We see far too many students and parents wait to take action until their university has already issued sanctions. In the most disheartening cases, the sanction that the student receives is a suspension or dismissal. If you find yourself or your child in this position, then hiring a qualified attorney-advisor is imperative.
Even if your child has yet to receive a suspension or dismissal, hiring an attorney-advisor is the prudent decision. The Lento Law Firm has helped students attending a variety of universities in Washington. Whether you attend the University of Washington, Washington State University, or another school in The Evergreen State, our team will fight to reduce or dismiss sanctions against you.
You have little time to retain an attorney's help, particularly if you've already received notice of a suspension or dismissal. Don't wait.
Why Universities in Washington May Dismiss You
We handle all cases involving dismissal, and we've assisted students who have been dismissed because of:
Universities in Washington generally have minimum academic standards that students must abide by. You will generally be afforded a probationary period if you struggle academically. During this period, you will need to show sufficient academic improvement to return to good standing.
At the University of Washington, as one example, students enter into academic probation when their cumulative grade point average (GPA) falls below a 2.0. If a student on probation fails to score above a 2.0 in the following quarter, then they are usually “dropped” from the university.
There may be ways to avoid dismissal in cases of low scholarship. Whether the solution is a grade-change petition, grievance, extension of a probationary period, or another resolution, our team will work to help you avoid dismissal or suspension.
Alleged academic misconduct
Academic misconduct has risen as hybrid learning becomes increasingly mainstream. University students in Washington and across the nation face more temptation to engage in academic misconduct than ever before.
Even if you've not engaged in academic misconduct, the perception of academic wrongdoing can lead to your dismissal. Your university owes you due process, and any sanctions you receive should be commensurate with any offense you've committed.
Alleged sexual misconduct
Universities have developed a reputation for railroading students accused of sexual misconduct. Your school in Washington may use a comparatively low standard of guilt, the preponderance of evidence, to determine your responsibility for alleged sexual wrongdoing. You may suffer a hasty dismissal from your university and face the stigma that alleged sexual misconduct creates.
A dismissal based on sexual misconduct demands an impassioned defense. Beyond the consequences of a general dismissal, a dismissal of this sort may create the perception that you've done what you're accused of. We'll work hard to protect your name.
Alleged Title IX violations
Federal Title IX regulations prohibit various forms of discrimination and harassment. A broad range of offenses may fall under Title IX, and universities take such offenses very seriously. An alleged violation of Title IX could even lead to dismissal if you fail to mount a capable defense.
Other alleged violations of a university's code of conduct
Your university likely maintains a textbook-thick set of rules. Any violation of these rules could spiral towards a suspension or dismissal. Our team will promptly familiarize ourselves with your school's rules and procedures. We'll determine which types of wrongdoing you've been accused of, then begin work on your defense.
If Appeals Are Still an Option
We encounter students who find themselves in various stages of the disciplinary process. If you have yet to exhaust your appeal options, know that Washington-based universities allow appeals of dismissals in virtually every case.
Our team will assess your case and determine what appeal options remain available to you, if any. Appeals processes differ between universities but generally involve:
- A list of accepted grounds for filing an appeal
- A short window to file the appeal
- Specific instructions about whom you must file an appeal with
- A defined period within which your university must complete the appeal process
Even if you've already filed your appeal or a future appeal proves unsuccessful, you have additional options for finding a resolution.
Negotiating With the Office of General Counsel (OGC)
If an attorney lacks experience with university student defense, then they may not be comfortable with, or aware of, the option to negotiate with an Office of General Counsel (OGC). This is one area where the Lento Law Firm's experience in student defense shines through.
An Office of General Counsel generally handles a variety of roles for a university and may have the leeway to resolve student discipline issues outside of standard disciplinary channels.
At Washington State University, the OGC is known as the Office of the Attorney General (OAG or AGO). Washington State University literature explains that “attorneys in the AGO provide advice and guidance to university personnel across the broad spectrum of WSU operations.” More specifically, the AGO may negotiate a resolution in cases of student discipline.
We will negotiate tactfully with the general counsel for your university if it is appropriate in your case. While other attorneys may immediately resort to threats of a lawsuit, that is not our approach. Our interest is securing the cleanest possible resolution to your case, and we will work with—not against—your university's OGC to pursue an acceptable outcome.
Your university's OGC may engage in good-faith negotiations because:
- It may generally prefer to avoid the expense and hassle of a lawsuit
- It may not want the negative publicity that could arise from a lawsuit
- It may consider a settlement to be the most amicable, appropriate option for the university—even if a disciplinary body at the school views the matter differently
A resolution through your school's OGC may also benefit you because:
- A settlement reached through the OGC could allow you to avoid suspension or dismissal
- A settlement may allow you to avoid the contentiousness and uncertainty that a lawsuit may cause
To be clear, we can and will file a lawsuit if necessary. We don't shy away from a necessary legal fight. However, we'll exhaust all available options before we turn to a lawsuit, including thorough negotiations with your school's OGC.
Consequences of a Dismissal
If you're still wavering about whether to hire an attorney-advisor, we suggest that you consider the short- and long-term consequences of a dismissal.
In the short term, dismissal from a university in Washington may:
- Cause psychological and emotional distress, which can lead to physical health issues
- Cause reputational harm
- Require you to repair your reputation as a student, perhaps by attending a community college or a lower-tier university
- Spend money on transcripts, application fees, and other expenses as you reestablish your course to graduation
A dismissal may remain visible on your record, even if you eventually graduate from a reputable university. The stigma that a dismissal causes can produce long-ranging consequences, which may include:
- A reduction in the type and number of jobs you are able to attain
- A reduction in your earning power
- A change of careers if your dismissal prevents you from gaining licensing for a selective professional field
- General dissatisfaction and regret, which could stem from the thought, “what if I had fought harder against the dismissal?”
If we could provide one piece of advice that you would take to heart, it's this: do not underestimate how significant a dismissal can be for your quality of life. Let us fight for an outcome that you can live with.
Why Choose the Lento Law Firm Over the “Local” Lawyer
Some students facing dismissal or parents of students facing dismissal may have a common reaction when they realize the gravity of their case. They may search for a local lawyer who understands the laws in the Washingtonian city where their university is located. While understandable, this isn't the right approach.
When seeking an attorney for a student who has been dismissed or is facing possible dismissal, you need a student discipline defense attorney. Even if a local lawyer knows the laws, they may have little to no relevant experience for your case.
The Lento Law Firm has ample experience dealing with universities of all sizes. We truly understand what students facing suspension or dismissal need. Our team has handled cases of dismissal nationwide, and we are familiar with the laws and procedures for universities in Washington.
Call the Lento Law Firm Today for Capable Legal Assistance
Applicable legal experience is invaluable when it comes to your case. Let Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm lend our expertise to you. Call the Lento Law Firm today at (888) 535-3686 or submit your case details online.