Student Complaint/Greivance and Appeal Policy

Drake State recognizes that in order to efficiently and effectively carry out its mission, its students must feel confident that any valid complaint or grievance a student may make concerning the college will be promptly addressed by the appropriate authorities. Therefore, the following procedures for resolving such complaints and grievances have been adopted by Drake State Community and Technical College.

The Drake State Student Handbook defines the initial steps to solve a complaint, as well as defines sexual harassment, discrimination, and grievance as follows:

  • Complaints - Academic or non-academic areas of dissatisfaction with instructional or support services. Examples of academic complaints include a disputed course grade, faculty performance, or course information. Examples of non-academic complaints include a disputed late registration fee, delivery of support services, or student conduct.
  • Sexual Harassment- Inappropriate introduction of sexual activities or comments into the workplace or learning environment. While sexual harassment may involve relationships among equals, it often involves relationships of unequal power, giving rise to elements of coercion centered on sexual activity for opportunities of benefit such as improved job or academic status.
  • Discrimination- Difference in treatment in any service, program, course or facility on the basis of race, color, creed, gender, religion, sex, national origin, disability, ancestry, age, sexual orientation, pregnancy, marital status, or parental status.
  • Grievance - An unresolved complaint shall be termed a "grievance." A student who submits a complaint to the appropriate College officials and who is not satisfied with the plan of resolution

INITIAL STEPS TO RESOLVE A COMPLAINT

Informal Student Complaint Process

Drake State has a variety of procedures for dealing with student-related issues, including grade appeals, academic dishonesty violations, student discipline, harassment complaints, and Student Grievance procedures. One area not generally covered by other procedures concerns informal student complaints about faculty, staff or student conduct. The College respects the academic freedom of the faculty and will not interfere with the exercise of appropriate discretion concerning the content or style of teaching activities. Indeed, academic freedom is and should be of paramount importance. At the same time, the College recognizes its responsibility to provide students with a procedure for addressing complaints about faculty/staff treatment of students that are not covered by other procedures.

Wherever possible, complaints at Drake State are handled in an informal manner. Administrators, faculty, and staff maintain an “open-door” policy to discuss issues of concern for all students. Faculty and staff serve as a resource for individuals seeking assistance in resolving matters within the College community. Students are encouraged to first attempt to resolve complaints with the faculty or staff person. If unresolved, students should next speak to the departmental chairperson or supervisor of the faculty or staff member in an effort to resolve the matter. If still unresolved, the student should lodge their complaint with the Dean of Instruction (academic complaints) or Dean of Students (non-academic complaints). The chart below details the initial area for assistance referral and subsequent contact areas. If students have any questions about the applicable area for assistance, they should consult with the Title IX Coordinator, who will advise the student if some other procedure is applicable to the type of complaint they are seeking to resolve.

Informal Complaint Referral Chart

Issue

1st Response - Level I

2nd Response - Level - II

Academic Instructor Concerns

Instructor

Division Chair

Grade Appeals

Instructor

Division Chair

Academic Probation/Suspension

Admission Records

Registrar/Director of Financial Aid

Admissions Application Process

Admissions

Director of Admissions/Registrar

Assessment/Testing Center

Testing Center Coordinator

Dean of Students

Academic Advising

Instructor

Division Chair

Canvas Technical Assistance

IT Help

IT Coordinator

Bookstore

Business Office Clerk

Director of Fiscal Affairs

Campus Tours

Enrollment Specialist

Director of Admissions/Registrar

Discipline Outside of the Classroom

Operations/ Staff Member

Dean of Students

Financial Aid Issues

Financial Aid Staff

Director of Financial Aid

Veteran Benefits

Veteran and Military Affairs Clerk

Director of Financial Aid

Tutor Support

Instructor

Division Chair

Students with Disabilities

Student Success Specialist

Dean of Students

Student Orientation

Student Success Specialist

Dean of Students

Transcripts

Admissions Records

Director of Admissions/Registrar

Refund Requests

Business Office Staff

Director of Fiscal Affairs

Workforce Development Concerns

Director of Workforce Development

Dean of Instruction

Adult Education Concerns

Director of Adult Education

Dean of Instruction

Formal Student Complaint Process

If an informal conference regarding a complaint fails to reach the outcome requested by the student, the student may initiate the formal process described below by timely filing a written complaint the respective Dean.  Any student enrolled at Drake State who wishes to make a formal complaint about an academic matter must report that matter in writing to the Dean of Instruction, who is responsible for managing academic complaints.  Any other types of complaints are considered non-academic and are reported to the Dean of Students, who is responsible for managing non-academic complaints. If the complaint involves a specific occurrence, the complaint shall be made within ten (10) working days of the occurrence.

The written complaint is completed on a Complaint Form which includes the date the complaint was reported, the student’s name, student identification number, contact information and current enrollment status. The specific elements of the complaint review that are included in the records are as follows: 

  1. The date of the incident;
  2. Whether or not the complaint is an academic or non-academic matter;
  3. If the complaint involves a specific person and/or department;
  4. A description of the complaint, including specific details and additional documentation;
  5. Whether the complainant has had an opportunity to speak to a Drake State faculty or staff member regarding the complaint;
  6. The person to whom the complainant spoke regarding the complaint;
  7. The outcome of the conversation the complainant had with a Drake State faculty or staff member regarding the complaint;
  8. Signature and Date Complaint Form completed by complainant;
  9. A processing section for either the Dean of Instruction and/or Dean of Students to complete. 

If, after discussion between the student and the respective dean, it is determined that the complaint can be resolved immediately; the college official will take action to resolve the complaint and will submit a report within ten working days of the filing of the complaint to the President and other appropriate college officials, detailing both the complaint and its resolution.

GRIEVANCE PROCEDURES

If any student’s complaint is not or cannot be resolved at the first level of supervision as described in the paragraphs above, such an unresolved complaint shall be termed a “grievance.” A student who submits a complaint to the appropriate College officials under the paragraphs above and who is not satisfied with the plan of resolution shall have the right file a grievance with the College official and shall include the following information:

  1. Date the original complaint was reported;
  2. Name of the person to whom the original complaint was reported;
  3. Detailed facts of the complaint;
  4. Proposed action to be taken by the receiving official to resolving the complaint;
  5. Specific action to be taken by the receiving official to resolve the complaint;
  6. Specific objection(s) to be the proposed plan of resolve;
  7. Other information relevant to the grievance that the complainant wants considered.

If the complainant fails to file notice of appeal by 4:30 pm on the 15th calendar day following having received the plan of resolution, the right to further appeal is forfeited.

INVESTIGATION PROCEDURES

The Grievance Officer, either personally or with the assistance of such other persons as the President may designate, shall conduct a factual investigation of the grievance and shall research the applicable statue, regulations or policy, if any. The factual findings from the investigation by the Grievance Officer shall be stated in a written report. The report will be submitted to the complainant and to the party against whom the complaint was made, the “Respondent, “and shall be made a part of the hearing record, if a hearing is requested by the complainant.

NEXT STEPS

Drake State has outlined this procedure for addressing student complaints/grievances. In the event a complaint/grievance is not resolved at Drake State, the Alabama Community College System (ACCS) has implemented a complaint process.

Drake State Student Complaint Form

ACCS Student Complaint Process