2020-2021 Catalog

Student Complaints and Grievance Procedure

Student Complaint and Grievance Procedure

It is hoped that minor differences may be resolved without use of the formal grievance process provided below. Given the size and culture of the SKC community, informal resolution is most desirable. However, there may be situations where a more formal grievance process may be necessary. This Student Complaint and Grievance Procedure is intended to allow students an opportunity to present an issue that they feel warrants action. 

I.   Informal Complaint Procedures

Informal complaints are defined as academic or non-academic issues that a student or students has/have with a SKC faculty member, staff member, administrator, or department or program at the College.

Please Note: The requirement to attempt informal resolution of a complaint does not apply in cases of alleged discrimination, violence, sexual harassment, or sexual misconduct. In those cases, the student should contact the Title IX Officer or the Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Services for guidance. It is expected that if the nature of a complaint involves criminal or illegal activity, campus security and CSKT Law Enforcement should be contacted immediately.

A. Resolving a Non-Academic Informal Complaint.

The student(s) should first discuss and attempt to resolve the issue with whomever the issue arose ("the respondent") if at all possible. In the event that such an informal discussion is not possible or the issue is not resolved, the student should contact the Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Services to try to reach an informal resolution. The student must initiate the complaint no later than thirty (30) work days after the alleged incident. The Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Services receiving the complaint shall attempt to resolve the matter and report the decision in writing to the student(s) and the respondent(s) via their SKC email address within fifteen (15) work days of receiving the complaint.

Note: If the complaint is about a course grade, please see the section on Resolving an Academic Informal Complaint below.

B.  Resolving an Academic Informal Complaint

Given the nature of complaints covered by this procedure, it is expected that in all but the most unusual circumstances students will first address the issue with the faculty/instructor. In the event that such an informal discussion is not feasible, or the student and faculty/instructor are not able to resolve the issue, the student should contact the Department Head of the instructor within thirty (30) work days after the alleged issue. In instances where the issue is with the Department Head, the student should contact the Vice President of Academic Affairs within thirty (30) work days after the alleged issue. The Department Head or Vice President for Academic Affairs will attempt to meet with both parties to resolve the matter, and will report the decision in writing to the student(s) and respondent(s) via their SKC email address within fifteen (15) work days of receiving the complaint. 

II.  Formal Grievance Procedure

If the complaint is not resolved informally and the student(s) wishes to continue to a formal grievance, the student(s) must submit a Grievance Petition Form to the Vice President of Academic Affairs within sixty (60) days after the alleged issue.

A. Definitions

Grievance: Action taken because a student or students believes that the student(s) has been dealt with arbitrarily, unfairly, or in ways which violate college policies or procedures or established laws or rules, and/or the written procedures of any unit of the College, AND which has caused actual harm to the student.

Non-grievable Matters:  The following matters are not grievable under this procedure except as noted:

a. Matters over which the College is without authority to act.

b. Grades and other academic decisions unless there is an allegation that the decision was motivated by discrimination or harassment. If there is an allegation that an academic decision was motivated by discrimination or harassment, the student should contact the Title IX Officer in the Big Knife Building.

B. Steps to Submit a Formal Grievance

Step 1: Complete the Formal Grievance Petition within thirty (30) days of the alleged incident.  The petition must include the following information:

  • The student name(s), student identification number(s), and contact information including student SKC email address(es).
  • A detailed description of the nature of the grievance.
  • Information concerning informal attempts to resolve the issue, including dates of meetings.
  • Supporting documents or evidence, such as a copy of the policy or procedure which the student believes was arbitrarily or unfairly applied.
  • A detailed description of the relief or resolution sought.
  • Students(s) signature(s).
  • Date of grievance submission.

Step 2: The Vice President of Academic Affairs will conduct an investigation within ten (10) work days of receipt of the Formal Grievance Petition. The Vice President of Academic Affairs will determine whether the issue is grievable. If the issue is grievable, the Vice President of Academic Affairs will then speak with both the student(s) and the individual(2) cited in the Grievance. If a resolution can be reached, the grievance and its outcome will be recorded in the student file and a copy of the grievance maintained in the Office of the Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Services.

Step 3: If a resolution is not reached, the Vice President of Academic Affairs will convene a formal hearing within twenty-one (21) work days of receipt of the Grievance. A Hearing Board will be convened, consisting of at least one SKC faculty member and two SKC staff members.

  • All hearings will be private if requested by the student(s).
  • The student(s) has/have the right to be represented by an SKC advisor of their own choosing.
  • Any party to the proceedings may request the privilege of presenting witnesses, subject to cross-examination by the other parties.
  • The College maintains the right to record the hearing and retain records and other exhibits submitted as part of the hearing. These materials will be confidential to the members of the Hearing Board and SKC administration. A written record of the proceedings will be kept by one of the Hearing Board members. 

The Hearing Board will present its findings and suggested remediation or relief, if any, in writing to the Vice President of Academic Affairs. 

Step 4: In the case of probation or suspension, the student may appear before the Vice President of Academic Affairs or request that the Vice President of Academic Affairs convene a Hearing Board. A potential recommendation for the imposition of sanctions is based upon evidence in support of the charges, and not on the failure of the student to answer charges or appear at the hearing. 

Upon receiving recommendations from the Hearing Board, the decision will be made by the Vice President of Academic Affairs. The decision will be sent to the student(s) and respondent(s) via their SKC email address. This decision is final.

C. Appeal Process

If the student(s) believes that exceptional circumstances justify reconsideration of the decision of the Vice President of Academic Affairs, the student(s) may file an appeal. An appeal should not be pursued if the student simply disagrees with the decision made. Discovery of new evidence, allegation of serious bias or discrimination, and/or documentation showing that the College did not adhere to the Grievance Procedure are allowable exceptional circumstances.

Step 1: To file an appeal, the student must submit a written letter of appeal to the Salish Kootenai College President within fifteen (15) work days of receipt of the decision by the Vice President of Academic Affairs. The appeal must provide a clear explanation for what qualifies the grievance for an appeal, based on the above definition of exceptional circumstances. The student(s) should be as specific as possible and provide documentation as available. The student(s) may seek the assistance of the Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Services or a Success Coach in completing the appeal request.

Step 2: The President will notify the student(s), respondent(s) and the appropriate college department head or administrator of receipt of the Appeal. Within ten (10) working days, the President will convene an Appeal Committee consisting of no less than five (5) members. A written record of the appeal hearing will be kept by one of the Committee members. The student(s) has/have the right to have one individual representing them present at the hearing.

The review of the Appeal by the Appeal Committee is limited to the following areas:

  • To determine if the grievance procedures and investigation were conducted fairly in light of the complaint and grievance made as well as information presented, and that the student(s) had a reasonable opportunity to present information. A deviation from procedures will not be a basis for sustaining an appeal unless significant prejudice or impartial consideration is found.
  • To determine whether the decision reached was based on substantial information - that is, whether there were facts that were sufficient to support the grievance decision.
  • To consider new information sufficient to alter a decision or other relevant facts not brought out in the original complaint or grievance, but only if such information or facts were not known to the student(s) at the time of presenting the grievance.

Step 3: The Appeal Committee may recommend the following:

1. Overrule of the decision in whole or in part, modifying the decision.

2. Maintain the original decision.

Ste p 4: The President will consider the findings of the Appeals Committee and make a final decision concerning the Appeal. The President will notify the student(s), respondent(s), and the relevant department head(s) or the decision. A written record of the Appeal, the Appeal Procedures, and the final decision will be maintained by the Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Services. There is no further appeal process. 

 

 

 

 

 

empty2x2
empty2x2
empty2x2
empty2x2