3-11: Appeal of Academic Decisions – Procedures

These procedures guarantee the commitment of Santa Fe Community College (SFCC or “College”) to the fair and equitable process for academic appeals.

College Hearing Council (“Council”) is a list of individuals composed of students, staff and faculty members who are nominated by their governance groups to be Council members, have completed the Office of Human Resources’ Panel training, and may be selected to serve as College Hearing Panel members for appeal hearings brought by students, staff and faculty.

College Hearing Panel (“Panel”) refers to a three-member panel that is formed from the College Hearing Council pool on an as-needed basis to hear appeals of disciplinary action taken by the College against a student, staff or faculty member.

BACKGROUND

  1. These procedures apply only to appeals of academic decisions. Appeals of disciplinary decisions are described in Policy 2-2 Student Corrective Action and Disciplinary Action.
  2. Tape recordings or verbatim transcripts of a hearing may be made only with the agreement of both the student who is appealing (“Student”) and the respondent in the matter (“Respondent”). SFCC is not responsible for making or delivering tape recordings or transcripts.
  3. All hearing information is kept in strict confidence throughout an appeal. Only SFCC officials having a right or reason to know, those who will be advised or consulted about an appeal, or those being allowed to attend the hearing will receive case information.
  4. The Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs is responsible for insuring that these procedures are administered properly and for resolving any procedural issues.
  5. In the event of unusual circumstances, a student may request a delay in the implementation of an academic decision while their appeal is pending. Such requests are made to the Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs through a full written appeal as outlined in Step Three
  6. The Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs exercises judgment in areas where the health, safety, welfare, or rights of others are involved; where a delay in the process would have an adverse effect on the student’s education; or, where legal and contractual rights and responsibilities of the College may be affected.
  7. A copy of Policy 3-11 Appeal of Academic Decisions will be made available upon request from the Student.
  8. Policy 3-11 does not apply to appeals of decisions concerning academic suspension or probation, readmission, or disciplinary action. Those topics are covered by separate SFCC policies noted on the official SFCC website.

GUIDELINES

  1. Step One: Meeting with Respondent
  2. Student first meets with Respondent (the person or persons responsible for the academic decision) to discuss the issue in question. For example, in the case of a grade appeal, the Student first meets with the Respondent responsible for assigning the grade.
  3. This step may not be skipped unless the Respondent is unable to meet with the Student. In that case, the Student may start the process with Step Two below.
  4. Step One must be completed within 30 calendar days of the decision date.

This date is the date the grade was recorded and available on the academic transcript of the Student or the date shown on any letter or other written communication advising the Student of the academic decision in question.

  1. Possible Outcomes:
  2. Student may find the decision to be correct and take no further action.
  3. Respondent may find that an error has been made and take the appropriate corrective action.
  4. Student may still disagree with the decision and may proceed to Step Two.

 

  1. Step Two: Discussion with Chair or Dean
  2. Student meets with the next supervisory level member (Chair or Dean) of the academic school from which the decision originated. If Respondent is a department head, Student will meet with the Chair administratively responsible for the department. If the Respondent is a Chair, student will meet with the Dean of the academic school. This step may not be skipped.
  3. Step Two must be initiated within five (5) calendar days of the completion of Step One and must be completed within five (5) calendar days of the date of initiating the appeal.
  4. Possible Outcomes:
  5. Student may accept the decision and take no further action.
  6. Chair or Dean may sustain the decision and will inform the Student that the appeal is not timely, is without merit, or does not meet the appeal criteria set forth within Policy 3-11. The Chair or Dean must provide written notification of their finding to all parties of the appeal. If Student disagrees with this decision, they may proceed to Step Three below.
  7. If the Chair or Dean determines that the Student has a legitimate question or complaint and cannot sustain the original decision, they will meet with both the Student and the Respondent to seek a resolution. If a resolution cannot be reached, the Chair or Dean will notify the Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs of the particulars of the case in writing. The Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs will then refer the matter to the College Hearing Panel as described in Step Four.
  8. If the Respondent is no longer employed by SFCC, the Chair or Dean makes a decision based on available evidence and recommends to the Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs in writing any action to be taken. If the Student disagrees with this recommended action, they proceed to Step Three.
  9. Step Three: Appeal through the Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs.
  10. Within ten (10) calendar days of the completion of Step Two, Student submits to the Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs a written request to have the case heard by the Panel.
  11. This written appeal must contain a description of the decision being challenged, must cite evidence in support of the Student’s allegation that the decision meets one or more of the six (6) criteria for appeal listed above in Policy 3-11 Policy Process, C, and must state what action or result the Student is requesting in place of the original decision.
  12. Possible Outcomes:
  13. The Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs will inform the Student in writing that their submitted materials do not support a case for appeal.
  14. Student may agree to no further action at this point.
  15. Student may request that the matter be referred to the Panel and this request must be honored by the Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs.
  16. Step Four: Review by the Panel
  17. Within ten (10) calendar days of the completion of Step Three, the Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs convenes the Panel and provides those members with all written evidence submitted by Student and Respondent.
  18. Panel meets and reviews the appeal and renders a decision within five (5) calendar days from the date the Panel is first convened.
  19. Possible Outcomes:
  20. The Panel may sustain the original decision and deny the appeal.
  21. The Panel may grant the appeal and overturn or modify the original decision.
  22. If a change of grade or academic standing results, the Panel Chairperson notifies all parties to the appeal, the Registrar, and other appropriate offices of the new grade or change in academic standing.
  23. The decision of the Panel is final.
  24. Composition of the Panel
  25. Chairperson. For appeals of academic decisions, the Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs or their designee serves as Chairperson of the Panel. The function of the Chairperson is to assure procedural correctness, impartiality, and to pass judgment on the admissibility of evidence. The Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs may not vote on any cases except to break a tie, nor may the Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs be present during voting.
  26. Members. For appeals of academic decisions, the Panel consists of the following categories of eight members: two full-time faculty members, two students, two staff members (one administrative staff member and one support staff member), and two members-at-large.
  27. Selection of Council Membership
  28. Each academic year, the total membership of the Council is determined in the following manner:
  29. The Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs appoints eight faculty members;
  30. The Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Success

appoints six students who have completed at least 15 credit hours with a GPA of at least 2.5.

  1. The Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs and the Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management jointly appoint six staff members (three administrative to include at least one counselor, and three support staff).
  2. The Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs may remove any of their appointees at any time during the academic year and replace the removed person.
  3. The Council may remove any member for cause by a vote of two-thirds of the total membership.
  4. No staff or faculty member of the College may refuse to serve on the Council.
  5. The Council members who serve on the three-member Panel to hear any particular case of academic appeal are selected as follows:
  6. The Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs provides a roster of full Council membership to the Student requesting the hearing;
  7. Student then has 24 hours to strike from the list one faculty member, one student, and one staff member.
  8. The Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs provides a roster of full Council membership to the Respondent in the hearing, who then has 24 hours to strike from the list one faculty member, one student, and one staff member.
  9. After consultation with the Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Success, the Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs then appoints the three members of the Panel to hear the case from those who remain on the list.
  10. Duties of the Chairperson:
  11. Sets the time, location, and any special conditions for conducting the hearing and notifies all participants.
  12. Provides both Student and Respondent with information about procedures by supplying each with a copy of Policy 3-11 Appeal of Academic Decisions.
  13. Rules on the admissibility of evidence and the pertinence of documents and witnesses.
  14. Assures that hearings are conducted in a timely, efficient, decorous, and impartial manner and in procedural compliance with all specifications of Policy 3-11.
  15. Keeps a written record of all proceedings.
  16. Notifies all appropriate parties of the result of the hearing.
  17. Pre-Hearing Procedures
    1. Panel members are responsible for reading all materials relevant to the case prior to the commencement of the hearing.
    2. Student must submit to the Chairperson a written statement of their position, copies of any reports or other materials they wish to be considered, names of any witnesses they wish to be called, and the name of their chosen advisor, if any (see below).
    3. Parties to the hearing are permitted to have legal counsel present at the hearing, and each party may have an adviser from the College to assist in preparation for and during the hearing. Participation of legal counsel or advisers is limited to giving advice to Student or Respondent; legal counsel or advisers may not address the Panel directly or otherwise participate in proceedings unless invited to do so by the Chairperson.
    4. Conduct of Hearings
  18. Hearings are limited to the principals in the case (Student and Respondent), participating members of the Panel, witnesses, legal counsel or advisers to the Student or Respondent, and the Chairperson (except during voting, when the Chairperson may not be present).
  19. The Chairperson convenes the meeting, introduces all participants, and explains voting privileges.
  20. The Chairperson describes the nature of the appeal and explains the Panel procedures.
  21. Student presents their case first and is permitted a maximum of 15 minutes in which to do so.
  22. Respondent is next allowed a maximum of 15 minutes to present their case.
  23. Panel may then ask questions and engage in discussion with the Student or Respondent, during which time any party wishing to call a witness may do so.
  24. Following this period of questioning, discussion, and testimony, the Chairperson will ask the Student and Respondent if they wish to make any further statements. If so, each is given a maximum of 10 minutes to do so.
  25. If the Panel has no further questions for the Student, Respondent, their witnesses, legal counsel or advisers at the end of the closing statements, these persons are excused.
  26. The Panel discusses the case until it reaches a point in its deliberation when the members are ready to take a vote. At this point, the Chairperson designates one Panel member to coordinate the voting and the Chairperson leaves the room.
  27. Panel votes (either by secret ballot or by voice), recalls the Chairperson, and informs them of their decision and, for the record, provides an explanation of the basis upon which that decision was reached.
  28. In the event of deadlock, the Chairperson breaks the tie by casting the deciding vote. Otherwise, the Chairperson is not permitted a vote.
  29. Student and Respondent are then recalled and informed of the Panel’s decision and the reasons for their decision.
  30. Within three calendar days, the Chairperson also provides the Student and Respondent with written notification of the decision and the reasons for such decision. If the principals are not available to be recalled in person, they are notified in writing.
  31. Summary of Deadlines

ACTION        DEADLINE

Step One         Must be completed within 30 calendar days of date of original decision.

Step Two         Must be initiated within 5 calendar days of completion of Step One; and be              completed within 5 calendar days of initiation.

Step Three       Must be completed within 10 calendar days of date of the completion of Step Two.

Step Four        Panel must be convened within 10 calendar days of completion of                                         Step Three; and Panel must complete deliberations within 5 calendar                                 days of being convened.

Note: The above deadlines may be adjusted and expanded to account for summer, winter, and spring breaks when faculty and students are absent from campus.

Contact:         Margaret Peters, Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs

505-428-1372, margaret.peters@sfcc.edu

Updated:        5/17/17

View Policy