Pennsylvania Education Lawyers
Have you, a family member, or a friend been accused of an infraction of a student code of conduct?
Any good university lawyer or college lawyer can tell you that your decision of how to handle the matter may resonate throughout your entire life. You have a major investment in your education, not to mention goals and aspirations. Before a lawyer can explain the gravity and severity of the situation students often make critical and costly mistakes. Hiring a school lawyer is simple risk management. A small investment right now could salvage an entire career in higher education.
A very common question, for example, is if a college student got into serious academic or conduct disciplinary trouble, whether it could impede or even end their chances for graduate school. The resounding answer is YES!
College and university legal services
One of the most frequently overlooked areas of school law is that surrounding college students and their rights. A trained college and university lawyer can make a world of difference. The services we offer include:
- Defending students charged with plagiarism and other academic violations.
- Defending students charged with code of conduct violations.
- Guidance, advice, and instruction to students in hearings where attorneys are not allowed.
- Fighting for readmission to college after dismissal.
- Appealing disciplinary action taken against a student for code violations.
- Obtaining accommodations for students learning or other disabilities.
- Negotiating disciplinary sanctions to lesser offences.
- Settling disputes using alternative remedies without normal disciplinary action.
- Assisting students with issues they have with departments in such areas as housing, financial aid, harassment, discrimination, ADA compliance, and faculty misconduct.
We give students the information they need to assess their options and, in appropriate cases, will negotiate on behalf of the student, as well as draft letters and legal documents for the student.
Do you need a school expulsion or suspension attorney? Do you need help navigating the school’s confusing judicial procedures?
You are now in an adversarial situation. You must proceed down a path through a quasi-judicial system where the institution has overwhelming control. Parents and children are confused about how to proceed, potential alternative options, negotiations, meetings, hearings, and appealing a decision. This is not a practice run, a loss can derail an entire family.
Consider that suspensions or expulsions, without the help of an experienced adviser, will generally stay on a record permanently. What could have been cured through remedial measures can easily turn into a suspension or expulsion. It can end the student’s chances of graduate school in the blink of an eye.
Is a criminal attorney qualified to handle a student judicial affairs lawyer’s job?
Most likely no. Many students erroneously turn to criminal attorneys without realizing that the higher education judicial system is totally different than the criminal judicial system. This has been compared to using a sledgehammer when a small ball-pein hammer is required.
In addition to choosing the wrong type of attorney, criminal lawyers are often so used to acting aggressively in court that they can easily turn a small matter into a vitriolic affair with the school. These are delicate matters and you needn’t prejudice yourself any further.
How does the college/university judicial process function?
The answer is that virtually every college or university has its own set of unique judicial procedures. With the advice from your attorney, you can be proactive and present your best possible case from square one. Here are some examples of the divergence of every judicial system.
- Allegheny College begins the process at what is known as a disciplinary conference. Although this is touted as “conversational in nature” and “not akin to a criminal process”, the reality is that in this meeting a decision will be rendered. In other words, this single person has your future in their hands.
- Carnegie Mellon is somewhat unique in its separation of hearing boards depending on the violation. There are the University Committee on Discipline (UDC), the Residence Hall Board, and the Greek Community Board. For the most part, the UDC is the highest and most common appellate committee. Before you get to the UDC, however, like most schools you will likely start out in front of (1) a university adjudicator, (2) university staff members taking summary (administrative decision), or (3) other student disciplinary boards. In any of these scenarios, the informal nature of the proceedings as well as the broad discretion afforded to the school’s tribunal is highly prejudicial to the student.
- Carlow University begins the process by appointing what is known as a “Student Conduct Coordinator.” This person then has full discretion to meet with anybody they choose, accept or deny any facts at their leisure, and consult the Student Conduct Board- the same board responsible for hearing your appeal. This Student Conduct Coordinator then makes a recommendation to the Student Conduct Administrator. If the student dislikes the decision, they may appeal to the Student Conduct Board. From the very first interview with this Student Conduct Coordinator, if the student is not exquisitely prepared they will face an uphill battle.
- CCAC has a strict split between academic and behavioral discipline. However, both tracks contain informal and formal procedures.
Kraemer, Manes & Associates LLC “KM&A” is a law firm serving all of Pennsylvania with our principal offices in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Call KM&A in western Pennsylvania at 412-626-5626 or in eastern Pennsylvania at 215-618-9185. KM&A can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.