The purpose of the complaint procedure is to provide a fair and orderly process to resolve student complaints in a timely manner. This policy applies to all enrolled students in matters relating to other students, faculty, administrators, and staff at all RCC locations.
Student: An individual who is, or at the time of the incident(s) leading to a complaint was registered and enrolled in classes 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.
Complaint: A complaint 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 complaint. This includes any complaint involving Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
A. Academic– An academic complaint 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 complaint 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. Complaints related to sexual harassment should be reported to the college’s Title IX officer as described in the RCC College Catalog and Student Handbook.
Failure to appeal within time limit
If there is no written mutual agreement to extend the time limit 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 complaint will be considered to be resolved on the basis of the last decision rendered.
Extension of time
It is important to good relationships that complaints be initiated and processed as rapidly as possible. Every effort shall be made by all parties to expedite the process. The time limitations specified in the Complaint Process Steps may be extended by written mutual agreement.
Failure to respond within time limit
Failure at any level of the complaint 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.
Complaint format – All written complaints and appeals to the next step in the process shall include the name of the student making the complaint, the name of the student or employee involved in the complaint, and a brief statement of the nature of the complaint. In the event of appeal to the next step in the process, the student should state that this is an appeal of the resolution of the complaint.
The student making the complaint has the right to discuss the matter informally with any appropriate member of the college in order to resolve the complaint informally.
Employment of attorney
Students may employ attorneys—at their expense—to provide counsel at any step of the complaint process.
The complaint procedure shall not be construed as restricting students in their exercise of constitutional rights or academic freedom.
Informal Resolution of Complaint
Recognizing that complaints should be resolved promptly, a complaint should be submitted within ten calendar days following the situation resulting in the complaint. As the first step the student should contact the college employee who would best be able to handle the complaint: i.e., the person with whom the student has a difference or a dispute. In the case of academic complaints, this is the course instructor. Every reasonable effort should be made by all parties to resolve the matter informally at this level.
Formal Resolution of Complaint
If the student is not satisfied with how the complaint is resolved informally, the student must file a formal complaint using the Student Complaint Form. The formal complaint must be submitted to the immediate supervisor of the employee involved within five calendar days if the complaint was not resolved informally as described above. In an academic complaint, the supervisor is the campus dean or the dean of health. In a non-academic complaint, the student may contact the dean of student development who will make a referral to the appropriate supervisor. A copy of the Student Complaint Form will be retained by the academic dean or dean of student development, and the appropriate supervisor if applicable.
Steps in the Formal Complaint Process:
1. Within five calendar days of the dean or supervisor’s receiving the written appeal from the student, the supervisor shall notify the employee involved of the complaint. The dean or 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 the Student Complaint Form. At this point the college employee involved may respond in writing to the complaint. After the meeting occurs the dean or supervisor will respond in writing to the student and employee, notifying both parties of the complaint decision within five calendar days of the meeting. The dean or supervisor will retain a copy of the written notification on file with the Student Complaint Form.
2. If the student is not satisfied with how the complaint is resolved by the dean or supervisor of the employee involved, the student may request a meeting with the appropriate vice president within five days after student has received the decision about his/her complaint. 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. Within five days of the meeting, the vice president will reach a decision to resolve the complaint. If, in the vice president’s judgment, the appeal and record of previous actions have resolved the complaint and do not warrant further action, the involved dean or supervisor shall notify the student and the employee within five calendar days after receipt of the appeal. The dean or supervisor will retain a copy of the written notification on file with the Student Complaint Form.
3. If the student is not satisfied with how the complaint is resolved 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 written decision from the vice president. If, in the President’s judgment, the appeal and record of previous actions have resolved the complaint or do not warrant further action, the President shall notify the student, employee, dean or supervisor within five calendar days after receipt of the appeal. The dean or supervisor will retain a copy of the written notification on file with the Student Complaint Form.
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 complaint procedure. The dean or supervisor will retain a copy of the written notification on file with the Student Complaint Form.
A copy of the appeal, the recommendation of the committee, and the decision of the President shall be placed on file in the office of the dean of student development.