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Behavior discipline by academic institution and unfair treatment

Santa Clarita, CA |

I have an issue with my academic institution where there were some accusations made against me by a professional in my field of study. She wrote to the school that I had behaved unprofessionall and viewed some emails i sent as stalking. The school sought action against me, by giving me an ultimatum saying, do these 4 things and you can be reconsidered back in the program, otherwise you will be held in suspension. According to the policy, it stated that there was supposed to be a 'hearing' conducted in to defend myself in front of some board members. However, when I was told by one of the program directors, she simply asked if I was available for a 'meeting' and basically did not tell me the nature of what it was. I feel i was never given a fair chance to defend my case. Any options?

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Attorney answers 1

Posted

Your post is unclear in some critical details.Were you dismissed from the school program? Suspended? When and as a consequence of what process? Readmission is a separate issue, usually involving different issues and procedural rights, from dismissal or other discipline. You have a right to challenge proposed or imposed discipline by a hearing or other process that affords you minimal due process -- essentially the opportunity to critique the evidence against you and to present opposing and rebuttal evidence. It is not clear based on this post whether you have had that opportunity, waived it, or if it is still pending.

In all events, the consequences of dismissal can be very far-ranging and persist for years: tuition forfeitures, transcripts frozen, ineligibility for admission to other schools and programs, and even denial of opportunities for post-education employment and State licensing and credentialing. I strongly recommend that you retain an attorney who practices administrative law and ascertain your rights and options in the current circumstances.

If you cannot determine your school's procedures for appeal of proposed discipline, email me and I will send you the link. I have a bank containing most California institutions' admin appeals policies.

My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as legal advice. I give legal advice only in the course of an attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by individual consultation and execution of a written agreement for legal services.

Asker

Posted

Thanks for the reply, I was limited by space so could not include all the details. Now, to give the rest of the details. The school wrote a letter to me, simply explaining that I had to meet certain (4) requirements in order to be taken out of suspension. I was never given a fair hearing. Instead, they simply set up a meeting at my branch location, where I was simply told they wanted to meet. I was never informed if this was to be a hearing. Basically, the letter already presumed my guilt, and I had no chance to defend myself. This was in January. Recently however, I looked up their student conduct policy and it stated that I should have been informed on the hearing process in which I could defend my case, however, this was never done. I hope that is a little more clear, if not let me know. Thank you.

Asker

Posted

Also, I forgot to mention, I was not dismissed, however I was threatened to be dismissed if my supposed behavior continues, otherwise, I am just held in suspension untill I meet their requirements. Also, this is a graduate program.

Christine C McCall

Christine C McCall

Posted

I know that you are unwilling to recognize the distinction that I have been advising you of for the past few days, but that does not change the legal issues. The fact is that not all suspensions are disciplinary and not all suspensions require the opportunity for an administrative appeal. Without knowing the requirements that the school imposed for your continued participation in the program, no knowledgeable attorney can determine whether these events caused you to have administrative appeal rights or not. You should also understand that an administrative appeal "hearing" can in fact be a meeting. They seldom look like the kind of "hearing" that non-attorneys are familiar with. They often occur in the format and form of a meeting. That is irrelevant in terms of the legal issues. Finally, if you were entitled to an administrative appeal, the school was not required by law to advise you of that fact. It doesn't matter what the student handbook says about that. The student handbook also reserves to the school the right to depart from published policies as the school sees fit. The rights spelled out in the handbook are subject to revision at any time and for any reason without notice by the unilateral act of the school. And it is exceedingly unlikely that there remains a right to an administrative hearing after 5 months -- if indeed there was one in the first instance. Typically these rights must be exercised within a very brief window of time -- usually 5 - 10 days. As I have told you before, you have almost no horses in this fight. You need to engage a skilled and experienced administrative law attorney to attempt to negotiate you back into good standing with your program. You are not likely to succeed in a lawsuit for damages and, if you proceed on your current path of analysis, you will lose the possibility of persuading the school to continue to allow you to meet the four conditions. Frankly, you need an attorney to save you from yourself here. Now, with that, I leave you to your own best choices.

Asker

Posted

If not all suspensions are disciplinary, what else could they be? I really don't see them getting around this one, and your opinion, although uninformed on the situation, is appreciated non-the-less. Good day to you.

Christine C McCall

Christine C McCall

Posted

I wish you the very best of all possible outcomes.

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