid

● Removal from an athletic team or being barred from participating in other extracurricular activities

● Restitution

● Eviction from on-campus housing

● Being banned from campus

● Expulsion, also known as dismissal

The Consequences of Dismissal

As you can probably imagine, being dismissed from your university is a life-changing event—and not in a good way. To begin with, you will need to find other accommodations if you live on campus; for most undergraduate students who cannot afford to get an apartment on their own, this will mean moving back home to live with their parents. It's also likely that you'll have to find a job to support yourself while you work out what your next educational steps are.

Speaking of those steps, you may find them difficult to take, no matter how determined you are to continue on that path. Being expelled from college or university isn't something you can sweep under the rug. When you're ready to try again, you will be obliged to disclose your dismissal on applications. Not every school will welcome you with open arms—in fact, most of them won't even give you a chance to explain your side of the story or to expound on the reasons you deserve a do-over.

Chances are you'll need to cool your heels in a community college, as these institutions have admissions policies and standards that are lower than a renowned four-year university. Perhaps, after putting in some time to prove yourself and show that you can handle your responsibilities, you'll get a second chance to earn an advanced degree. But there are no certainties.

The financial loss of being forced to leave college is significant, as well. You will have lost any scholarships or grants. You probably will owe your parents money unless you put yourself through school. Either way, you've wasted thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars. It can take a long time to recover from such a damaging financial blow.

In addition to practical consequences like these, there are emotional repercussions to grapple with. You might be embarrassed about your behavior or angry at others, including fellow students, your instructors, college employees, or members of the disciplinary board. Some students will direct their anger inward and can experience difficulty forgiving themselves.

Others might lose motivation to continue pursuing their education. A strong feeling of shame can lead to diminished confidence, self-esteem, and a sense of identity.

That's not to say that you'll never recover if you are dismissed by a Texas college or university. But it's no exaggeration to say that this will change the course of your life and have long-lasting effects, direct or indirect, on your well-being.

Why An Accusation of Misconduct In Texas Can Be Especially Scary

The sheer size of Texas's university and college systems—as well as its populous private schools and the sky-high number of enrolled students at each of these institutions—is exciting to some students. So many new people to meet, get to know, befriend, and learn from. At the same time, however, it can be overwhelming to go from a smaller community to an enormous campus where you're just one lone student in a sea of so many others.

And when you have been accused of some type of wrongdoing, it may seem as though you're the David to your school's Goliath. These huge institutions, with their cadres of administrators, Title IX officers, and legal representatives, can be incredibly intimidating to deal with.

It's one thing to deal with issues arising in the bursar's office, the registrar, or the housing authority, but another altogether when the school musters its legal forces. After all, ironing out miscommunications or getting to the bottom of tech glitches that result in errors is relatively simple when compared with fighting an accusation of misconduct.

Take Immediate Action to Secure Your Future

If you've already been dismissed, or if you are undergoing the appeals process to fight disciplinary actions that your Texas school has taken against you, there's really only one thing left to do. Contact advisor-attorney Joseph D. Lento and his associates at the Lento Law Firm for expert help. Mr. Lento specializes in student discipline defense and has helped many students just like you to reach agreements with their institutions.

Mr. Lento has myriad professional connections with schools' Offices of General Counsel; he may very well be able to broker a negotiation that resolves the issue satisfactorily for everyone involved. Know that, unlike other lawyers, Mr. Lento won't come out litigiously swinging. While he can take the matter to trial if necessary, he has an impressive record of pre-trial negotiations between students accused of wrongdoing and the college administrators that are handing down disciplinary sentences.

Contact the Lento Law Firm to discuss the particulars of your case and learn how Mr. Lento and his colleagues will be able to help. Call 888-535-3686 or use the convenient contact form. You'll be glad you did.

Contact Us Today!

footer-2.jpg

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.

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, Allegheny, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Schuylkill, and York 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.

Menu