To the Parents of Students Accused of Academic Misconduct,

This is not how I wanted to meet you. I hoped your student would see me during orientation and would heed the honor code. I hoped they would join our office and participate in programing to encourage academic integrity on campus. I dream of a day when my job is no longer necessary, when students always make the ethical choice. But – alas – they did not. Now, we find ourselves in this situation. They’ve been accused of cheating, and you’re upset. I get it. But here are some things you should probably know before reaching out to us:

  1. Please understand that I cannot discuss your child’s specific case with you without a signed waiver of FERPA. I know that you are paying for their college, but I cannot break federal law. If you would like an explanation of our office and the integrity process, I am happy to have this talk with you. I can’t tell you the outcome of the case, but your child can.
  2. Although as parents we do not wish to acknowledge this, there is a chance that your child did what they have been accused of doing. Please understand that faculty take no joy in accusing students of cheating. We strongly encourage you to read the honor code and the accusation. Although difficult, ask yourself … did your student do it?
  3. Let your student take responsibility for their actions. I understand your need to protect them. You love them, and you want to help them succeed. However, if you never let them face consequences, then your child will never grow into an adult capable of making complex ethical decisions. A bad grade in one course can certainly be seen as a serious consequence. But it is worse if students continue to cut corners. These students grow to be the businesspeople committing white collar crime (Lawson, 2004; Guerrero Dib et al., 2020), doctors and nurses incapable of treating their patients (LaDuke, 2013), engineers building bad bridges (Harding et al., 2004), and scientists publishing fabricated data.**

When you call to intervene for your child, please also remember that there is a person on the other side of the phone. A person that wanted your student to make the right choice when they turned in the assignment. But they may not have made the honest decision when completing their assignment, and now we’re here.

Will you let me do my job? Will you let me help your child learn how to learn and grow? Will you allow your child to be the adult they are purported to be, and take responsibility for their actions? Or will you tell me that it’s not a big deal and the institution should just let it go?

Remember, your student is watching you. They are learning from you. If you treat cheating like it doesn’t matter, what is to stop them from emulating you? Be an example for them.

Sincerely Yours,

A Student Academic Misconduct Officer



Guerrero-Dib, J. G.,  Portales, L., & Heredia-Escorza, Y. (2020). Impact of academic integrity on workplace ethical behaviour. International Journal for Educational Integrity16(1), 1–18.

Harding, T. S., Carpenter, D. D., Finelli, C. J., & Passow, H. J. (2004). Does Academic Dishonesty Relate to Unethical Behavior in Professional Practice? An Exploratory Study. Science & Engineering Ethics10(2), 311–324.

LaDuke, R. D. (2013). Academic Dishonesty Today, Unethical Practices Tomorrow? Journal of Professional Nursing29(6), 402–406.

Lawson, R. A. (2004). Is classroom cheating related to business students propensity to cheat in the real world? Journal of Business Ethics, 49(2), 189.

**For a deeper look at retractions due to fabricated data, please visit the Retraction Watch Database. At the time of this posting, 99 articles have been listed as retracted from January 1, 2022 to July 5, 2022.