As an education law attorney, I have dealt with disciplinary hearings. What many students may not know is that it is best to get an education lawyer involved at the beginning of the case. I am currently working with a student who hired me after he decided to go it alone. I am now handling his last chance - a Writ of Certiorari to the circuit court. This is basically an appeal filed with a state court to review what the school did. It is only available to those students who attend a public college or university. I believe I will get the school’s decision reversed. But it has not been easy. Why? Because there was not much of a record created, and that is a problem.
A record is what a reviewing court, agency, or committee has to look at in order to review what occurred before. In a state criminal case, for example, the appeals court only has a record to figure out what happened in the trial court. So things like transcripts, motions, and depositions comprise the record. Since the reviewing court was not there during the trial, it needs something to look at to figure out what went on below.
So what kinds of things make up a record for a disciplinary proceeding? Well, many times a college or university will not let a student to record the proceedings. That means you will not be able to get a court reporter to sit and transcribe everything that goes on. So what can you do to create a record. Here are a few suggestions.
That’s right, document things. Are you requesting that the hearing be postponed? Do it in writing. Did the school not permit you to look at the evidence they have to support the charges against you? Write a letter to the person in charge of the hearing making the school’s actions know and expressing your objection. Likewise, save any letters or notices that the school sends you and confirm any telephone conversations in writing. Doesn’t need to be anything fancy - a simple email is enough.
Now is not the time to be shy. If during the hearing you feel your rights are being violated or procedures are not being followed, object. If you don’t say anything, then you probably can’t complain later. And since the hearing probably won’t be recorded, after the hearing is over send a letter to the hearing chairperson documenting what objections you raised, the basis for your objections, and how the committee ruled.
All of this is important in case you lose at the hearing stage. Having a proper record will put you in a much stronger position for your appeal to the school or beyond.
Richard Asselta is an award-winning education lawyer with offices in both Florida and New Jersey who offers services to college students throughout the United States. He is experienced in defending all types of student disciplinary issues including representing students in all types of college and university hearings. Call The Education Lawyers today for a free consultation and protect your educational future. (855) 338-5299
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