1450P COMPLAINT PROCEDURE
Original Date: 9/30/2003 * Last Revision Effective: 5/21/2009
Policy Contact: President
The following procedures are established to meet the requirements for implementing policy #1450 – Complaint Policy.
The purpose of these procedures is to enable students, employees and members of the public to express and resolve misunderstandings, complaints or grievances concerning the conduct or performance of a college employee or a student; college services, processes or facilities; or grades or academic issues. Employees should consult their contract for employee-related complaints.
Informal Complaint Process
The purpose of this step is to enable an individual to express and resolve misunderstandings, complaints or grievances at the lowest level possible by speaking directly with the employee or departmental supervisor. The aggrieved person should make an appointment to talk directly with the employee to attempt to reach a mutual agreement. In some situations, such as a discrimination complaint, the aggrieved person may be more comfortable requesting a meeting with the employee’s supervisor, instead. Both parties should be courteous, flexible and respectful, as concerns are identified and possible resolutions discussed. Both sides should be open to alternative solutions or suggestions. If the problem cannot be solved together, the following formal complaint procedures may be used.
Formal Complaint Process
All formal complaints must be made in writing and should include the complainant’s name; student identification number, if appropriate; address; email address; telephone number; time(s); date(s); place(s); complete description of the complaint; and, in the case of grade complaints, both the grade received in the course in question and the reason for the grade complaint, specifying as accurately as possible all necessary performance scores and attendance data. The individual may also file a complaint using the complaint form available through the portal or from the president’s office.
- General Complaint Procedure: An individual who has a complaint about an employee’s performance or behavior that is not discriminatory or about college services, or processes should go to the office of the vice president of student services, B125 to be directed to the appropriate department, telephone (425) 564-2205, or visit www.bellevuecollege.edu. Facilities related complaints should be taken to campus operations, K100, or telephone (425) 564-2376.
- Discrimination Complaint Procedure: Whenever a complaint alleges discrimination or sexual harassment, this procedure should be used rather than the other complaint procedures. Alleged Title IX and Section 503 violations as well as other discrimination complaints will be investigated under this procedure. A student or member of the public who believes he/she has been discriminated against should bring his/her complaint to the department of human resources, A101, or telephone (425) 564-2274.
- Academic Complaint Procedure: A student who wishes to express and resolve misunderstandings, complaints, or grievances with faculty members regarding grades, grading issues or policies in a fair and equitable manner should bring his/her complaint to the appropriate instructional division office.
Dispensation of Records
The administrative unit supervisor for the unit where the complaint is filed shall keep all documents associated with the complaint as part of the files of the college. The records may be subject to public disclosure laws and will be kept according to the state records retention laws.
General Complaint Procedure
Complaints should be filed as soon as possible or within six months after the incident occurs. The office of the vice president of student services will help the individual determine the appropriate department in which to file the complaint.
The department administrative unit supervisor will be responsible to investigate the complaint. If the complaint is against an employee, the administrative unit supervisor will provide the employee with a copy of the written complaint and the employee will have ten days in which to provide a written response. If the employee is unable to meet the time line due to extenuating circumstances, including sick or scheduled leave from the college, he or she should seek approval from the administrative unit supervisor to extend the timelines. The administrative unit supervisor shall notify the complainant of the extension via regular mail.
The administrative unit supervisor may convene a meeting of both parties in an attempt to resolve the complaint, provided that the parties agree to meet for this purpose. If both parties do not agree to meet, the administrative unit supervisor will investigate and render a decision based on the written statements of the parties and the testimony of the parties and of the witnesses.
If the parties agree to meet with the administrative unit supervisor to attempt to resolve the complaint, both parties may bring an advocate of their choice.
After conducting the investigation, the administrative unit supervisor will send his/her decision by regular U.S. mail to the participants in the complaint within thirty days following the receipt of the written complaint, unless there are specific circumstances that require additional time. The administrative unit supervisor will notify both parties who to contact if they wish to appeal the decision.
If either party is dissatisfied with the decision of the administrative unit supervisor, he/she may appeal in writing to the appropriate dean or vice president within ten days after the date of the letter from the administrative unit supervisor. The person filing the appeal should identify why he/she is dissatisfied with the outcome of the complaint and provide any additional information to be considered.
The dean or vice president will consider the appeal and render a written decision to both parties within fifteen days of receiving the written appeal. The written response will be sent to both parties via regular U.S. mail. The decision of the dean or vice-president shall be final.
Any disciplinary action taken against a student or college employee as a result of a complaint shall be processed in accordance with the student code or the appropriate collective bargaining agreement.
Discrimination complaints should be filed within one year after the incident(s) occurred. The college will act promptly to investigate the complaint and will attempt to protect the rights of the individual bringing the complaint (the complainant), the alleged discriminator, and any witnesses involved. All parties involved have the right to protection from any retaliating behavior by the alleged discriminator or any college employee. All complaints shall be kept as confidential as is reasonably possible during the investigation/resolution process. However, complaints may be subject to public disclosure under the state's public disclosure act, and therefore the college cannot assure confidentiality to any participant in the process.
If administrators or supervisors become aware that discrimination is occurring, receive a complaint, or obtain other information indicating possible discrimination, they must notify the vice president of human resources as soon as reasonably possible, to ensure that the matter is addressed, even if the problem or alleged problem is not within their area of responsibility and authority.
Complainants, individuals charged, and any witnesses are entitled to representation of their selection throughout the complaint process. The individual charged will be informed that his/her bargaining unit representative will be notified that a complaint has been filed against him/her, unless he/she requests that no notification be made.
Within seven days after the formal complaint has been filed, the individual charged, his/her immediate supervisor and the area dean/vice president will be notified that a complaint has been filed.
The complainant may request an alternate dispute resolution process prior to or in lieu of the investigatory process outlined below. The vice president of human resources or designee (the investigator) will conduct interviews with the complainant, the alleged discriminator, and any witnesses to allegations identified by the complainant and the alleged discriminator. Reasonable efforts will be made to complete such interviews within ninety days.
The report summarizing the findings of the investigation and the determination as to whether or not discrimination has occurred shall be forwarded to the appropriate area dean/vice president.
The decision regarding what action to take on the complaint, including, but not limited to, appropriate corrective measures and/or disciplinary action shall be made by the area dean/vice president and reported to the complainant. Copies of the determination shall be sent to the complainant, alleged discriminator, the alleged discriminator's supervisor and the vice president of human resources. Reasonable efforts will be made to take action on the complaint within thirty days after receipt of the report. If a decision is made to take disciplinary action, such action shall be taken in accordance with appropriate college procedures and collective bargaining agreements.
Appeals of any disciplinary action, including any finding that discrimination occurred, may be made through the appropriate employee contract or the student code.
If the complainant is not satisfied with the disposition of the complaint, she/he may file a written appeal to the president within ten days after notification of the disposition of the complaint. This request should include any and all additional information s/he wants the president to consider. The decision regarding the appeal, including appropriate corrective measures, shall be made in writing by the president within fifteen days after receipt of an appeal.
Any student, employee, applicant for admission or employment, or member of the public using Bellevue College facilities who believes he/she has been discriminated against has the right to bypass the internal college process and file a discrimination complaint with one of the agencies listed below or any other agency with the jurisdiction to hear such complaints. Individuals seeking assistance from state and federal agencies need to be aware that many agencies have strict timelines regarding the filing of complaints.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
909 First Avenue, Suite 400
Seattle, WA 98104-1061
Human Rights Commission
1511 Third Avenue, Suite 921
Seattle, WA 98101
U.S. Office of Civil Rights
Department of Education
915 Second Avenue
Seattle, WA 98174-1099
Academic Complaint Procedure
Students with a complaint about an instructional matter, or who wish to make a request for a grade review, shall file a written request within two consecutive quarters from the date of the issuance of the grade. The executive dean of instruction may extend the time limits in the process under exceptional circumstances such as extended illness, sabbatical leave, or other absence of either party to the complaint in which case the dean will give reasonable opportunity to complete appeal procedures or reply to the charges before making a decision.
Since the evaluation of the course content is exclusively within the province of the instructor for a particular course, any adjustments or grade changes may be initiated only by that instructor, or under extenuating circumstances, by the executive dean of instruction, upon the approval of the college president. In such an instance, the course grade record shall be coded and indicate “grade changed by administrative action.” The transcript shall indicate “changed by administrative action.”
The student’s written complaint, including remedies sought, shall be submitted to the appropriate Organizational Unit Administrator (OUA). Upon receipt of the written complaint, the OUA shall discuss with the student his/her concerns, including both informal and formal options available to resolve the grade concern. The OUA shall also inform the student that the ASG-Bellevue College vice president of student affairs or another person the student chooses may act as an advocate who will assist the student in completion of the complaint process. The student may waive the right to an advocate.
If the complaint cannot be resolved by informal means, the OUA shall forward the student’s written complaint to the faculty member concerned, who must provide a written response within ten instructional days. The OUA shall forward the instructor’s response to the student. If the faculty member’s written response does not resolve the complaint to the student’s satisfaction, he/she may submit a written appeal to the OUA, citing the reasons for disagreeing with the instructor’s response. The OUA shall consult with the instructor, conduct further investigation as necessary, and provide a written response to the student within ten instructional days. If the OUA’s response does not resolve the complaint to the student’s satisfaction, the student shall submit a written appeal to the OUA, requesting that the grievance be heard before the Student Academic Grievance Committee. The OUA will contact the Student Academic Grievance Committee chairperson to convene the committee.
Student Academic Grievance Committee
The Student Academic Grievance Committee shall be composed of four faculty and two student justices. The Bellevue College AHE will annually elect one faculty member for the committee who will serve as the committee chairperson for the academic year commencing fall quarter. Two 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 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 student justices will be appointed by the ASG-Bellevue College president from the ASG-Bellevue College judicial board.
The Student Academic Grievance Committee shall consider the case within ten instructional days following its receipt of the student’s written request for a hearing. All hearings shall be closed meetings of the Student Academic Grievance Committee (to include the student and the faculty member), except that any party to the grievance may have one representative or advisor in attendance. Based upon the evidence and proceedings, the Student Academic Grievance Committee shall provide both findings of fact and a written recommendation of the action to resolve the grievance within five instructional days of the hearing to the executive dean. The executive dean shall review the recommendation of the committee and, after consulting as appropriate with the student, the faculty member, and the committee, shall render a decision. The decision of the executive dean shall be final.
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 and the OUA of its decision. The Student may appeal the Committee’s decision to the Executive Dean.
RELEVANT LAWS AND OTHER RESOURCES
- WAC 132H-155-010-070
Revisions 9/30/2003; 3/22/2005; 4/18/2006; 5/21/2009