Grievance Policy and Procedures

Center for Advising and Academic Support (CAAS)
Disability and Access (DAC)
January 2015- Revised May 27, 2015/ 2nd Revision June 9, 2015- APPROVED

Objective

The purpose of these procedures is to ensure that St. Olaf College complies to resolve internally all types of grievances at the point at which they occur and in a timely manner. It is advantageous to students, faculty, staff, and administration to keep communications open and to contact someone immediately if an incident escalates into a grievance.

While it is hoped the student can resolve a grievance within the campus process, they have the right to file any grievance directly to the Office of Civil Rights at any time. The Statute of Limitations for filing a complaint with OCR is 180 days from the time of the incident.

Policy

St. Olaf College prohibits discrimination and harassment on the basis of disability. CAAS and DAC have adopted an internal grievance procedure providing for prompt and equitable resolution of complaints alleging actions prohibited by state and federal laws including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act 1990 and the Minnesota Human Rights Act.  St. Olaf College also prohibits retaliation against any individual who reports discrimination or who participates in an investigation into alleged discrimination.

A student, who believes he or she has been denied equal access to services, in the form of appropriate academic accommodations, modifications, auxiliary aids, effective communication, or has experienced discriminatory harassment, may file a grievance by following the procedures detailed below. The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S. Department of Education also receives complaints. Although the law does not require a student to follow the college’s grievance procedure before filing a complaint with OCR, both OCR and the college encourage the use of the internal grievance procedures before filing a complaint with OCR.

Procedures

Level I- Informal Process

Students are encouraged to discuss a complaint with their Access Specialist. The Access Specialist and student will discuss the complaint with faculty member and/or department chair/associate dean/provost in an attempt to resolve the complaint, within ten (10) workdays.  Most complaints can be positively resolved and/or mediated with the Access Specialist involvement.

Level II

If an agreement cannot be reached in Level I, a student or faculty member may file a written (letter format and/or email) complaint with the Director of the Center for Advising and Academic Support (CAAS).

The complaint must address the following:

  1. Date of complaint.
  2. Nature and scope of the complaint.
  3. Steps taken to resolve complaint.
  4. Discuss the outcome, including the area(s) unresolved.

The Director of the CAAS, along with a designated committee of at least two faculty and one CAAS/DAC staff member, will conduct a thorough investigation that offers all interested persons an opportunity to submit evidence relevant to the complaint.

This committee will review the gathered evidence, meet with all parties in the dispute with their permission, and decide upon a fair plan of action. A written determination as to the validity of the complaint and a description of the resolution, if any, will be issued and delivered by email and mail by the Director of Advising and Academic Support to the complainant and other concerned parties within twenty (20) workdays after the filing of the grievance.

Procedure for Appeals of Decision

If the complaint is not resolved to the satisfaction of the student and/or DAC staff, the student should notify the Provost of the College within thirty (30) workdays of the resolution. The Provost of the College, one faculty, and one DAC staff member, as designated by the Provost, will make a final decision within sixty (60) workdays.  Accommodations in question will continue to be provided until a final contrary decision is made.

Files and records will be kept in the student’s file in Disability and Access (DAC) office for seven (7) years after the student’s expected/actual graduation date.

While it is hoped the student can resolve a grievance within the campus process, the student has the right to file any grievance directly to the Office of Civil Rights at any time. The Statute of Limitations for filing a complaint with OCR is 180 days from the time of the incident.

St. Olaf Non-­Discrimination Policy

St. Olaf College admits students and administers its educational policies, financial aid programs, athletic programs, and other programs without regard to an applicant’s or student’s race, color, disability, creed, national origin, gender, age, religion, marital status, sexual orientation, or status with regard to public assistance.

St. Olaf Reserved Rights

The Book is the Official Student Handbook of St. Olaf College.  The Book contains the college’s official statements on policy related to student life, academic and non­academic, at St. Olaf.  Sections within The Book provide students with general guidance and are not intended to be a comprehensive statement of all college policies, procedures and regulations.