Student Grievance Procedures
The primary purpose of the procedure is to secure prompt and equitable resolution of student complaints and grievances. Grievances, properly filed in this forum include, but are not limited to, matters arising under federal and state laws prohibiting discriminatory educational practices, i.e., Title IX of the Educational Amendment of 1972, Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, Title IV of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 151C, Section 1. Customary channels of communication shall be used whenever feasible in seeking clarification of questions of concern before the grievance procedure is utilized. Every effort shall be made to maintain confidentiality at each level of this procedure in accordance with applicable law.
Complaint: The informal, often unwritten stage of an allegation of mistreatment.
Grievance: A written complaint filed by a student with the Enrollment Management Office. or his/her designee who is the Student Grievance Officer, specifically alleging discrimination or an abridgement of his/her rights as a student.
Grievant: The student(s) filing the grievance. The grievant must have been a registered student of the college at the time of the alleged mistreatment.
Student Grievance Officer: A college employee assigned responsibility for administering the student grievance procedure, including the maintenance of specified records. The Student Grievance Officer for Roxbury Community College is the Enrollment Management Office.. If a grievance is filed against the person acting as the Student Grievance Officer, the President shall designate another college official to act as the Student Grievance Officer.
Time: The number of days indicated at each level shall be considered a maximum. Every effort should be made to expedite the process. Nevertheless, the specified time limits may be extended in extenuating circumstances by the immediate supervisor of the person against whom the grievance is directed, the President or his/her designee or by mutual agreement of the grievance and the person against whom the grievance is directed, provided that such extensions shall be confirmed in writing.
Informal procedure customary channels of communication should be used in seeking clarification of questions of concern and in resolving complaints before the formal procedure is used. This is the informal stage where most complaints are resolved. For example, a student who has a complaint regarding a classroom incident customarily talks to or notifies the faculty member, the Department Chair, the Division Chairperson, then the Enrollment Management Office. if the complaint is not resolved. The student may consult with the Student Grievance Officer prior to filing any written complaint. The current Student Grievance Officer for Roxbury Community College is the Enrollment Management Office..
Step One: Except in cases of alleged physical assault or sexual harassment, the grievant shall first present his/her complaint orally and informally to the person against whom the complaint exists. This should be done in a reasonable period of time, not exceeding thirty (30) calendar days from the date that the grievant knew or should have known of the grievable action or inaction. An individual who believes that he/she is the victim of sexual harassment or physical assault may initiate his/her complaint at Level One, Step Three (i.e., with the immediate supervisor of the person against whom the complaint exists) not later than thirty (30) calendar days following the instructional period when the alleged incident occurred. In all other cases, the grievant shall first present his/her complaint at Level One, Steps One and Two.
Step Two: If the complaint is not resolved within ten (10) calendar days after notice of the Step One complaint, the grievant may within ten (10) calendar days thereafter present in writing the allegations supporting the complaint including all of the known facts to the person against whom the complaint is directed.
A complaint filed at this level shall specifically state that it is filed at Level One, Step Two. The grievant shall also date the document, retain a copy, and hand-deliver or send it by certified mail. The person against whom the complaint is directed shall forward a written Step Two response, if any, to the student within seven (7) calendar days from receipt.
Step Three: If the complaint is not resolved within seven (7) calendar days after receipt of the Step Two response or if no written response is issued within seven (7) calendar days after it was due, then the student may progress to stop there. The grievant may present it in writing to the supervisor of the person against whom the grievance is directed, with a copy to the Dean of the area of the person against whom the grievance is directed and the Enrollment Management Office.. The supervisor shall investigate the complaint and after conferring with the appropriate Dean shall forward his/her written decision to the grievant, the person against whom the grievant is directed and the Enrollment Management Office. within seven (7) calendar days after receipt of the Step Three complaint.
Step One: Student Grievance Committee if the complaint is not resolved within the period allowed at Level One, Step Three, the grievant may present a formal grievance in writing, including a statement of the charges and all supporting statement and evidence, to the Student Grievance Officer (Enrollment Management Office. or his/her designee) within ten (10) calendar days after the receipt of the supervisor's decision. The Student Grievance Officer shall arrange a meeting of the Student Grievance Committee within fourteen (14) calendar days following receipt of the grievance and shall provide a copy of all written supporting statements and evidence presented at the lower steps to each member of the Committee at least twenty-four (24) hours prior to the hearing. The Committee shall render its findings and any recommendations within seven (7) calendar days following said hearing.
Membership of the College Student Grievance Committee:
The composition of the College Student Grievance Committee shall consist of five members - one (1) classified employee, one (1) administrator, one (1) faculty or professional staff unit member, one (1) student and a fifth member from the same identifiable group as the person against whom the grievance has been filed. Each member shall be appointed by the President from among the recommendations submitted by the Enrollment Management Office. in consultation with the Dean Team. In cases of discrimination as they apply to Title IX of the 1972 Educational Amendments, Title VI of the Civil Rights Amendment, Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, or other applicable federal or state anti-discrimination law, the Affirmative Action Officer shall be a non-voting sixth member of the committee. The Enrollment Management Office. shall also attend all committee meetings but shall not vote and shall maintain the confidentiality of those meetings. Service on the committee shall be voluntary, provided that a member who has a personal interest in the particular grievance shall be ineligible to serve on the Grievance Committee.
Rules for Committee Meetings:
The following rules shall govern all hearings before the College Student Grievance Committee:
Each newly impaneled committee shall meet prior to conducting a hearing to select a committee chairperson from among its members. Selection shall be made by a simple majority vote.
The Chairperson of the committee shall be responsible for conducting the hearing and drafting the decision of the committee, but shall vote only in the event of a tie.
Deliberations of the committee shall be confidential and held in closed session. All hearing shall be closed, provided however, that the grievant and the person against whom the grievance is directed shall be invited to be present. The grievant and the person grieved shall have the right to bring a representative and any necessary witnesses to the hearing, provided that the committee may invite additional witnesses to the hearing. Any witness may be isolated from the testimony of other witnesses at the sole discretion of the Committee.
Hearings before the committee shall not be subject to the formal rules of evidence. In all cases, however, the hearing shall be conducted in a fair and impartial manner.
Copies of the findings and recommendations of the Grievance Committee shall be forwarded by the Student Grievance Officer to the grievant, the person against whom the grievance is directed and the President and his/her designee. A copy shall be maintained by the College for not more than seven (7) years.
No further issues may be added by either the grievant or the individual against whom the grievance has been filed subsequent to Level One, Step Three. Either party may, however, provide additional written evidence for consideration by the President within seven (7) calendar days following receipt of the committee's findings, provided that he/she shall also provide a copy of any additional written evidence to the other party.
Step Two: The President or designee - within thirty (30) calendar days after the grievance committee issues its findings and recommendations, the President or designee shall evaluate all the evidence and make his/her decision in writing, to all concerned parties. The President or designee may in his/her sole discretion conduct a hearing prior to rendering a decision. If a hearing is held, it shall be closed, but the grievant and the person(s) grieved shall be invited and each may bring a representative. The decision of the President or designee shall be final and binding on all parties.
Complaints or grievances filed in connection with assigned grades represent a special case within the grievance procedure. Grading reflects careful and deliberate assessment of a student's performance by the by the instructing professional(s). As such decisions are necessarily judgmental, the substance of those decisions may not be delegated to the grievance process. Nevertheless, the College recognizes that in rare cases, the process of grading may be subject to error or injustice, except as otherwise provided by a separate grade appeals procedure for clinical programs as approved by the President of the College . A student who alleges an error or injustice in grading process may employ the grievance procedures described in Level One, Step One through Three above; provided that the appropriate Dean for these purposes shall be the Academic Dean. No complaint challenging a grade may be initiated later than thirty (30) calendar days following the last day of the instructional period for which the grade was granted. If the faculty member who assigned the challenged grade is no longer employed by the College or is not available within the timelines specified, the student may initiate his/her complaint with the appropriate Division Chairperson. If at any level substantial evidence of error is produced, the grading process may be remanded to the instructor of record for reassessment. If the instructor of record is no longer available, the appropriate Division Chairperson or his/her designee shall instead reassess the grading process.
Hearings and Decisions
At each of the above levels, the grievant and the person against whom the grievance is directed shall be afforded the opportunity to be present and to be heard. In addition, each party may present, examine and cross-examine witnesses. All decisions and/or recommendations at each level must be in writing, with the exceptions of Level One, Steps One and Two, and shall include supporting reasons. Copies of all decisions and/or recommendations shall be given to both parties.
Collateral Rights of Person(s) Grieved by Students
If the recommendations made at any level of the grievance procedure result in sanctions against college employees, these measures shall be regarded as administrative action subject to all conditions of applicable collective bargaining agreements and College and/or Higher Education Coordinating Council Personnel Policies.
Filing a grievance in accordance with the procedures herein detailed in no way abrogates the student's right to file complaints with the appropriate state and federal agencies or with the court. However, once the grievant initiates proceedings in any other forum, his/her rights to proceed under the student grievance procedure are waived.
For purposes of filing federal level charges of discrimination under Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments, Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act or Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, students may contact the US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, Post Office Square, Boston, MA 02109.
Withdrawal of Complaints
Students may withdraw their formal or informal complaints at any time. Withdrawal may be accomplished in writing or by oral agreement confirmed in writing.
The College shall not interfere, restrain, or coerce any student in the exercise of his/her right under this grievance procedure and or his/her participation in any grievance proceedings.