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Student Grievance and Academic Due Process

Purpose

The purpose of the grievance proce­dure is to provide fair and orderly processes to resolve student grievances at RCC.

Definitions

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.

B. 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.

C. 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.

Time Limitations:

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.

General Provisions

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 who will make a referral to the appropriate supervisor.

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 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 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 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 or supervisor shall notify the student and the employee 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, dean or supervisor 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.

This page was reviewed on June 11, 2013, updated on May 19, 2013. If you are looking for previous catalog information, please reference the 2008-2010 Catalog, 2010-2012 Catalog, or 2013-2014 Catalog.

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