Grievance Policy for Students
Students enrolled in or taking courses in the School of Education (SOE) are expected to demonstrate the highest standards of personal integrity and to conduct themselves as professionals. Similarly, students should expect faculty and staff members to be persons of integrity who apply the principles of honesty, fairness, respect, and trust that characterize the professional/academic community. Thus, when student grievances concerning faculty and staff members arise, they are taken very seriously and are treated with sensitivity and urgency. The SOE resolution officer is responsible for managing this policy.
Scope of the Policy
These procedures are to provide a framework and mechanism for an objective review of student grievances about the equity and fairness of SOE faculty, staff, or committee decisions or procedures that affect their academic standing and progress toward the degree. Such issues may arise regarding fair and equal treatment in the conduct of a class or in the grading2 or evaluation of academic work or research. Other issues may concern the equity and fairness of program, department, or SOE policies. Other university policies and procedures apply to allegations of faculty and staff misconduct; such matters will be governed by appropriate policies administered under other university units:
- Complaints that a member of the faculty or staff has engaged in research misconduct will be handled by the Office of the Vice President for Research.
- Complaints that a member of the faculty or staff has violated the university’s nondiscrimination and harassment policies will be investigated by the university’s Office of Institutional Equity. Faculty and staff who are also students, or a student who also has a staff appointment, may be subject to procedures described in the “Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities.”
- Claims that a member of the faculty or staff has violated employment contracts will be investigated by Academic Human Resources.
A student who alleges misconduct by a faculty or staff member must pursue the grievance in the most appropriate forum; a student may not pursue the same allegation in different venues. Students who agree to have a grievance reviewed under this policy agree not to pursue the same matter in any other forum within the university. Students should consult the SOE resolution officer to decide which avenue is best for their circumstances, and about counseling and university resources that may be appropriate.
Student Grievance Resolution Procedures
In many cases, academic disputes can be quickly and effectively resolved when addressed informally at the local level. Misunderstandings, miscommunications, and disagreements often can be resolved through such conversations.
- In many cases, the best way for a student to resolve a grievance is to approach the parties directly involved in the situation and attempt to reach a resolution informally.
- If speaking with the parties directly involved does not resolve the conflict, the student may wish to meet with the chair of the relevant academic department. The student may also consult informally with the SOE resolution officer who can offer impartial advice and suggest steps to resolve the issue.
- If informal discussion does not resolve the disagreement, the student may seek a formal Student Grievance Resolution Meeting by submitting a Student Grievance Resolution Meeting Request Form to the SOE resolution officer. The SOE resolution officer will review the materials for completeness and submit them to an associate dean. If the associate dean concludes that the student's claims are without merit, no further action will be taken.
- If the associate dean finds that the grounds for a review of the student's grievance have been established, s/he will notify relevant parties and assemble the Student Grievance Committee. At this point an official grievance has been filed. For further details on the committee, see the Student Grievance Committee section below.
- A Student Grievance Resolution Meeting will be held within 30 university business days3. For further details on the resolution meeting, see the Student Grievance Resolution Meeting section below.
- A student may appeal the outcome of a Student Grievance Resolution Meeting under certain circumstances. For further details, see the Appeal Options sections below.
Student Grievance Committee
The SOE resolution officer, in accordance with the processes described in this policy, oversees the resolution of student grievances. The SOE resolution officer is responsible for convening the Student Grievance Committee, which is a standing committee composed of faculty or staff members as well as students. When necessary, the Student Grievance Committee may seek advice from faculty members and other university offices with expertise on mediation and conflict resolution. An associate dean will serve as a non-voting chair of the committee.
All committee members must be willing to be impartial and respect the confidentiality of discussions involved with the grievance. Members must disqualify themselves from the committee if they have a conflict of interest that may affect the outcome of a grievance review.
Student Grievance Resolution Meeting
Through the Student Grievance Resolution Meeting, the Student Grievance Committee seeks to help the parties involved reach a mutual understanding of the causes of the dispute and produce a solution guided by academic policies. The purpose of the Student Grievance Resolution Meeting is to allow parties to a dispute to present their viewpoints, to share information, to clarify concerns and issues, and to resolve misunderstandings or interpersonal difficulties that may contribute to an issue. The committee will work with the parties involved to evaluate options for resolving the problem and develop a resolution plan to which the parties consent. The committee will summarize the key points of the agreed resolution in a memo of understanding. The parties to the dispute will sign the memo of understanding, signaling their consent to the terms of the resolution. Copies of the memo will be shared with the SOE resolution officer.
If the parties are unable to reach a resolution through the conference process, they will be asked to submit a summary statement no more than two pages in length. Upon review of these statements, the Student Grievance Committee will determine a resolution outcome based on the preponderance of the information presented, and will communicate this to all parties and the SOE resolution officer.
Appeal Options for Undergraduate Students
An undergraduate student may ask the School of Education dean to reconsider the dispute if he or she believes that the resolution process did not meet standards of fundamental fairness or if substantial relevant new evidence or information has become available after the resolution meeting. Only the Student Grievance Committee's procedures and the merits of their decisions will be reviewed by the dean. The appeal review will be conducted within 30 university business days. This ends the reconsideration process.
Appeal Options for Graduate Students
A graduate student may ask the Rackham Graduate School resolution officer to reconsider the dispute if he or she believes that the resolution process within the School of Education did not meet standards of fundamental fairness or if substantial relevant new evidence or information has become available after the resolution conference.
- The graduate student must make this request in writing within ten business days after receipt of written notification of the outcome of the Student Grievance Resolution Meeting.
- The Rackham resolution officer will ask the SOE resolution officer to provide a written report of the resolution process, and may talk individually with the parties involved in the grievance.
- If the Rackham resolution officer and the Rackham Resolution Board find that the grounds for reconsideration have been established, they may recommend to the Rackham dean that SOE be asked to consider the dispute again or, if circumstances make it difficult to ensure an impartial inquiry, ask that the Rackham Resolution Board convene a new dispute resolution conference.
- If the Rackham resolution officer and the Rackham Resolution Board determine that the grounds for reconsideration have not been established, they will recommend to the Rackham dean that the SOE outcome be upheld. The Rackham dean will notify the graduate student of the outcome. This ends the reconsideration process.
- Portions of this document were appropriated from dispute resolution and student grievance policies from other University of Michigan schools and colleges, including the Rackham Graduate School, the School of Natural Resources and Environment, and the College of Engineering.
- The judgment of the quality of student performance is the responsibility of faculty members. The assignment of a grade is not a grievable matter unless it can be established that it was done in a way that was arbitrary, capricious, or discriminatory; or involved intimidation, harassment, or unprofessional treatment of students; or was in conflict with written or publicly stated grading procedures.
- It should be recognized that the time limits and deadlines suggested in this policy are intended to promote the expeditious handling of each grievance review. Intentional delays should not be tolerated, but the time limits and deadlines should be imposed with reasonable flexibility depending on the circumstances of each situation. Deadlines may be extended when it is in the best interest of all parties to do so.
- The current SOE resolution officer is Shamille Orr, the Associate Director of Student Affairs and Career Services for the School of Education. She may be reached at email@example.com.
- The current Rackham resolution officer is Darlene Ray-Johnson. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.