UNIVERSITY POLICY 17

Student Complaints & Resolution Processes & Institutional Records of Student Complaints

Initially Approved: December 4,2013
Policy Topic:  Student Complaints & Resolution Processes; Institutional Records of Student Complaints
Administering Offices:  Office of the Provost & Office of Student Life

Posted for Comment: November 23, 2013
Comment Period Closed: December 2, 2013
Issued: December 4, 2013

 

I.  POLICY STATEMENT


Student Complaints & Resolution Processes

Kettering University maintains processes for the good faith review and resolution of student academic and non-academic complaints.  The University’s student complaint process will encourage informal resolution of alleged violations at the lowest unit level; allow for a formal resolution mechanism if not resolved informally; and provide for appeal to a final decision maker. 

Students may bring complaints regarding the University’s provision of education, academic services, and non-academic services affecting their role as students and must be based upon a claimed violation of a University policy, regulation, or established practice. 

Student complaints do not include those regarding University employment, disciplinary action under the Code of Student Conduct; grades, or University admission decisions. 

Resolution under this policy may include student reinstatement or other corrective action for the benefit of the student, including refunds, but may but not award monetary damages or direct disciplinary action against any employee of the University.

This policy does not limit the University’s right to change policies, regulations, or practices related to the provision of academic or non-academic services and education.

Institutional Records of Student Complaints

To comply with federal regulations, Kettering University will maintain records of formal, written academic and non-academic student complaints filed with the Office of the Provost or the Office of Student Life.  The records will include information about the disposition of the complaints, including those referred to external agencies for final resolution.  These records will be available to the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) comprehensive evaluation teams for review.

II.  DEFINITIONS


Student Academic Complaint

Complaints brought by students regarding the University’s provision of education and academic services affecting their role as students.  Academic complaints do not include grade disputes and appeals, which are managed under the Grade Appeal Policy.

Non-academic Complaint

Complaints brought by students regarding the University’s provision of non-academic services affecting their role as members of the Kettering community.  Non-academic complaints may include, but are not limited to, student or employee behavior regarding harassment or discrimination; billing disputes; disability accommodation challenges; medical and counseling services, athletics, etc.  They do not include parking violation disputes, which are managed under Campus Safety’s Parking Appeals Policy.

III.  DETAILS/PROCEDURES


Informal Resolution for Student Complaints

The first step of any resolution should be at the lowest unit level, between the parties involved or the parties and an appropriate third party (e.g., other faculty, department head, director of graduate studies, administrator).  If no informal resolution is reached at the lowest unit level, a student may seek informal resolution at the next level with the other party and higher level administrators. If the issue is not resolved informally, the student may seek formal resolution.

Formal Resolution for Student Complaints

If still unresolved after following the appropriate informal complaint process, a student may choose to officially document the complaint to seek formal resolution.  Students may file complaints regarding academic matters, excluding grade appeals, with the Office of the Provost.  Non-academic complaints, excluding parking citations, should be filed with the Vice President of Student Life.  Students should consult with the pertinent office to prepare a formal complaint; both offices follow these general procedures:  

  • Students must submit, in writing, an explanation of the concern or appeal, including a full description of the matter, a description of the efforts that have been made to resolve the issue informally, and a statement of requested remedy.  Submissions must include accurate contact information.  Copies of pertinent materials should be attached.
  • A student must begin the informal resolution process during the term in which the concern arises, and must register, if applicable, an officially documented complaint no later than thirty days after the first day of classes of the term immediately following the term during which the concern arose. 
  • If the grievance contains confidential medical information, the University will maintain the confidentiality of that information and will not release it without the student’s consent, except as allowed by law.
  • Academic complaints should be submitted to the Associate Provost for Academic Affairs in the Provost’s office.  Non-academic complaints should be submitted to the Vice President of Student Life.  Upon receipt, the institutional officer will review the complaint for timeliness and appropriateness under this complaint procedure, notify the student if the complaint is accepted for further investigation, and provide a copy of the complaint to the individual against whom it has been made.
  • The institutional officer will complete or designate someone to complete an investigation of the matter.  The investigator may interview, consult with, and/or request a written response to the issue[s] raised in the complaint from any individual the investigator believes to have relevant information, including faculty, staff, and students.  All parties will have the opportunity to provide the investigator with information or evidence that s/he believes is relevant to the complaint.  The investigator will respect the privacy of all parties, to the extent possible.
  • The University will inform the student and the party against whom the student has filed a complaint that the institution will not tolerate real or implied retaliation, will take steps to prevent retaliation, and will take appropriate responsive action[s], up to and including termination of employment, if an employee is found to have retaliated.  Students will be held accountable for retaliation through the Code of Student Conduct and related disciplinary procedures.  Individuals should immediately notify the appropriate institutional officer should retaliation occur. 
  • If a non-academic complaint involves a faculty member, the Vice President of Student Life will inform the Provost of the complaint, the determination by the investigator, and any appeal.  Academic and non-academic complaints that involve a faculty and/or staff member will be reported to the Director of Human Resources.
  • All investigations will be completed within thirty [30] working days of the filing of the written complaint.  The deadline may be extended by the Provost or Vice President of Student Life for good cause.  At the request of the complainant, the institutional officer may determine the formal process can and should be expedited.
  • The institutional officer will prepare a written report, including findings and a final resolution of the matter.  The officer will submit the report within 30 calendar days of receipt of the formal complaint, unless there are compelling reasons for delay. The institutional officer will send the report to all interested parties.  If the complaint challenges an action personally engaged in by the institutional officer, the Provost will appoint another administrator to fulfill the officer’s role under this procedure. 
  • Decisions made by institutional officers are final and may not be appealed.

Institutional Records of Student Complaints

The University understands that the U.S. Department of Education expects the Higher Learning Commission evaluation teams to be aware of major complaints or categories of student concerns that may or may not be addressed in the self-study report. One source of that information will be a historical record of student complaints and their dispositions.

The University has determined that this federally-mandated obligation for record-keeping will be limited to academic and non-academic complaints made formally in writing, signed by a student, and addressed to and submitted to the Provost or the Vice President of Student Life (VPSL). The assumption underlying this policy is that when one of the primary institutional officers named above becomes involved, the complaint has not been satisfactorily resolved either at any other institutional level or by other institutional personnel.

The tracking system for academic complaints will be maintained in the Provost’s office; the tracking system for non-academic complaints will be maintained by the VPSL’s Office.  The tracking systems will contain the following information:

  • the date the complaint was first formally submitted;
  • the nature of the complaint (e.g., allegation discrimination, etc.); 
  • the steps taken by the institution to resolve the complaint; 
  • the institution's final decision regarding the complaint, including referral to outside agencies; 
  • any other external actions initiated by the student to resolve the complaint, if known to the institution (e.g. lawsuit, EEOC investigation, etc.).

Kettering University will only track complaints from students.  Complaints from parents, employers, etc. need not be tracked for the purposes of this policy, even where those complaints might relate to a student(s).

The University has established this system so that the record provided to any external team insures anonymity.  In addition, Kettering University will avoid mentioning by name any other individuals involved in the facts of complaint.  The University will inform students and institutional personnel that it must share information about complaints with its accreditor but that individual identities will be protected.

Only written complaints mailed or delivered to the Provost or the Vice President of Student Life are considered formal complaints.  The University will, of course, continue to respond to informal communications from students made through various means without including these exchanges within the tracking system.  Records of complaints will be maintained for at least 10 years.

IV. POLICY REVIEW


This policy shall be reviewed and revised as necessary every four (4) years or more frequently as laws or regulations change.

V. RELATED POLICIES AND RESOURCES


Kettering University Catalog, Kettering University Student Handbook

Higher Learning Commission/Federal Compliance Program

 

University Policy 17 PDF Download