Student Misconduct at Capella University

Capella University is a for-profit online university with headquarters in Minneapolis. While other online universities are for-profit concerns, Capella University bears the distinction of having a publicly traded owner Strategic Education, Inc. The school, which enrolls approximately 10,000 undergraduate students plus many more graduate students nationwide, continues to add locations, the most-recent ones in Atlanta and Orlando. Its bachelor's and master's degree programs span business, education, information technology, public health and administration, social work, and other fields.

Like other for-profit institutions of higher education, Capella University advertises its affordable and flexible programs making education more accessible to non-traditional students, which are sound commitments. Yet federal data shows that for-profit colleges and universities like Capella University on average have four-year graduation rates half or less than that of public and private-nonprofit institutions, even though for-profits must provide adequate educational support and resources for students to graduate.

Like other for-profit schools, Capella University has faced scrutiny for low retention and graduation rates. Schools must not admit students only to unfairly dismiss them for failing to progress or for exaggerated misconduct charges, while keeping loans funding the tuition. This report on the bankruptcy of one national for-profit-college chain shows the school having to repay the federal government millions for illicitly gained federal loan funds due to sharp practices.

National academic-misconduct attorney and advisor Joseph D. Lento of the Lento Law Firm wants to educate you about your student rights. Your Capella University enrollment may have been a good one. But don't let the university ignore its own policies and procedures to treat you unfairly in a dismissal proceeding.

Misconduct Policies at Capella University

Higher education defines various forms of academic misconduct, which also has a history. Read here for additional context about college academic misconduct. Capella University maintains academic-integrity, academic-progress, learner-conduct, and Title IX policies. Consider here what each policy prohibits as sanctionable misconduct.

Academic Integrity. Capella University's academic-integrity policy prohibits plagiarism and academic dishonesty, stating that the university expects learners to author their own work while acknowledging authorship by others and avoiding copyright violations and trademark infringement. The policy also prohibits collaboration unless the instructor expressly permits it. Sanctions for violations include non-acceptance of submitted coursework, failing grade on the assignment, lower or failing grade in the course, written warning, suspension, removal, administrative dismissal, and cancellation of awarded course credits or degrees.

Academic Progress. Capella University's satisfactory-academic-progress policy requires undergraduate students receiving financial aid to remain in good standing with at least a 2.0 grade-point average. All undergraduate students must also successfully complete two out of every three courses that they attempt. Graduate students on financial aid must maintain at least a 3.0 grade-point average and successfully complete half of their attempted credits. The policy states elaborate procedures for when and how it makes those calculations. The university registrar emails a warning to students and then emails a notice of probation before disqualifying the student from financial aid. Aggrieved students may appeal to a Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeals Committee.

Learner-Conduct Code. Capella University's Learner Code of Conduct prohibits complicity, dishonesty, disruptive conduct, disrespect, document forgery, illegal activity, impersonation, text mining, and theft. Sanctions for violations include non-acceptance of submitted coursework, failing grade on the assignment, lower or failing grade in the course, written warning, suspension, removal, administrative dismissal, and cancellation of awarded course credits or degrees. The learner code of conduct defines prohibited acts as follows:

  • complicity is helping, procuring, encouraging, or cooperating with another in committing a violation of the learner code of conduct;
  • dishonesty is intentionally providing false information or forging, altering, or falsifying university documents;
  • disrespect is harassing, threatening, or embarrassing others, including to post, transmit, communicate, promote, or distribute content that is racially, religiously, or ethnically offensive or is harmful, abusive, vulgar, sexually explicit, or otherwise offensive or discriminatory;
  • disruptive conduct is participating in an activity that interferes with teaching, administration, or other university functions, including threatening or belligerent language, posturing, physical acts, or gestures, vulgar or offensive language or gestures, bullying or cyber-bullying, disturbance of the peace, lewd or indecent language or behavior, or inciting others to engage in disruptive conduct;
  • text mining is analyzing and synthesizing information from electronic documents, email messages, and other free-form text written by others as a way to create summary content of written work that is presented as one's own for the express purpose of seeking an advantage in completing one's academic assignment or work; and
  • theft is taking property that is not one's own or posting, transmitting, promoting, or distributing content that violates copyright or other protected intellectual property rights.

Title IX Violations. A college or university receiving federal funding must comply with new federal Title IX regulations effective August 14, 2020. Read here about those recent Title IX interpretive changes. The current federal interpretation limits Title IX's reach to only these three forms of sexual misconduct, each of which Capella University's Title IX policy, amended effective the same August 14, 2020 date, also prohibits:

  • sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking;
  • quid-pro-quo harassment (attempting to trade favors for sex); or
  • unwelcome conduct so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive as to deny equal access to education based on sex.

Capella University's Title IX policy states sanctions for violations, including written warning, mandated remedial activity, suspension, removal, administrative dismissal, and cancellation of awarded course credits or degrees.

Misconduct Procedures at Capella University

Procedures influence a disciplinary proceeding's outcome, when determining the truth of disputed allegations. Consider this outline of Capella University's student-misconduct procedures as to academic integrity, academic progress, learner conduct, and Title IX violations.

Academic Integrity. Capella University's academic-integrity policy states that any person may report a violation to the course instructor who notifies and interviews the student to determine the truth of the charge. The instructor may address a violation within the instructor's role. Students whom the instructor's action aggrieved may appeal to an Independent Review Panel that the provost selects. The policy does not describe a hearing but states that all sides get to present statements and other evidence to the panel, which decides the violation and sanction. Either side may appeal the panel's decision to the president's designee.

Academic Progress. Capella University's satisfactory-academic-progress policy states elaborate procedures for when and how it makes satisfactory-progress calculations. The university registrar emails a warning to students at risk of unsatisfactory progress and then emails a notice of probation once out of compliance before disqualifying the student from financial aid. Aggrieved students may appeal to a Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeals Committee that determines the appeal by a process that the policy does not describe.

Learner-Conduct Code. Capella University's learner code of conduct lists these procedures for determining alleged violations of its learner code of conduct. Misconduct reports go to the university official responsible for the activity. That official may resolve the violation informally. A student found to have violated the code may appeal the university official's decision to an Independent Panel. The Independent Panel may resolve the matter on submissions that both sides make, but the panel must grant a hearing for either side to present information to the panel if either side so requests. The policy does not describe the conduct of the hearing, including whether an accused student may question witnesses or have an advisor attend to play any role. Either side may appeal the panel's decision to the president's designee.

Title IX Procedures. Colleges and universities receiving complaints about Title IX sexual misconduct must follow federal Title IX regulations when determining whether misconduct occurred. Changes to those federal Title IX procedures in 2020 guarantee the accused a hearing at which the accused has the right to attend and cross-examine the accuser and other witnesses to expose false allegations.

Capella University's Title IX policy states the following Title IX procedures. Complaints go to the Title IX coordinator and a Learner Affairs official who makes an initial assessment of the complaint. If the conduct warrants a formal complaint, then Learner Affairs attempts an informal resolution of the matter. Matters not informally resolved proceed to investigation by an independent review panel. Both sides may present information to the investigator. The accused student may retain an attorney advisor to help the student through the proceeding but not to present or question at any meeting other than the formal hearing, when the advisor may cross-examine witnesses. One or more decision-makers, who are not the Title IX Coordinator or investigators, conduct the hearing. Witnesses must testify at the hearing, or the decision-maker may not consider their information. An aggrieved student may appeal the decision to the president's designee.

An Attorney-Advisor's Role

Don't let Capella University's multiple codes and complex definitions and policies intimidate you. Attorney Joseph D. Lento of the Lento Law Firm is a national academic-misconduct advisor with the skill and experience to help you navigate and successfully defend against misconduct charges. Capella University's procedures enable attorney-advisor Joseph Lento to evaluate allegations, identify and organize evidence to present, evaluate and challenge the complainant's evidence, cross-examine witnesses in a Title IX proceeding, and analyze and appeal adverse findings, all to defeat false or exaggerated charges.

An experienced attorney advisor can play a critical role in your defense of student-misconduct charges that could otherwise harm your reputation, education, and career. Thousands of college and university students nationwide have retained Joseph D. Lento at the Lento Law Firm to defend and defeat misconduct allegations. Joseph D. Lento has the expertise to help you navigate, defend, and defeat a misconduct charge at Capella University. Call 888-535-3686 to schedule a consultation, or use the online service.

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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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