Student Complaint Procedure Process
In order to ensure equitable and prompt attention is given to all student concerns, the following process should be taken. If the complaint involves discrimination on the basis of sex, race, handicap, or sexual harassment, the complainant shall go to the coordinator for Title IX and Section 504. See the coordinator names listed below. For academic complaints, see the Academic Appeals procedure. Please complete the Student Concern Form (opens new window) to be submitted to the appropriate office.
How to Make an Informal Complaint
The College encourages students to make every effort to resolve their problems and concerns directly and informally with faculty, staff, student(s), or other involved parties with whom the incident or concern originated. It is strongly advised that all parties keep written documentation of all communication regarding the complaint. All written documentation should be forwarded to the Office of Student Services through interoffice mail or delivery. Email communication will not acceptable due to confidential nature of a student complaint.
How to File a Formal Complaint
If the incident/concern is not resolved a student that desires to continue the grievance process must file a written grievance. See attached form. The forms are also available in the following areas: Student Success Center, Department Chairs/Deans, and the One Stop Center Sycamore building.
- The complainant returns the completed form to the Office of Student Services/Student Success Counselor located in the Student Success Center.
- The Director of Student Services will begin an investigation. Written notification of the complaint will be provided to the accused within 5 business days of receiving the formal complaint.
- The Director of Student Services will refer the case to the grievance committee. The Office of Student Services notifies the complainant and the accused of the findings within 21 business days of the complaint being filed. The complainant will review the findings and decide if they are satisfied with the results. If they are not satisfied with the results, they may proceed to Step 4.
- The complainant may appeal the ruling by notifying the Executive Director of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs in writing within 5 business days of receiving the notification from Director of Student Services and/or Grievance committee.
- A final decision is made. The Executive Director of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs will make a final decision on the appeal and notify the complainant and the accused in writing within 10 business days.
- Any appeal of the Executive Director of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs decision must be made, in written form directly to Chancellor within 5 working days of the initial appeal decision being issued.
Student Grievance Process
The purpose of this grievance process is to provide an orderly and efficient method by which students may air and resolve their complaints about the conditions and policies at SOWELA.
The College defines a legitimate grievance as a circumstance that can be substantiated and is regarded by the student as a just cause for complaint. A grievance can be relevant to any incident involving another student, classroom instructor, faculty advisor, internship supervisor, administrator, or faculty member in the College. A grievance may deal with academic issues or other circumstances involving alleged unfair or irresponsible behavior including violations of department or college policies. To file an academic appeal see section Academic Appeal Procedure under the Academic Policies.
Procedures Used to Initiate a Grievance
- Informal Processes – Within Five (5) Working Days of Occurrence
- The College encourages students to make every effort to resolve their problems and concerns directly and informally with the faculty or other involved parties. Discussions among the involved parties (including the School Dean when appropriate) constitute the first step in the informal process. In some cases, the student may wish to discuss the problem initially with the Student Success Counselor and/or the Director of Student Services.
- Formal Procedures – Appeal to Grievance Committee
- If, after utilizing the procedures outlined in Step 1, the student’s problem is not resolved, the student has a right to appeal within 10 working days following the decision rendered by the School Dean. If a Grievance Committee is not established, the Executive Director of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs or Designee will appoint an ad hoc panel to conduct a hearing. The ad hoc panel will consist of five members, two of whom are students. The ad hoc panel will be selected from a pool of faculty, staff, and students in the standing Student Grievance Committee appointed by the Executive Director of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs or Designee which consists of at least three faculty members, two staff members and at least four students. The chair of the ad hoc panel will be appointed by the Executive Director of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs or Designee and will conduct the hearing according to the Guidelines for the Conduct of Student Grievance Hearings. After the hearing, the ad hoc panel will meet in closed session to determine its recommendations. The recommendations of the ad hoc panel or the Grievance Committee will be forwarded to the Executive Director of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs and the Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs. The ad hoc committee chair will inform the student of the decision.
- Student – Appeal to the Chancellor
- If the grievant or the party or parties against whom the grievance is addressed desire to appeal a decision of a Student Grievance Committee, he or she must deliver a written request for such appeal to the Chancellor within three (3) working days of receipt of the Committee’s decision. A request should describe in detail all reasons or bases upon which the grievant or the party contends the decision of the Student Grievance Committee is erroneous. The Chancellor shall have the authority to affirm, remand, modify, or reverse the decision or the findings of the Committee. Within approximately twenty (20) working days of receiving the written request, the Chancellor shall send the grievant and the party or parties against whom the grievance has been filed his decision by certified mail, return receipt requested.
- The decision of the Chancellor is final as to all student appeals, except those in which the grievant is alleging discrimination on the basis of age, sex, race, national origin, religion, or disability. In the event the grievant is alleging discrimination on the basis of age, sex, race, national origin, religion, or disability, the full Board of Supervisors will serve as the College’s final appellate authority.
- Student – Appeal to the Louisiana Community and Technical College System (LCTCS) Board of Supervisors
Guidelines for Conducting Formal Student Grievance Hearings at the College Level
- A copy of the Student Grievance Form filed by the student will be forwarded to the department(s)/school(s) and parties involved by the Director of Student Services.
- Within five (5) days of receipt of the student’s grievance form, the department(s)/school(s) will submit any prior responses to the student’s complaint, a list of any witnesses it anticipates involving in the hearing, and copies of any documents to be used at the hearing. Similarly, within ten (10) class days of filing the grievance form, the student will submit a list of any witnesses and copies of any documents the student anticipates involving in the hearing. Each party will receive a copy of the materials and list of witnesses submitted by the other party.
- If a standing Grievance Committee is not established, an ad hoc panel will be appointed by the Executive Director of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs. The panel members will be selected from the pool of members on the College Student Grievance Committee and will consist of five members, two of which will be students. The Executive Director of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs or designee will appoint the chair. The department(s)/school(s) and the student will be notified of the membership of the panel within five (5) working days of receipt of the student’s grievance form. Either party has five (5) class days to request that panel member(s) be disqualified for bias. The Executive Director of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs will consider such requests and make a final decision regarding membership of the panel.
- The Director of Student Services and/or the School Dean will forward all materials to the hearing panel and will schedule an evidentiary hearing within ten (10) working days of receipt of all written information. All parties involved will be notified as to date, time, and location of the hearing.
- The Grievance Officer will serve as hearing officer and conduct the hearing utilizing the following format:
- The petitioner and the respondent will each provide a brief opening statement.
- Each party will make a presentation of position and evidence, beginning with the petitioner. Witnesses may be called at this time. Questioning will be restricted to members of the hearing panel and the hearing officer. Questions by the involved parties to the witnesses will be addressed through the hearing officer.
- Each party will have the opportunity for rebuttal during which additional evidence may be introduced to refute points made by the other party.
- Each party will make a brief summary statement.
- Attendance at evidentiary hearings is limited to the hearing officer, panel members, the petitioner, the respondent, and their respective witnesses. Witnesses may be present only during their own testimony.
- After the hearing the panel will meet in closed session to determine its recommendations that will be forwarded to the Executive Director of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs. The written recommendations will include a finding of facts regarding the incident and application of College policy. The Executive Director of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs will inform all parties of a decision within five (5) class days after the hearing.
Effect of Failure to Comply with Time Requirements or Voluntary Withdrawal
- If a student fails to comply with any of the time requirements set forth herein with respect to completing and delivering the documents required to pursue his or her appeal, to appear, or be represented at any hearing, or otherwise to meet his or her other obligations under these procedures, then the last decision rendered on behalf of the College will stand as final, and all proceedings will be terminated.
- The College shall make every reasonable effort to comply with the timeliness requirement specified. The Chancellor shall investigate failures to comply with the timeliness requirements and take appropriate action. The College’s failure to meet any deadline shall not exempt the student from any sanctions under this policy.
- A student’s decision to withdraw from school during a disciplinary proceeding shall not affect the College’s right to continue the disciplinary process or impose sanction.