I am earning Ed. D at a for profit university that has a satellite location in Atlanta. I am located in Charlotte, NC and have travelled for the past four years for weekend classes, conferences as well as maintained at 3.0 + GPA in all coursework (online and in person). I have completed 60 hours of coursework and only need to pass a final comprehensive exam before I can begin writing my dissertation. I did not pass the comprehensive exam the first time and was allowed to retake the exam. I was given a week to complete the exam and it is comprised of 3 or 4 essay questions with expected completed answers approximately 10-12 pages for each question. On the retake, I was accused of academic dishonesty for matching with “another student’s work”. I must admit one question of the retake was extremely similar so I re-worked a portion of my previously submitted exam and used it in the retake exam (all sources were correctly cited in both papers). When I appealed, I submitted both papers to prove that I was the “another student” and the work was mine. I have been dismissed from the university without any consideration for lesser consequence. The school policy on academic dishonesty considers resubmission of a work produced for one course in a subsequent course to be academic dishonesty but in my case the “course” was the same. How can I fight this? I do not want to have this black mark on my record, not to mention the thousands of dollars in wasted tuition, travel and books. I tried an initial written appeal to the board and plan to file another appeal to be reviewed by the university campus President.
In addition to an attorney, you may need an expert witness in the form of a respected professor from another university. The same question to the same individual should evoke the same answer, possible augmented by new information learned in the interim. I do not see it as re-submission, and the idea of copying unfairly from yourself makes sense only in Alternative Philosophies Course. Sometimes, utterly bizarre charges are the most difficult to refute. How do they prove you are the same person you once were? Maybe the question is the same, but the world has changed. A Zen Master would get a headache. See an attorney - you have too much invested, and their allegation is nuts.
We do not have a client/attorney relationship until you make an appointment, we discuss your case face to face, I accept a retainer, and we explictly agree to enter into representation.
First, stay on top of the school's administrative appeals process and honor it explicitly -- particularly the time limits. I strongly suggest that you obtain counsel for the next level of administrative appeal. That will signal to the school that you are not going to be weeded out here, and it may make a difference in how they assess their own determination and flexibility in this matter.
The important task at the administrative appeal is not persuasion but in making a thorough and complete record. Once that process is completed, a court can review the administrative record and reverse the decision if it is unsupported by persuasive evidence. The court proceeding for this purpose is usually an expedited and relatively inexpensive proceeding, not like a civil lawsuit that takes years and involves protracted process.
I concur with Mr. Poulson that you will want to introduce expert testimony on the ultimate issue here that in writing to the same question twice, you have not plagiarized yourself by repeating your knowledge and point of view.
Best wishes for a successful result.
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