*Alert: Germanna Community College will open at normal time Wednesday, November 26 but will close at Noon for the Thanksgiving holiday and will re-open on Dec 1.

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Student Handbook - Student Academic Grievance Procedure

Catalog and Student Handbook

The purpose of the student grievance procedure is to provide an equitable and orderly process to resolve grievances at Germanna Community College.

A student who is experiencing dissatisfaction in an academic matter at the College must first discuss the complaint with the instructor involved. Every reasonable effort should be made by both parties to resolve the matter through informal discussion.

After this informal discussion, students who continue to feel they have a valid complaint of unfair treatment may resolve their complaints through the formal Student Academic Grievance procedure outlined herein. The procedure provides for an expeditious and fair resolution of the complaint while protecting the student and College from a prolonged and complicated process.

Germanna Community College endorses and complies with all federal and State laws and policies which maintain and promote equal employment and educational opportunities without regard to race, color, gender, age, religion, national origin, political affiliation, veteran status, or disability.

Definitions:

Student: Any person enrolled full- or part-time in credit or noncredit courses at Germanna Community College.

Student Academic Grievance: An academic grievance is any difference of opinion or dispute between a student and a faculty member about learning activities as they affect the student. This may include grading, instructional procedures, attendance, instructional quality, and situations where the student believes he or she is being treated arbitrarily.

It is a formal, written complaint of unlawful or unfair treatment charged by a student against the College with respect to the application of the laws, rules, policies, procedures, and regulations under which the College operates. A complaint may exist and be resolved without initiating the formal grievance process

Note: Separate grievance policies and procedures address issues of sexual misconduct and issues of access and accommodations for individuals with disabilities. In cases of sexual harassment allegations, it is not required that the initial complaint be filed with the individual against whom the complaint is being lodged. Students experiencing sexual harassment should report this directly to the Dean of Student Services. See the Germanna Community College College-Wide Policies section of the Student Handbook.

Time Limits: The formal Academic Grievance process must be initiated within thirty calendar days following the event giving rise to the grievance, or within thirty calendar days of the time when the student reasonably should have gained knowledge of its occurrence, whichever comes first. The appropriate Dean of Instruction shall determine the date upon which the grievance occurred.

Once a grievance is initiated, the time limitations for either party may be extended by written mutual agreement. If there is no mutual agreement to extend the time limits set herein, and if a decision at one level is not appealed to the next level within the time limit specified, the decision rendered at the previous level shall be final.

Note: It should be understood that the student who chooses to file a grievance must assume the burden of proof for such a grievance by providing factual evidence to substantiate his/her claims.

Steps for Filing an Academic Grievance:

Informal Resolution: Prior to filing an academic grievance, students are required to meet with their instructor. The meeting will be documented with documentation maintained in the instructor’s office. If the instructor involved in the dispute is no longer employed by the College, the student may submit a level one grievance.

Level 1: If resolution cannot be reached through informal discussion with the instructor involved, the student may file an academic grievance by completing a Student Academic Grievance form and submitting it to the Office of Instruction, within the thirty-day time limit.

The Student Academic Grievance form may be obtained from the Office of Instruction and on the college’s website. Both parties to the grievance are responsible for keeping copies of all paperwork associated with the grievance procedure in the event that the procedure should progress to higher levels.

The Dean or designee will then discuss the matter with both the student and the faculty member individually. The Dean or designee may choose at this point to issue a written decision delivered by certified mail to both the student and the faculty member, and said decision must be rendered within ten college business days of receipt of the grievance. Alternatively, the Dean may choose at this point to arrange a meeting with the principals. The date for this meeting must be chosen within ten college business days following the receipt of the grievance. The meeting itself may occur as much as seventeen college business days after the receipt of the grievance. A written decision delivered by certified mail will be rendered to the principals within twenty college business days following the meeting.

Level 2: If the student is not satisfied with the disposition of the grievance at Level 1, copy of the written grievance submitted at Level 1 along with the Dean of Instruction’s written response may be submitted within seven college business days of receipt of the Level 1 response to the office of the Dean of Instruction to request an Academic Grievance Review panel.

The panel will be convened by a Dean not involved with the Level 1 grievance procedure. The panel will consist of a Dean, two faculty members and two students nominated by the Dean of Student Services. The Dean will chair the panel and vote only if needed to break a tie. The Chair of the Panel is responsible for distributing the documentation provided by the grieving parties, determining the issues of the case to be heard, and conducting the hearing in an orderly, efficient, and equitable manner.

At the beginning of the hearing, the Chair will review issues of the case with the group and establish the procedure by which the testimony will be presented. The Chair may decide on the length of time needed to explore an issue, set time limits for speakers, and ask for testimony by any person deemed important to the investigation of the facts.

The student and faculty member may each bring one non-participatory observer to the hearing. If the nonparticipating observer is an attorney, the party retaining the attorney must notify the other party and the Chair of the Academic Grievance Review Panel at least five business days prior to the hearing. The attorney’s role is as an observer; he/she may not speak to the Chair or the Panel or the opposing party. The attorney may consult with the party who engaged him/her while the meeting is in session, but any consultations must take place outside the hearing room and should be kept within reasonable limits, as determined by the Committee, with regard to their frequency and duration.

The Chair of the Academic Grievance Review Panel will provide a written decision of the panel to the student, instructor, and dean involved in the grievance within five business days after the completion of the hearing.

Level 3: If either party to the grievance is not satisfied with the disposition of the grievance at Level 2, the written grievance submitted at Level 1 along with the Dean’s written response and response from the Academic Grievance Review Panel may be submitted to the Vice-President for Academic Affairs and Student Services within seven college business days of receipt of the Level 2 response.

The Vice-President at this point may schedule a meeting with the principals within ten college business days following the receipt of the grievance. The meeting itself may occur within seventeen days of the receipt of the grievance. Within twenty college business days following the receipt of the Level 3 grievance, the decision of the Vice-President for Academic Affairs and Student Services shall be provided in writing, delivered by certified mail, to the principals, and the decision shall be final.

General Provisions: In no case may an individual involved at an earlier level of the grievance serve on the Grievance Panel. The Grievance Panel, Dean, or Vice-President has the responsibility to interpret the grievance in light of established laws, rules, policies, procedures, and regulations. The Dean or Grievance Panel does not have the prerogative to formulate or change College policies or procedures nor to commit State resources. The Vice-President may not change policy or procedure to resolve a grievance, but may, as a result of the grievance, formulate new policy to cover future cases. Copies of the final resolution of the grievance shall be forwarded to the principals concerned and to all administrative officials involved in the grievance. Files of resolved grievances shall be forwarded to and maintained in the office of the Vice-President for Academic Affairs and Student Services. All principals to a grievance shall have the right to copies of all written information presented in the grievance procedure.