Delta College Complaint Process
Administrative Proceedure 5530 Students Rights and Grievances
The purpose of this procedure is to provide a prompt and equitable means of resolving student grievances. These procedures shall be available to any student who reasonably believes a District decision or action has adversely affected his or her status, rights or privileges as a student. The procedures shall include, but not be limited to, grievances regarding:
- Financial aid
- Course grades, to the extent permitted by Education Code Section 76224(a), which provides: "When grades are given for any course of instruction taught in a community college district, the grade given to each student shall be the grade determined by the professor of the course and the determination of the student's grade by the professor, in the absence of mistake, fraud, bad faith, or incompetency, shall be final." “Mistake” may include, but is not limited to errors made by a professor in calculating a student’s grade and clerical errors.
- The exercise of rights of free expression protected by state and federal constitutions and Education Code Section 76120
- Infringement of any right specifically granted to the student by a duly established District rule or regulation.
This procedure does not apply to:
- Student disciplinary actions, which are covered under separate Board policies and Administrative Procedures;
- Challenges of course or program pre-requisites or co-requisites, which shall be resolved through policies and procedures of the applicable academic department; and, Matriculation Appeals Committee.
- Students with concerns regarding professional/clinical issues within programs that have specialized grievance procedures. Said students must follow the procedures listed in the specific program handbook:
- Associate Degree and Vocational Nursing Program
- Radiologic Technology Program
- Law Enforcement Police (POST) Academy
- Police citations (i.e., "tickets"); complaints about citations must be directed to the criminal justice system in the same way as any traffic violation.
- Harassment and discrimination complaints. These should be handled through the college’s discrimination and harassment complaint procedure.
- Party . The student or any persons claimed to have been responsible for the student's alleged grievance, together with their representatives. "Party" shall not include the Hearing Panel or the District Hearing Officer.
- Superintendent/President. The Superintendent/President or a designated representative of the Superintendent/President.
- Student. A currently enrolled student, a person who has filed an application for admission, or a former student. A grievance by an applicant shall be limited to a complaint regarding denial of admission. Former students shall be limited to grievances relating to course grades to the extent permitted by Education Code Section 76224(a).
- Respondent. Any person claimed by a grievant to be responsible for the alleged grievance.
- Day . Unless otherwise provided, day shall mean a day during which the District is in session and regular classes are held, excluding Saturdays and Sundays.
- Non-Participation Member. A person designated by either party to the grievance to attend the hearing, who may not participate in hearing discussions.
- Senator for Student Advocacy. An Associated Student Body (ASB) appointed student who may assist in advisement on grievance policy and in organization of documents, grievance hearing and presentation and related materials.
- Hearing Officer. The Dean of Counseling and Special Services or an employee appointed by the Superintendent/President to assist students in seeking resolution by informal means, coordinate scheduling of all grievance hearings, serve to assist all parties and the hearing committee to facilitate a full, fair and efficient resolution of the grievance. The Hearing Officer shall remain neutral.
D. Informal Resolution
- Each student who has a grievance shall make a reasonable effort to resolve the matter on an informal basis prior to requesting a grievance hearing and attempt to solve the problem first with the person with whom the student has the grievance then that person's immediate supervisor, or the District administration.
- The Superintendent/President shall appoint an employee who shall assist students in seeking resolution by informal means. This person shall be called the Hearing Officer. The Hearing Officer and the student may also seek the assistance of the Associated Student Government in attempting to resolve a grievance informally.
- Informal meetings and discussion between persons directly involved in a grievance are essential at the outset of a dispute and should be encouraged at all stages. An equitable solution should be sought before persons directly involved in the case have stated official or public positions that might tend to polarize the dispute and render a solution more difficult. At no time shall any of the persons directly or indirectly involved in the case use the fact of such informal discussion, the fact that a grievance has been filed, or the character of the informal discussion for the purpose of strengthening the case for or against persons directly involved in the dispute or for any purpose other than the settlement of the grievance.
- Any student who believes he or she has a grievance shall file a Statement of Grievance form with the Hearing Officer within ten (10) days of the incident on which the grievance is based, or ten (10) days after the student knew or should have known of the basis for the grievance, whichever is later.
- The Statement of Grievance must be filed whether or not the student has already initiated efforts at informal resolution if the student wishes the grievance to become official. Within two (2) days following receipt of the Statement of Grievance Form, the Hearing Officer shall advise the student of his or her rights and responsibilities under these procedures and assist the student, if necessary, in the final preparation of the Statement of Grievance form.
- If at the end of five (5) days following the student's first meeting with the Hearing Officer, there is no informal resolution of the complaint which is satisfactory to the student, the student shall have the right to request a grievance hearing.
E. Request for Hearing Panel
Hearing Panel. The hearing panel for any disciplinary action shall be composed of two administrators, two faculty members, two classified staff members, and one student. The Superintendent/President, the presidents of the Academic Senate, Management Senate, Classified Senate, and Associated Student Body shall each, at the beginning of the academic year, establish a list of at least five persons who will serve on student disciplinary hearing panels. The Superintendent/President or his/her designee shall appoint the hearing panel from the names on these lists. The Superintendent/President or his/her designee shall appoint one member of the hearing panel to serve as the Hearing Panel Chair. However, no administrator, faculty member or student who has any personal involvement in the matter to be decided, who is a necessary witness, or who could not otherwise act in a neutral manner shall serve on a hearing panel.
- No person shall serve as a member of a Hearing Panel if that person has been personally involved in any matter giving rise to the grievance, has made any statement on the matters at issue, or could otherwise not act in a neutral manner. Any party to the grievance may challenge for cause any member of the hearing committee prior to the beginning of the hearing by addressing a challenge to the Superintendent/President who shall determine whether cause for disqualification has been shown. If the Superintendent/President feels that sufficient ground for removal of a member of the committee has been presented, the Superintendent/President shall remove the challenged member or members and substitute a member or members from the panel described above. If the Superintendent/President is an immediate party to a student grievance, the Board President shall designate an alternate administrator to discharge his/her grievance related responsibilities.
- The Hearing Officer shall coordinate all scheduling of hearings, shall serve to assist all parties and the Hearing Panel to facilitate a full, fair and efficient resolution of the grievance, and shall avoid an adversary role.
F. Determination Whether to Grant or Deny Hearing Request
- Any request for a grievance hearing shall be filed with the Hearing Officer on a Request for a Grievance Hearing form within five (5) days after filing the Statement of Grievance as described D. Informal Resolution.
- Within ten (10) days following receipt of the Request for Grievance Hearing, the Superintendent/President or his/her designee shall appoint a Hearing Panel as described in E. Request for Hearing Panel. The Hearing Panel shall meet in private and without the parties present to select a chair and to determine on the basis of the Statement of Grievance whether it presents sufficient grounds for a hearing.
- The determination of whether the Statement of Grievance presents sufficient grounds for a hearing shall be based on the following:
- The statement contains facts which, if true, would constitute a grievance under these procedures;
- The grievant is a student as defined in these procedures, which include applicants and former students;
- The grievant is personally and directly affected by the alleged grievance;
- The grievance was filed in a timely manner;
- The grievance is not clearly frivolous, clearly without foundation, or clearly filed for purposes of harassment.
- If the grievance does not meet each of the requirements, the Hearing Panel Chair shall notify the student in writing of the rejection of the Request for a Grievance Hearing, together with the specific reasons for the rejection and the procedures for appeal. This notice will be provided within two (2) days of the date the decision is made by the Grievance Hearing Committee.
- Any appeal relating to a Hearing Panel’s decision that the Statement of Grievance does not present a grievance as defined in these procedures shall be made in writing to the Superintendent/President within five (5) days of that decision. The Superintendent/President shall review the Statement of Grievance and Request for a Grievance Hearing in accordance with the requirements for a grievance provided in these procedures but shall not consider any other matters. The Superintendent/President’s decision whether or not to grant a grievance hearing shall be final and not subject to further appeal.
- If the Request for Grievance Hearing satisfies each of the requirements, the District Grievance Officer shall schedule a grievance hearing. The hearing will begin within fifteen (15) days following the decision to grant a Grievance Hearing. All parties to the grievance shall be given not less than five (5) days notice of the date, time, and place of the hearing.
G. Hearing Procedure
The decision of the Hearing Panel Chair shall be final on all matters relating to the conduct of the hearing unless there is a vote of a majority of the other members of the panel to the contrary.
- The members of the Hearing Panel shall be provided with a copy of the grievance and any written response provided by the respondent before the hearing begins.
- Each party to the grievance may call witnesses and introduce oral and written testimony relevant to the issues of the matter.
- Formal rules of evidence shall not apply. Any relevant evidence shall be admitted if it is the sort of evidence upon which reasonable persons are accustomed to rely in the conduct of serious affairs regardless of the existence of any common law or statutory rule which might otherwise exclude such evidence.
- Unless the Hearing Panel determines to proceed otherwise, each party to the grievance shall be permitted to make an opening statement. Thereafter, the grievant or grievants shall make the first presentation followed by the respondent or respondents. The grievant(s) may present rebuttal evidence after the respondent(s)' evidence. The burden shall be on the grievant or grievants to prove by substantial evidence that the facts alleged are true and that a grievance has been established as specified above.
- Each party to the grievance may represent him or herself, and may also have the right to be represented by a person of his or her choice. The Hearing Panel may also request legal assistance through the Superintendent/President’s office. Any legal advisor provided to the Hearing Panel may sit with the panel in an advisory capacity to provide legal counsel but shall not be a member of the panel nor vote with it.
- Hearings shall be closed and confidential unless all parties request that it be open to the public. Any such request must be made no less than five (5) days prior to the date of the hearing. The Hearing Panel may approve or deny such a request.
- Witnesses shall not be present at the hearing when not testifying unless all parties and the committee agree to the contrary.
- The hearing shall be recorded by the Hearing Officer either by tape recording or stenographic recording, and this shall be the only recording made. No witness who refuses to be recorded may be permitted to give testimony. In the event the recording is by tape recording, the Hearing Panel Chair shall, at the beginning of the hearing, ask each person present to identify themselves by name and, thereafter, ask witnesses to identify themselves by name. The tape recording shall remain in the custody of the District at all times, unless released to a professional transcribing or copying service. Any party may request a copy of the tape recording.
- All testimony shall be taken under oath. The oath shall be administered by the Hearing Panel Chair or court reporter. Written statements of witnesses under penalty of perjury shall not be used unless the witness is unavailable to testify. A witness who refuses to be tape recorded shall be considered to be unavailable. In other words, mere refusal by a witness to be recorded is not an acceptable excuse for submitting written testimony.
- Within ten (10) days following the close of the hearing, the Hearing Panel shall prepare and send to the Superintendent/President a written decision. The decision shall include specific factual findings regarding the grievance and include specific conclusions regarding whether a grievance has been established as defined above. The decision shall also include a specific recommendation regarding the relief to be afforded the grievant, if any. The decision shall be based only on the record of the hearing and not on matter outside of that record. The record consists of the original grievance, any written response, and the oral and written evidence produced at the hearing.
H. Superintendent/President’s Decision
Within five (5) days following receipt of the Hearing Panel's decision and recommendation(s), the Superintendent/President shall send to all parties his or her written decision, together with the Hearing Committee Panel's decision and recommendations. The Superintendent/Presidentmay accept or reject the findings, decisions and recommendations of the Hearing Panel. The factual findings of the Hearing Panel shall be accorded great weight. If the Superintendent/President does not accept the decision or a finding or recommendation of the Hearing Panel, the Superintendent/President shall review the record of the hearing and prepare a new written decision which contains specific factual findings and conclusions. The decision of the Superintendent/Presidentshall be final.
I. Time Limits
Any times specified in these procedures may be shortened or lengthened if there is mutual concurrence in writing by all parties.
January 30, 2012