Title: Student Grievance Procedure
Based on Policy:
1.10 - Equal Opportunity
Office of Primary Responsibility: Vice President for Administrative Services/Equity
To provide, at the lowest possible level, equitable resolution to complaints growing out of alleged discriminations on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, marital status, political affiliation, or sexual orientation
- Discrimination - any act by the South Florida State College District Board of Trustees (DBOT), its agents, or officers which has the effect of denying to any student any benefit which is available to any other student where the denial of such benefit is solely based on race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, marital status, political affiliation, or sexual orientation.
- Complaint - an allegation that discrimination has been practiced against a student. A complaint is an allegation by a student that there has been:
- A breach, misinterpretation, or improper application of college policies and procedures
- Violation or misapplication of any law, statute, or Constitutional guarantee, an arbitrary or discriminatory application of, or a failure to act pursuant to the written policies of the college
- An arbitrary, improper or discriminatory practice which results in unjust treatment of the student
- Violation of policy as stated by the DBOT
- Complainant or Aggrieved - the person against whom discrimination has been allegedly practiced.
- Respondent - the person who allegedly practiced or whose actions allegedly resulted in discrimination being practiced against the complainant.
- Informal procedure:
It is understood that the informal procedure outlined below will be without the use of a secretary, minutes, or any recording device.
In the event that a student or group of students believes there is a basis for a complaint, he, she, or they shall:
- Make an appointment and informally discuss the complaint with the respondent concerned within 14 calendar days of the date of the alleged discrimination.
- If the complainant is dissatisfied with the decision, he, she, or they shall, within seven calendar days, informally discuss the complaint with the appropriate dean.
- If the complainant is still dissatisfied, he, she, or they shall begin the formal procedure within seven calendar days of the discussion with the dean.
- Formal procedure:
- If, as a result of the informal procedure, the complainant is still dissatisfied with the decision, the student or group of students may invoke a formal complaint procedure by outlining the complaint in writing on a prescribed form. Two copies of the complaint form, signed by the student or students concerned, shall be filed with the dean, student services.
- Within seven calendar days of the receipt of the formal complaint, the dean, student services shall transmit the complaint to the appeals/complaint committee. The appeals/complaint committee shall, within seven calendar days of receipt of the complaint, hold a hearing on the complaint.
- Within seven calendar days of the end of the formal hearing, the committee shall indicate its recommendation with regard to the disposition of the complaint, in writing, to the president.
- The president may approve, disapprove, or amend the recommendation. The president shall indicate his/her decision within seven calendar days of the date of delivery of the recommendation in writing to the dean, student services with a copy to the chair of the appeals/complaint committee. (If the president finds that the employee/respondent through his/her actions has violated local or state laws or college policies or procedures, the matter will be referred to the Human Resources Office for appropriate action.)
- The dean, student service shall administer the decision of the president, including communication of the decision to the complainant and to the respondent by certified mail.
- If the complainant is dissatisfied with the president’s decision, he, she, or they may request a hearing by the DBOT. In such cases, the matter of the complaint shall be placed on the agenda of the next regularly scheduled meeting of the DBOT if a meeting is scheduled more than two calendar weeks in the future. If the next regularly scheduled meeting of the DBOT is scheduled for a time less than two weeks from the request for a hearing, the complaint shall be placed on the agenda of the regularly scheduled meeting of the following month.
- No reprisals of any kind shall be taken against any student for participating in any complaint. Any student under expulsion or suspension, who files a complaint that is resolved in favor of the student, shall be restored to his/her former student status.
- Nothing contained in this procedure shall be construed to deny to any student any rights or benefits guaranteed by law.
- No reprisals of any kind shall be taken against any member of the appeals/complaint committee or any others for their participation in the complaint procedure.
- The number of days indicated at each level of discussion shall be considered as maximum and every effort shall be made to expedite the process. However, the time limit may be extended by the mutual consent of all concerned.
- It is agreed that each party of a complaint shall furnish the other with any information in its possession that may be legally released and is necessary for the processing of complaints.
- If a student or the respondent has a matter that he or she wishes to discuss with the other, he or she is free to do so without recourse to the complaint procedures.
- The student or students filing the complaint may withdraw a complaint at any level.
- All documents, forms, communications, and records dealing with a complaint shall be filed separately from the permanent record files of the participants, and shall be kept confidential. A copy of the complaint and its final disposition will be filed in the office of the dean, student services.
- Students under 18 years of age should have their parents present at all meetings and conferences under this procedure.
- Complainants and/or respondents may have legal counsel present for consultation during any or all parts of the appeal; however, legal counsel may not speak for or represent their client in any of the meetings or hearings. Complainants and respondents shall be responsible for all fees connected with legal counsel.
- Complaints processed by the student judicial committee:
- The chair, upon receipt of a written complaint, shall include the complaint on the agenda of the next scheduled meeting or shall call a special meeting for the purpose of handling the complaint. All committee members and the student or students filing the complaint shall be notified, (the student(s) in writing by certified mail) at least two days in advance of the meeting. The president shall not attend the meeting unless summoned by the committee.
- A quorum of five members must be present at the meeting in order for a complaint to be heard except that if one or more members of the committee are directly involved in the complaint and excused from service on a particular complaint, as few as three members may constitute a quorum.
- The chair shall read to the committee the report of the complaint as submitted by the student or students.
- The student or students filing the complaint shall be present to explain his, her, or their complaint and shall be subject to questioning by committee members. The student or students filing the complaint shall deliver to the committee all written documents or records pertinent to the complaint being processed if same is available to him, her, or them.
- The person or persons who have allegedly aggrieved the student or students shall appear before the committee for questioning and bring to the committee all pertinent records and documents. Such persons shall be given at least two days notice of the meeting. If attendance is impossible by one or both of the parties, the chair shall set an appropriate meeting date within the next calendar week. The committee shall have the right to ask the aggrieved student or students and the person(s) who allegedly aggrieved, to appear at a second meeting.
- The appeals/complaint committee shall have the right to request the appearance of anyone who might have information relative to the case.
- All testimony given to the committee shall be recorded by tape recorder and/or secretary.
- After completion of all questioning by the committee, both parties and all witnesses shall be excused from the meeting and committee deliberations shall take place. Such deliberations shall be confidential, and the secretary shall keep only such records as instructed by the committee.
Disposition of the complaint shall be by vote of a simple majority of those committee members present.
The vote shall be recorded by number “for,” number “against,” and shall be included in the report to the president.
If the allegedly aggrieved student is not satisfied with decision of the president, he, she, or they may appeal the decision to the DBOT.
- Complaint referred or appealed to the DBOT:
The DBOT shall use the following procedure regarding a hearing:
- The DBOT shall adopt its own rules or procedure as to how to handle a complaint referred or appealed to the DBOT.
- The DBOT may elect to appoint a hearing examiner who will conduct a hearing and report to the DBOT, or it may elect to hear the complaint itself.
- The president of the college, acting as executive secretary of the DBOT, will notify by certified mail the student or students filing the complaint and any other person involved of the date of the hearing at least seven calendar days prior to the scheduled date.
- After the DBOT reaches a decision concerning any complaint considered, the president of the college, serving as executive secretary of the DBOT, will notify the aggrieved person or persons in writing by certified mail within three days.
- If in the outcome of the hearing, it is found that the college employee/respondent through his/her actions has violated local or state laws or college policies or procedures, the case will be forwarded to the Human Resources Office for appropriate action.
- The decision of the DBOT shall be the final decision by the college.
History: Last Reviewed: 1/31/08
Reviewed: 1/31/05, 1/31/08