2-21: Appeal of Academic Decisions – Procedures

PROCEDURES
A. Step One: Meeting with Respondent(s)
1. The student (“claimant” or “appellant”) meets with the person or persons responsible for the academic decisions (the respondent or respondents) to discuss the issue in question. For example, in the case of a grade appeal, the student first meets with the Faculty member responsible for assigning the grade.
2. This step may not be skipped unless the respondent is unable to meet with the student. In such a case, the student may start with Step Two.
3. Step One must be completed within 30 calendar days of the decision date. This date is the date on the grade report transmitted to the student or the date shown on any letter or other written communication advising the student of the academic decision in question.
4. Possible Outcomes
a. The student may find the decision to be correct and take no further action.
b. The respondent may find that an error has been made and take the appropriate corrective action.
c. The student may still disagree with the decision and proceed to Step Two.

B. Step Two: Discussion with Supervisor
1. The student meets with supervisor of the academic area from which the decision originated (e.g., an academic department). If the respondent is a department head, the student meets with the division chair administratively responsible for the department. If the respondent is a division chair, the student meets with the Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs (VP/ASA).
2. This step may not be skipped.
3. Step Two must be initiated within five calendar days of the completion of Step One and must be completed within five calendar days of the date of initiation.
4. Possible Outcomes
a. The student may accept the decision and take no further action.
b. The supervisor may sustain the decision and may inform the student that the appeal is not timely, is without merit, or does not meet the appeal criteria set forth within the appeal policy. The supervisor must provide written notification of his or her finding to all parties in the appeal. If the student disagrees with this decision, he or she may proceed to the next step.
c. If the supervisor determines that the student has a legitimate question or complaint and cannot sustain the decision, the supervisor meets with both the complainant and the respondent to seek a resolution. If resolution cannot be reached, the supervisor notifies the Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs of the particulars of the case (in writing), who refers the matter to the College Hearing Board (see Step Four).
d. If the respondent is no longer employed by the college, the supervisor makes a decision based on available evidence and recommends (in writing) to the VP/ASA any action to be taken. If the student disagrees with this recommended action, he or she proceeds to Step Three.

C. Step Three: Appeal through the VP/ASA.
1. Within 10 calendar days of the completion of Step Two, the student submits to the VP/ASA a written request to have the case heard by the College Hearing Board.
2. 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 criteria for appeal listed above in section III.C, and must state what action or result the student is requesting in place of the original decision.
3. Possible Outcomes
a. The VP/ASA may inform the student (in writing) that his or her submitted materials do not support a case for appeal. The student may agree to no further action at this point or may request that the matter be referred to the College Hearing Board. This request must be honored by the VP/ASA.
b. The VP/ASA may inform the student (in writing) that his or her case is without merit but, nevertheless, forward the case to the College Hearing Board for further review.
c. The VP/ASA may decide that the student’s allegations may be supportable, in which case the VP/ASA forwards the appeal to the College Hearing Board.

D. Step Four: Review by the College Hearing Board
1. Within ten calendar days of the completion of Step Three, the VP/ASA convenes the College Hearing Board and provides board members with all written evidence submitted by parties to the appeal.
2. The College Hearing Board meets and reviews the appeal and renders a decision within five calendar days of the date the board is first convened.
3. Possible Outcomes
a. The College Hearing Board may sustain the original decision and deny the appeal.
b. The College Hearing Board may grant the appeal and overturn or modify the original decision. Note: Changes of grade may only be recommended by the Hearing Board; they may not be imposed by the Board without the responsible faculty member’s concurrence.
c. If a change of grade or academic standing results, the chair of the College Hearing Board so notifies all parties to the appeal and the Registrar and/or other appropriate office of the new grade or change in academic standing.
d. The decision of the College Hearing Board is final.

E. Composition of the College Hearing Board
1. Chair. For appeals of academic decisions, the VP/ASA or designée serves as chair of the College Hearing Board. The function of the VP/ASA is to assure procedural correctness, impartiality, and to pass judgment on the admissibility of evidence. The VP/ASA may not vote on any cases except to break a tie, nor may the VP/ASA be present during voting.
2. Members. For appeals of academic decisions, the Hearing Board consists of the following categories of eight members: two full-time faculty members, two students, and two staff members (one administrative staff member and one support staff member).

F. Selection of Board Membership
1. Each academic year, the total membership of the Hearing Board is determined in the following manner:
a. the VP/ASA appoints eight faculty members,
b. the Assistant Vice President of Academic Support and Student Retention (AVP/ASSR) appoints six students who have completed at least 15 credit hours with a GPA of at least 2.5.
c. the AVP/ASSR and the VP/ASA jointly appoint six staff members (three administrative, including at least one counselor, and three support).
d. The Vice President and Assistant Vice President may remove any of their appointees at any time and replace the removed person.
e. The Hearing Board may remove any member for cause by a vote of two-thirds of the total membership.
f. No employee of the college (faculty or staff member) may refuse to serve on the Hearing Board.
2. The eight members who serve to hear any particular case of academic appeal are selected as follows:
a. The VP/ASA gives a roster of full board membership to the person requesting the hearing, who then has 24 hours to strike from the list one faculty member, one student, and one staff member.
b. The VP/ASA gives a roster of full board 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.
c. After consultation with the AVP/ASSR, the VP/ASA then appoints the eight members of the board to hear the case from those who remain on the list after both the complainant and the respondent have stricken names.

G. Duties of the Chair
1. Sets the time, location, and any special conditions for the conduct of the hearing; and notifies all participants of same.
2. Provides both claimant(s) and respondent(s) with information about procedures by supplying each with a copy of this Policy.
3. Rules on the admissibility of evidence and the pertinence of documents and witnesses.
4. Assures that hearings are conducted in a timely, efficient, decorous, impartial manner and in procedural compliance with all specifications of this Policy.
5. Keeps a written record of all proceedings.
6. Notifies all relevant parties of the results of hearings.

H. Pre-Hearing Procedures
1. Board members are responsible for reading all materials relevant to the case prior to the first meeting of the hearing.
2. All principals must file with the chair a written statement of their positions, copies of any reports or other materials they wish to be considered, the 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/or each principal may have an advisor from the campus community to assist in preparation for and presentation during the hearing.

Participation of counsel or advisors is limited to giving advice to principals; advisors may not address the board directly or otherwise participate in proceedings unless invited to do so by the chair and the members of the board.

I. Conduct of Hearings
1. Hearings are limited to the principals in the case (claimants and respondents), participating members of the board, witnesses, personal advisors to the principals, and the chair (except during voting, when the chair may not be present).
2. The chair convenes the meeting, introduces all participants, and explains voting privileges.
3. The chair describes the nature of the appeal and explains the board’s procedures.
4. The appellant presents his or her case first and is permitted a maximum of 15 minutes in which to do so.
5. The respondent is allowed a maximum of 15 minutes to present his or her case.
6. The board may then ask questions and engage in discussion with the principals, during which time any party wishing to call a witness may do so.
7. Following this period of questioning, discussion, and testimony, the chair asks both the respondent and the appellant if they wish to make any further statements. If so, each is given a maximum of ten minutes to speak.
8. If the board has no further questions for the principals, their witnesses, and their advisors at the end of the closing statements, these persons are excused.
9. The board discusses the case until it reaches a point in its deliberation when the members are ready to take a vote. At this point, the chair designates one board member to coordinate the voting. The chair then leaves the room.
10. The board votes (either by secret ballot or by voice), recalls the chair, and informs him or her of the decision of the board and provides for the record an explanation of the bases upon which that decision was made. In the event of deadlock, the chair breaks the tie by casting the deciding vote. Otherwise,
the chair is not permitted a vote.
11. Appellant(s) and respondent(s) are then recalled and informed of the board’s decision and its reasons for that decision. Within three calendar days, the chair also provides both parties with written notification of the decision and the reasons for the decision. (If the principals are not available to be recalled in person, they are notified in writing only.)
GUIDELINES
A. This Policy applies to appeals of academic decisions. Appeals of disciplinary decisions are described in Policy 2-2, Student Corrective Action and Disciplinary Action.

B. Tape recordings or verbatim transcripts of a hearing may be made only with the agreement of both the claimant and respondent. The college is not responsible for making tape recordings or transcripts.

C. All information is kept in strict confidence throughout all steps in an appeal, with only those college officials having a right or a reason to know being advised or consulted about an appeal or being allowed to attend a hearing.

D. The VP/ASA is responsible for insuring that this Policy is administered properly and for resolving any procedural issues that may arise.

E. Due to unusual circumstances, students may request a delay in the implementation of an academic decision while their appeal is pending. Such requests are made to the VP/ASA and are accompanied by a full written appeal as outlined in Step Three. The VP/ASA exercises judgement in areas where the health, safety, welfare, or rights of others are involved or where a delay in implementation would have an adverse effect on students’ education or where the college’s legal and contractual rights and responsibilities may be affected.

F. A copy of this Policy is made available to any student who requests it.

G. This Policy does not apply to appeals of decisions concerning college policies such as academic suspension or probation, readmission, and disciplinary action. These other topics are covered by separate Policies.

H. 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 must 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 Hearing Board must be convened within 10 calendar days of completion of Step Three; and board must complete deliberations within 5 calendar days after 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.

Updated: 7/29/03 Updated: 5/28/08

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