Friday, April 18th, 2014

Student Complaint Resolution


Complaint Resolution

The University of Arkansas Community College at Hope seeks to resolve student complaints in a fair and expeditious manner. All students, including those participating in distance or correspondence education, are encouraged to follow the Student Complaint/Appeals/Grievance Procedure outlined below. If a complaint cannot be resolved internally, a student may file a complaint with the appropriate authority in his/her state of residence. The Student Complaint Information by State and Agency document provides a list of appropriate state officials and/or entities for each state. Students may also contact the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, which is UACCH’s regional accrediting body.

Student Grievance/Appeals/Complaint Procedures

In accordance with its mission, the College promotes and maintains a supportive learning environment within which students can optimize their personal, academic, and professional development. All actions under these procedures are based on the values most consistent with the College’s mission and by the principles of mutual respect and procedural fairness for and by all students, faculty, staff, and administrators who may be involved.

All grievances directed to College personnel by students are considered important and will be addressed by the respective employee and/or department. Only formal, written student complaints submitted on an Official  Student Complaint Form and filed with the appropriate Vice Chancellor are considered official complaints. Copies of the Official Student Complaint Form are available on the College website and in the offices of the Vice Chancellors of Academics and Student Services. Any student who has a grievance shall make a reasonable, good faith effort to resolve the matter following the informal process for student grievances before initiating an official complaint.

Information about student complaints is formally logged into the College’s Student Complaint Log and shared with the College’s accrediting agency, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association. Individual identities of students are shielded without the express permission of the complainants that they may be shared. The purpose of officially logging complaints and sharing that information with the accrediting agency is to establish that the College processes complaints in a consistent and timely manner that demonstrates fairness and attention to student concerns.

In all instances, student grievances, appeals, and complaints follow a four-step process. Issues are addressed as quickly as possible at the level as close to the source of the decision-making as possible. Students must complete each step of the resolution process in its entirety before continuing to the next step.

Grade Appeals
Appeals dealing with grades are addressed to the Vice Chancellor for Academics. Appeals against the Vice Chancellor are addressed to and conducted by the Chancellor. Grade appeals must follow the course of action outlined under the Student Grievance/Appeals/Complaint Procedures. A student may file a written formal appeal of a final grade in a course only, including its calculation or other action resulting in a particular grade or removal from the course. The instructional methods of the instructor and his or her ability to teach are not subject to the appeals process. Students wishing to file a grade appeal must submit a written request and the specific remedies sought to the Vice Chancellor of Academics within 30 days after the grievance. The Vice Chancellor of Academics has 10 days to identify an ad hoc appeals committee and to notify the student and the selected committee members of the time and place for a hearing. The ad hoc appeals committee consists of four faculty members chosen by lot and one faculty member of the student’s choice. Although grade appeals are not considered a formal student complaint, to ensure due process, the appeals committee will operate in the same manner and under the same procedures as a formal complaint committee. The College follows an appeals process in certain other academic and non-academic instances. In an effort to ensure due process, in all instances the appeals procedures include provisions for formally resolving issues. Neither grievances nor appeals are not considered student complaints; however, the appropriate Vice Chancellor has the discretion to enter a grievance or an appeal and its outcome in the Student Complaint Log.

Student Grievance/Appeals/Complaint Procedures
The purpose of the Student Grievance/Appeals/Complaint Procedure is to assure students that their grievances will be considered under due process, rapidly, and in a non-threatening atmosphere. College policy is to address all grievances informally (steps 1 through 3) before embarking on a formal student complaint (step 4).

  1. Students must first consult with the instructor of the course or the person(s) or office responsible for the issue in a good faith effort to resolve the problem. Contact should be made as soon as possible, noting that the formal student complaint procedure must be initiated within 30 days.
  2. If the problem cannot be resolved, the student should contact the academic dean or the responsible supervisor. The dean or supervisor shall arrange a meeting with the person(s) responsible and the student in an effort to resolve the problem.
  3. If the grievance is still not resolved the student, academic dean, or responsible supervisor should schedule a meeting of the student and the appropriate Vice Chancellor. If the informal discussion does not lead to a good faith effort to resolve the grievance, the Vice Chancellor apprises the student of the formal student complaint procedure. The Vice Chancellor has the discretion to document the informal grievance process and its resolution, including the reason why the informal grievance procedure failed.
  4. Students filing a formal complaint must submit a written request and the specific remedies sought to the appropriate Vice Chancellor within 30 day after the grievance. Students must submit written complaints on an Official Student Complaint Form, available on the UACCH website or in the offices of the Vice Chancellors. Upon receipt of the written document, the appropriate Vice Chancellor has 10 days to identify an ad hoc Student Complaint Committee and to notify the student and the selected committee members as to the time and place of the formal resolution. The Student Complaint Committee consists of four faculty or professional staff members chosen by lot and one student selected by the appropriate Vice Chancellor. In the case of a grade appeal, the committee consists of four faculty members chosen by lot and one faculty member of the student’s choice. The Vice Chancellor serves as the non-voting moderator of the formal resolution. Formal resolutions are closed to the public. Formal resolutions are conducted in the following orderly and expeditious manner without undue interference or interruptions:
    • Attendance at the hearing is restricted to the moderator, selected committee members, the student, a non-press student advisor if the student chooses, and the instructor or person responsible for the original decision and/or the supervisor(s) for the area.
    • The moderator reads the written complaint prepared by the student.
    • Up to 15 minutes is allowed for a presentation of the student’s position. The complaint committee, in reaching a decision, considers written statements that supplement and support the student’s position.
    • Up to 15 minutes is allowed for a presentation by the person(s) against whom the complaint was filed. The complaint committee, in reaching a decision, considers written statements that supplement and support the opposing position.
    • Complaint committee members may ask questions of the participants. The complaint committee and moderator go into executive session to consider the decision. Unless the complaint committee has questions or a point needs clarification, there will be no further input from the parties to the complaint.
    • After discussing the case, the moderator will poll the complaint committee members, count the written ballots, and announce the vote count. Decisions are by majority vote. All discussions and vote counts are to be kept confidential.
    • The moderator assists the complaint committee in preparing a written finding in the case. The committee will convene again in regular session, and the moderator will announce the decision. No additional comments will be allowed. The decision of the complaint committee is final, and conclusion of the complaint resolution finalizes the process.
    • The moderator enters information regarding the student complaint into the Student Complaint Log.