1450P2 Student Dispute Resolution Procedure

Original Date: 9/30/2003 * Last Revision Effective: 9/11/2012
Policy Contact: Vice President, Instruction

Purpose

It is the policy of Bellevue College (college) to provide clear and accurate information, provide accessible services, and offer excellent educational programs and quality services. The college provides a variety of services to students that are designed to enhance their education experience and support their learning.

In the course of their education, students may wish to express and resolve academic issues including misunderstandings, complaints, or grievances with faculty members regarding grades, grading issues, or academic practices and procedures. These procedures are designed to provide a fair and equitable avenue for resolving issues in a timely manner.

Procedures

The following procedures are established to meet the requirements for implementing Policy #1450 Complaint Policy.

Where/How to Raise A Concern

Informal Procedures

  1. The Instructor: Most issues and concerns can be successfully resolved if all of the individuals involved engage in effective communication. Academic concerns can usually be resolved through direct communication with the instructor; therefore the student is encouraged to first bring those concerns to her/his instructor for resolution. This is best accomplished by arranging a student-instructor appointment during office hours, or at another appropriate time.
  2. The Program or Department Chair: If the issue is not resolved between the student and the instructor, or if the student is not comfortable discussing the issue with the instructor, the student may request consultation and assistance from the chair of the program or department in which the course is offered. The program chair may be able to resolve the issue with the student directly, or may offer to assist with resolution by facilitating a meeting and discussion between student and instructor.
  3. The Division Dean: In circumstances where the instructor is also the program chair, or where the concern cannot be resolved through informal discussion with program chair, the student may request consultation and assistance from the dean of the division in which the course is offered. The dean may offer to assist with resolution by facilitating a meeting and discussion between student and instructor, consulting others who may have information about the concern, or making other informal inquiry or recommendations.

Ombuds Office
At any time during the process the student may request consultation and assistance from a neutral party – the Bellevue College ombuds office. The ombuds office is an alternative, informal, confidential, and non-adversarial channel to resolve issues of concern, and the ombuds serves as an internal consultant for individuals. The ombuds has no formal role in the resolution of the complaint. Confidentiality applies to all parties who have any involvement with the complaint.

Formal Procedures

Written Request For Review:
If, after making a good faith effort at informal resolution as described above, the academic issue between student and instructor is not resolved, the student may engage the formal student academic dispute resolution procedure by submitting written documentation to the appropriate division dean, according to the process outlined below. This process includes the requirement to describe good-faith efforts at informal resolution.

Time Limits for Filing:
The written request for review of an academic dispute must be filed within two (2) consecutive quarters from the date of the complaint or the issuance of a grade. The vice president of instruction may extend the time limits in the process under exceptional circumstances, such as extended illness, sabbatical leave of the instructor, or other absence of either party to the complaint, in which case the vice president will give a reasonable opportunity to complete appeal procedures or reply to the charges before making a decision.

Options Available for Resolution:
The dean and the student shall discuss the student’s complaint, including the options available to resolve the situation. The dean shall also inform the student that the associated students of Bellevue College (ASBC) chief justice of student affairs, or another person the student chooses, may act as an advocate who will assist the student in completion of the student academic dispute resolution procedure. The student may waive the right to an advocate.

Outline of the Procedure:

  • Student submits written complaint to the division dean (within two [2] quarters)
  • Written complaint forwarded to faculty member for response (within ten [10] instructional days)
  • Student may appeal faculty response in writing (within ten [10] instructional days)
  • Dean provides written resolution (within ten [10] instructional days)
  • Student may appeal dean’s resolution by requesting review by the student academic grievance committee (within ten [10] instructional days)
  • Student academic grievance committee considers the case (within fifteen [15] instructional days)
  • Student academic grievance committee provides findings of fact and written recommendation of action to resolve the complaint (within ten [10] instructional days of the hearing)
  • Vice president of instruction renders a final decision.

Details of the Procedure:

Written Complaint Submitted to Division Dean
The student’s written complaint must include:

  • description of the circumstances,
  • description of actions already taken to attempt resolution,
  • remedies sought,
  • copies of pertinent documents to support the request shall be submitted to the division dean. A form for that purpose is available from human resources.

Written Complaint Forwarded to Faculty Member for Response
The dean shall forward to the instructor the student’s written complaint. The instructor shall provide a written response to the dean within ten (10) instructional days, and the dean will forward the instructor’s response to the student.

Appeal:
If the instructor’s written response does not resolve the complaint to the student’s satisfaction, the student may submit a written appeal to the dean (OUA) within ten (10) instructional days, citing the reasons for disagreeing with the instructor’s response.

Following receipt of the student’s appeal, the dean shall consult with the instructor, investigate the situation, and provide a written decision/recommendation to the student within ten (10) instructional days.

Student Academic Grievance Committee Hearing:
If the dean’s response does not resolve the complaint to the student’s satisfaction, the student shall provide, within ten (10) instructional days, a written request to the dean that the complaint be heard before the student academic grievance committee. The dean will contact the student academic grievance committee chairperson to convene the committee.

Composition of the Committee:
The student academic grievance committee shall be composed of four (4) faculty members and two (2) student justices. The faculty association will annually elect one faculty member for the committee who will serve as the committee chairperson for the academic year, commencing fall quarter. Two (2) faculty members will be selected from the same or a closely aligned organizational unit of the faculty member against whom the grievance is filed. One (1) faculty member will be selected without regard to organizational unit, but who is sufficiently aware of related discipline issues so as to add professional perspective to the hearing. The two (2) student justices will be appointed by the associated students of Bellevue College (ASBC) president from the ASBC judicial board.

Hearing:
The student academic grievance committee shall consider the case within ten (10) instructional days of the request for a hearing from the dean.

The student academic grievance committee shall review written materials and correspondence related to the complaint, and conduct hearings to ascertain the circumstances surrounding the complaint. All hearings will be closed meetings of the student academic grievance committee (to include the student and the instructor), except that any party to the complaint may have one representative or advisor in attendance.

Recommendation:
Based upon the evidence and proceedings, within five (5) instructional days of the hearing the student academic grievance committee shall provide both findings of fact and written recommendation of the action to resolve the grievance to the vice president of instruction.

If the student academic grievance committee, at any point in its deliberations, finds that the complaint is without merit, the committee may decide to dismiss the case. The committee shall notify the complainant, the instructor, the dean, and the vice president of instruction of its decision. The student may appeal the committee’s decision to the vice president of instruction.

Final Decision:
The vice president of instruction shall review the recommendation of the committee and, after consulting as appropriate with the student, the instructor, and the committee, shall render a decision. The decision of the vice president of instruction shall be final.

The evaluation of student learning and achievement in a particular course is exclusively within the province of the instructor. In the event that a grade change is recommended as part of the complaint resolution process, any adjustments or grade changes may be initiated only by that instructor, or under extenuating circumstances, by the vice president of instruction, upon the approval of the college president. In the latter instance, the course grade record shall be coded and indicated “grade changed by administrative action.”

False Charges:
In the event a concern that is raised is determined to be intentionally dishonest, or made intentionally without regard for the truth, the complainant shall be subject to corrective or disciplinary action, in accordance with the student code of conduct.

Definitions

Dean

  • The title for Organizational Unit Administrator or OUA, starting Spring 2009.

Chair

  • The program/department chair or director, who may or may not be faculty.

Revision History

Original (previously one section of )1450P Complaint Procedure 1/15/1996
Revisions 9/30/2003; 3/22/2005; 4/18/2006; 5/21/2009; 9/16/2011; 9/11/2012

Approved By

President’s Staff