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Student Academic Grievance Process


I. Introduction

With regard to academics, grades and other academic judgments are within the province and professional judgment of the faculty. Therefore, such judgments will only be addressed in the event of allegations relating to faculty error or impropriety, such as judgment affected by alleged prejudice or capriciousness. Allegations of this nature should be resolved through the grievance procedures set forth below.

Resolution should be achieved at the lowest level and in the most equitable way possible. The burden of proof rests with the student to show that it was more likely than not that an error was made or that judgment has been exercised in a capricious manner or on an improper basis.

II. Informal Student Grievance Process

A student may initiate a complaint regarding an academic grievance (such as final course grade or dismissal from a program) by requesting a meeting with the faculty member. This initial meeting can determine whether the student’s grievance is the result of judgment, clerical, technical, or technological error. If the grievance remains unresolved after this initial meeting, the student may submit a written complaint to the faculty member within ten (10) calendar days after grades are posted online or from the date of the action being complained of, such as the date on a program dismissal letter. The complaint must include an explanation regarding the reason for any requested change.

A second meeting of the faculty and student shall take place within ten (10) calendar days from the time the faculty member receives the written request from the student. The student will be expected to bring data to support his or her request for the change. If the grievance is not resolved at this level, the student may, within five (5) calendar days following the meeting with the faculty member, request a meeting with the appropriate administrator as defined by the applicable school (Program Director, Assistant/Associate Dean, if applicable, or the Dean) to resolve the issue. This meeting should take place within five (5) calendar days after receipt of the request. If after this meeting the issue remains unresolved, the student may request a meeting with the Dean of the applicable school.

If the meeting with the appropriate Dean does not resolve the issue, the student may file a formal grievance with the Vice President of Academic Affairs for referral to the Student/Faculty Hearing Board.

III. Formal Student Grievance Process

The request for referral to the Student/Faculty Hearing Board must be submitted within fourteen (14) calendar days after the last meeting  of the informal process (typically this is the meeting with the Dean). The request must be completed on the Student Academic Grievance Form, available under Academic Services on the portal.  The Student Academic Grievance Form shall include the following:

  • The exact nature of the grievance (i.e., grounds for grade change or program re‑admission);
  • The specific details of the grievance (i.e.,  a chronology of events and an explicit description of the evidence of the alleged violation arising out of faculty error based on arbitrary or capricious judgment, clerical, technical, or technological error );
  • Documents providing compelling evidence of the claim of faculty error.
  • A description of the informal meeting(s) and attempted resolution; and the specific resolution or remedy sought.

A formal hearing will be scheduled within ten (10) business days of the receipt of the written request by the Vice President for Academic Affairs. The Vice President for Academic Affairs or his/her designee shall inform the student that a decision to recommend a grade change or readmission to the academic program may only be made where there is a finding of faculty error or impropriety as explained above. [Note:  In cases where a student is grieving a non-passing grade for an experiential course (e.g., clinical, student teaching, internship), the hearing board may only determine that a grade should be nullified; however, the requirements of the course/program must still be met by the student.]

The Vice President for Academic Affairs or his/her designee shall make a request for records and documents and shall forward copies of all documents pertinent to the alleged violation to the Student/ Faculty Hearing Board and the parties involved. Documents or accusations not specifically related to the alleged violations shall not be forwarded to the Board or parties. The Board shall review the grievance with any witnesses and documents the student, faculty member, or Student/Faculty Hearing Board requests.

If the student fails to show up at a mutually agreed upon meeting date, a decision will be made based on the written documentation provided by the student as well as other documents and/or statements made by the faculty member as part of the hearing. A record of the decision shall be forwarded to the student and faculty member.  A copy will also be forwarded to the appropriate Dean and placed in the student’s file in the appropriate academic office.

Student/Faculty Hearing Board
The pool of Student/Faculty Hearing Board members shall be appointed for a term of one academic year. The Student/Faculty Hearing Board pool will consist of eight faculty members—two tenured faculty members from each of the four schools, four students (one from each school selected by Maryville Student Government), and the Dean of Student Life or his/her designee.

The actual Student/Faculty Hearing Board for any given case will consist of three faculty members, two students, and the Dean of Student Life or his/her designee who will serve as an ex-officio non-voting member. The Board members will be chosen by the Vice President for Academic Affairs (or designee) in order to avoid a potential conflict of interest with all parties involved. The student filing the grievance is permitted to bring a support person to the hearing. The support person must be a member of the Maryville University community (a faculty or staff member or currently registered student), have no other role in the hearing and is not permitted to speak or otherwise represent the person s/he is supporting. The Vice President for Academic Affairs (or designee) will appoint one of the faculty members to serve as board chair. The chair will be a voting member.

The Hearing
All six (6) Board members shall be present in order for the Board to act. Board members shall be given five (5) calendar days’ notice of the hearing. In the event a member of the Board cannot attend, or is disqualified because of conflict of interest, another member will be selected from the hearing board pool. The Board shall conduct the hearing and make its decision based on the evidence submitted before the hearing Board and on the evidence and the testimony presented to the Board during the hearing.

Final Action
The votes of a majority of the members are necessary in order for the Board to render a decision, which shall be forwarded to the Vice President for Academic Affairs or his/her designee. The Vice President for Academic Affairs or his/her designee shall communicate to the student and faculty member the outcome of the hearing. This written communication will take place within five (5) calendar days after the hearing is completed. The decision to recommend a grade change, readmission to an academic program or other reversal of an academic decision must be supported by a summary finding of fact establishing faculty error based on arbitrary or capricious judgment, clerical, technical, or technological error.

Appeal
The student or the faculty member may submit a written appeal to the Vice President for Academic Affairs within ten (10) calendar days after receipt of the decision letter for review of the matter. (Note: Failure to claim a Registered Letter from the post office does not extend the 15 days following the conclusion of the hearing.)  The Board decision may be appealed for the following reasons only:

  • New, relevant evidence of a substantive nature regarding the case that has become available and that could not have been discovered by either party at the time of the hearing. Information is not considered new evidence if the student or faculty member did not attend the original hearing or voluntarily withheld information during the original hearing.
  • Procedural error or error in interpretation of University procedures that substantially affected the hearing in such a way that the student or faculty member was denied a fair hearing, or the error prevented the Hearing Board from making a fair decision.

Dissatisfaction with the outcome of the hearing is not grounds for an appeal.

Content of an Appeal
The appeal must be made in writing and submitted to the Vice President for Academic Affairs. The appeal should explain in detail why the appellant is contesting the results of the hearing based on one or more of the guidelines detailed above. Copies of any documents that will substantiate or clarify the appeal should be included.

Review of Appeal
The Vice President for Academic Affairs or designee will determine whether there is sufficient basis for an appeal. The Vice President or designee will make one of the following determinations:

  • The appeal criteria are not met, in which case the appeal will be denied; or
  • There may be merit to the request, in which case the Vice President for Academic Affairs will schedule an administrative appeal hearing.

If the Vice President for Academic Affairs or designee determines the appeal may have merit, the documents submitted on the appeal shall be provided to the other party to the grievance for comment and rebuttal. That party shall have five (5) calendar days to submit any rebuttal information. Upon receipt of any rebuttal information, the Vice President for Academic Affairs or designee may, at his/her discretion, decide the appeal based only upon the written submissions, or may convene a hearing at which both the student and the faculty member are present and at which the issues forming the basis of the appeal are discussed.  In either case, the Vice President for Academic Affairs or designee shall render a decision on the appeal within ten (10) business days and shall promptly notify the parties in writing of that decision.

The decision of the Vice President for Academic Affairs or designee is final.