The Vast Tennessee State System
What the public recognizes as the Tennessee State University System or The College System of Tennessee bears the official and formal name of The State University and Community College System of Tennessee. The Tennessee Board of Regents has governed the Tennessee State University System since the Tennessee General Assembly created the System in 1972. The Tennessee State University System is huge, enrolling over 180,000 students, making it the nation's sixth-largest higher education system. The Tennessee State University System has no fewer than six state universities, thirteen community colleges, and twenty-six technology centers spread throughout the state. Those institutions offer accessible and affordable education to students throughout the state, giving the System an enormous positive economic and social impact.
No matter the Tennessee State University System school and campus you attend, national college misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm are available to assist you with misconduct allegations at your school. The Tennessee State University System includes community colleges in Chattanooga, Cleveland, Columbia, Dyersville, Jackson, Motlow, Nashville, and other large and small Tennessee cities. The System has Tennessee College of Applied Technology centers in Athens, Covington, Crossville, Crump, Dickson, and a host of other cities. The Tennessee State University System's six universities include:
- Tennessee State University
- East Tennessee State University
- Middle Tennessee State University
- Austin Peay State University
- Tennessee Technological University
- The University of Memphis
Tennessee State University System Governance
If you face student misconduct charges at a Tennessee State University System institution, the System's organization and governance are important to you. The Tennessee Board of Regents establishes policies governing System institutions. The Board of Regents, in some instances, delegates its policy authority to individual school boards. The student and academic conduct codes under which your school charges its students draw from both Board of Regents policies and individual school policies. The Tennessee General Assembly grants the Board of Regents broad authority over System institutions, including not only degree requirements, budgets, and campus leadership but also student conduct policies and academic policies. If you face student misconduct charges at a Tennessee State University System school, your retained college misconduct defense attorney may look to both central System and individual school policies and procedures for your aggressive and effective defense.
Benefits of a Tennessee State System Education
No serious question exists as to the potential benefit of a Tennessee State University System education. You can make a great start to a rewarding career by pursuing and completing a Tennessee State University System education. The System is right when it says that a System education at one of its member institutions “can lead to greater earnings potential and a better quality of life.” The Tennessee General Assembly compounded the potential economic benefits of a System education when in 2014, it enacted the Tennessee Promise, offering two years of free education at System community colleges and technical centers for graduates of Tennessee high schools. Your Tennessee State University System education can have enormous value over the course of a lifetime. If you face misconduct charges at a Tennessee State University System school, appreciate all that you have on the line. Don't underestimate and throw away the value of your Tennessee State University System education. Instead, get the premier college misconduct defense attorney help you need. Retain national college misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm to represent you.
Tennessee State University System Student Conduct Policies
The Tennessee State University System's student conduct policies include a general student conduct code, student due process guarantees relating to violations of that student conduct code, and other student rights and freedoms. The General Policy on Student Conduct applies to all Tennessee State University System community colleges and technical centers. The General Policy also permits those colleges and technical centers to establish their own conduct policies consistent with the system-wide student conduct code. If you face student misconduct charges at a Tennessee State University System community college or technical center, disciplinary officials have brought those charges under the system-wide code. Your retained college misconduct defense attorney will need to closely review the applicable code provision with you. The system-wide General Policy on Student Conduct includes policies and prohibitions addressing these forms of student misconduct:
- Threatening conduct, including any oral or written statement or other action posing a threat to personal safety, health, or well-being, when a reasonable person would interpret it as a serious expression of an intent to commit an act of unlawful violence to a particular individual or group of individuals
- Disruptive conduct, including any behavior disrupting the learning environment, such as interfering with the instructor's ability to teach or with other students to learn, offensive language, harassment of students or instructors, repeated outbursts, failure to cooperate, or continued use of any electronic device disturbing others
- Hazing, defined as any intentional or reckless act directed against any other person that endangers the mental or physical health or safety of that person, in connection with initiation into or affiliation with any organization
- Disorderly conduct, defined as abusive, obscene, lewd, indecent, violent, excessively noisy, or disorderly behavior, or other behavior that unreasonably disturbs institutional functions, operations, classrooms, groups, or individuals
- Obstructing, defined as intentional interference with institutional activities or facilities, including unauthorized occupation of facilities, interference with access to activities, events, or programs, obstruction or delay of security officers, failure to comply with emergency directives, participating in a demonstration that substantially impedes institutional operations, or obstructing the free flow of pedestrian or vehicular traffic on school property
- Property damage, including acts of vandalism or malicious destruction, defacing, or disfiguring of school property
- Theft or misappropriation of school property
- Misuse of school identification, including forgery, alteration, or unauthorized use
- Weapons possession, including carrying, using, storing, or manufacturing any weapon on school property, or possession of explosives, fireworks, or flammable or hazardous materials
- Alcohol possession on any school property unless expressly permitted
- Drug possession, including unlawful use, sale, or manufacture of controlled substances or drug paraphernalia
- Public intoxication on school property or at a school event
- Unlawful gambling in any form
- Financial irresponsibility failing to meet school responsibilities
- Interfering with disciplinary proceedings at any stage or failing to cooperate with school officials
- Violating federal, state, or local law, whether on or off school property
- Unauthorized duplication or possession of keys to school property
- Littering on school grounds or facilities
- Pornography, public displaying materials that an average person applying contemporary community standards would find appeals to the prurient interest, depicts sexual conduct in a patently offensive way or lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value
- Misusing computers belonging to the school, including using another's identification to gain access to computers, violating copyright laws, accessing networks or files without authorization, unauthorized transfer of computer files, use of computers for abusive or obscene communications, or interfering with another's computer use
- Trespassing on school grounds
- Giving false information to school officials for admission, enrollment, or other school status
- Observation without consent, knowingly spying on or otherwise viewing an individual when the individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy
- Smoking or other tobacco use when prohibited on school grounds
- Excessive traffic or parking fines over $100 on school grounds
Tennessee State System Student Misconduct Procedures
The system-wide General Policy on Student Conduct applies to all Tennessee State University System community colleges and technical centers state the procedures its schools must follow to resolve student misconduct charges. Separate Tennessee Board of Regents Student Due Process Procedures confirms those procedural rights. Those procedures are there to protect you against false, unsupported, exaggerated, and unfair student misconduct charges. You will need the help of a skilled and experienced college misconduct defense attorney to take appropriate advantage of those procedures. But the procedures exist to defend and defeat unfair student misconduct charges at Tennessee State University System community colleges and technical centers. The General Policy on Student Conduct procedures include:
- The school's disciplinary officials must not exhibit bias or have conflicts of interest but must instead be neutral and unbiased
- Investigators must conduct a fair investigation, including party and witness interviews
- Investigators must notify accused students in writing of the misconduct complaint
- Investigators must prepare and share with the accused student a written report of the investigation findings
- The investigation report must include the dates of the alleged occurrences, the accused student's response, the findings of the investigator, and recommendations regarding disposition of the complaint
- The chief disciplinary official at the school must review the investigation report and write findings on whether misconduct occurred and what sanction, if any, to impose, sharing those findings with the accused student
- The accused student may ask the chief disciplinary official to reconsider the findings and sanction on additional evidence
- The accused student may require the school to conduct a contested case hearing if the chief disciplinary official imposes an unacceptable sanction
- The accused student has the right to attend the hearing with an advisor and to present witnesses and other evidence in defense of the charges
- The accused student has the right to confront adverse witnesses at the hearing, implying a right to cross-examination
- The accused student has a right to appeal adverse hearing findings
While these procedural protections are extensive, they are not self-executing. Your school may ignore some, most, or all of these procedures unless you act affirmatively to invoke them. Your effective action in defense of student misconduct charges generally requires skilled and experienced college misconduct defense attorney representation. If you face student misconduct charges at your Tennessee State University System school, your best move is to retain national college misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm to aggressively and effectively represent you. Get the help you need to defend and defeat false, unfair, or exaggerated student misconduct charges.
Tennessee State University System Academic Policies
The Tennessee Board of Regents also establishes institutional academic policies that can apply when students face certain academic probation or dismissal issues. For instance, the Board's Academic Retention Policy sets attendance and academic progress standards and provides sanctions for students whose academic performance doesn't meet those students. But those academic policies do not address traditional academic misconduct. Instead, the system-wide General Policy on Student Conduct applicable to all Tennessee State University System community colleges and technical centers defines and prohibits academic misconduct. The General Policy defines academic misconduct generally as any “action or attempted action designed to provide an unfair academic advantage or disadvantage for oneself or others.” The General Policy then defines these examples of academic misconduct:
- Plagiarism, adopting or reproducing ideas, words, statements, images, or works of another person as one's own without proper attribution
- Cheating, using, or attempting to use, unauthorized materials, information, or aids in any academic exercise, test, or examination
- Fabrication, falsifying, fabricating, or misrepresenting data, research results, citations, or other information in connection with an academic assignment
Academic misconduct is a serious matter. Colleges and universities treat academic misconduct differently than a high school generally would. In high school, instructors and school leaders focus primarily on educating students who take shortcuts and use methods that the more-rigorous higher education would reject as dishonesty or cheating. High school officials don't always charge academic misconduct with the same rigor that higher education institutions would. In contrast, colleges and universities expect their students to understand academic norms and to avoid anything that might qualify as academic dishonesty or cheating. If you face academic misconduct charges at your Tennessee State University System institution, retain national college misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm to aggressively and effectively represent you. Don't let academic misconduct findings ruin your educational career and record.
Tennessee State System Academic Misconduct Procedures
The system-wide General Policy on Student Conduct applicable to all Tennessee State University System community colleges and technical centers also provides procedures for deciding academic misconduct charges. If you face academic misconduct charges at a System community college or technical center, you and your retained college misconduct defense attorney will need to follow and invoke these procedures for your protection. The procedures permit the involved instructor to lower the accused student's grade or impose a failing grade for the assignment, examination, or course. The instructor must inform the department chair or dean and the accused student in writing of the alleged academic misconduct and discipline, giving the student five days within which to appeal the penalty.
A student's appeal of academic discipline goes before an institutional academic misconduct appeals committee. The community college discipline administrator appoints a committee of at least three school officials, including at least one student. Committee members must not have an interest in the matter, a conflict of interest, or an evident bias. A technical college president may appoint a single administrator to serve in place of an academic misconduct appeals committee. The appeals committee has fifteen days within which to set a hearing date but must give the student at least seven days' notice of the hearing. The committee applies a preponderance standard at the hearing to decide the academic misconduct charges. The committee must write the accused student its decision within ten days after the hearing. An accused student who loses an appeal may take a second appeal to the school's president within five days.
The school must maintain the accused student's submissions and other academic misconduct records, giving the student evidence on which to challenge the decision through other means, within or outside of the institution. If you face academic misconduct charges at your Tennessee State University community college or technical center, or if your school has already dismissed you as academic misconduct discipline, retain national college misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm to represent you. Get the help you need to invoke your school's protective procedures.
Tennessee State System Misconduct Sanctions
The system-wide General Policy on Student Conduct applicable to all Tennessee State University System community colleges and technical centers authorizes the widest range of disciplinary sanctions for behavioral or academic misconduct. If you face misconduct charges at your Tennessee State University System school, your educational future is at stake. The default sanction at many schools is not just a warning or reprimand but an actual suspension. Under the System's General Policy, you could suffer any of the following sanctions or a combination of sanctions:
- Warning that continuing or repeating specified conduct may result in other disciplinary action
- Reprimand in either written or verbal form, censuring the student while warning of more serious penalties for a subsequent violation
- Probation conditioning continued enrollment in compliance with stated terms
- Restitution in cases involving theft, destruction, damage, or loss of property
- Payment of unreimbursed medical expenses in cases involving physical injury
- Community service performing tasks for a school office or the local community for a specified number of hours
- Counseling or education relevant to the offense, including preparing a project or report on a relevant topic
- Loss or restriction of privileges, including the ability to represent the institution at events, participate in school-sponsored travel, use school facilities, parking privileges, or participate in extracurricular activities or organizations
- Suspension from the institution for a specified time accompanied by special conditions for readmission or recognition
- Expulsion as permanent separation from the institution, barring readmission and prohibiting entry on school grounds
- Degree withholding or revocation even though already earned
You can see that disciplinary officials at Tennessee State University System institutions take student misconduct seriously. Those officials have the broadest authority to impose sanctions right up to dismissal or even degree revocation. One way or another, you have likely invested a lot in your Tennessee State University System education, whether in time, effort, or money, including not just tuition, room, and board, but also in forgone income from employment. Don't let your investment go to waste because you underestimated the potential impact of disciplinary sanctions. Get the college misconduct defense attorney representation you need for the best possible outcome. Retain national college misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm for your best outcome.
Individual Institution Policies
The above Tennessee Board of Regents student conduct policies and academic policies apply to Tennessee State University System community colleges and technical centers, not to the System's six state university members. The governing boards for each of the System's six state university members promulgate their own student conduct codes and academic policies. If you face student misconduct charges at one of these six state university institutions, disciplinary officials at your school have brought those charges under the school's own codes. Your retained college misconduct defense attorney will research, refer to, and rely on the terms, definitions, and procedural protections of these codes:
- Tennessee State University maintains a Code of Student Conduct that includes similar behavioral and academic prohibitions as the System's general policy. Tennessee State University's code includes a lengthy list of behavioral prohibitions like drug or alcohol abuse, violence, or property destruction, and academic policies against cheating, plagiarism, fabrication, and classroom disruption. Tennessee State's code also provides elaborate procedures like those above and sanctions from a reprimand to expulsion. Tennessee State, like all System institutions, relies on the Board of Regents system-wide Policy 6.03.00.00 for Title IX charges.
- East Tennessee State University maintains a General Policy on Student Conduct and Disciplinary Sanctions adopted by its Board of Trustees. Like Tennessee State University's Code of Student Conduct, the East Tennessee State General Policy includes a long list of behavioral prohibitions, and a shortlist of academic misconduct rules. East Tennessee State's General Policy includes a wider range of sanctions than the General Policy, including not just reprimand, restrictions, counseling, community service, suspension, or expulsion but also apologies, probation, and housing probation. Like Tennessee State University and the other System universities, East Tennessee State University relies on the Board of Regents system-wide Policy 6.03.00.00 for Title IX charges.
- Middle Tennessee State University maintains an aspirational Statement of Community Standards and Expectations for its students. Like the other System universities, Middle Tennessee State University also maintains a detailed set of Student Conduct Rules that its Board of Trustees adopted under system-wide Board of Regents authority. Middle Tennessee State's Student Conduct Rules include similar prohibitions to those included in the system-wide Board of Regents rules, reorganized and rewritten in different forms and order. Middle Tennessee State's Student Conduct Rules also include a similarly broad list of potential sanctions that the school may impose under detailed procedures. Unlike Tennessee State University and East Tennessee State University, Middle Tennessee State University maintains a separate Academic Misconduct Policy, although it prohibits the same traditional forms of cheating, plagiarism, and fabrication.
- Austin Peay State University maintains a Code of Student Conduct and University Rules that includes similar behavioral and academic misconduct prohibitions to those the system-wide Board of Regents General Policy maintains. Austin Peay State University's Code of Student Conduct and University Rules also includes the procedures under which the school decides misconduct charges. Like the other System universities, Austin Peay State University relies on the Board of Regents system-wide Policy 6.03.00.00 for determining Title IX charges.
- Tennessee Technological University maintains a Policy No. 302 on Student Conduct addressing student behavioral misconduct. Policy No. 302 also articulates detailed sanctions in a wider range than the system-wide General Policy and procedures equivalent to that General Policy. Tennessee Technological University's Policy No. 302 does not address academic misconduct, which the university instead addresses under Policy No. 217 on Student Academic Misconduct. Tennessee Tech's Policy No. 217 provides greater detail and covers greater breadth in addressing academic misconduct than the system-wide General Policy and academic misconduct policies at the other System universities.
- The University of Memphis maintains both a lengthy Student Code of Rights and Responsibilities addressing behavioral and academic misconduct and a brief separate Academic Misconduct Code again addressing traditional forms of cheating, plagiarism, and fabrication. Accused students and their retained college misconduct defense attorney find the protective procedures for challenging University of Memphis misconduct charges in the Student Code of Rights and Responsibilities. Those procedures provide similar protections to the system-wide General Policy and the procedures at the System's other universities.
The protective procedures for challenging false, unsupported, or exaggerated misconduct charges at one of the above six Tennessee State University System universities are not self-executing. A student facing misconduct charges at one of those TSU System universities should retain skilled and experienced defense attorney representation to invoke those procedures for the best possible outcome. Some Tennessee State System universities may offer the accused student an appointed school advisor. School advisors, employed after all by the school, have a natural conflict of interest that can hamper their advocacy for an accused student. Indeed, many advisors decline to advocate instead of reserving their role for the accused student's education and counseling. An accused student, though, needs an advocate, not merely a counselor. And an accused student needs a skilled and experienced attorney advocate who knows academic administrative procedures, language, culture, and norms. Retain national college misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm to represent you at your Tennessee State University System university. Get the aggressive and skilled advocacy you need for the best possible outcome.
Tennessee State University System Sexual Misconduct Policies
The Tennessee State University System's General Policy on Student Conduct also prohibits several forms of sexual misconduct, including “committing any act of sexual assault, rape, sexual battery, domestic violence, or dating violence as defined by state or federal law,” harassment, stalking, and indecent exposure. But federal Title IX regulations require colleges and universities receiving federal funding to prohibit specific forms of sexual misconduct while providing specific procedural protections for both accuser and accused. Tennessee Board of Regents Policy 6.03.00.00 on Sexual Misconduct meets those federal requirements. If you face sexual misconduct charges at your Tennessee State University System school, then your school has very likely brought those charges under Board of Regents Policy 6.03.00.00 rather than the General Policy on Student Conduct. Board of Regents Policy 6.03.00.00 prohibits these forms of Title IX sexual misconduct:
- Dating violence, defined as violence against a person when the accuser and accused are dating, have dated, or have or had a sexual relationship. Violence can include intentionally inflicting or attempting to inflict physical injury on the accuser, placing the accuser in fear of physical harm, physical restraint, malicious damage to the personal property of the accuser, inflicting or attempting to inflict physical injury on the accuser's animal, or placing the accuser in fear of physical harm to the accuser's animal.
- Domestic violence, defined as felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence committed by the victim's current or former spouse or intimate partner, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim, or by any other person against an adult or youth victim whom domestic or family violence laws protect from that person's acts.
- Sexual assault, defined to include rape, fondling, touching the private body parts of a non-consenting, underage, or mentally incapacitated person for sexual gratification, incest between persons related to one another within degrees marriage laws prohibit, and statutory rape with a person under the statutory age of consent.
- Sexual harassment in either the quid-pro-quo form conditioning provision of an educational aid, benefit, or service on participation in unwelcome sexual conduct, or the hostile environment form defined as unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature a reasonable person would determine to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it denies the victim equal access to the institution's education program or activity.
- Stalking, defined as engaging in a course of conduct directed at the victim that would cause a reasonable person to fear for safety or suffer substantial emotional distress. “course of conduct” means two or more acts in which a person follows, monitors, observes, surveils, threatens, or communicates with or about another person, or interferes with another person's property.
Tennessee State System Sexual Misconduct Procedures
Tennessee Board of Regents Policy 6.03.00.00 addressing Title IX sexual misconduct also states the procedures that a Tennessee State University System school must follow to decide Title IX sexual misconduct charges. The System's Title IX procedures comply with federal Title IX regulations extending certain protections to the accused student. In other words, these procedures can protect you from false, exaggerated, or unsupported sexual misconduct allegations. If you face Title IX sexual misconduct charges at your Tennessee State University System school, you will very likely need skilled and experienced college misconduct defense attorney representation to invoke these procedures to good effect. But the procedures are there to protect you. Tennessee Board of Regents Policy 6.03.00.00 provides these procedural protections against false or unsupported Title IX charges:
- The Title IX Coordinator, investigators, decision-makers, and other disciplinary officials must not have a conflict of interest, bias toward an accuser, or bias against an accused
- The school must provide a prompt, fair, and impartial procedure, including the investigation and hearing stages
- Disciplinary officials must treat the accuser and accused equitably
- Disciplinary officials must evaluate all evidence objectively, including evidence that tends to disprove the allegations
- Decision-makers must not evaluate credibility based on whether the witness is the accuser or accused
- The school must proceed presuming the accused student's innocence until after the decision-making process concludes
- The school bears the burden of gathering the evidence and proving the charge, meaning that the school must dismiss unsupported and unproven charges
- The school must give simultaneous notice of the decision to both the accuser and accused
- The school must give the accused student equal and timely access to information
Within these bounds, Tennessee State University System schools begin a Title IX sexual misconduct proceeding under Policy 6.03.00.00 with a formal complaint that the complainant must sign. The school must reject anonymous complaints. Complaints are to provide details on what happened, when, and where, involving whom, and with supporting documentation. The school's Title IX coordinator determines whether the complaint states a qualifying charge and assigns an investigator to any such charge. The coordinator must also promptly notify the accused student of the charge, its details, and the applicable procedures. The coordinator may dismiss any charge that the accuser withdraws or fails or refuses to support. The coordinator may also informally resolve complaints when the accuser and accused agree.
Investigation proceeds for formal complaints that do not resolve informally. Investigation must include interviews of both accuser and accused and their offered witnesses. The investigator must accept and consider any information the accused supplies. The investigator must also share all evidence with the accused student, permitting the accused student to review and respond to the investigation report. The investigation report, shared with both sides, does not make findings, or propose sanctions but instead details the allegations and evidence.
Under Policy 6.03.00.00, Tennessee State University System schools must provide a formal hearing for any formal complaint that does not resolve informally. The school must permit the accused student to retain a Title IX defense attorney to accompany the student to the hearing and cross-examine adverse witnesses. The decision-maker must decide on testimony and other evidence presented at the hearing. The hearing officer must decide within fifteen days of the hearing's conclusion, providing a written decision to the accused student who may appeal an adverse determination. The hearing officer must record the hearing to facilitate the accused student's appeal. Appeals go to the school president or designee. Appeal grounds must include procedural irregularities affecting the outcome, newly discovered evidence not available for the hearing, or evident conflict of interest or bias of the coordinator, investigator, or hearing officer affecting the outcome.
Policy 6.03.00.00 provides for Title IX misconduct sanctions from verbal or written warnings right up to suspension or expulsion from the school. Title IX sexual misconduct is a serious charge that could not only result in school expulsion but could also affect a student's education, career, and other future. Retain national college misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm to aggressively and effectively defend you if you face Title IX charges at your Tennessee State University System institution.
Negotiating Alternative Special Relief
Do not give in to false, unfair, or exaggerated charges. And do not give up if your Tennessee State University System school has already suspended or dismissed you. You may have special alternative relief available to you. The system-wide General Policy on Student Conduct applicable to all Tennessee State University System community colleges and technical centers expressly authorizes negotiated special relief in appropriate cases: “The president is authorized, either personally or through a designee, to negotiate a mutually acceptable resolution to any disciplinary proceeding or to rescind or convert any sanction imposed to a lesser sanction.” National college misconduct defense attorney Joseph Lento has successfully negotiated acceptable alternative relief for hundreds of college and university students nationwide. Attorney Lento has the special knowledge, skills, experience, network relationships, and reputation to achieve what inexperienced local criminal defense attorneys do not attempt or achieve.
Retain a Premier College Misconduct Defense Attorney
National college misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm are available to aggressively and effectively represent Tennessee State University System students facing misconduct charges. Retaining a local criminal defense attorney who lacks academic administrative skill and experience isn't the answer. You need an experienced academic administrative attorney to defend and defeat college or university misconduct charges. Attorney Lento has successfully defended hundreds of students nationwide against college and university misconduct charges. Call 888-535-3686 for a consultation now, or use the online service.