Contesting and Appealing a Student Conduct Charge or Sanction

Penn State University takes accusations of Code of Conduct violations seriously, and if found in violation of the code, a student could face serious penalties from the school. Students facing conduct charges or sanctions have the right to due process, and as such are allowed to contest or appeal determinations of conduct violations. Hiring an experienced Pennsylvania student conduct attorney gives you the best opportunity to overcome charges of alleged violations of the student conduct code and avoid punishment from the school that could affect the rest of your life.

At Disney Law, our team is prepared to assist you with contesting or appealing charges and sanctions of the Code of Conduct at Penn State. Call or text Robert Disney at 412-999-5765 or contact us today to learn more. 

Contesting a Student Conduct Charge

After a conduct conference is concluded, a student has the opportunity to contest the charges or sanctions through a hearing or sanction review. This option is available if the student believes that he or she is innocent of the charges issued, or if the student believes that the sanctions assigned by the school are not justified given the nature of the violations. Contests are also allowed if the student believes the sanction does not adhere to the rules of the school.  

A hearing may be requested to contest a student conduct charge, and depending on the nature of the offense, may be heard by different individuals or groups associated with the university. For individual student sanctions, the hearing may be done by an administrative hearing officer, who is a specially-trained school staff member. An administrative hearing is typically done when the sanctions are less serious than suspension or expulsion from the school.

If the violations of the conduct code allegedly involved a student organization, the Student Organization Conduct Committee hears the contest of the charge. This committee is a group of students authorized by the school to serve as members of an administrative hearing panel. The organization meets with the panel, and if the organization is found in violation of the conduct code, the committee assigns the sanctions.

The University Conduct Board is a group of students, faculty members, and staff authorized to determine a student conduct contest allegedly caused by either an individual or an organization. This board hears contests when the sanctions involved could result in the individual or organization being suspended or expelled from campus. It is possible to appeal a sanction rendered by the University Conduct Board. 

Finally, a Title IX panel hears conduct contests when the alleged violation falls under Title IX laws. The panel consists of three people, usually university staff members. The panel listens to evidence to determine whether a Title IX violation occurred. An appeal is also possible for sanctions given by a Title IX panel for any alleged violations.

Review of Conduct Sanctions

If a student accepts that a violation of the Code of Conduct occurred while on or off campus but contests the sanction given in the case, they may be able to request a review of the conduct sanction. However, this option is only available if the sanction is probation with a transcript notation or a form of separation.

A sanction review typically considers the written record of the case. The student and their attorney draft a written explanation contesting the sanction and explains the rationale as to why the sanction is too severe for the conduct violation. The statement, which is submitted to the Office of Student Conduct for review, and a memo from the case manager are forwarded to a sanction reviewer. This reviewer has the capacity to either uphold the sanction or modify it. The student is then notified after the review of the decision regarding the sanctions. Unlike a hearing, a review of conduct sanctions does not provide the student an opportunity to speak with the reviewers of the case.

Appealing a Student Conduct Sanction

In cases of conduct code violations in which the sanction is suspension or expulsion from the university after a university hearing, the student has the option to appeal the decision. If the sanction was determined by the Student Conduct Appeals Officer, the student has five business days from receiving official notification to appeal the decision. The written appeal must be delivered to the Senior Director. An appeal can also be requested in cases involving Title IX violations or crimes of violence when suspension or expulsion is possible in light of the charges against the student.

The student must state grounds for appealing a sanction, which can be as follows:

  • The student was deprived of their rights or stated procedures were not followed that impacted the outcome of the case
  • New evidence has come to light that was not presented during the initial hearing, which is relevant to determining whether it was more likely than not that the student committed the conduct violation
  • The sanction imposed by the university was outside the school’s range of allowable punishment for such violation or was not justified given the type of offense

An attorney with experience handling student conduct contests and appeals will be able to assist in drafting a compelling appeal if the school pursues suspension or expulsion for an alleged conduct violation.

Call or Contact Disney Law Today

Depending on the type of violation alleged, the sanctions that Penn State can levy against a student can have a serious, and sometimes permanent, impact on the rest of their lives. If you or someone you know has been given sanctions that were unfair by the university, talk to a knowledgeable student conduct attorney about the case. Call or text Robert Disney at 412-999-5765 or contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation and to learn more about your legal options to contest or appeal a student conduct violation.