Policy Number: I-19
Last Reviewed: October 13, 2022
Responsible Dept.: Dean of Student Affairs/Dean of Academic Schools
A signed copy of this policy is available in the President’s Office.
The purpose of this policy is to provide an equitable and orderly process to resolve grievances.
A grievance is a difference or dispute between a student and a college employee regarding the following:
- Grade dispute
- Final grade appeal
- Issue with an instructor or staff member
- Issue with a class
- Issue with a college procedure
For appeals related to student conduct issues, please refer to the college’s I-21 Student Conduct Policy.
To maintain good relationships, grievances should be initiated and processed as rapidly as possible. Every effort will be made by all parties to expedite the process. Informal resolution of grievances should be pursued whenever possible.
Retaliation against any individual who files a complaint or participates in the grievance process is prohibited.
19.1 Informal Resolution
To initiate informal resolution, the student contacts the college faculty member or employee with whom the student has a difference or dispute. Every reasonable effort should be made by all parties to resolve the matter informally at this level and no written records of the matter will be placed in the student’s official file.
19.2 Formalizing a Grievance
If the issue cannot be resolved informally as outlined in 19.1 despite every reasonable effort by all parties, the student will formalize the grievance into a written complaint by submitting the Student Grievance Form which will require the student’s information, a summary of the grievance and a description of the action being requested to rectify the grievance. The student must remit the Student Grievance Form within the timeframes noted below.
|Grade Dispute (other than a Final Grade)1||Within five (5) business days of notification of the grade|
|Final Grade Appeal1||Within one month after the grade is posted to the student’s official transcript1|
|Issue with an Instructor or Staff Member||Within one month of the incident|
|Issue with a Class||Within one month after the grade is posted to the student’s official transcript|
|Issue with a College Procedure||Within one month of the incident|
1Additional information specific to grade disputes and final grade appeals is noted below in 19.9 Grade Disputes and Final Grade Appeals.
19.3 Review of Grievances
For academic issues, the program head will receive, investigate and respond to the student’s remitted grievance. If the issue is with the program head, the academic dean will manage the investigation and response. If a grievance pertaining to an academic issue is remitted while a program head is not under contract or is otherwise unavailable, the academic dean will manage review and response to the grievance.
For non-academic issues, the employee or department supervisor will receive, investigate and respond to the student’s grievance.
Students will receive written notification of the program head, dean, employee or department supervisor managing the review of the grievance within five business days of remitting the Student Grievance Form. Following an investigation into the matter, the identified program head, dean, employee or department supervisor will provide written notification to the student regarding the outcome.
19.4 Appealing the Resolution of a Grievance
If a student remains dissatisfied with the resolution provided by the program head, dean, employee or department supervisor, this outcome may be appealed by remitting another written complaint using the Appeal of Grievance Resolution Form within five (5) business days of receiving written notification regarding the outcome of the review. This appeal will include a description of the action being requested by the student to rectify the grievance following the resolution afforded in response to the grievance review. If the student does not exercise the right to appeal within five (5) business days, the matter will be considered resolved.
For appeals related to academic issues, the academic dean will manage the continued evaluation and response if the grievance review was conducted by the program head. If the grievance review was managed by the academic dean, the appeal will be remitted to the Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs.
For non-academic issues, the appeal will be received, investigated and reviewed by the college official in direct leadership authority over the employee or department supervisor who managed the grievance review.
Students will receive written notification of the dean, vice president, or other college official managing the review of their appeal within five (5) business days of remitting the Appeal of Grievance Resolution Form. After conducting further investigation into the matter, inclusive of reviewing the information gathered during the grievance review, the dean, vice president, or other assigned college official will provide written notification to the student regarding the outcome.
19.5 Final Resolution of a Grievance
If response to the appeal was not managed by the respective Vice President and the student remains dissatisfied with the outcome afforded as outlined in 19.4, the student may remit a final Appeal of Grievance Resolution Form for review and response from the appropriate Vice President. This written complaint must be remitted within five (5) business days of receiving the written notification regarding the appeal outcome. If the student does not exercise the right to remit this appeal to the Vice President (when applicable) within five (5) business days, the matter will be considered resolved.
Decisions provided by the respective Vice President in response to appealed grievances are considered final.
If a student has exhausted all available procedures established by Virginia Western Community College and did not receive satisfactory resolution, they may contact the State Council for Higher Education of Virginia as a last resort in the grievance process: https://www.schev.edu/students/resources/student-complaints.
19.6 GI Bill Beneficiaries
The Virginia State Approving Agency (SAA) is the approving authority of education and training programs for Virginia. This office investigates complaints of GI Bill Beneficiaries. While most complaints should initially follow the school grievance policy, if the situation cannot be resolved at the college, the beneficiary should contact this office via email at email@example.com.
**GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.
19.7 High School Dual Enrollment
Informal resolution as outlined in 19.1 for dual enrollment courses instructed at the high school should be directed to the respective high school. If necessary, review of formalized grievances remitted through the Student Grievance Form following informal resolution efforts with the high school will be managed by Virginia Western’s Dual Enrollment Coordinator. Appeals remitted following resolution afforded by the Dual Enrollment Coordinator will be referred to the Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs. As noted in 19.5, the decision of the Vice President is final.
Informal resolution, grievance review, and the appeal of grievance resolutions in high school dual enrollment courses completed on the college campus will follow the procedure as outlined in 19.2 through 19.5 with faculty, staff, program heads and Vice Presidents.
19.8 Shared Services Distance Learning Courses (SSDL)
In accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding for Virginia Community College System SSDL courses, grievances related to SSDL courses in which another VCCS college is serving as the offering institution will be referred through that college’s established grievance procedures.
Grievances related to SSDL courses in which Virginia Western is serving as the offering institution will be referred through Virginia Western’s grievance procedures.
19.9 Grade Disputes and Final Grade Appeals
Establishing course requirements and assignments, evaluating a student’s work, and assigning a grade are the responsibility and the prerogative of the individual instructor. Grounds for appealing grades on assignments include:
- The assignment of a grade in a manner other than as described on the course outline
- The amendment of a grade by the instructor without appropriate notice
- Assignment of a grade using a method other than that used for other students in the course
- Verified instructor error in reporting the grade
If it is determined a final grade change is warranted in the informal resolution, grievance review or appeals processes, the faculty member or academic dean will remit a Grade Change form to the college’s Records Office.
In exceptional circumstances in which a student has a documented mitigating circumstance, final grade appeals may be reviewed up to one year following the posting of the grade to the student’s official transcript.
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