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SMC|Student Services|Honor Council|Honor Council Hearing Board Procedures

Honor Council Hearing Board Procedures

In order to uphold the academic integrity of Santa Monica College and to ensure students' rights to due process, instructors and students may petition a hearing to adjudicate a case of alleged academic dishonesty (Code of Academic Conduct) or Honor Code violation. The request must be made through the Office of Student Judicial Affairs.


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Honor Council Hearing Board & Powers:


Membership, responsibilities and powers of the Hearing Board are delineated in Administrative Regulation 4412 and are summarized below:
  • Hearing Boards are comprised of three faculty and three students and are chaired by an academic administrator appointed by the Superintendent/ President (or designee).
  • A quorum for a Hearing Board is established by two faculty and two students. The Chair may vote in the case of a tie.

  • All hearings are closed to the public. The student may bring legal counsel or other representatives, however, these individuals may not participate in the proceedings. Counsel participation will terminate the hearing. Students are required to notify the College of counsel/guest(s) presence to these proceedings within 48 hours of the scheduled hearing.

  • Faculty (or other college personnel) and students have the right to present written statements, witnesses, if appropriate, and any other forms of evidence. Each party will have the right to question evidence and supportive documents.

  • The Hearing Board is empowered with the authority to:
    • Affirm or deny the alleged violation.
    • Where appropriate, educate the student and/or faculty on issues related to academic integrity. The Hearing Board may recommend sanctions commensurate with the violations, including, but not limited to: failure in assignment, test, course; reprimand, suspension, expulsion, and/or transcript notation denoting Honor Code violation.
    • The Hearing Board may also reverse instructor-imposed sanctions in the absence of substantive evidence of alleged academic violation. Substantive evidence may include or consist of instructor’s account of academic violation. 
    • Consider requests for the removal of transcript notations associated with Honor Code violations.
  • Faculty or students may appeal a Hearing Board's decision to the College President within two (2) business days after receiving the written decision. A copy of said request shall be sent to the Honor Council Chair (Prof. Esau Tovar) and the College Disciplinarian (Dean Judith Penchansky). The request will state in writing the grounds for review and will be based upon one or more of the following provisions only:
    • The required procedures were not followed;
    • There is insufficient evidence to support the Honor Council Hearing Board’s decision; 
    • The penalty imposed is inappropriate.

Requesting a Hearing

Pertinent information for instructors and students is discussed below:

Information for Instructors:

  • Instructors wishing to refer a case to the SMC Honor Council for adjudication must first submit an Academic Dishonesty Report Form to the office of Student Judicial Affairs. The form may be submitted online. Instructors are encouraged to describe in sufficient detail the alleged incident and provide as much evidence as possible of the incident. Evidence may include instructor testimony.

  • Dean Judith Penchansky (College Disciplinarian) will initially handle instructor referrals, will interview the student, and will then make arrangements for an Honor Council Hearing Board meeting. Not all referrals are appropriate for hearings and will be scheduled at Dean Penchansky's discretion.

  • If a hearing is granted, the Honor Council Hearing Board will convene as arranged. While instructor presence is appreciated at the hearing, written testimony (Academic Dishonesty Report and any other written statements) may be considered by the Hearing Board. Listed below is the general procedure the Hearing Board will follow.

Information for Students:

  • Students may request an Honor Council Hearing when they believe they have been  wrongly accused of committing an academic integrity violation. They may also be called directly by the Honor Council to face an accusation brought forth by an instructor or by the College Disciplinarian.
  • Students wishing to address the accusation in an informal manner should proceed to arrange a meeting with the College Ombudsperson.
    • Role of the Ombudsperson: The Ombudspeson will attempt to mediate between the student and the instructor to achieve resolution. The Ombudsperson will remain neutral and will hear both sides without taking a position in support/against any party.  
  • Students wishing to address an alleged academic dishonesty accusation formally thorugh the Honor Council Hearing Board to present their case must first schedule a meeting with the College Disciplinarian. The purpose of this meeting will be to advise students on the hearing protocol and to determine if his/her case is appropriate for the Honor Council Hearing Board. Students will be asked to provide a written statement of their account. 
  • If the hearing is granted, students are strongly encouraged to come prepared. They should plan to bring any corroborating evidence, witnesses, or an attorney. Students must advise the College Disciplinarian of attorney presence a minimum of two business days ahead of the hearing. Attorneys may not participate in the hearingproceedings. While student presence at the hearing is not necessary, we strongly advise them to attend.

The Hearing Process

Listed below is the general procedure followed during and post a hearing:
  • Hearing is convened: all attendees introduce themselves.
  • Hearing Board (HB) Chair will delineate the charges. Student then admits or denies the allegation.
  • Next, the instructor presents his/her case (15 minutes), followed by the student (15 minutes).
  • HB members then question student and faculty member (15-25 minutes). As impartial parties, Hearing Board members will carefully consider the case and testimony presented. Our goal is to conduct a fair and impartial hearing and uphold students' right to due process.
  • Faculty, student, and any witnesses/guests are dismissed for HB deliberation.
  • HB deliberates and comes to a conclusion to affirm or deny the allegation.
  • If allegation is not substantiated, the HB will render a finding in favor of the student and will issue relevant recommendations, including the reversal of instructor imposed sanctions (subject to appeal to College President).
  • If allegation is affirmed, the HB will render a finding in favor of the instructor and will issue relevant recommendations or sanctions to the student (subject to appeal to College President).
  • Faculty and student will both be notified of said findings within 10 business days.
  • Sanctions, if any, will be administered by the Office of Student Judicial Affairs.