FAQs for Parents

My daughter/son has been notified that a disciplinary complaint has been filed against her/him. What should I do?

You should provide emotional support and a willing ear. It is likely to be a very stressful time for your child.

What does it mean that a “complaint” has been filed against my child?

A complaint is a request that OSC investigate whether or not there has been a violation of the Code of Student Conduct or the Code of Academic Integrity. When OSC receives a complaint, we notify the student involved and begin an investigation to determine whether or not the complaint is valid. Upon conclusion of the investigation, if there is clear and convincing evidence that your child is responsible, he or she is charged and asked to agree to sanctions appropriate to the conduct. If it is found that there is insufficient evidence to charge your child, the case is closed with no further action taken.

An attorney’s role is that of an advisor, not an advocate for the student. The student is expected to speak for him or herself.

Throughout the process, an attorney acting as a respondent’s advisor is “expected to observe the procedures of [the] Charter and comply fully and promptly with decisions of the Disciplinary Hearing Officer [who oversees hearings] or other University officials... in the same manner expected of members of the University Community.” § I.D.7.b.

May I attend OSC meetings with my child?

If your child agrees and if OSC thinks it would be appropriate, you may attend meetings with your son/daughter. However, we caution against it. The disciplinary process can and should be a learning experience for students to explain and/or accept responsibility for their actions. They are best able to do that without parents present.

Will the Office of Student Conduct give me information about the case?

We will communicate with you with your child’s written consent.

In December 1999, the "Parental Notification" section of the confidentiality policy was revised to incorporate the new University guidelines on parental notification regarding alcohol and drug violations.

May I be an advisor to my child?

If you are a member of the Penn community (faculty, staff or student) you may act as an advisor to your child during the disciplinary process. We do not, however, think this is a good idea. Faculty and staff advisors are trained in the process and are better able to be objective and dispassionate. Thus, they are often more effective. You also may be able to provide better support to your child if you do not take on this additional role.

May I speak on behalf of my child?

Students are adults. Throughout the process they are expected to speak for themselves.

Should I engage an attorney to represent my child?

According to the Charter of the Student Disciplinary System, an attorney who is not a member of the University community may not act as an advisor for a student unless “criminal charges are pending against a respondent, or, in the judgment of the Office of the University’s General Counsel, are reasonably in prospect...” § I.D.7.b.

Are disciplinary matters confidential?

Yes. The proceedings, the identity of those involved, all files, testimony and findings are confidential. University officials, such as the Dean of the student’s school, are advised on a “need-to-know” basis.

According to University policy and federal confidentiality laws, disciplinary records may be disclosed by the Dean of the student’s school to an outside agency or institution only with the student’s written consent. Students will likely be asked for access to these records by graduate schools when they apply or by employers for jobs requiring security clearances. All academic integrity sanctions are reportable. For conduct cases, only those resulting in sanctions of probation, suspension, expulsion, withdrawal and delayed diploma are reportable.

Are disciplinary records permanent?

Yes. The University maintains disciplinary records in perpetuity.

Are disciplinary sanctions placed on the student’s transcript?

Only in the most egregious cases is a disciplinary sanction noted on the student’s transcript. The fact that the sanction will be noted on the transcript will be stated in the agreement or hearing panel decision.