The College of Education defines a legitimate grievance as a substantive circumstance that a student regards as a just cause for complaint. A grievance can be relevant to any incident involving a classroom instructor, faculty advisor, internship supervisor, administrator, or faculty member in the College of Education. A grievance is a claim that an academic action or decision involved alleged unfair or irresponsible behavior including violations of department, College, or University policies. The College of Education and University have established procedures beginning at the department level for settling academic grievances.
Because assigning a grade or evaluating a student's work performance involves the faculty's professional judgment and is an integral part of the faculty's teaching responsibilities, disagreement with an instructor about a grade or evaluation is not a justifiable grievance. Under this policy, a just cause for complaint must include other legitimate grievances, such as arithmetic errors or bias, that the student believes affected the grade or the evaluation.
Procedures Used to Initiate Grievance:
Step 1: Informal Processes
The College encourages students to make every effort to resolve their problems and concerns directly and informally with the faculty members or other involved parties. The student must request, in an email, a meeting with the party (ies) involved within 30 class days (class days do not include official University-approved holidays) of the point of time when the grievant has knowledge or should have had knowledge of the problem being grieved. The meeting should take place within 10 class days from the reception of the student’s email. If appropriate or necessary, the Department Chair shall participate in the informal effort to resolve the grievance. In some cases, the student may wish to discuss the problem initially with the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies; however, contacting the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies does not serve as a substitute for meeting with the party(ies) involved within 30 class days. If appropriate, the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies will initiate an informal discussion among the involved parties to attempt resolution at the informal stage.
Step 2: Formal Procedures at the Department Level
If informal discussions do not result in a resolution of the problem, the student may initiate the formal grievance procedure by submitting a written complaint appropriate to the nature of the complaint. File and submit formal complaint using the College of Education Student Grievance Form within 10 class days after the student decides an informal grievance cannot occur. If the student names the department chair in the grievance, the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies appoints a faculty member in the department to conduct the departmental grievance process. The department chair or Associate Dean will utilize existing departmental grievance procedures and will inform the student of a decision within 15 class days. After filing a copy of the Departmental Student Grievance Report in the department, the Grievance Committee forwards the student’s appeal to the College level.
The student may also initiate the grievance procedure by submitting the College of Education Student Grievance Form to the College instead of the department (see Step 3 for Formal Procedures at the College Level). The Associate Dean for Graduate Studies makes the decision to refer the problem to the department for resolution or to proceed with Step 3 of the grievance process at the higher level.
Step 3: Formal Procedures at the College Level
If, after utilizing the procedures outlined in Step 2 regarding the departmental level grievance, the student’s problem is not resolved, the student has a right to file a grievance at the College level within 15 class days following the decision rendered by the department chairperson. The Associate Dean for Graduate Studies will appoint an ad hoc panel to conduct a hearing. The ad hoc panel will consist of five members, two of whom are students. The ad hoc panel will be selected from a pool of faculty and students in the standing Student Grievance Committee appointed by the Associate Dean which consists of at least eight faculty members and at least twelve students. A faculty member will serve as chair (appointed by the Associate Dean) of the ad hoc panel and will conduct the hearing according to the Guidelines for the Conduct of Student Grievance Hearings. After the hearing, the ad hoc panel will meet in closed session to determine its recommendations. The Associate Dean for Graduate Studies forwards the recommendations of the ad hoc panel to the Dean of the College. The Dean or Designee will inform the student of the College’s decision. The departmental hearing office must receive notice at least three class days before the hearing if either party intends to have legal counsel attend the hearing, t. A representative from the University of Houston legal counsel must be present if either parties legal counsel attending the hearing. The legal counsel for either party may attend the hearing but cannot directly participate in the hearing or enter into discussion with the parties present.
Step 4: Appeal of the College’s Decision
If the student does not find the decision rendered by the College satisfactory, the student should consult the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies for information regarding further grievance procedures at the University level.
College Guidelines for Conducting a Formal Student Grievance Hearing at the College Level
- The Associate Dean for Graduate Studies forwards a copy of the Student Grievance Form filed by the student to the department(s) and parties involved. s.
- Within ten (10) class days of receipt of the student’s grievance form, the department(s) and/or the parties involved submit any prior responses to the student’s complaint, a list of any witnesses they anticipate involving in the hearing, and copies of any documents to use at the hearing. Similarly, within ten (10) class days of filing the grievance form, the student will submit a list of any witnesses and copies of any documents the student anticipates involving in the hearing. Each party will receive a copy of the materials and list of witnesses submitted by the other party.
- The Associate Dean for Graduate Studies appoints an ad hoc panel. The Associate Dean for Graduate Studies selects a five-member panel from the pool on the College Student Grievance Committee. The panel consists of five members three are students. The Associate Dean for Graduate Studies appoints one of the faculty members to serve as chair of the grievance panel. The department(s) and the student receive notification of the membership of the panel within five (5) class days of receipt of the student’s grievance form. Either party has five (5) class days to request that panel member(s) disqualification for bias. The Associate Dean considers such requests and makes a decision within twenty (20) class days of receiving all written information. The chair of the grievance committee notifies all parties involved as to date, time, and location of the hearing.
- The chair of the grievance panel will serve as hearing officer and conduct the hearing utilizing the following format:Legal counsel for either party may attend the hearing, but cannot directly participate in the hearing or enter into discussion with the parties present.Attendance at evidentiary hearings is limited to the hearing officer, panel members, the petitioner, the legal counsel, the respondent, and their respective witnesses. With the exception of witnesses, all other involved parties must be physically present at the evidentiary hearing. Witnesses may attend via phone or videoconference.
- The petitioner and the respondent will each provide a brief opening statement.
- Each party will make a presentation of position and evidence, beginning with the petitioner. Each party may call witnesses at this time. Only members of the hearing panel and the hearing officer can question witnesses. The hearing office addresses questions by the involved parties to the witnesses.
- Each party has the opportunity for rebuttal. Introduction of additional evidence occurs during rebuttal to refute points made by the other party.
- Each party makes a brief summary statement.
- Witnesses may be present only during their own testimony.
- The departmental hearing office must receive notice at least three class days before the hearing if either party intends to have legal counsel attend the hearing. A representative from the University of Houston legal counsel must be present if either parties legal counsel attending the hearing. If either party receives advice by legal counsel, this individual may attend the hearing but cannot directly participate in the hearing or enter into discussion with the parties present.
- After the hearing, panel members meet in closed session to determine its recommendations. The panel forwards their recommendations to the Dean or Dean’s Designee. The written recommendations will include a finding of fact regarding the incident and application of College or University policy. The Dean or Dean’s Designee will inform all parties of a decision within five (5) class days after the hearing.
- Class days, for purposes of this policy, are defined as days the University of Houston is open and classes are meeting (excluding weekends) as posted in the academic calendar, excluding professional colleges and programs.