College/ Higher Education Law

  • Grade Appeals
  • Academic Dishonesty-Cheating/Plagiarism
  • Dismissals and Appeals of Dismissals
The laws, policies and procedures regulating higher education are very complicated and always changing. Every college and university has policies and procedures through which students can challenge a failing grade, a decision to repeat a course, or any other adverse decision, such as suspension or dismissal.

The policies provide processes through which a student can appeal an adverse action and appear before a hearing panel if the student so decides.

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In some universities, these policies are applied in the most tyrannical manner. We have seen cases where students who were few weeks from graduation were accused of code of conduct violations and had to face the prospect of dismissal from the university. Rather than conduct thorough investigations, universities often rely on incomplete facts, shoddy investigations and seek to dismiss the students without consideration of the student’s peculiar circumstances.
In other cases, the decision whether to dismiss a student or not has nothing to do with the strength of the student’s case. Universities have to balance the number of dismissals with their financial needs, profitably ratings, graduation ranking and overall reputation and sometimes this impacts the decision whether the student will be dismissed or not.
The focus of our firm is however different. Our focus is 100% on you the student and your right to pursue an education and a future. Our objective is to carefully understand your case, analyze the strengths of your case and zealously represent you before the disciplinary panel.
With our knowledge of the law and how to interface with university officials, we use our experience to help students leverage a better settlement with the university, through appearing at disciplinary hearing, mediation, or negotiating with the school’s attorney.
Our over-arching goal is to help you achieve success by obtaining your degree, with a clean record, so you can advance to the next level of academia or employment. As such, it is crucial to partner with a legal team that has comprehensive knowledge and experience in this area of law
The disciplinary process in most universities involves four major steps:
  • The Initial Referral
  • The Investigation
  • The College Hearing; and

Grade Appeals

Academic appeals in public universities are based on due process rights and require a student to allege and prove a denial of procedural or substantive due process. To successfully challenge an adverse grade action, the student has to argue a procedural or a substantive due process violation.
To argue a procedural due process violation, the student must argue that he/she did not receive a fair process to challenge adverse academic decision

To argue a substantive due process violation the student must argue that the adverse decision was “arbitrary and capricious.”

A student is however entitled to request and be granted a college hearing if the student disputes the grade. Failure to grant the student’s request is a procedural due process violation. For more on college hearing, Learn more

The problems facing students in private universities are profoundly different from the problems facing students in public universities because students in private institutions do not have due process rights. Rather, the rights of students in private universities are usually governed by contract law. Students in private universities can challenge a grade or other adverse academic decision only if they can successfully argue that the adverse decision is contrary to the school’s policies as set forth in the student’s handbook.
Our firm has successfully resolved grade appeals and overturned adverse grades for students both in private and public universities sometimes following a full contested hearing or appeal process. We have taken cases all the way to the highest level of appeal in order to restore our client’s education.

Academic Dishonesty-Cheating/Plagiarism

Academic integrity is a fundamental principle of any education institution and thus all universities have zero-tolerance for any form of academic dishonesty. While academic integrity is the foundational pillar of the educational system, there are many instances where a student can be falsely accused but condemned for academic dishonesty.
A charge of academic dishonesty is made when a course instructor sends an initial referral to the dean of students. The dean of students or conduct officer is then charged with investigating the allegation and initiating proceedings against the student.
University educators and school conduct officers are not lawyers nor trained investigators, yet they often receive incomplete complaints and make decisions without fully knowing the complete facts and without thorough investigations but proceed to take actions against students that are not in compliance with the law and doesn’t observe the student’s rights.
We rarely if ever see fair investigation and application of the rules in educational institutions. While a school or university may be satisfied with a superficial investigation and application of the rules, our student clients need not be. It is the student’s right to defend themselves against such accusations and insist on a thorough investigation.
Academic dishonesty proceedings are very tricky and it takes an experienced attorney to spot the underlying issues and compare it to the superficial investigation conducted by the university.
Through our own investigations, we discover gaps or often improper actions taken by university that can ultimately overturn disciplinary decisions. We have successfully handled complex academic issues often involving colleges of engineering and computer science. For such complex cases, we collaborate with an excellent network of informational technology scientists, engineers and experts who together with our legal expertise bring successful resolutions for our students.

We have taken cases all the way to the highest level of appeal in order to restore our client’s education. For more on college hearing, Learn more

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Dismissals and Appeal of Dismissals:

Most universities have an appeal process through which the student can appeal the outcome of the college hearing or any other adverse action proposed to be taken against the student. If a student decides to appeal, the adverse action is paused pending the determination of the appeal. This means that the disciplinary actions proposed at the college hearing will not go into effect until the appeal process is over. Learn more

One of the most devastating outcomes of a college hearing is dismissal from the university. Dismissal can occur after a student has invested years of study and tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in tuition, fees and student loans. Dismissal is never an easy prospect and we are keenly aware of the level of emotions attached to this when a student is facing potential dismissal from a university.
Before a student is dismissed, the university has to give the student due process right to a hearing. If the outcome of hearing is unfavorable to the student, the student must be allowed to appeal that unfavorable decision. Time is of the essence in the filing an appeal. The student will lose the right to appeal an unfavorable decision if the student fails to submit an appeal in a timely manner.
For cases where there is possibility of dismissal, we apply our years of experience to the careful analysis of the student’s unique situation, conduct detailed review and analysis of all the student’s records, communications and school policies to maximize the power of our appeal documents. We ensure that the grounds of appeal include all procedural and substantive irregularities that the student encountered during the disciplinary process, including those we uncovered in our own independent investigation.
Most universities will not allow fresh evidence to be introduced at the appellate level and that is why it is imperative to work with an education attorney to guide the student in presenting all of the evidence and mitigating factors at the initial college hearing.
Universities have a team of attorneys representing and advising them at every step of the disciplinary process. There is no reason why a student should walk through the same process without legal representation.
If there are specific details or assistance you seek regarding our legal services, Contact Here

Odediran Law Firm, PLLC

Odediran Law Firm is an Education Law Firm representing the rights of Students, Parents, Teachers and Faculty in Education Law matters. The Firm is located in Austin, Texas and actively represents Students, Parents, Teachers and Faculty throughout the state of Texas

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