APPEALING A COLLEGE CODE FINDINGCONTACT US NOW FOR A CONSULTATION
Representing Your Rights After a College Disciplinary Finding
- Case Results
- List of Schools
Here are some representative results we’ve achieved for our clients.
Female complainant’s rights, health, and safety protected throughout lengthy proceedings
Our client was sexually assaulted by a male student acquaintance. We became involved to support our client in getting proper medical treatment, preserving and collecting evidence and witness testimony, and securing therapeutic support. We helped her understand and navigate the many complex options available to her, including a criminal complaint, an informal complaint process, a formal complaint process, or doing nothing. We guided her through the informal process and then the formal process, including interviews with various school and law enforcement officials, and worked closely with the school to put in place appropriate accommodations ensuring that all interviews and hearings did not retraumatize her. The male student was found responsible and was expelled.
Large private university
Witness to sexual violence protected from intimidation
We represented a female witness to a dating violence case on campus who was being pressured to speak with the police and the school investigators about a violent matter she had witnessed on her dorm floor. We immediately communicated on her behalf to the local police, school administrators, and the Title IX investigators to protect her right to choose to not testify and ensure her safety on campus. She was very relieved not to be pressured by the school, the title IX office or the police to attend the hearing and testify about fellow students.
Small private college
Investigation of sexual assault complaint concludes with no charges filed
Our client contacted us immediately upon receiving notice by his school that a claim of sexual assault was made against him by a female student. We assisted him in preparing his detailed answer to the complaint, and then prepared him and accompanied him to his interview with the campus safety police officers. We worked with the school Title IX administrators and helped our client find evidence to show inconsistencies with the complaint. The complainant withdrew her complaint when presented with these inconsistencies and then recanted. The investigation ended and our client was not charged with anything.
Midsized private collegeSee More Case Results
"I am writing to let any college student who gets accused of something serious by their school know that they need a lawyer like Felice Duffy to defend them. I was accused of something terrible by a student that I would never do and didn’t do. Even though I knew exactly what actually happened, I was very scared that my university might not find me innocent. It was terrifying to think that I might lose my full basketball scholarship or could have been suspended or expelled and that me and my family’s name could have gotten a horrible reputation. I can’t even put into words how I excited I was when I got the letter from the school that cleared me completely of the charges against me and I have Felice to thank for that 100%. Since I’m not in Connecticut, Felice and her investigator used video conferencing to interview me and my witnesses, talk with my parents, and get me fully prepared for every meeting I had with my school. They got all my texts and email that proved my innocence and organized them perfectly for the Dean and the discipline committee. Felice was always very direct and respectful even though the subject matter was very personal, and she was always ahead of the school in terms of getting me and them important information at every step. It was like having the best scouting report ever." Felice obviously knows her stuff but she also deeply cares. You can tell that she loves the work she’s doing to help college kids in really difficult situations.
College Sophomre, Colorado
“The claims leveled against me were terrible, but the wonderful news is that I was fully cleared of all the allegations because of the outstanding work Christine Brown and the team at Duffy Law did on my behalf. The first thing that really impressed me was that from the very first call Christine quickly understood what was going on and was able to read between the lines to understand the complicated dynamics of the situation. Despite my entire career being spent in academia, I didn't know much about Title IX procedures. Her expertise and knowledge of the process was immediately apparent and critically helpful in guiding me and giving me as much peace of mind as possible.. Christine knew how to spot the important subtext throughout the process and made sure I understood the strategic options I had at every stage going forward. I felt very confident in the decisions we made together. I felt vindicated by the decision and that this situation will have no further effects on my career. I am very grateful to Christine and Duffy Law for guiding me through this stressful process and recommend them without reservation to any faculty member facing a similarly challenging situation. ”
Assistant Professor in the School of Medicine at a midwest university
“I hired Felice Duffy in the middle of a Title IX sexual assault proceeding. While I had initially retained another attorney on a recommendation, it turns out they did not have much insight to the inner workings of university policy, which I learned is NOT required to follow the basic laws of due process. Felice was absolutely incredible, and as an athlete, she understood my thought process and feelings the entire way. This is what stood out the most to me. At the beginning of my school’s adjudication process, I was an absolute mess. Not only is Felice extremely knowledgeable in law and how school adjudication processes work, but she also really does care about her clients and their well-being. It was initially extremely tough for me to speak about what I was facing. Felice was able to assist me not only in compiling the proper evidence and responding to the school, but also put me in the right state of mind to defend myself and move on with my life after it was all completed. Prior to hiring Duffy Law, I was concerned that I would be relegated to working with a legal assistant or secretary being that my case was in a college setting as opposed to a state court. However, Felice always found a way to make time and was there every step of the way. I feel like an important part of hiring an attorney is being able to trust them to fight for you no matter what the scenario may be and you can rest assured you will be getting that with Duffy Law. I would recommend Felice Duffy of Duffy Law 10 times out of 10 to anyone that may be put in a tough situation like I was”
Female College Freshman, MassachusettsSee More Client Testimonials
Schools Where We've Handled Cases
Here are some of the schools where we’ve represented students, faculty, coaches, and staff:
- Amherst College
- Arkansas State University
- Bard College
- Belmont Abbey College
- Bowling Green State University
- Brandeis University
- Brown University
- Charter Oak State College
- Colgate University
- College of the Holy Cross
- Columbia University
- Connecticut College
- Creighton Law School
- Dartmouth College
- Emmanuel College
- Fairfield University
- Flagler College
- Florida State University
- Fordham University
- Furman University
- George Fox University
- Guilford College
- Howard University
- Illinois Institute of Technology
- Indiana University
- Lesley University
- Louisiana State University
- Marist College
- Marquette University
- Miami University
- Michigan State University
- Mississippi University
- Pennsylvania State University
- Plymouth State University
- Quinnipiac University
- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
- Rice University
- Sacred Heart University
- South Carolina State University
- St. John's University
- St. Lawrence University
- Syracuse University
- Swarthmore College
- Tallahassee Comm. College
- Texas A/M, College Station
- Touro University
- Trinity College
- Tufts University
- University of California, Riverside
- University of Connecticut
- University of Kansas
- University of Lynchburg
- University of Maryland
- University of Mass. Med. School
- University of Miami
- University of Missouri
- University of Nebraska
- University of Northern Colorado
- University of Texas
- University of Virginia
- University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
- University of Wisconsin, Whitewater
- Utah University School of Medicine
- Vassar College
- Virginia Wesleyan University
- Washington University, St. Louis
- Wesleyan University
- Westfield State University
- Western Washington University
- Wheaton College
- William Smith College
- Yale University
- Youngstown State University
If a disciplinary board decides that you violated the college code in some way, the finding will go on your academic record and you may face one or more sanctions. Having a mark on your record can affect your ability to get accepted into additional educational programs or even receive certain professional licenses down the road. Sanctions for serious misconduct allegations – such as sexual assault – can include suspension or expulsion. It can then be difficult to get into another school and may impact your entire future.
Because of the serious implications of disciplinary sanctions at colleges and universities, it is important to examine the possibility of an appeal. You should discuss your options with an experienced college code attorney as soon as possible.
Who Gets an Appeal?
Schools are not required by law to provide the opportunity for students to appeal disciplinary findings. However, most schools do provide a process for appeals, at least for certain types of violations. Each school may have a different process with different requirements and deadlines, so you should always be aware of the specific policy at your college or university.
Title IX governs sexual misconduct cases on college and university campuses as part of its protections against sex discrimination in education. The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) provides guidance to schools regarding Title IX compliance, including appeals. When it comes to sexual misconduct cases, most schools provide both the complainant and the respondent the opportunity to appeal a finding they believe is unfair or inaccurate. The previous OCR guidance stated that Title IX required schools to allow appeals to both parties if they allowed appeals at all.
The newest guidance from 2017, however, allows schools to decide whether they allow appeals for no parties, both parties, or only the responding party. This not only conflicts with the previous official OCR guidance but also seems to allow schools to have different rules and policies for students of different genders, which violates Title IX. If your school has an unfair appeals policy, you should have an experienced education attorney examine the situation.
The Appeals Process
The first step in a college code appeal is to decide whether you want to appeal the finding, the severity of the sanctions, or both and determine which grounds for appeal are allowed by the school. If you were adjudicated guilty of something you did not do or the findings were otherwise inaccurate, you may want to appeal the entire decision of the disciplinary board. In some cases, however, you may not necessarily disagree with the findings but may believe that the sanctions are too harsh and are disproportionate to the violations. In that situation, you may be able to file an appeal of just those sanctions.
Colleges and universities can have a wide range of disciplinary sanctions. Some may include mandatory writing assignments and other minor requirements, which may not be worth appealing. Others may include probation, disqualification from athletics or other activities, suspension, or expulsion. Sanctions may have collateral consequences beyond the sanction itself. For example, if you cannot play sports, you may lose your athletic scholarship or a suspension may cause you to lose financial aid. This may prohibit you from finishing your education altogether. Your future may be on the line and it may be worth filing an appeal.
As mentioned, your school will have its own rules for appeals, which can be complicated and strict. Some schools give you only a few days to prepare and file your appeal, so it is wise to have legal assistance as soon as you learn of the finding – if not before. An experienced college code attorney can ensure that your appeal meets all requirements and sets forth a persuasive argument to overturn the finding or sanctions.
An experienced lawyer can also examine whether your school violated your due process rights, which are protected by both Title IX and the Constitution of the United States. In such cases, an appeal may need to take the form of an administrative complaint or even a civil lawsuit.
Common College Code Violations
Each school will have its own college code with its own violations. While some schools may have significantly stricter rules than others, some of the more common college code violations include the following:
- Sexual Misconduct
- Relationship violence
- Misconduct of college organizations
- Misuse of social media or texting
- Bias-motivated conduct
- Drug offenses
- Alcohol violations
- Housing policy violations
While having a beer in your dorm room may seem harmless at the time, the situation can become significantly more stressful if you then face an alcohol violation. In many cases, having an attorney’s help from the beginning of the process can help you avoid a finding of guilt in the first place.
How an Attorney Can Assist You
In any situation, you want to ensure that your appeal is as strong as possible and that it adheres to your college or university’s rules. This may be the one chance you have to keep your education on track after a disciplinary finding, so you want to make the most of it by hiring the right legal representation. Not every school allows a lawyer to be present during disciplinary or appeal hearings. If this is the case at your school, you should still have the counsel of an attorney and assistance preparing you for your hearing, as well as preparing and filing your appeal.
Contact a College Code Defense Attorney for Help Today
The highly knowledgeable Conduct Code lawyers of Duffy Law have extensive experience with college disciplinary cases, including Title IX complaints of sexual misconduct. We fully understand the legal rights of students and work to protect the rights of our clients at every stage of their case. We have represented hundreds of students facing allegations of college code violations and we can advise you of your options. Whether you have recently been accused of a violation, believe your Title IX rights were violated, or would like to discuss appealing a finding, please call our office at 203-946-2000 or contact us online to discuss your case today.