When a student is accused of violating their school's policy, they will be required to undergo a number of processes to determine either their innocence or guilt. The type of process a student will go through is dependent on the violation. A violation of federal law Title IX, for example, usually calls for a different process than a typical violation of a school's code of conduct.
In cases when student defendants are found guilty or responsible for violating school policy, many students consider this determination the end of the road. They've completely accepted their fate, and prepare themselves to suffer the repercussions their school has imposed. However, in some cases, a guilty determination is not the final determination. A student has the option to submit a request for an appeal, especially in cases when a student speculates that a determination and/or sanction was unfair or unjustified.
An appeal is essentially a procedure that permits a college or university to review a decision it made. Typically, a school gives a student a limited amount of time after the notice of the determination to file an appeal to the school. It's important that students meet this deadline, as extensions are rarely administered by an institution in these circumstances.
Grounds for an Appeal
Although a student may be unpleased with the decision that is made, mere dissatisfaction is not enough for an appeal to be granted. The written appeal must provide good reasoning, commonly referred to as “grounds”, as to why a finding of responsibility or sanction must be reviewed and eventually appealed.
Appealing a finding of responsibility
After the investigative process has ensued, school authorities will release a finding of responsibility that dictates whether an accused student is responsible or not responsible for violating school policy. In the event that the determination reads “responsible,” a student has the option of appealing this decision on the following grounds:
- There was new evidence not available at the time of the original hearing: a student is asking for the school to consider the new information that was not included in a hearing. This implies that it could significantly alter the previous decision.
- A violation of due process rights: A student wants the school to assess whether the original hearing was conducted fairly and in compliance with the rights in which the accused is entitled.
- The finding of responsibility is inconsistent with the facts presented in a hearing: A student is asking the school to reconsider of the decision was based on a preponderance of evidence standard - whether the facts in the case were sufficient enough to establish a violation
Appealing a Title IX sanction
A violation of Title IX exposes students to harsher penalties imposed by a school. Therefore, being granted an appeal for a sanction is a very big deal. A student can file an appeal on the following permissible grounds for a Title IX sanction:
- Disproportionate sanction: the sanction was disproportionate to the severity of the violation
- Procedural error: a procedural error was made that significantly impacted the outcome of a sanction
Student Defense Attorney - New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Nationwide
A suspension, probation, or expulsion is devastating when you have invested time, money and effort into your education. If you believe that your college or university made a decision that was unfair or unjustified, you have every right to appeal that decision. Skilled attorney Joseph D. Lento has advocated for clients all over the spectrum, from undergraduate students to masters and doctoral students. If you care about your educational and professional future, contact him today.