If you or a loved one has just received an allegation of misconduct from a Wyoming school, this is likely a stressful time for you.
Alternatively, your teacher may have just told you that you're failing to progress as quickly as they'd like. As a result, you're facing steep, future-wrecking sanctions (such as suspensions and dismissals).
In either case, it can be very easy to feel that you have nowhere to turn. You've got to handle this on your own, and, despite your best efforts, this probably won't be turning out so well.
Fortunately, that isn't the case.
As a Wyoming college student or the parent of one, there actually is a lot you can do to work towards a successful resolution for your case. As your school moves through its adjudicative process, you can create a strong defense for your innocence and work to make sure that your school can't take advantage of you.
This may seem difficult, but it's a lot more tenable than the alternative. Consider what might happen if, later on in life, you're interviewing for the job of your dreams when your interviewer sees a disciplinary note on your transcript. How might you consider explaining away your school's allegations and records concerning:
- Sexual misconduct
- Theft or violence in the dorms
- Cheating or plagiarism
- Repeated course withdrawals
- Consistently dwindling grades
- Suspensions (as evidenced by gaps on their transcript)
None of that would paint a fair picture of you as a person. They may even result in your losing out on opportunities you may have otherwise won.
At the Lento Law Firm, we believe that you should be able to enjoy success with the college degree you've worked hard to earn. That's why we're ready to partner with you to keep your permanent record clear of disciplinary notes. We're going to start by making sure that you have all of the information that you need as a Wyoming college student to empower yourself through your school's complex adjudicative process.
Bookmark this page (trust us, you'll be happy you had this information later!), and let's get started.
What Private and Public Colleges and Universities Are in Wyoming?
Wyoming, or the Equality State, is home to many top-tier universities and colleges. These include the following:
Public schools in Wyoming
- University of Wyoming
- Central Wyoming College
- Gillette College
- Northwest College
- Sheridan College
With over 12,000 students, the University of Wyoming has the largest number of students in the state. As a result, we'll use the University of Wyoming code of conduct wherever it would be illustrative and pertinent throughout this guide.
However, it's always a good idea to check the code of conduct at your own school, particularly if you think that a code of conduct dispute may be in your future. There could be specifically prohibited actions at your school or unique adjudicative processes that your school follows. Your student defense advisor can help you navigate through your school's complex documentation.
There are very few private higher education institutions in Wyoming. They include Wyoming Catholic College and WyoTech Private. If you attend one of these schools, it's doubly important that you check your own school's code of conduct before proceeding.
It's important to note that these private schools may seem to operate under their own authority, at least far more so than the publicly funded schools in the state. While schools that don't require federal funding may have a little more freedom with how they operate on a daily basis, in most cases, they do need to follow the same state and federal regulations that public schools follow.
There are a few reasons for this, but the clearest one is money. Even if these private schools don't require federal funding at a specific point in time, there's a good chance that they'll want to remain eligible for funding if a catastrophe or other unexpected event occurs.
Let's take a moment to go over some of the governing bodies and legal language that applies to the various colleges and universities in Wyoming:
Statewide Higher Education Laws and Government Bodies in Wyoming
- The Wyoming Department of Education publishes rules and regulations for both private and public academic institutions of higher education within the state. For example, the Department oversees licensure of the colleges and universities in the state.
- The State of Wyoming Legislature has specific language that discusses the ways that colleges in the state must operate (including the way the college credit system works).
- Wyoming is in the 10th Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals — a court that could influence the way your school is able to run.
Now that we've established some foundational expectations, let's go over what actions could garner unwanted attention from your school.
Failure to Progress: What It Means and What Happens at Your Wyoming School
What does “failing to progress” mean? It's not a very intuitive term, but you may instinctively know that it doesn't sound good. If your teacher has told you that you're failing to progress as quickly as they hope, you may wonder what's going to happen. Will your teacher help you get caught up? Will your school provide resources to help you, particularly if you've told someone that you're struggling?
The actual response that your school may provide after these types of events will likely be disheartening.
“Failure to progress” is a vague, general term that is used to describe any type of action that may not technically constitute breaking a rule but does indicate that you're not acting according to their expectations. Some examples of failure to progress actions may include:
- Failing to take an adequate or minimum number of credits for either your program or your specific student status
- Repeatedly withdrawing from courses
- Failing to prepare specific (required) materials for courses or labs
- Repeatedly earning incompletes in courses
- Failing to do everything that is required for your course (e.g., as denoted in your course curriculum)
- Repeatedly or consistently low grades in your coursework
- Failing to do the background reading for your courses
These actions may not seem very serious to you, but your teacher may consider them extremely punishable.
What makes this serious is that determining and escalating a failure to progress even falls to your teacher. Your school will look to them for analysis of your performance and possibly even recommendations for just punishment. This places students that don't have a great relationship with their educators in a less-than-desirable situation.
The punishments associated with failure to progress scenarios can vary widely. Your educator may simply recommend an academic punishment, such as extremely low or failing grades. However, you could also be asked to repeat a class, which could put your entire academic timeline at risk. Your educator could also escalate the matter to your school's administration, which could place you at risk of a suspension or dismissal.
Failure to progress situations can become more serious than you think, and it can happen very quickly. Once you believe that a failure to progress scenario could be in your future, you need to get a student defense attorney to help you make sure that this doesn't become more serious than it needs to be.
What Are Code of Conduct Infractions at My Wyoming School?
While failure to progress scenarios may not involve any real rule-breaking, there are punishable behaviors that are a little more clear-cut. Often, these involve your school's code of conduct.
A code of conduct is a document that your school has put together to describe both preferred and punishable student behavior. It should contain lists of things that students cannot do, as well as lists of the potential punishments that may be on the table.
This document should be freely available (either online or as a part of your student handbook), but it was not written to be easy to read. It will be full of jargon, legalese, and lengthy footnotes. After you skim through your school's code of conduct, it may be a good idea to ask your student defense attorney to comb through it more thoroughly.
In your school's code of conduct, you should find sections that discuss the main types of misconduct at more length. We'll provide a brief overview of these right now.
Sexual Misconduct at Your Wyoming School
Sexual misconduct includes sexual behaviors that occur without the consent of all persons involved. Most Wyoming school codes of conduct will investigate all allegations of sexual misconduct that concern the following:
- Domestic violence
- Dating violence
- Sexual exploitation
Your school will investigate an allegation of stalking or violence because it's worried about your safety and the experience of students on campus. However, there's another reason that your school may be quick to leap into action.
Title IX, a federal regulation first established in 1972, created a requirement for all schools in the United States to investigate sexual misconduct allegations in a timely manner. If a school neglected to do this, that school risked losing its funding.
This can create an incentive for schools to investigate sexual misconduct allegations a little too quickly or harshly. Schools can steamroll over students' rights in order to deal with allegations in a timely manner. As a result, students who are innocent or whose allegations were the result of a mistake or misunderstanding are slapped with severe sanctions that could have a huge impact on their future.
Having sexual misconduct on your permanent record can be devastating. Before your case blows out of proportion, you need to work with a student defense advisor to keep the repercussions as minimal as possible.
Academic Misconduct, Your Wyoming School, and You
Another type of misconduct that your school will likely identify is academic in nature. Academic integrity issues differ from failure to progress scenarios in that, with academic misconduct, an allegedly guilty student will break a very specific and clear rule.
Some examples of academic integrity issues may include:
- Accessing unauthorized materials
- Fabricating data
- Collaborating with other students (when not allowed to do so)
- Destroying school property
- Sabotaging the work of others
With academic integrity issues, much like failure to progress scenarios, your educator may make some effort to tailor the punishment to fit the crime. They may give you a failing grade or ask you to repeat assignments. Not only does this set a dangerous precedent, but it also may not be fair. It's also not the worst that could happen: Your school could also decide to dismiss or suspend you for any of these actions.
Are sexual misconduct and academic misconduct the only issues my Wyoming school will investigate?
No! Your school will likely recognize a wide variety of types of misconduct; sexual and academic misconduct are just two of the most common and easy to define.
Among the actions that your school could otherwise consider punishing are:
Drug or alcohol use: Your school will likely follow local state laws in this area. Since this is the case, any use of controlled substances for recreational use will probably be prohibited on your campus. In addition, your school will most likely have a rule about people drinking alcohol before they are twenty-one.
Residential misconduct (e.g., theft or violence in the dorms): Your safety is of paramount importance to your school, so it will consider any type of dangerous behavior in its residence halls or dormitory a punishable behavior.
Hate crimes: If any of your alleged misdeeds can be tied to the race, orientation, religion, gender, or another aspect of a victim's identity, even a simple act of misconduct (e.g., a minor theft, a threat, or a prank) could be elevated to a hate crime. This can happen very quickly, and it can be absolutely lethal to your future career if it's left on your student record.
Hazing: Recently, schools across the nation have been taking a particularly harsh stance against hazing — or hazing gone wrong. When fraternities, sororities, social clubs, or sporting groups have elaborate and overly embarrassing or even dangerous initiation rituals, occasionally, one of them can get out of hand. When people get injured or involved in scandalous behavior, schools can crackdown on the hazing event and all of those involved.
This more general category of code of conduct disputes may be extremely specific to your school. When you're reading your own school's code of conduct, you'll want to pay special attention to this area of the document. As with academic integrity issues and sexual misconduct, these other types of punishable behavior can get out of hand very quickly.
After your school receives word regarding your alleged misconduct, your school's representatives may leap into action very quickly.
In the next section, we'll take a quick look at the specific events that could occur when your school's adjudicative process begins.
How Will My Wyoming School Adjudicate My Misconduct Case?
Whether or not your misconduct allegations have any truth behind them, you're probably curious about the types of punishments your school can recommend. You may even think that if punishments on the table aren't so bad, you don't have much to worry about.
That couldn't be farther from the truth — and, in a moment, we'll talk about why that's the case.
First, let's discuss what happens after your school learns about your alleged misbehavior. Your Wyoming school's due process will begin with an allegation filed against you with your school's administrative team. This allegation could come from your educator — as it well might in a failure to progress or academic integrity infraction — or it could come from the supposed victim in your situation. The allegation could even come from an interested or concerned bystander.
Once your school learns about your infraction, your school representatives will have a brief period of time in which they can decide to let the allegation go or to learn more. As discussed above, if the allegations concern sexual misconduct, your school will have no choice but to investigate.
If your school does decide to move forward with an investigation, you'll receive an investigation (either as a printed letter or as an e-mail). This official notification should contain information such as:
- The nature of the allegations against you
- The part of your school's code of conduct, if applicable, that you have allegedly violated
- What next steps your school plans to take
When you receive this notification, consider it a cue to leap into action. If you hadn't expected this notification and it comes as a shock, take a moment to decompress as well as you can, but don't freak out. You need to remember that you can keep this situation under control as long as you work quickly.
Here are the first few things you need to do to start working towards a favorable outcome from the very beginning:
- Decide to keep your school's investigation as confidential as possible. While you may feel that you need to talk about what's happening, you should realize upfront that if push comes to shove, anything you say to anyone else about what's happening can be held against you. This is the case if you talk to your friends (who may be interviewed as part of your school's investigation), and it's certainly the case if you talk to anyone from your school. If you're suffering and you need to speak to someone about what's happening or your mental health levels, speak to your family, a mental health professional, or your student defense attorney. Keep that circle extremely small!
- Pull together as much information as you can about what happened. Your school will be investigating the events that led up to the incident central to your allegations. You should do the same thing. Start to compile a timeline of what happened before and after the event, pull as much evidence as you can to back up that timeline (e.g., timed social media posts or check-ins), and think about any people who may be able to back up your version of events. (Don't reach out to them yet, but list their names and the information they may be able to provide). When you bring a student defense attorney on board, they'll need all of this information at their fingertips. Be unflinchingly honest when you put together this database. It will be kept confidential, but it's important that your student defense attorney has accurate information to work with.
- Get in touch with a student defense attorney. The single best thing you can do for your case is to have a professional on board as early as you can in the process. While this might seem like an overreaction, it definitely isn't. Student defense cases are often won or lost far earlier than you think — often, in the initial discovery or investigative phase itself. It'll do your case a lot of good to have a defense attorney on your side earlier rather than later. Plus, in later phases of your school's adjudication, several events can happen extremely quickly. Having your student defense attorney on board before this sequence of events happens is in everyone's best interest.
If you've completed these three actions, you can rest assured that you're starting your school's disciplinary experience well-poised to have the most successful outcome possible.
As you're completing your initial to-do list, your school will be conducting its investigation. This could be relatively simple or very in-depth. You need to be prepared for your school to look at your past records, your social media, and even speak with your friends. (You may be tempted to erase social media posts or similar information, but you shouldn't do anything of the sort, at least not without your attorney's express knowledge. Even if it seems like you're getting rid of damning information or if it seems innocuous, you could be erasing critical information. Alternatively, the simple act of erasure could actually be more damning than the content of the post itself.)
Once your school has completed its investigation, you'll experience the following events (or a subset of them):
- You'll meet with a representative from your school, such as your educator or mentor, to discuss the allegations at a high level. You may get a chance to tell your side of the story at this time. In some cases, the representative may mete out punishment immediately (e.g., a failing grade for suspected cheating). At the end of this meeting, the representative should share the next steps you'll be expected to complete.
- You may also be invited to a more formal full panel hearing in front of a larger number of representatives from your school. At this more extensive meeting, you may hear about your school's interpretation of the evidence compiled against you. Your school may invite witnesses to speak. At the end of this meeting, your school will come to a decision regarding your responsibility for the alleged infraction.
- Either at the end of this formal hearing or by way of a notification, your school will recommend a sanction that you'll need to carry out.
Depending on the nature of the recommended sanction, you may decide that you need to fight against it or request a reconsidered sanction from your school.
Before we start talking about what that process may entail, let's discuss what your school's recommended sanctions may be.
What Sanctions Could I Experience at My Wyoming School?
Your school's code of conduct may contain an extensive list of sanctions that you could face. It'll probably be a relatively overwhelming list. You may see items such as:
- Mandatory housing changes
- Written warnings
- Loss of privileges
While this list could seem like a lot — and it's far from comprehensive! — in reality, you're most likely to get slapped with a suspension or an expulsion.
This may be less overwhelming, but it's far from good news. You see, while a suspension may not sound that bad in the moment, it's exactly the type of punishment most likely to make your life difficult in the long run. As you'll be out of school during a suspension, you'll end up with a gap on your transcript. That transcript gap will stand out as a giant red flag to future interviewers at both future schools and places of employment, and it will likely result in you not getting offers you would otherwise have earned.
Since you likely don't want to graduate from your Wyoming school with that hanging over your head, you will likely want to take steps to avoid a suspension (or any type of punishment that could cause notations or gaps on your transcript or permanent records).
One of the first steps you might take is a formal appeal.
How Do I File an Appeal at My Wyoming College or University?
The most important factor in filing a successful appeal is having a student defense attorney at your side. That will make the entire process a lot easier and possibly more productive.
As you will only have a very short amount of time to file your appeal after your school's initial decision, it's ideal to have an advisor already familiar with the case by this time. To file your appeal, your advisor will help you determine a good argument to back up your request that the school issue a less concerning sanction. Your advisor will then help you write up that argument and file it with the relevant authority at your school.
You will only have one chance to file your appeal. If your school decides not to listen to you, you may need to consider alternative action.
Is It Time to Sue My Wyoming School?
If it is time to consider a lawsuit, your student defense attorney will be able to help you with more itemized next steps. However, you may want to consider a quick but effective alternative.
Lawsuits are extremely expensive, and they will almost certainly result in the termination of your relationship with the school. As a result, a lawsuit should be a last-resort option.
At the Lento Law Firm, we recommend sending your defense advisor to speak lawyer-to-lawyer with your school's office of general counsel. This type of conversation will very often result in compromises and better outcomes than a full-on lawsuit.
Are There Any Wyoming Laws I Should Know About as a College Student?
There are! Consider the following:
- If you're under the age of 21, it's illegal to drink alcohol in the state of Wyoming. Wyoming also has strict laws about driving under the influence at any age.
- If you live off-campus, you will need to follow all of the stipulations listed in your tenant agreement. This includes paying your rent on time, every time!
- In Wyoming, it's illegal to use a fake ID to purchase alcohol. It's also illegal to show a fake ID to a police officer.
Statute of Limitations Laws in Wyoming
- Injury to Person: Four years
- Libel: One year
- Slander: One year
- Fraud: Four years
- Injury to Personal Property: Four years
- Trespassing: Four years
- Contracts: Ten years
- Collection of debts: Five years
- Judgments: Five years
Does this information feel like a lot? It is! Fortunately, a national student defense advisor is ready to help you work through all of it.
Wyoming College Students, Call Joseph D. Lento To Work Towards a Successful Resolution
There's not much that's scarier than the aftermath of an allegation of misconduct from your school. Whether it was a surprise or something you suspected might be in your future, that type of notification can easily make you panic.
In the midst of that panic, it can be easy to make mistakes or delay taking critical action. If you remember one thing from this guide for Wyoming college students, it's this: Misconduct and failure to progress cases progress faster than you may think. You need to get a student defense attorney on your side as quickly as possible.
You need Joseph D. Lento.
For years, Joseph D. Lento has helped students all across the nation navigate through complex student misconduct and failure to progress scenarios. He has coached them through hearings, created strong defenses, negotiated with schools on their behalf, and protected their reputation.
He can do the same for you. Whether you're looking for assistance during an early investigation or in a later stage of your school's adjudicative proceedings, Joseph D. Lento can assist.
Give Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm a call today to learn more about what is possible for you. Either call us at 888-535-3686 or connect with us online to receive a timely response.
Are you a student or the parent of a student at a Wyoming college or university facing a school-related issue? Attorney Joseph D. Lento can help. Click on the following links as applicable for more information:
Joseph D. Lento has helped many students and others in academia in Wyoming protect their academic and professional future. Contact him today at 888-535-3686.