Student Grievance Procedure

Number: 1.14 printable version Policy/Operational Procedure Name:
Student Grievance
Sponsor: Dr. Christine Kelly-Kleese, Vice President, Student Engagement, Development and Support Custodian: Student Engagement, Development, and Support
Effective Date(s): January 2017 Next Review Date: Fall 2019
Location: http://www.durhamtech.edu/policiesprocedures/StudentGrievanceProcedure.htm Citation: 2A SBCCC 400.10 Student Complaints
SACSCOC FR 4.5
Policy Statement:
Durham Technical Community College students have the right to pursue timely, legitimate grievances against employees of the college. Therefore, the college shall establish, publish, and follow a procedure that delineates the rights and responsibilities of the aggrieved party and the college employee against whom a grievance may be lodged.
Purpose:
The student grievance procedure provides a process for resolving student disputes with employees. This procedure applies to all student issues, including but not limited to academic issues, student services, or administrative concerns. Grievances involving academic issues are limited to final course grades and satisfactory completion of instructional program requirements.

The grievance procedure may be used by persons who were enrolled as students at Durham Tech at the time the incident occurred. The person filing the grievance must be the subject of alleged unfair treatment that is related to his or her status as a student or program participant. A grievance cannot be filed on behalf of another person.

Definitions:
Academic Issues Grievances involving final course grades or satisfactory completion of instructional program requirements.
Additional Accommodations Assistance for students requiring language or interpretation assistance, disabilities accommodations, or alternate arrangement for online/distance learning students.
Appeal The procedure for further consideration of a grievance if the student or employee believes there were exceptional circumstances that affected the grievance procedure decision. An appeal should not be pursued if either the student or the employee simply disagrees with the decisions made during the grievance procedure.
Appropriate Vice President The Assistant Vice President, Associate Vice President, or Vice President responsible for the division within which the involved party works.
Bias “A tendency to believe that some people, ideas, etc., are better than others that usually results in treating some people unfairly.” (Source: Webster’s online dictionary)
Department Head Person who oversees a department at Durham Tech (e.g., Department Dean or Center for the Global Learner Director). Refer to the staffing chart for specific information.
Discrimination Unequal treatment based on race, gender, color, sexual orientation, age, disability, ethnicity, or religion (Source: http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/howto.html)
Exceptional Circumstances The discovery of new evidence not presented in the initial grievance and/or an allegation of serious bias or discrimination at some level of the student grievance procedure and/or documentation showing that the grievance policy was not properly followed by the college. Extenuating Circumstances Documented medical illness, death of a family member, work or family situations that significantly interfere with normal life functions.
Formal The informal communication regarding an incident has not led to resolution through initial steps in the procedure and rises to the level of complaint, and the student files an official grievance form. All formal grievances are documented and logged in the Vice President’s office.
Harassment Severe, pervasive, and offensive behavior that negatively affects another’s access to an educational opportunity or other college benefit [Source: Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education, 526 U.S. (1999)].
Incident The situation or circumstance that the student perceives as grievable.
Informal The communication regarding an incident is simply at the inquiry stage and open to resolution without a formal procedure. Working Days Days the college is open and operating under a normal schedule. This excludes weekends, closings due to weather conditions, and holidays observed by Durham Tech.
Reasonable Accommodations Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Durham Tech is required to take reasonable steps to accommodate disabilities unless it would cause the college undue hardship.
Student Grievance Form The electronic form a student uses during the grievance procedure, available on the college’s website.
Title IX “Title IX promotes equal opportunity by providing that no person may be subjected to discrimination on the basis of sex under any educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” (Source: https://www.justice.gov/ovw/protecting-students-sexual-assault)
Procedure:
The student grievance procedure provides a process for resolving student disputes with teaching faculty, staff and administrators. This procedure applies to all student issues, including but not limited to academic issues, (terms that appear in boldface italic type are defined above) student services, or administrative concerns. Grievances involving academic issues are limited to final course grades and satisfactory completion of instructional program requirements. Students who need additional accommodations at any time during this procedure should contact the Student Development, Communications, and Activities office.

The grievance procedure may be used by persons who were students at Durham Tech at the time the incident occurred. The person filing the grievance must be the alleged subject of unfair treatment that is related to his or her status as a student or program participant. A grievance cannot be filed on behalf of another person.

Throughout the grievance procedure, it is up to the student to present evidence to support the claim. Students are advised to keep written notes and maintain documentation to provide evidence of complying with each step of this procedure. All allegations arising from a single event must be presented in one grievance.

The procedure involves specific deadlines for pursuing a grievance. Students are required to follow the steps and timeline outlined within this procedure. Issues presented past the deadlines will not be considered unless there are specific, extenuating circumstances that make pursuing the complaint by the deadline extremely difficult. To request an extension due to extenuating circumstances at any point in the procedure, the student, employee, or supervisor must make a request in writing within the timelines listed. Requests for deadline extensions should be submitted to the applicable department head. Should extenuating circumstances be present, documented, and approved, the department head will determine and communicate in writing an appropriate revised timeline and next steps to all involved parties.

If college officials determine that the student cannot continue to attend class, participate in clinical experiences, or participate in student activities for a specified period because of the potential for harm to self or others, the Vice President of Student Engagement, Development, and Support, after consultation with other College Officials, may issue specific restrictions and will provide the rationale in writing. If at any time in the procedure the grievance or appeal involves claims of discrimination or harassment (including sexual harassment), the matter must be forwarded immediately to the Title IX coordinator, who must investigate the situation and determine next steps within six working days of the notification.

Grievance Steps for Students
Step 1. The student meets with the employee with whom they have the concern within six working days of the incident. This conversation should be an informal attempt on the part of the student to resolve the issue in an efficient manner. Following the conversation, both parties should document the facts and possible outcome for their own records. If the student is not satisfied that the concern has been resolved, he/she may move to Step 2.

Step 2. The student meets with the employee’s supervisor to present the grievance within six working days of the meeting with the employee in an attempt to resolve the issue. Following this additional informal conversation, all parties should document the facts and possible outcome for their own records. If the issue is not resolved at this step, the supervisor provides information about the formal grievance procedure to the student, which begins with Step 3.

Step 3. The student submits the formal Student Grievance Form within six working days from the meeting with the supervisor. If the student feels that the conversation with the employee and his or her supervisor did not satisfy the issue in question, he/she should initiate the formal grievance procedure. The student is encouraged to meet with a counselor in the Student Development, Communications and Activities office for assistance with the following tasks:
  • Identifying the specific issues involved in the grievance;
  • Reviewing the steps of the procedure and strategies for preparing each step;
  • Developing verbal and written approaches appropriate to the grievance and in compliance with the Student Grievance Procedure;
  • Determining when immediate support and other assistance is necessary, especially if the matter involves claims of discrimination or sexual harassment; and
  • Completing the Student Grievance Form (hereafter “form”);
    1. The student completes the electronic form documenting the dates of any meetings and prior discussions held to resolve the grievance.
    2. Within six working days from the meeting with the supervisor, the student submits the form and any accompanying documentation, which is routed directly to the Vice President of Student Engagement, Development, and Support (or his/her designee).
    3. Within six working days of receipt of the form, the Vice President, Student Engagement, Development, and Support (or his/her designee) logs the formal grievance and determines whether the student has met the guidelines outlined in this procedure. If so, he/she moves the case to the appropriate department head of the employee against whom the grievance has been filed, and notifies the appropriate Vice President. If not, he/she denies the grievance and responds in writing to the student explaining the rationale for the denial.
Step 4. Within six working days of receiving grievances approved for consideration, the department head determines whether the concern meets the guidelines for being heard as a grievance case. If so, he/she creates the official case, notifies the employee and supervisor involved that a grievance has been filed, requests a written response, and monitors the procedure through the subsequent steps. If not, he/she denies the grievance and responds in writing to the student explaining the rationale for the denial.

Step 5. The employee and supervisor submit a written response (hard copy or electronic copy) to the department head within six working days of receiving the request. (Employees should consult with Human Resources if they are in need of assistance at any point in this procedure.) The department head uploads this documentation and adds it to the official case file.

Step 6. The department head meets with the student to discuss the official grievance case within six working days of receipt of the written response noted in Step 5 and shares the information gathered regarding the case. Following the conversation, both parties should document the conversation and possible outcome for their own records. The department head will determine the appropriate action/resolution within six working days of the meeting with the student and communicate the decision to the student, employee, direct supervisor, the appropriate Vice President, and the Vice President of Student Engagement, Development, and Support in writing. The decision of the department head is final except in the circumstances outlined in the following appeals procedure. All records of formal grievances are kept within the college’s approved system for management and tracking of cases.

Procedure for Appeal
If the student believes that exceptional circumstances justify reconsideration of the decision made by the department head, the student may file an appeal. An appeal should not be pursued if the student simply disagrees with the decisions made during the grievance procedure. The discovery of new evidence not presented in the initial grievance and/or an allegation of serious bias or discrimination at some level of the student grievance procedure and/or documentation showing that the grievance policy was not properly followed by the college are allowable exceptional circumstances. To request an appeal, the student follows these steps:

Appeal Step 1. Within ten working days of receiving the written decision in the grievance case, the student files a written appeal with the assistance of a college counselor, who will have access to the appeal form within the college’s approved system for managing and tracking cases. The appeal is sent within the system to the Vice President of Student Engagement, Development, and Support who then routes the form to the appropriate Vice President who oversees the department head involved in the case. To file an appeal, the student must work with a counselor from the Student Development, Communications, and Activities office to complete the written appeal, with a clear explanation of what qualifies the grievance for an appeal based on the definition of exceptional circumstances noted within this procedure. The student should be as specific as possible and attach documentation to support the need for an appeal. The name of the counselor assisting the student is required on the appeal form.

Appeal Step 2. Upon receipt of the appeal, the appropriate Vice President reviews the appeal based on the definition of exceptional circumstances noted within this procedure. If he/she determines that the grievance is not eligible for appeal, he/she communicates that decision to all involved parties and closes the case within ten working days. If he/she determines that the grievance is eligible for appeal, he/she conducts an appeal investigation of the case and renders a final decision within ten working days of receiving the appeal. During this time, the appropriate Vice President has the option of requesting further meetings with any party involved in the grievance procedure if he/she feels that such conversations will aid in the ability to come to a final decision. The appropriate Vice President sends a copy of the decision to the student, employee, the department head, and Vice President, Student Engagement, Development, and Support within the college’s approved system for managing and tracking cases. The decision is final. No further appeal is available after the appropriate Vice President has rendered a final decision.

All records of the appeal are logged and maintained within the college’s approved system for managing and tracking cases.
Review Action Reviewed Approved
College Council or Committee 6/30/2015, 9/25/2015, 6/2016 (LC) 9/25/2015, 1/29/2016 (Revisions), 6/2016
Campus Community/Legal Review 7/8-21/2015 NA
President’s Approval NA NA
Board of Trustees Review NA NA