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Category: Education Law
Satisfied Customers: 73
Experience:  Sworn to the California Bar in 2011. Former staff editor at The New York Times Co. and seasoned news professional of 20 years experience in the U.S. and abroad.
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I am a student working towards my Masters in CS. I was

Customer Question

I am a student working towards my Masters in CS. I was facing a lot of mental harassment at my institute by one of the professors since a long time(almost a year). I had also made a grade appeal, which they have delayed way beyond the time stipulated,
as per the process set by the institute.There was no response from their end till 9 weeks.(The entire process should have been completed by then, which includes the external board meeting at the final level) Then when I made my scenario public, they called
for a department level meeting; which is not a part of the process at all. They said that it would take a long time to investigate in the matter. But, later I found out that, this process is valid only till the end of this semester.(it seems they are killing
time) They have told me that since I could not concentrate on studies in this semester because of all this, they would be willing to give me an 'Incomplete' in one of the courses this semester, if I do not sit for the finals. However, nothing is given to me
in writing. I needed help to know what to do to safeguard myself? I was told that complaining anywhere would destroy my carrier.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Education Law
Expert: replied 1 year ago.

Hi, I'm scott and will try to provide some perspective.

Please be aware that I am licensed in California only, and in any case, lawyers here cannot provide specific legal advice int his forum because no attorney-client relation exists. Rather, we can only address issues generally.

Speaking generally, U.S. courts give universities significant deference regarding academic program decisions. That is, when a university makes a decision with respect to a student's academic performance, the university is usually given broad leeway by the courts to do so, and will generally be considered to have acted properly.

However, they are not permitted to act arbitrarily, and because most institutions of higher learning received federal funds in one way or another, they are subject t many civil rights protections, including due process; at the least, they are subject to their own official policies and procedures with respect to grading and complaint procedures. So being treated differently and detrimentally than other students in similar circumstances -- may subject the institution to liability.

Keeping in mind a student's prime goal is probably going to be preserving their enrollment and record, they should act with caution and restrain in their interaction with school officials.

Students should review the institutions polices and procedures materials for a thorough grasp of their obligations and those of the institution in responding. They should check complaint procedures, be sure they complied (or be able to explain why not), and check how the institution is supposed to respond, and whether the institution is following its own policies (whether they require the institution respond to the student in writing).

If the institution policies do not seem to cover the exact scenario the student is experience with appropriately detailed policies and procedures, students are best served by being proactive to preserve their enrollment and record, create a "paper trail" that can prove invaluable if further action is necessary.

If the institution has not complied with standard procedures, the student should write to the appropriate school administrator: outlining events, the procedures as stated in school manuals, the student's actions, school/instructor response; then request the administration adhere to their own procedures and also to respond to this inquiry in writing.

If you found this perspective useful, please rate it positively -- thanks!