Board of Trustees Policy
Subject: Student Code of Conduct
Date: May 2020
Supersedes: May 2019, June 2014, November 2008, 2002
The primary purpose of the Student Code of Conduct is to guide students to understand their responsibilities in regard to appropriate behavior and respect for others in the College community. Students are expected to treat all members of the College community with dignity, respect, fairness, and civility and to behave in a responsible manner at all times both in and outside of the classroom.
Montgomery County Community College has established and will maintain a fair, equitable, and timely procedure for addressing student disciplinary matters and for ensuring that the rights of the students, the College community, and the community-at-large are protected. The College has established a Student Code of Conduct to describe behavior that is in violation of acceptable standards and the disciplinary procedures and sanctions for code violations.
Montgomery County Community College expects its students to conduct themselves in a manner that reflects credit upon the institution they represent. There are two basic standards of behavior required of all students:
- They shall adhere to Montgomery County Community College policies, municipal, borough, county, state and federal laws; and
- They shall not interfere with or disrupt the orderly educational processes of Montgomery County Community College.
The Student Code of Conduct applies to all students while at Montgomery County Community College, on College premises, and/or while attending College-sponsored activities on or off campus. In certain circumstances, for example in the instance of sexual misconduct, off-campus misconduct at non-College-sponsored activities that have a continuing and disruptive effect on members of this College community, will also be actionable under this Student Code of Conduct.
The objectives of the disciplinary process at Montgomery County Community College are:
- To create an environment that enhances the opportunity for learning;
- To help ensure order in the College community;
- To educate and guide students on appropriate behavior and respect for others in the College community;
- To protect members of the community from harm due to the conduct of those members of the College community who fail to respect the rights of others; and
- To ensure students due process when they have been accused of violating College rules and regulations.
The terms used in this Code are defined below.
- “College” means Montgomery County Community College.
- “Student” includes all persons who have attended and/or are currently taking courses at the College, both full and part-time, as well as those participating in all on and off-campus College programs, and all other College-sponsored activities.
- “College official” includes any person employed by the College, performing assigned administrative, professional, or support responsibilities.
- “Faculty member” means any person employed by the College to conduct face-to-face and/or online classroom, lab, advising, counseling, library, or clinical activities.
- “College premises” includes all land, buildings, facilities, parking lots, computer systems, social media platforms, vehicles, and other property in the possession of or owned, used, rented or controlled by the College.
- “College-sponsored activity” means any activity on or off-campus that is initiated, aided, authorized, or supervised by the College.
- “Policy” is defined as the written regulations of the College as found in, but not limited to, the Student Code of Conduct, Student Handbook, College Catalog, and Board of Trustees approved policies published on the College website.
- “Accused student(s)” means the student(s) who are reported for violating the Student Code of Conduct.
- “Complainant” is the member(s) of the College community or campus guest who report(s) a potential Student Code of Conduct violation.
- “Judicial Officer” is a College administrator, appointed by the Dean of Student Affairs, to coordinate the student discipline and the Judicial Hearing Board processes. The Judicial Officer trains all Judicial Hearing Board members and alternates on proper hearing procedures. The Judicial Officer is responsible for fairness, impartiality, and maintaining order in the discipline process.
- “Appeals Officer” is a senior faculty member or College official appointed by the Vice President of Student Services (or the College President when a final appeal regarding Permanent Denial of a Montgomery County Community College Degree and/or Disciplinary Dismissal as the sanction(s) to oversee the appeals process.
- “Judicial Hearing Board” is the disciplinary body on each campus composed of two students and one alternate, two faculty and one alternate, and one advisor/counselor and one alternate. There are two Judicial Hearing Boards, one for each of Central and West campuses. The Judicial Hearing Board convenes to make disciplinary decisions for cases referred by the Judicial Officer for which the student appeals the administrative disciplinary decision of the Judicial Officer about whether the Code of Conduct has been violated and to determine the appropriate sanction(s) for the violation(s). At the beginning of each academic year, the Vice President for Student Services selects Judicial Hearing Board members and alternates from a slate of nominees submitted by the Academic Deans, Student Affairs Directors, and the Student Government Association for each campus. Before a hearing convenes, the Judicial Hearing Board members elect a Chair who presides over the hearing and serves as the Hearing Officer (also referred to as the Judicial Board Hearing Officer or Chair).
- “Hearing Officer” is the member of the Judicial Hearing Board elected by the Judicial Hearing Board to preside over a given individual case, as presented by the Judicial Officer.
- “College Community” extends to anyone who either works or participates in any way at the College.
Montgomery County Community College may initiate disciplinary proceedings for student violations including, but not limited to, a student who:
- Disrupts the orderly process of the College, including, but not limited to, disruptions of classes, events, or meetings, or interferes with the rights of others;
- Conducts himself or herself in a manner that interferes with College teaching, research, administration, disciplinary procedures, or other activities and public service functions;
- Physically, verbally (oral and/or written), and/or sexually assaults, threatens, abuses, harasses, stalks, retaliates, and/or endangers in any manner the health or safety of a person at the College;
- Discriminates, harasses, or retaliates against another student, College employee or visitor, (including, but not limited to, sexual, racial, and/or disability harassment) and/or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive educational environment;
- Makes derogatory or offensive remarks, comments, or gestures towards another student, College employee or visitor, either verbally, in writing, or through email, electronic or social media platforms;
- Obstructs or restrains the lawful movement of another and thereby causes personal or campus disorder;
- Damages, steals, defaces, destroys, or misuses College property; property belonging to a third party on a College-sponsored activity; or property belonging to a student, faculty, staff member, or campus visitor;
- Brings to campus or any College-related activity any weapon, firearm, explosive and/or facsimile weapons, flammable liquids such as paint, gasoline, etc., or any fireworks, ammunition, etc., except by an individual for use in a program approved by the College;
- Is convicted of a criminal offense under municipal, local, state, or federal law that occurred on College premises or at an off-campus College-sponsored activity;
- Intentionally initiates or causes to be initiated any false report, warning or threat of fire, explosion, or other emergency;
- Knowingly gives false information in response to a request from College employees;
- Forges, alters, or misuses College documents or records (e.g. student identification cards, College forms, and transcripts) or takes unauthorized action in the name of the College;
- Violates Board of Trustees approved policies, College regulations, procedures, or administrative rules (e.g. Policy Against Sex Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, Sexual Violence and Retaliation; Clean Air Zone Policy; Acceptable Use of Technology Policy; Student Organization Handbook; College traffic and parking regulations);
- Fails to comply with directions of College employees, authorized officials, and/or campus safety officers acting in the performance of their duties;
- Attempts to, or possesses, has under their control, manufactures, delivers, distributes, sells, purchases, gives, uses, or is under the influence of any controlled substance, alcohol, or other illicit drugs (see the College’s Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Policy);
- Fails to comply with classroom policies as outlined by the instructor and on the course syllabus (verbal and/or written).
- Misuses technology (including but not limited to, sending, distributing, posting, or displaying offensive, harassing, or threatening material, forging mail messages and in sharing, posting or making course-related/academic submissions) and/or violates the College’s Acceptable Use of Technology Policy as it relates to use of College technology and computing systems;
- Possesses, duplicates and uses keys and/or enters or uses College facilities without authorization;
- Knowingly presents a worthless check or forging a money order in payment to the College or a College official, or fails to make satisfactory arrangement for the settling of a debt or account with the College;
- Participates in illegal gambling in any form;
- Litters, posts notices in non-designated spaces, and/or distributes or sells goods on campus without approval from the appropriate College personnel;
- Uses bicycles, skateboards, roller blades, or any other non-motorized vehicle or equipment (except wheelchairs) in buildings or in an unsafe, careless or reckless manner;
- Brings animals except for service animals or those used in the educational process inside College buildings and/or leaves animals unattended on campus;
- Engages in hazing or other forms of bullying behavior towards any member of the campus community;
- Tampers with the election process of College-recognized student organizations;
- Repeatedly violates College policies, procedures, or guidelines, and/or repeats a less serious breach of conduct;
- Commits any other offense that disrupts the educational process of the College;
- Smokes on campus, includes vaping, e-cigarettes, etc.; and/or
- Fails to produce a valid Montgomery County Community College student identification at the request of Public Safety or a College employee.
Issues of academic dishonesty, cheating, plagiarism, and resulting grade appeals are dealt with under the policies outlined in the Student Academic Code of Ethics.
Classroom Dismissal by Faculty Member
In addition to adhering to the Student Code of Conduct, students are expected to follow classroom guidelines for behavior as articulated in the syllabus for each class. If a student is disruptive in class (i.e., student behavior is disruptive or inappropriate in the class setting and interferes with the teaching/learning process), a faculty member has the right to temporarily dismiss the student from class (not to exceed one class session). Students who have been dismissed from one class session must meet with their faculty member prior to attending the next class session. When a faculty member dismisses a student from class, the faculty member shall alert Student Affairs of such dismissal within 24 hours via the indicated process/electronic system.
If a faculty member finds it necessary to dismiss a student from a second class session or more, the appropriate division dean should be notified by the faculty member within 24 hours and an incident report should be sent to the Judicial Officer to initiate the student disciplinary process via the indicated process/electronic system.
When the presence of the student in the class poses a threat of harm to themselves or to others, immediate removal from the classroom is to be invoked by the faculty member. Incidents that pose a threat of harm to the student or others must be immediately reported to the Public Safety Office.
The Judicial Officer may continue the temporary removal from the classroom until the initial investigation and/or Judicial Hearing Board process is complete. Dependent on the specific Student Code of Conduct infractions being investigated and the outcome of the disciplinary process, the Judicial Officer will work with the faculty member on conditions in which a student is permitted to return to class and the student must meet with the faculty member prior to doing so.
Violations of the Code of Conduct may result in one or more of the following sanctions.
- Disciplinary Warning
Written notice to the student that the conduct in question is in violation of a specified regulation of the Code of Conduct. It also serves as a warning that future misconduct could result in a more severe disciplinary action. A Disciplinary Warning may be issued by the Judicial Officer without the right of appeal or Judicial Hearing.
A recommendation for specialized help or a specialized program. The Judicial Officer may recommend that the student seek specialized assistance (e.g. from a counselor, mental health professional, physician, program, etc.) if appropriate. Failure of the student to comply with the terms of a referral may result in further disciplinary action.
- Educational Project Assignment
An assignment arranged so that the student will have the opportunity to observe and learn specific, appropriate behavior or valuable lessons relative to his or her own misconduct. A student may also be counselled to participate in a campus or community activity with rehabilitative value (e.g., a campus workshop, essay assignment, alcohol awareness seminar, etc.), and/or community service.
- Disciplinary Probation
A Disciplinary Warning with the added stipulation that if the student is found guilty of a violation of the College's Code of Conduct during a specified probationary period, the student's continued enrollment at the College will be in jeopardy. Disciplinary Probation may include Suspension of Privileges and/or use of specific College facilities. The probationary period is limited to a maximum of one year from the date of the written notification of the decision. A notation of Disciplinary Probation will be removed from the student’s record at the end of the probationary period, unless there are further Student Code of Conduct violations during that time period which result in further sanctions and/or an extension of the probationary period.
Compensation for loss, damages, or injury to, or misappropriations of, College property or the property of faculty members, College officials, students, or visitors to the College. Restitution may be attached to a student’s tuition bill and a hold placed on their account if not paid in the specified time frame as determined through the disciplinary process. A student will not be permitted to enroll for the next semester of classes if the account is not paid.
- Suspension of Privileges
An elastic sanction that may impose specific limitations or restrictions to fit the facts of a particular case or offense. This sanction may be imposed for any length of time and may include, but is not limited to, suspension of eligibility for participation in a particular course section, in College activities, athletics, student clubs, and/or access to specific College facilities.
- Interim Suspension
Temporary exclusion from the College and College-sponsored activities pending results of an initial investigation and/or Judicial Hearing. This sanction is to be invoked by the Judicial Officer or Dean of Student Affairs only when the presence of the student on campus poses a threat of harm to the student, to others, or to the continuance of normal College functions. A notation of an Interim Suspension will be removed from the student’s record at the point of final decision of the case. Interim Suspension requires final approval of the Dean of Student Affairs if invoked by the Judicial Officer.
- Withholding of Transcript or Degree
A sanction that may be imposed on a student who fails to pay a fine or debt owed to the College or who has a disciplinary case pending a final decision. The sanction terminates on payment of the fine or debt, or the final decision of the case.
- Administrative Hold
Precludes a student from registering, receiving transcripts, or graduating until clearance has been received from the Judicial Officer, based on the student’s completion of specified conditions, such as the return of property, completion of community service obligations, payment of restitution, etc.
- Disciplinary Suspension
Exclusion from the College and College-sponsored activities for a specified period of time. Upon completion of the period of suspension, the student will be considered for re-admittance in accordance with any academic, Admissions Office, and/or program/degree standards that are in effect. Students on Disciplinary Suspension will have an Administrative Hold on their records and will be required to meet with the Judicial Officer upon return to the College. Disciplinary Suspension is limited to a maximum of one year from the date of the written notification of the decision. A Disciplinary Suspension sanction will remain on the student’s permanent academic record. Disciplinary Suspension requires final approval of the Dean of Student Affairs.
- Permanent Denial of a Montgomery County Community College Degree
Permanently denies a student from receiving a degree from the College at any time. This sanction may be used in conjunction with Disciplinary Dismissal. A Permanent Denial of a Degree sanction will remain on the student’s permanent academic record.
- Disciplinary Dismissal
Permanent exclusion from the College and College-sponsored activities. A Disciplinary Dismissal sanction will remain on the student’s permanent academic record.
Step # 1: Reporting the Violation
Any member of the College community or guest may report a potential Student Code of Conduct violation. Reports should be made to Public Safety or Student Affairs via the indicated process/electronic system, or if need be, any other College official or faculty member who will then report it to the above.
Step # 2: Investigating the Incident
Upon notification of a report of a potential violation of the Student Code of Conduct, the Judicial Officer investigates the incident. The investigation will be completed within five business days after the date of the incident. After completing the investigation, the Judicial Officer will either:
- Dismiss the allegation as being unfounded;
- Proceed administratively through the disciplinary process; or
- Resolve the allegation through other appropriate avenues available at the College.
Whenever possible, the Judicial Officer will attempt to resolve the problem informally through the administrative disciplinary process using mediation or conflict resolution. The Judicial Officer may consider multiple or recurring offenses in determining and applying sanctions.
Step # 3: Notification
When investigating an alleged violation, a student shall be notified to appear and provide information to assist in the investigation through any of the following methods:
- A sealed letter delivered to the student.
- A letter mailed to the student’s address as listed with Enrollment Services. The student is responsible for keeping Enrollment Services apprised of his or her current home address.
- A written communication sent to the student’s College email address.
From the date of the letter, message or communication, a student is afforded a grace period of three business days to schedule a meeting with the Judicial Officer. If the student wants to schedule a meeting during the grace period, the student should contact the Judicial Officer for appointment availability. The communication shall also describe the alleged violation(s), provide information regarding the purpose for the meeting, and/or additional instructions to the student.
The Judicial Officer may place a student on disciplinary probation or determine an appropriate sanction if the student fails, without good cause, to respond to the request for a meeting, to comply with instructions in the notification letter, or otherwise fails to attend a scheduled meeting. In addition, the Judicial Officer may proceed directly through the disciplinary process.
In the case where the presence of the accused student on campus poses a threat of harm to the student, to others, or to the continuance of normal College functions, the Judicial Officer may invoke Interim Suspension, while the judicial proceedings take place.
Step # 4: Administrative Decision of a Violation
The Judicial Officer may administratively address any alleged violation by:
- Dismissing the allegation, if the student is found not responsible for violating the Student Code of Conduct; or
- Handling the case in an informal manner; or
- Initiating disciplinary proceedings
During a meeting with a student, the Judicial Officer shall review the information in the Student Code of Conduct related to the case and the documentation obtained during the investigation. The purpose of the meeting is to hear and receive information and/or other evidence from the student.
If the Judicial Officer determines that the alleged violation should be addressed informally, the Judicial Officer may assign behavioral directives or sanctions to support compliance with the Student Code of Conduct. If assigned, the student will be required to comply with all directives specified in the administrative decision letter. In informal cases, a student will be required to sign an acknowledgement form stating that he or she will comply with the Student Code of Conduct for the remainder of his or her tenure with the College. A student’s failure to comply with the directives will lead to further disciplinary action.
If a student is found responsible for a violation of the Student Code of Conduct and refuses the administrative decision of the Judicial Officer, the student has the right to request an appeal hearing with the Judicial Hearing Board.
If a student accepts the administrative decision of the Judicial Officer, the student will be notified in writing of the sanctions (via mail and/or College email) and will have three days to request a Judicial Hearing. If the student does not respond within three days of this notification the administrative decision will stand.
In addition, in cases where the student did not submit a written request for an appeal hearing within the designated time period, the student will not be allowed to appeal at a later date, and the student will be expected to comply with all disciplinary sanctions and/or obligations in the administrative decision letter.
Pursuant to the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act), 20 U.S.C. § 1092(f), and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX), information about the administrative decision of a student respondent will be also disclosed in writing to the student complainant in cases involving violence, sexual harassment, and/or sexual violence.
Step # 5: Judicial Hearing Board
In general cases, when a student submits a written request to appeal the administrative decision of a violation by the specified deadline, the student is entitled to appeal the decision to the Judicial Hearing Board. A student’s written request of appeal for violations of the Student Code of Conduct involving sex discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual violence and/or retaliation will follow the process outlined in the College’s Policy Against Sex Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, Sexual Violence and Retaliation and Grievance Procedure in accordance with Title IX.
A case is referred to the Judicial Hearing Board by the Judicial Officer when an administrative decision is appealed by the student. The Judicial Hearing Board is the disciplinary body on each campus composed of two students and one alternate, two faculty members and one alternate, and one advisor/counselor and one alternate. The Judicial Hearing Board convenes to make disciplinary decisions when the student appeals the administrative disciplinary decision of the Judicial Officer about whether the Student Code of Conduct has been violated and to determine the appropriate sanction(s) for the violation(s).
Rights for Due Process
To protect students’ rights in regard to all proceedings which are referred, the Judicial Hearing Board must be conducted in a manner which ensures the accused student(s) adequate notice and a fair opportunity to be heard. The following elements must be included to guarantee due process.
- Notice—A concise, specific statement, in writing, of the charges (the specific facts and acts). A time and place for the hearing must be specified.
- Testimony—The right to personally give relevant statement, present evidence, and to have witnesses give testimony.
- An impartial body to determine the facts and recommend appropriate sanctions. “Impartial” means someone who can render a fair and unbiased decision, notwithstanding what knowledge they may have of the facts, as long as they are not a direct participant.
The accused student(s) and the complainant(s) have a right to:
- Examine and respond to evidence and testimony.
- Present evidence and testimony to support their case.
- Call witnesses or present evidence supporting the defense of the accused student and question and confront testimony and evidence in support or defense of the charges. A list of witnesses must be submitted to the Judicial Officer no later than one business day prior to the Judicial Hearing Board meeting.
- The complainant(s) and any witnesses have the right to have their name withheld by using the alias Complainant 1 or Witness 1 during the Judicial Hearing Board.
- Choose one faculty member or College official to serve as an advocate to counsel them through the Judicial Hearing Board process. An advocate may speak privately with the students, but may not address the Board nor witnesses nor participate directly in the proceedings. Only a College faculty member or College official may act as an advocate during a Judicial Hearing. The name of the advocate must be submitted to the Judicial Officer no later than one business day prior to the Judicial Hearing Board meeting.
- The accused student(s) have the right to appeal the decision of the Judicial Hearing Board (see Step # 7).
Any accused student(s), complainant(s), witnesses, and/or advocate who are disruptive, unruly, impede the hearing, or do not follow the hearing guidelines may be asked to leave the hearing at the discretion of the Chair of the Judicial Hearing Board. Once these participants are removed, the hearing will resume in their absence and they shall have waived the right to continue in the process.
Step # 6: Judicial Hearing Board Process
All hearings are conducted by the Judicial Hearing Boards established on each of the College's two campuses (Central and West). Students taking courses at other sites or online will be referred to the Judicial Hearing Board closest to where they live. Hearings are closed to the public; the only participants will be the Judicial Hearing Board members, the complainant(s), the accused student(s), witnesses, advocate, and the Judicial Officer. Judicial/Discipline Hearings are held within five business days after the student receives notification of the charges or the appeal is received. Any requests for an extension of time must be made in writing to the Judicial Officer no later than one business day prior to the hearing. A maximum extension of five business days may be given based on the discretion of the Judicial Officer.
If the accused student(s) refuses to attend the Judicial Hearing, the hearing will be conducted and a decision rendered in their absence. Failure to attend will not result in an automatic guilty decision. The Judicial Hearing Board will review all available evidence and a decision will be made based on that evidence.
A recording of the Judicial Hearing will be made and remains the property of the College and will not be made public. Decisions are made by a majority vote of the Judicial Hearing Board. The Judicial Hearing Board Chair communicates the decision, with a brief rationale in writing to the Judicial Officer. The Judicial Officer notifies the accused student in writing of the decision, the right to appeal, and the appeal process within three business days of completion of the hearing.
Step # 7: Appealing the Judicial Hearing Board Decision
Only the accused student(s) has a right to appeal the decision. An appeal can only be submitted based on the following criteria.
- The Hearing was not conducted fairly because the accused student was not given a reasonable opportunity to present their case to the Hearing Board.
- The procedures for the Judicial Hearing Board were not properly followed.
- The facts presented at the hearing were insufficient to establish responsibility for the violation.
- The sanctions imposed were disproportionate to the nature of the offense(s).
- New information, that was unavailable at the time of the hearing, has surfaced and would significantly impact the case. If there is any new information, the person hearing the appeal can either render an independent decision or refer the case back to the Judicial Hearing Board for further hearing.
Appeals, including a stated rationale using one of the above criteria, must be made in writing to the Vice President of Student Services within three business days from the time the student receives notification of the final decision from the Judicial Officer. The Vice President of Student Services will only grant an appeal if the rationale meets one or more of the above guidelines. If the appeal meets the above guidelines, the Vice President of Student Services will appoint an Appeals Officer to oversee the process and make an appeal decision. After reviewing the student's request for the appeal, the Judicial Hearing Board's report, the recording of the hearing, and any other evidence presented, the Appeals Officer makes the determination to uphold the appeal, deny the appeal, or send the case back to the Judicial Hearing Board for remand to correct procedural errors or to hear new evidence. An appeal decision will be made within five business days after the date the appeal and the rationale have been received by the Vice President of Student Services.
If the appeal is denied, the Hearing Board's decision stands. If the appeal is upheld, the Appeals Officer modifies the Judicial Hearing Board's recommendation and/or sanctions. If the case is sent back to the Judicial Hearing Board for remand, the Judicial Hearing Board reopens the case for the purpose of correcting identified procedural errors or considering new evidence. By a majority vote, the Judicial Hearing Board makes a decision to uphold the original determination of responsibility and/or sanction or to make a new decision. The student has the right to appeal the new decision to the Appeals Officer based on the grounds listed above.
The Appeals Officer has the final authority in the determination of all appeals, with the exception of sanctions of Permanent Denial of a Montgomery County Community College Degree and/or Disciplinary Dismissal, for which the student may exercise a final appeal to the College President, due to the severity and permanent nature of the sanctions. Appeals to the College President must be made in writing within three business days from the time the student receives notification of the Appeals Officer’s final decision. The College President will only grant an appeal if the rationale meets one or more of the above guidelines. The College President will appoint an Appeals Officer, who will review the evidence and recommend a decision to the President within five business days. The decision of the President is final and permanently ends the process.
Due to issues of confidentiality, the final outcome(s) will only be communicated to the accused student(s), the Judicial Officer, and any College officials and/or faculty members who may need to deal with the case directly, with the exception of cases involving violence, sexual harassment, and/or sexual violence, in accordance with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act), 20 U.S.C. § 1092(f), and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX), which require disclosure in writing to the student complainant.
Upon final completion of the process, the Student Code of Conduct Complainant shall be updated to share that the process has completed and the general nature of the outcome(s), noting that specific information will not be disclosed relative to FERPA, HIPAA or other related federal and/or state privacy requirements including and/or except as noted above for Title IX and the Clery Act.