Sep 19, 2019  
Policies and Procedures Manual 
    
Policies and Procedures Manual

04:30:00 Student Complaints


Revision Responsibility: Vice President for Student Affairs
Responsible Executive Officer: Vice President for Student Affairs

Purpose

To provide procedural information for student complaints.


Policy

Student Complaints

  1. Related to Accreditation or Violations of State Law

Students or prospective students who wish to file a complaint related to accreditation or regarding violations of state law not resolved at the institution may submit a Student Complaint Form to the Tennessee Board of Regents at 1 Bridgestone Park, Nashville, TN 37214, or by going online and filing out the form electronically at (https://www.tbr.edu/contacts/submitting-comment-complaint-or-request). Under Tennessee’s open records law, all or parts of complaints - except confidential reports of fraud, waste or abuse - will generally be available for review upon request from a member of the public.

Complaints regarding accreditation can also be made by contacting the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 30033, telephone: 404-679-4500, web: (http://www.sacscoc.org/).

Complaints of fraud, waste or abuse may be made by email at reportfraud@tbr.edu or by calling the Tennessee Comptroller’s Hotline for Fraud, Waste and Abuse at 800-232-5454. 

  1. Related to Non-Tennessee Resident Students in State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement States, commonly known as SARA

Student complaints relating to consumer protection laws that involve distance learning education offered under the terms and conditions of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA), must first be filed with the institution to seek resolution (see section entitled Related to Student Issues for procedures for filing student complaints with Walters State Community College).

Complainants not satisfied with the outcome of the Institution’s internal process may appeal, within two years of the incident about which the complaint is made, to the Tennessee HigherEducation Commission(https://www.tn.gov/thec/bureaus/student-aid-and-compliance/postsecondary-state-authorization/request-for-complaint-review.html).

For purposes of this process, a complaint shall be defined as a formal assertion in writing that the terms of SARA or the laws, standards or regulations incorporated by the SARA Policies and Standards (http://www.nc-sara.org/content/sara-manual) have been violated by the institution operating under the terms of SARA.

For a list of SARA member States, please visit the NC-SARA website(https://www.nc-sara.org/sara-states-institutions). Students residing in non-SARA states should consult their respective State of residence for further instruction for filing a complaint. 

  1. Related to Student Issues

Walters State has established procedures for receiving and responding to student’s issues and complaints. Grade appeals are resolved through the vice president for Academic Affairs. Academic integrity violations are reviewed jointly by the vice presidents for Academic Affairs and Student Affairs. All other student complaints including: student discipline, disclosure of student records, and disability accommodations are resolved through the vice president for Student Affairs. Sexual harassment complaints and complaints of racial harassment and discrimination are handled by the vice president for Student Affairs and the College’s Equity Officer, following TBR Guideline P-080. If a student has any question about the applicable procedure to follow for a particular complaint, they should consult with the vice president for Student Affairs. In particular, the vice president for Student Affairs should advise a student if some other procedure is applicable to the type of complaint a student has expressed.

Initially, students are encouraged to attempt to resolve complaints informally with the appropriate faculty or staff member, director, department head, dean, or vice president to facilitate an informal resolution. If informal resolution is unsuccessful, or if the student does not pursue information resolution, the student may file a written complaint to the vice president for Student Affairs.
 

  1. The written complaint to the vice president for Student Affairs shall be filed within 30 calendar days of the alleged issue unless there is good cause shown for delay, including but not limited to delay caused by an attempt at informal resolution. The written complaint shall be specific as possible in describing the issue of complaint.

  2. The vice president for Student Affairs shall promptly notify the individual(s) of the complaint filed against him/her/them, with emphasis on stating that the filing of the complaint does not imply any wrongdoing has occurred and that he/she/they (the defendant) must not retaliate in any way against the student who has filed the complaint.

  3. Once the written complaint is received and reviewed, the vice president for Student Affairs will consult with the appropriate vice presidents, dean, directors, department heads, faculty and/or staff.

  4. The vice president for Student Affairs shall separately interview the complaining student, the alleged perpetrator and other persons to the extent necessary to conduct the investigation. If the vice president believes it would be helpful, he or she may meet again with the student and the alleged perpetrator after completing the investigation in an effort to resolve the matter. The complainant and the defendant have the right to have a representative (student government representative or attorney) present during the initial meeting, the interview and any post-investigation meeting.

  5. At the conclusion of the investigation, the vice president for Student Affairs shall issue a written report setting forth his or her findings and recommendations. In ordinary cases, it is expected that the investigation and written report should be completed within 30 days of the date the complaint was filed.

  6. If either the student or the alleged perpetrator is not satisfied with the report of the vice president for Student Affairs, the student or defendant may file a written appeal to the college president within 10 calendar days of receiving the report. The president may choose to establish an Appeals Committee to review the findings of the report by the vice president for Student Affairs. The Appeals Committee may or may not choose to conduct another investigation following the review of the written report. The Appeals Committee shall make their recommendation to the president within 20 calendar days of receiving the appeal.

  7. After the president’s review, if the complaint is still not resolved, the student will be advised that he/she can contact the State Postsecondary Program Review office at the Tennessee Higher Education Commission at 615-741-3605.

  8. In the event the complaint filed by the student relates to a Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) issue, complaints of violation by the institution may be filed with the Office of the Secretary, United States Department of Education. 05/16; 11/16, 05/19