If a student commits a disciplinary conduct code violation, most higher education institutions already note it on the student’s transcript. But a bill might soon make it required by law.
The Senate Higher Education Committee discussed House Bill 449 Wednesday, before ultimately leaving it pending. HB 449 passed the House Chamber on April 17 with 107 votes in favor, 32 against and one abstention.
The bill was written by Rep. Chris Turner, Rep. Victoria Neave and Rep. Sarah Davis. Three members of the Senate Higher Education Committee sponsor or co-sponsor the bill.
HB 449 would require higher education institutions to include a notation on student transcripts if the student has become ineligible to attend for disciplinary reasons. The student must be in violation of an institution's code of conduct, and the notations are intended to inform anyone viewing the transcript of the disciplinary issues.
Sen. Kirk Watson said the violations would have to be significant, like a Clery Act violation. Clery Act violations include sexual assault, burglary, arson, theft, aggravated assault, damage of property, domestic violence, stalking, weapons law violations and drug abuse violations.
Watson said the bill would concern infractions significant enough to make an institution's administration say, “If you are found that you did these things, you ain't coming back.”
Wanda Mercer, UT System associate vice chancellor for Student Affairs, said most conduct code violations do not result in dismissal. The instances that result in a dismissal and transcript notation often concern violent crime, she said.
“Certainly, you have to have done something very egregious to be asked to leave forever,” she said.
Additionally, the dismissal process ensures the student gets due process, she said. The bill would require the institution to continue the disciplinary process even if the student withdraws.
The notation could be removed from transcripts if the student becomes eligible to attend the institution again, Mercer said. Requirements for attendance eligibility depend on the individual campus and the specific code violation.
The notation could be removed at the request of the student, or it could be removed by the institution.
Sen. Royce West said the removal process worried him because potential employers have access to transcripts. It could affect someone who was suspected to be in violation but later found innocent, he said.
“Should [the removal] not be automatic as opposed to having to go back through another process?” West asked.
If the severity of the violation prevents the student from becoming eligible again, the notation will not be removed.