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Complaint & Grievance Process

Students have a right to seek a remedy to a dispute through a complaint or grievance procedure. The following procedure is established to promote a timely means of resolving disputes between you and others in the campus community. Students who have a complaint against any member of the faculty or staff about content or conduct of a course, grading, tuition, or any other school policy or procedure, review the following for the process that needs to be followed. For more information about your rights or the procedure, call 651.846.1362.

Complaint and grievance procedures shall not substitute for other grievance procedures specific in board or College regulations or negotiated agreements. Students should use available informal means to have decisions reconsidered before filing a complaint or grievance. No retaliation of any kind shall be taken against a student for participation in a complaint or grievance. These procedures shall also protect data privacy rights.

Complaint

A complaint is an informal claim by a student or a group of students regarding alleged improper, unfair, arbitrary or discriminatory treatment. A complaint may constitute a grievance, if not mutually resolved and if the complaint falls within the definition of a grievance.

You may file a complaint concerning any campus issue and discuss it with the appropriate employee, or administrator, as established by College procedure. However, by Board policy, you may carry a complaint no further, unless a complaint falls within the definition of a grievance. Saint Paul College has established regulations regarding the procedures to be used in presenting and handling informal student complaints.

Before Making a Complaint

  • You are encouraged to discuss your concern or complaint with the faculty or staff involved first. Talking with the staff or faculty resolves more concerns than doing nothing about it.
  • It is important that you attempt to resolve the complaint. Most misunderstandings will be resolved at this first step by clarifying communications and expectations.
  • Grading is the sole prerogative of the faculty. Be sure you have completed all assignments, followed the syllabus, and maintained a good attendance record before you consider filing an Appeal for a Grade Review.

Informal Complaint Procedure

  1. Arrange a meeting with the appropriate individual(s) to discuss the concern and desired remedy in an attempt to resolve the situation as soon as possible. Before you meet with the appropriate individual(s), you may want to complete a Complaint and Grievance form, which includes:
    1. the nature of the complaint;
    2. summary of complaint and the relevant facts; and,
    3. the remedy sought.
  2. If you are not able to reach a satisfactory agreement with the staff member, you may, no later than ten school days after the meeting with the staff, submit the complaint in writing on a Complaint/Grievance form to the Administration Office for it to be routed to the Associate Dean of Student Development and Services.
  3. The completed form will be reviewed and routed to the appropriate office. You will be contacted via email within 72 hours.
  4. To resolve the complaint, the supervising administrator will discuss the situation with all appropriate individuals. If needed, a follow-up meeting will be scheduled in a timely manner.
  5. The supervising administrator will contact you with a response to your complaint.
  6. If you feel that the response is still not appropriate or satisfactory, you may appeal the decision, in writing, to the Associate Vice President of Student Development and Services. The decision of the Associate Vice President is final and binding.

Any student or group of students may present or discuss a complaint with the employee whose actions give rise to the complaint, and/or with the administrator to whom the employee reports. You may have a representative in attendance to observe any such discussion.

If you make a complaint about an employee to a supervising administrator, you should be aware that the employee may be informed that a complaint has been registered. This will be the case except when Minnesota statutes expressly allow for anonymity, e.g., initially for accusations of sexual harassment.

Grievance

A grievance is a dispute or disagreement raised by a student, or group of students, alleging improper, unfair, arbitrary or discriminatory action by an employee involving the application of the specific provision of a College policy or procedure or Board policy or procedure. A grievance must be submitted in writing; Complaint and Grievance forms are available from the Records Office or the Administration Office.

Grievance Process
In order to have a right to the entire grievance process, a specific rule or regulation of the College or the system must be involved. If a violation involves a College rule or regulation, you may carry an official grievance through three steps if necessary:

  • To the employee being grieved
  • To the administrator to whom the employee reports
  • To the College President—the decision of the President is final and binding

No grievance shall be considered or processed unless it is submitted within twenty (20) working days after the first occurrence of the event giving rise to the grievance, or within twenty (20) days after you, through the use of reasonable diligence, should have obtained knowledge of the first occurrence of the event giving rise to the grievance. In all instances that follow, the term “days” does not include (1) Saturdays, (2) Sundays, (3) holidays, and (4) breaks in the academic year.

Grievance Steps
If a complaint that falls within the definition of a grievance is not satisfactorily resolved in the informal discussion and a minimum of five (5) days have elapsed since the complaint was presented, you may then file a grievance on the official Complaint and Grievance form located in the Student Records Office or the Administration Office. The grievance procedure would then begin at Step II.

Step I

  1. Such grievances shall be submitted to Administration Office who will forward it to the Associate Dean of Student Development and Services for proper routing.
  2. The written grievance shall set forth the nature of the grievance, the facts on which it is based, and the relief requested. If possible, witnesses’ statements and names should be included. The grievance must be written and signed by the student. The grievance shall be discussed within five (5) days with the student(s) and others involved at a time mutually agreeable to all parties.
  3. If at this meeting a settlement is reached, it shall be reduced to writing and signed by the employee and the student(s).
  4. If no agreement is reached, the employee shall give written answer to the student(s) within five (5) days.
  5. In either case a copy shall be given to the College President.

Step II

  1. If no agreement is reached in Step I, the student(s) may, within five (5) days from the receipt of a written answer, present the grievance, in writing, to the Records Office who will forward it to the Associate Dean of Student Development and Services for routing to the supervising administrator to whom the employee in Step I reports. The administrator shall discuss the grievance within five (5) days with the student(s), at a time mutually agreeable to both parties.
  2. If at this meeting a settlement is reached, it shall be reduced to writing and signed by the dean and the student(s). A copy shall be given to the employee and/or College President.
  3. If the student grievance requires further action, the responsible administrative supervisor may schedule a meeting or discussion between the student(s), the employee and the administrator. At least 24 hours before the meeting, the employee should be provided with a copy of the written grievance.
  4. The meeting may be held in the presence of a student(s) witness if the student(s) filing the claim wishes, and an employee witness if the accused employee wishes. The time should be convenient to the student(s), the employee, and the supervisor.
  5. If no agreement is reached, the administrator shall give a written answer to the student(s) within five (5) days.
  6. In either case a copy shall be given to the College President.

Step III
If no agreement is reached in Step II, the student(s) may within five (5) days from receipt of written answer present the grievance, in writing, to the College President. The President or designee shall discuss the grievance within five (5) days with the student(s) at a time mutually agreeable to both parties. If the grievance is based on an alleged violation of a College rule or regulation, the decision of the President shall be final and binding.

Time Limits
All time limits have been set at five (5) days; however, the student initially has twenty days to initiate the grievance process. By mutual agreement of the student(s) and College personnel, time limits may be extended due to extenuating circumstances approved by the Associate Vice President of Student Development and Services.

  1. If a grievance is not presented within the established limits, it shall be considered as “waived.”
  2. If a grievance is not appealed to the next step within the established time limits, it shall be considered settled on the basis of the last answer.
  3. If, after presentation at any step, a College staff member does not discuss the grievance with the student(s) within the established time limits, the student(s) may treat the grievance as denied at that step and may appeal the grievance to the next step.
  4. If, after discussion, a College staff member does not answer a grievance within the established time limits, the student(s) may treat the grievance as denied at that step and may appeal the grievance to the next step.
  5. A copy of the written grievance and settlement should be filed in the President’s office. If the grievance and settlement does not result in discipline of the employee, no record shall be maintained. Maintenance of records shall be in compliance with the employee contract.