Student Grievance Procedure
FM: Student Grievance Procedure
A student grievance is a College related issue or condition that a student believes to be unfair, inequitable, discriminatory, or a hindrance to the educational process. A grievance also includes discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. This student grievance procedure is designed to provide the student with the opportunity to file a grievance, as defined above, and to provide a process for resolution of the grievance.
The student grievance procedure is not intended to supplant the Student Code of Conduct, which allows the student procedural due process in disciplinary proceedings initiated by the College.
Exceptions to Procedures –
Any grievance that falls under Policy FH, Sexual Harassment (Sexual and Gender-based Misconduct) will be handled following the procedures outlined in that policy. Policy FH covers Title IX related complaints such as sexual misconduct and sexual harassment.
Informal Dispute Resolution
Before pursuing the formal complaint process, every reasonable effort should be made to constructively resolve issues with faculty, staff, or administrators.
- Whenever possible and safe, the problem or complaint should first be discussed with the individual involved in the complaint.
- If satisfactory resolution is not reached after discussion with the individual, the student should contact the individual’s direct supervisor to attempt to resolve the complaint.
- If these efforts are unsuccessful, the formal complaint process may be initiated. The College does not require a student to contact the person involved or that person’s supervisor if doing so is impracticable, or if the student believes that the conduct cannot be effectively addressed through informal means.
Formal Dispute Resolution
In order to be considered, a formal complaint must be submitted in writing via a letter, email, or by using the online system at https://www.southplainscollege.edu/about/campussafety/complaints.php.
Students may request a conference with the Vice President for Student Affairs for further direction in initiating the process. Formal complaints should be submitted as soon as possible, but no later than six (6) months after the incident.
Upon receipt of a grievance the Vice President for Student Affairs will open a formal case file and assign a case official who will direct the investigation and notify the complainant of the status or decision within fifteen (15) working days after receipt of the formal complaint.
If the outcome is not to the student’s satisfaction, the student has fifteen (15) working days to request a hearing. The case official will convene and chair the hearing. The membership of the hearing body will be determined by the case official and will include a faculty member of the student’s choice and a Student Government representative. Additional members may include deans, directors, chairpersons, or faculty members as deemed appropriate by the case official. Others may be invited to substantiate the case as deemed appropriate by the case official.
The goal of the hearing is to provide an equitable resolution via an equitable process, respecting the civil and legal rights of all participants. Any sanctions or actions recommended by the hearing body will be carried out by the case official. The decision of the committee is final, yet subject to appeal.
Post-hearing, any party to the complaint may appeal the findings and/or sanctions, although only under the grounds described below.
The decision of the hearing body will be in effect during the appeal. In cases where the appeal results in reinstatement to the institution or of privileges, all reasonable attempts will be made to restore the student to their prior status, recognizing that some opportunities lost may be irretrievable in the short term.
The decision of the case official and hearing body may be appealed by petitioning the Vice President over the area the original complaint was heard. Accused students or complainants must petition in writing within five (5) business days of receiving the written decision. The Vice President will determine if the appeal meets the limited grounds and is timely. The original finding and sanction will stand if the appeal is not timely or substantively eligible, and the decision is final. The party requesting appeal must show error, as the original finding and sanction are presumed to have been decided reasonably and appropriately. The ONLY grounds for appeal are as follows:
- A procedural error occurred that significantly impacted the outcome of the hearing (e.g. substantiated bias, material deviation from established procedures, etc.)
- To consider new evidence, unavailable during the original hearing or investigation, that could substantially impact the original finding or sanction. A summary of this new evidence and its potential impact must be included;
- The sanctions imposed fall outside the range of sanctions the College has designated for this offense and the cumulative record of the responsible party.
If the Vice President determines that new evidence should be considered, the complaint will be returned to the original hearing body to reconsider in light of the new evidence only. The hearing body will render a written decision on the appeal to all parties within five (5) business days from hearing of the appeal. The committee’s decision is final and not subject to appeal.
Title IX Grievances
The Vice President for Student Affairs is the South Plains College Title IX Coordinator and is designated to formally investigate Title IX student grievances, address inquiries and coordinate the College’s compliance efforts regarding Title IX student complaints and grievances. These grievances will be investigated following the procedures outlined in policy FH.
All complaints of discrimination or harassment as defined below should be reported using the online reporting form found at https://www.southplainscollege.edu/about/campussafety/complaints.php or to:
Vice President for Student Affairs (Title IX Coordinator)
Stan DeMerritt, Ph.D.
South Plains College
1401 S. College Avenue
Levelland, TX 79336
Individuals with complaints of this nature also have the right to file a formal complaint with the United States Department of Education:
Office for Civil Rights (OCR)
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-1100
Customer Service Hotline #: (800)421-3481
CONFIDENTIALITY, PRIVACY AND REPORTING POLICY
When consulting campus resources, all parties should be aware of confidentiality, privacy and mandatory reporting in order to make informed choices. On campus, some resources can offer confidentiality and advice without any obligation to report unless specifically requested by the reporting party. Other resources are expressly there for reporting crimes and policy violations and will act when a report is made.
To Report Confidentially
If one desires the incident be kept confidential, they should speak with on-campus counselors, campus health service providers or off-campus resources who can maintain confidentiality, except in the rare event that the incident reveals a need to protect you or other members of the community.
Non-Confidential Reporting Options
Individuals are encouraged to report online, as outlined above, or speak to officials of the institution to make formal reports of incidents (deans, directors, vice presidents, or other administrators with supervisory responsibilities, campus security, and human resources). Notice to an SPC official listed above acts as the official notice to the institution. Individuals can expect incidents to be taken seriously by the institution when formally reported, and to have those incidents investigated and properly resolved through administrative procedures. Formal reporting means that information will only be shared on a need-to-know basis with investigators, witnesses, and the accused individual.
Federal Timely Warning Reporting Obligations
College administrators must issue immediate timely warnings for incidents reported to them that are confirmed to pose a substantial threat of bodily harm or danger to members of the campus community. The College will make every effort to ensure that a victim’s name and other identifying information is not disclosed, while still providing enough information for community members to make safety decisions in light of the danger.
Authorized by: Vice President for Student Affairs
Nature of Revision: Content
Date Issued: 08/01
Date Revised: 07/01/2019
Approved by Executive Council: 07/29/2019