Grievances and Academic Due Process
The purpose of the grievance procedure is to provide fair and orderly processes to resolve student grievances at RCC.
Student: A student is defined as one who is, or at the time of the incident(s) leading to a grievance or violation of the student conduct standards was, duly and legally registered as either a full-time or part-time student at RCC. A student is further defined as one for whom tuition has been paid, credited, or waived for the purpose of receiving semester credits.
Grievance: A grievance is defined as a difference of opinion or dispute between a student and a college employee with respect to the application of the rules, policies, procedures and regulations of the college or the Virginia Community College System as they affect the student. Discrimination against a student by any college employee based on race, color, gender, religion, handicap, national origin, or other non-merit factors is basis for a grievance. This includes any complaint involving Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. A grievance may be:
a. Academic- An academic grievance is the manner in which a student may contest a final grade assigned in a course during the previous academic semester. Students should be aware that establishing course requirements and assignments, evaluating a student’s work, and assigning a grade are the responsibility and prerogative of the individual instructor. In the event that the final grade received in a course was assigned in a manner inconsistent with the course outline, or was assigned using a method other than that used to compute other students’ grades in that course, the matter may be resolved through an informal or formal procedure.
Exception In circumstances where the student has mitigating documented circumstances or an uncontested error, grade changes must be requested within one year of the receipt of the grade in question.
b. Non-academic- A non-academic grievance involves all other instances in which a student may contest the rules, policies, procedures, and regulations of the college or the Virginia Community College System as they affect the student.
Failure to appeal within time limit – If there is no written mutual agreement to extend the time limit here specified, and if a decision at the first step is not appealed by the student to the next step of the procedure within ten calendar days, the grievance shall be deemed settled on the basis of the last decision rendered provided the decision is within the authority of the parties.
Extension of time – It is important to good relationships that grievances be initiated and processed as rapidly as possible. Every effort shall be made by all parties to expedite the process. The time limitations specified herein may be extended by written mutual agreement.
Failure to respond within time limit – Failure at any level of the grievance procedure to notify the student of the reviewer’s decision within the specified time limit shall permit an appeal at the next step of the procedure within the time which would have been allotted had the decision been communicated by the appropriate time.
Identification – All written grievances and appeals shall include the name and position of the aggrieved party, a brief statement of the nature of the grievance, and the redress sought by the aggrieved person.
Informal discussion – Nothing contained herein shall be construed as limiting the right of the student having a grievance to discuss the matter informally with any appropriate member of the college in order to adjust the grievance informally, nor of the right of the college to manage its own affairs.
Employment of attorney – Students may employ attorneys—at their expense—to provide counsel at any of the grievance process.
Academic freedom – The grievance procedure shall not be construed as restricting students in their exercise of constitutional rights or academic freedom.
As an alternative to filing a formal grievance, a complaint may be discussed and/or filed in writing with the EEO Officer of the college or Virginia Community College Systems Office.
Grievance Process Steps
First Step: Recognizing that grievances should be resolved promptly, a grievance should be raised within ten calendar days following the event giving rise to the grievance. The student should contact, as the first step, the college employee who would best be able to handle the grievance: i.e., the person with whom the student has a difference or a dispute. In the case of academic grievances, this is the course instructor. Every reasonable effort should be made by all parties to resolve the matter informally at this level.
Second Step: If the student is not satisfied with the disposition of the grievance at the first step, the student may file a written appeal to the immediate supervisor of the employee involved within five calendar days of receiving the decision given in the first step. In an academic grievance, this is the campus dean or the dean of health. In a non-academic grievance, the student may contact the dean of student development and make a referral to the appropriate supervisor.
Within five calendar days of the supervisor’s receiving the written appeal from the student, the supervisor shall notify the employee involved of the complaint. The supervisor shall also set a date for a meeting, and notify the student where and when the meeting shall take place, but no later than ten calendar days after receiving of the written appeal by the student. At this point the college employee involved may respond in writing to the grievance. The dean or supervisor will respond in writing to the student and employee, notifying both parties of the grievance decision within five calendar days of the meeting.
Third Step: If the student is not satisfied with the disposition of the grievance by the supervisor of the employee involved, the student may request a meeting with the appropriate vice president within five days after student has received the disposition of his/her grievance at the second step. The student must file a written appeal to the vice president who will schedule a meeting within ten days of receiving the appeal. The vice president will collect relevant information from all parties and meet with the student. The vice president will render, within five days of the meeting, a decision to redress the grievance if it is judged that one occurred.
If, in the vice president’s judgment, the appeal and record of previous actions have redressed the grievance and do not warrant further action, the involved dean shall notify the student, employee, and supervisor within five calendar days after receipt of the appeal.
Fourth Step: If the student is not satisfied with the disposition of the grievance by the vice president involved, the student may request a meeting in writing with the President within five days after the student has received the disposition of the grievance at the third step.
If, in the President’s judgment, the appeal and record of previous actions have redressed the grievance or do not warrant further action, the President shall notify the student, employee, supervisor, and dean within five calendar days after receipt of the appeal.
If the President grants the appeal, the president may either hear the appeal personally or allow the College Hearing Committee to hear the appeal. The President will notify the student, employee, supervisor, and vice president, within five calendar days after receipt of the appeal, and whether the President or the College Hearing Committee will hear the appeal.
If the President hears the appeal, the President shall set a date for a meeting and notify the student where and when the meeting shall take place. The meeting shall take place within a reasonable time after receipt of the written appeal by the student. The President shall notify the student, employee, supervisor, and vice president(s) of a decision within ten calendar days after the conclusion of the meeting.
If the Hearing Committee hears the appeal, within five calendar days after the committee has been appointed the chair shall set a time and place for the hearing, and shall notify the student, the employee, and the employee’s supervisor. The hearing shall begin within a reasonable time after the committee has been selected. The committee shall determine the facts and communicate its recommendation in writing to the President within five calendar days after the hearing is completed.
Within ten calendar days of the President’s receipt of the recommendation, the President shall make the decision, and shall notify the student, the employee involved, and the employee’s supervisor. The decision of the President shall be final under the provision of this grievance procedure.
A copy of the appeal, the recommendation of the committee, and the decision of the President shall be placed in the student’s official file unless the President directs otherwise.