Grievance and Complaint Procedures

Course Grade Complaints (FLDB-Regulation)                                                       

This procedure is only applicable to a student who wishes to dispute a final course grade.  Grades for specific tests, reports, projects, or otherwise given during a semester shall be discussed at that time with the professor and are not subject to this procedure.  If a grade results in a student’s dismissal or suspension from a program or the College, then FLD (REGULATION) shall apply, and the procedures set forth in that policy shall govern.  Student complaints regarding disciplinary issues, including scholastic dishonesty, are covered by separate procedures.  

A student is entitled to a review and explanation of the grading process and the grade received.  A grade is the sole prerogative and responsibility of the faculty member, and any review as the result of a dispute is intended to ensure accuracy, fairness, and adherence to College District policy.  The steps below must be followed in an effort to reconcile the grade dispute:

1. The student will discuss the final grade with the faculty member within ten (10) class days into the following long semester; e.g., summer school disputes may be challenged no later than ten (10) class days into the following fall semester.

2. The decision of the faculty member in all grade disputes is presumed final since the grade is the sole prerogative and responsibility of the faculty member.  However, if the student feels that a grade is incorrect, the student may present the dispute in writing to the appropriate program director/department chair for review.  This step must be completed within five (5) class days following the decision of the faculty member.  If there is no program director/department chair, or in the event the program director/department chair is the professor named, the student will proceed to the appropriate instructional dean.

3. The program director/department chair will review the written student dispute and request a written faculty response to the dispute in question.  Within five (5) class days, the program director/department chair will make a written response to the student and faculty member regarding the dispute.  Attached to this response will be appropriate documentation thus far accumulated.

4. If the student does not agree with the decision of the program director/department chair, the student may proceed to the dean of the appropriate instructional school.  This step must be completed within five (5) class days after the decision of the program director/department chair.  Within five (5) class days after receiving the dispute, the dean will review all documentation and respond in writing to the student, faculty member, and program director/department chair.  Attached to this response will be all appropriate documentation.  The decision of the instructional dean is final in the matter of grade disputes.

Note:  In the event the instructional dean is the professor of record, the dispute will proceed to the Provost, following the procedures above.

To view the most current policy in its entirety, please go to FLDB (Regulation).

Student Complaints (FFDB-Local)             

This procedure is designed to provide a student with an opportunity to file a complaint or grievance regarding a problem or condition he or she believes is unfair, inequitable, or discriminatory on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, disability, age, marital status, veteran status, limited English proficiency, or any other basis protected by law.

The student grievance procedure is not intended to supplant the Student Code of Conduct, nor does it apply to grading practices, unless the grade resulted in dismissal or suspension from a program or the College District, or complaints of sexual harassment.

EXCEPTIONS

This procedure does not apply to the following:

1. Complaints alleging sexual or gender-based discrimination.  [See FFDA]

2. Complaints regarding course grades, unless the grade results in dismissal or suspension from a program or the College District.  [See FLD (Regulation)]

3. Complaints regarding disciplinary issues. 
[See FMA]

INFORMAL PROCEDURES

A grievant is required to attempt to resolve the issue by discussing it with the individual contributing or causing the issue and with his or her supervisor or the next level of authority.  If the grievant is uncomfortable for any reason discussing the issue with the individual contributing to or causing the issue, he or she can go directly to the next level of authority.  The student may check with the administration to determine the next level of authority.  If this does not resolve the issue, the student may seek review under the formal procedures below.

FORMAL PROCEDURE

The College District may request, but shall not insist upon, submission of a written complaint form.  If a report is made orally, the College District official shall reduce the report to written form. Investigations will only be initiated with the complainant’s consent unless the College District determines that the reported conduct is sufficiently severe or pervasive that it must investigate the complaint. 

Upon receipt or notice of a report, the College District official shall determine whether the allegations, if proven, would constitute prohibited conduct as defined by this policy. If so, the College District official shall immediately authorize or undertake an investigation, regardless of whether a criminal or regulatory investigation regarding the same or similar allegations is pending.

If appropriate, the College District shall promptly take interim action calculated to prevent prohibited conduct during the course of an investigation.

The investigation shall be conducted by one of the College District officials designated above or his/her designee.  When appropriate, a third party, such as an attorney, may be designated as the investigator by the College District.  Additionally, when appropriate, the supervisor shall be involved in or informed of the investigation.

The investigation may consist of personal interviews with the person making the report, the person against whom the report is filed, and others with knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the allegations.  The investigation may also include analysis of other information or documents related to the allegations.

The purpose of the investigation is to establish whether there is a reasonable basis for believing that the alleged violation has occurred.  In conducting the investigation, the College District investigator shall interview the complainant, the accused, and other persons believed to have pertinent factual knowledge.  

Possible outcomes of the investigation are:

1. A judgment that the allegations are not warranted.

2. A negotiated settlement of the complaint.

3. Initiation of formal action described in succeeding provisions of this procedure.

The investigator shall prepare a written report and findings of the investigation.

CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION

If a law enforcement or regulatory agency notifies the College District that a criminal or regulatory investigation has been initiated, the College District shall confer with the agency to determine if the College District’s investigation would impede the criminal or regulatory investigation. The College District shall proceed with its investigation only to the extent that it does not impede the ongoing criminal or regulatory investigation. After the law enforcement or regulatory agency has completed gathering its evidence, the College District shall promptly resume its investigation.

CONCLUDING THE INVESTIGATION

Absent extenuating circumstances, such as a request by a law enforcement or regulatory agency for the College District to delay its investigation, the investigation should be completed within ten College District business days from the date of the report; however, the investigator shall take additional time if necessary to complete a thorough investigation.

The investigator shall prepare a written report of the investigation. The report shall be filed with the College District official overseeing the investigation.

NOTIFICATION OF OUTCOME

The College District shall provide written notice of the outcome, within the extent permitted by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) or other law, to the victim and the person against whom the complaint is filed.

COLLEGE DISTRICT ACTION

If the results of an investigation indicate that prohibited conduct occurred, the College District shall promptly respond by taking appropriate disciplinary or corrective action reasonably calculated to address the conduct, in accordance with College District policy and procedures [see FM and FMA].

CORRECTIVE ACTION

Examples of corrective action may include a training program for those involved in the complaint, a comprehensive education program or the College District community, counseling for the victim and the student who engaged in prohibited conduct, follow-up inquiries to determine if any new incidents or any instances of retaliation have occurred, involving students in efforts to identify problems and improve the College District climate, increasing staff monitoring of areas where prohibited conduct has occurred, and reaffirming the College District’s policy against discrimination and harassment.

IMPROPER CONDUCT

If the investigation reveals improper conduct that did not rise to the level of prohibited conduct, the College District may take disciplinary action in accordance with College District policy and procedures or other corrective action reasonably calculated to address the conduct.

CONFIDENTIALITY

To the greatest extent possible, the College District shall respect the privacy of the complainant, persons against whom a report is filed, and witnesses. Limited disclosures may be necessary in order to conduct a thorough investigation and comply with applicable law.

APPEAL

A student or the person accused who is dissatisfied with the outcome of the investigation may appeal with the assistant vice president, athletics and student life. A student shall be informed of his or her right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights.

Faculty-Initiated Academic Integrity Action

It is the responsibility and prerogative of the faculty member to make an initial determination regarding the extent and severity of an academic integrity violation.  If the instructor believes that the student violated the Student Code of Conduct:

1. The faculty member will discuss the violation with the student.

2. The faculty member may report the incident to the Dean of Students who will maintain a record of the event.  If so, a copy of the record will also be sent to the department chair.

The Dean of Students, in consultation with other administrators and taking into consideration any previous violations reported, may determine that additional sanction(s) against the student are warranted.  In this event, the Office of Student Code of Conduct will be notified and the Disciplinary Procedures outlined in the Student Handbook will be followed.  

State and Federal Student Complaint Procedures

It is Tyler Junior College’s goal to resolve student complaints and concerns in a friendly, fair, and efficient manner.  The first step for students who desire to resolve a complaint is to follow the College’s internal student grievance procedures contained in the College’s Student Handbook (http://www.tjc.edu/StudentHandbook).

If the grievance is not resolved satisfactorily internally, the student may file a complaint with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.  Student complaint forms are available on the THECB website:   http://www.thecb.state.tx.us/.  Send forms electronically to StudentComplaints@thecb.state.tx.us or by mail to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Office of General Counsel, P.O. Box 12788, Austin, Texas 78711-2788.  All submitted complaints must include a student complaint form, a signed Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) Consent and Release form, and a THECB Consent and Agreement Form.  Submitted complaints regarding students with disabilities should also include a signed Authorization to Disclose Medical Record Information form.

Tyler Junior College is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award associate degrees.  Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Tyler Junior College.   To file a grievance against the Commission or any of its accredited institutions follow the complaint procedures policy at http://www.sacscoc.org/pdf/081705/complaintpolicy.pdf.

Tyler Junior College online students, residing outside of Texas, who desire to resolve a complaint should follow the College’s internal student grievance procedures as explained above.  However, if an issue cannot be resolved internally, and the student does not reside in California, the student may file a complaint with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) as discussed previously. If the online student resides in California, the complaint should be filed with the student’s home state. The Student Grievance Contact Information for Individual States provides phone numbers, e-mails and/or links to state education agencies. 

Title IX Grievance Procedure/Sexual Harassment

Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 (Title IX), 20 U.S. C §§ 1681 et seq., and it implementing regulations, 34 C.F. R. Part 106 prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex in educational programs or activities operated by recipients of Federal financial assistance.  Sexual harassment of students [or employees], which includes acts of sexual violence, is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX. By an amendment to the Civil Rights Act of November 1980 and subsequent state legislation, sexual harassment is expressly outlawed and is considered a violation of College policy.

Conduct involving unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature shall be considered to constitute sexual harassment when:

1. Submission to such conduct is made, either explicitly or implicitly, a term or condition of academic success.

2. Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for academic decisions affecting the student.

3. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with a student’s performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.

Prohibited is any behavior that represents repeated or unwanted sexual attention or sexual advances, when acceptance of such attention or advance is made a condition of reward or penalty.

To file a complaint regarding Sexual Harassment with Tyler Junior College, contact the Executive Director, Human Resources at 903-510-2307 or by contacting the Human Resources Office located on the second floor of the White Administrative Services Building.  Complaints may also be filed with the Title IX Coordinator at 903-510-2186, or the Title IX Investigator at 903-510-3067.

Inquiries concerning the application of Title IX may be referred to the Title IX Coordinator pursuant to 34 C.F.R.§ Part 106.

To review all College policies dealing with Title IX or Sexual Harassment please view the Board Policy Manual.

Accommodating Pregnant Students

Under the Department of Education’s (DOE) regulations implementing Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, a college or university “shall not discriminate against any student, or exclude any student from its education program or activity, including any class or extracurricular activity, on the basis of such student’s pregnancy, childbirth, false pregnancy, and termination of pregnancy or recovery therefrom.” This directive has been highlighted recently in a Dear Colleague Letter from the DOE’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR), and a 30 page “pamphlet” from DOE entitled “Supporting the Academic Success of Pregnant and Parenting Students.”

A college must excuse a student’s absences because of pregnancy or childbirth for as long as the student’s doctor deems the absence medically necessary. According to these materials, not discriminating against a pregnant student means granting her leave “for so long a period of time as is deemed medically necessary by the student’s physician,” and then effectively reinstating the student “to the status which she held when the leave began.” For instance, if a faculty member adjusts grades based on class attendance, the pregnant student cannot be penalized for her excused absences and must be given the opportunity to earn back the credit from classes missed due to pregnancy.

This generally means that pregnant students should be treated as if they had a temporary disability, given excused absences, and then given an opportunity to make up missed work wherever possible. Extended deadlines, makeup assignments, and incomplete grades that can be completed at a later date, should all be employed. To the extent possible, pregnant students should be placed in the same position of academic progress that they were in when they took leave. The plausibility of doing so is not governed by an individual faculty member’s class rules or policies, but by the nature of the work. Whenever the class work is of a type that it can be completed at a later date—such as papers, quizzes, tests, and even presentations—that option must be made available to the student.

In situations where the temporal particularities of the task do not allow for a “break,” such as clinical rotations, large performances, and some lab or group work, the institution should work with the student to devise an alternative path to completion. 

Faculty cannot have their own policies regarding attendance and make-up work as to pregnant students, as Title IX requires compliance institution-wide. Students have the following options in completing their coursework after returning from leave deemed necessary by her physician. 

1. Retake the class at the next available offering at the student’s expense. (Students should be aware that class offerings vary by program and may not be available at regular intervals.)

2. Take the course online.

3. Receive an incomplete and extend the course until 30 days into the next long semester. The 30-day time frame may need to be shortened or lengthened depending upon the length of the time missed due to medical necessity, and what is reasonable under the circumstances.(Professors should work with students to establish timelines, be available to meet and answer questions, and make arrangements for any hands-on or face to face course requirements.)

The Title IX Coordinator should be contacted and consulted when an accommodation request from a pregnant and/or parenting student is received. The Title IX Coordinator should oversee the process of receiving and reviewing necessary medical documentation and determining if and what accommodations are necessary.