Grievance Procedure

It is the policy of The College of St. Scholastica that all otherwise qualified students with disabilities will be given equal educational opportunities in the classroom and other College-sponsored programs and activities, including study abroad programs, fieldwork, and clinical placements. The College will ensure that no otherwise qualified students with disabilities will be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination in any college class, program, or activity.

Definitions

Bias Incident: An incident where a student receives single or multiple acts of verbal, written, electronic or physical expressions of disrespectful bias, hate, intimidation, or hostility by another student.

Disability: A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities including caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating or working.

Discrimination: The denial of full utilization of or benefit from any educational institution, or the services rendered thereby to any person because of disability, or to fail to ensure physical and program access for disabled persons (Minnesota Statute 363A.13, 2012). 

Grievance: A report of discrimination, retaliation or harassment based on disability.

Grievant: A student who reports a claim of discriminatory practice, retaliation and/or harassment based on disability.

Harassment: Harassment consists of any words or conduct that shows hostility or aversion toward an individual because of disability or that of his/her relatives, friends, or associates and that: has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work or educational environment; has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work or academic performance; or otherwise adversely affects an individual's employment or academic opportunities. Harassment may occur in situations where there is a power differential between the parties (between any persons on campus or between any persons at any campus activities), or where the persons share the same status (i.e., student-student, faculty-faculty, staff-staff). It may occur between members of the same or opposite sex.

Respondent: The student, faculty or staff member accused of discrimination, retaliation or harassment.

Intervention

Three types of intervention may be pursued:

  • Bias Incident: A report can be anonymous or reported by a third party. For more information or to file a report, please see Bias Incident Report Form.  
  • Collaborative Grievance: A report of discrimination, retaliation or harassment based on disability made by a student against an instructor, student or staff person to the Center for Equal Access. The student wishes to resolve the situation through a collaborative process using the Center for Equal Access to facilitate the process.
  • Formal Grievance: A formal report of discrimination, retaliation or harassment based on disability made by an instructor or staff person which a student requests specific action from The College that is outside of the scope of the Center for Equal Access. This process should be used if a grievance is filed against any staff from Center for Equal Access.

Procedures

The following procedures will be used to address situations which a student perceives to be discriminatory and/or a violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Minnesota Human Rights Act, or any other law enacted to ensure equal opportunity for all members of The College of St. Scholastica community. Appeals of denied requests for accommodations or auxiliary aids based upon a disability as stated in the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act 2008 should also use these procedures. Retaliation to any grievance and/or practice related to disability or the Center for Equal Access is strictly prohibited and promptly investigated by the Access Committee. Retaliatory behavior may include adverse treatment, unsubstantiated grading practices, harassment, and intimidation related to participating in a grievance procedure. If there is any retaliation experienced by either the grievant or respondent a report should be made directly to the Vice President level of the appropriate institutional reporting structure.

Initiating a Grievance

The student initiates the grievance by connecting with the Director of the Center for Equal Access. If the grievance is against any staff of the Center for Equal Access, then the written notice is given to the Vice President of Student Affairs (VPSA) and follows the formal grievance procedure. The College reserves the right to bring a collaborative grievance to the Access Committee and/or Formal Grievance procedures if a report is egregious in nature; if multiple grievances have been reported about one person, or if the nature of the situation places The College at-risk. In any of these cases, the institution assumes the role of grievant.

Collaborative (informal) Grievance

The grievant reports to the Director of the Center for Equal Access, the Director will:

  1. Listen to the report by the student (here titled 'Grievant') 
  2. Write a detailed note of the claims of discrimination or harassment to be included in their file
  3. Inform the grievant of options of action which may include
    • a meeting with the respondent, department chair or School Dean facilitated by the coordinator or 
    • a written notice to the respondent by the Director
  4. Request a Release of Information in order to engage relevant individuals in the process, if necessary

Formal Grievance

A student who wishes to pursue a formal grievance will present to the Director of the Center for Equal Access written notice of the grievance. The notice must contain, at a minimum, the following information:

  1. A title or heading identifying the notice as a formal grievance pursuant to this procedure; 
  2. A description of the situation forming the basis of the grievance or actions alleged to be discriminatory; 
  3. The names of any individuals involved 
  4. Individuals who may have knowledge of the matters alleged; 
  5. The result or corrective action desired; and, 
  6. The grieving party's name, address, and phone number.

The student will meet with the Director of the Center for Equal Access to:

  1. Discuss the rights of the grievant and the rights of the respondent.
  2. Sign a statement of "good faith" acknowledging everything said is true and to the best of his/her knowledge.
  3. Determine the most appropriate plan of action based on the level of involvement of the department chair or Dean. Typical report of grievance begins with the department chair; next, Dean of the School, and ultimately the Vice-President of Academic Affairs, Dean of the Faculty.

All grievances must be filed no later than 60 calendar days from the date of the alleged violation.

Formal Grievance Process

Notification: Both the grievant and the respondent will be notified in writing of the primary contact of the proceedings. The respondent will be notified of the charges, the name of the grievant, and the grievance procedures of The College. The respondent will be allowed to present a written response to the primary contact of the proceedings. Further notification is required through all aspects of the process.

Investigation: Two appointed members of the Access Committee shall investigate the grievance by interviewing the grieving party and any individuals identified in the written notice. The Access Committee shall conduct such further investigation as is necessary to respond to the grievance. The results of the investigation will occur within twenty (20) days of receipt of the written grievance.

Grievance Hearing: Within 10 working days following the completion of the investigation, the Access Committee investigators shall bring together a Grievance Panel, schedule and hold a hearing to consider and decide the grievance. The grievant and respondent shall have the opportunity to present evidence and witnesses at the hearing. All relevant evidence which is trustworthy and reliable shall be considered by the Grievance Panel. 

Composition of the Grievance Panel: The Access Committee investigators will initiate a panel of college officials who will hear all grievances alleging discrimination. The Grievance Panel shall be so constituted that no staff member, faculty, or administrator involved in or associated with the grievance will hear the matter. Students will not be permitted to serve on the panel. The following individuals will be included on the grievance panel:

  • Dean of Students (where a student is the respondent) or Dean of the associated school (where an instructor is the respondent). If the respondent is a Dean, the Vice President of Academic Affairs or her designee will be part of the grievance panel.
  • Two members of the Access Committee
  • Department Chair of respondent (if applicable)
  • Representative from Human Resources (if applicable)
  • Director of the Center for Equal Access (ex-officio),
  • Student Affairs Representative

Decision: The Grievance Panel shall render its decision in writing within 10 working days of the hearing. The decision shall contain the reasons for the decision and any corrective action to be taken. All parties and others affected by the decision shall be provided with written copies of the decision, which shall also include notification of the availability of an appeal, as outlined below.

Appeal: An appeal of the Grievance Panel's decision may be made to the Vice President of Student Affairs (VPSA) or his designee by the grieving party or any affected party who appeared at the hearing. The appeal shall be made in writing within five working days of the Grievance Panel's decision. The appeal shall include a copy of the Grievance Panel's decision and the party's reasons for requesting further review by the VPSA or designee. Upon receipt of the appeal, the VPSA or designee shall independently review all of the information submitted to or generated by the investigators and Grievance Panel. If, in the VPSA or designee's discretion, further information is required, the VPSA or designee shall be authorized to conduct whatever additional research or investigation is deemed necessary, including meeting with the grieving party and/or others involved. The VPSA or designee will respond to the appeal, in writing, within 10 working days. The decision will include an explanation for the decision and/or notification of any corrective action to be taken.

External Resources

Students who do not feel the decision or process was in their best interest may pursue external resources and services. Students may seek resolution through one or both of the following agencies:

Office of Civil Rights Department of Education 
Lyndon Baines Johnson Department of Education Building
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-1100
Telephone: 800-421-3481
FAX: 202-453-6012; TDD: 877-521-2172
Email: OCR@ed.gov
https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/aboutocr.html

Minnesota Department of Human Rights
Freeman Building, 625 Robert Street North, Saint Paul, MN 55155
651.539.1100 (main office, available 8:00 am to 4:30 pm) 
(The Intake phone line is open from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm)
TTY: 651.296.1283
Toll Free: 800.657.3704
Fax: 651.296.9042
http://www.humanrights.state.mn.us/