AP 5530 Student Grievance and Due Process Procedures
Please reference the MSJC web site under “Student Conduct” for any updates and revisions to this policy.
Title IX, Education Amendments of 1972; Education Code Section 76224(a); ACCJC Accreditation Eligibility Requirement 20; ACCJC Accreditation Standard IV.d
Statement of Philosophy
Mt San Jacinto Community College District believes that all students shall be afforded fair and equitable treatment in the application of all district procedures and regulations. Students who claim that there has been a violation or misapplication of the procedures or regulations set forth in the college catalog, board policies, or operating procedures of the college district, or who claim misapplication or denial of student due process may make a complaint and, if necessary, file a grievance.
The Mt. San Jacinto College Student Rights and Grievances procedures are provided as a means for students to resolve complaints and grievances in an expeditious and fair manner, as well as to educate students in constructive approaches to problem and conflict resolution. It is the policy of the Board of Trustees that there shall be no harassment of or retaliation towards students who file a complaint or grievance, toward the subject of the grievance, or toward those who participate in the process. All proceedings held in accordance with these procedures shall relate to a specific complaint or grievance, with an identified remedy or solution.
Grievances pertaining to grades are subject to the California Education Code Section 76224(a) which states:
“When grades are given for any course of instruction taught in a community college district, the grade given to each student shall be the grade determined by the faculty member of the course and the determination of the student’s grade by the instructor, in the absence of mistake, fraud, bad faith, or incompetency, shall be final.”
This Student Grievance and Due Process Procedure does not apply to the challenge process for pre-requisites, co-requisites, advisories, and limitations on enrollment; an appeal of residence decision determination; or the determination of eligibility, disqualification or reinstatement of Financial Aid. These processes should be directed to the administrator in charge of the specific area of concern. Alleged violations of sexual harassment policies, actions dealing with student discipline, alleged discrimination on the basis of ethnic group identification, religion, age, gender, color, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability should be directed to the Director of Student Judicial Affairs. This procedure does not apply to parking citations (i.e., “tickets”). Complaints regarding citations must be directed to the Campus Safety Office.
Nothing in the policy or procedures shall abridge the rights of faculty, staff, administrators, and students to the provisions of due process, just cause, and relevant provisions of the Education Code or the agreement between the Mt. San Jacinto Community College District and the Mt. San Jacinto College Faculty Association (CTA) or the Mt. San Jacinto Classified Association (CSEA). If it is reasonable to conclude that, if substantiated, discipline of an employee may follow from a violation, such grievance is not subject to this process. Allegations of this nature will be directed to the appropriate College administrator.
Deadlines may be extended by mutual consent of the parties involved and shall be documented with the Vice President of Student Services. Missed deadlines may affect a grievant’s ability to proceed.
The District directs that there shall be no harassment or retaliation towards the grievant, the subject of the grievance, or others participating in the complaint and grievance process (or as a result of filing a complaint or grievance). This process shall take place within a collegial atmosphere and be aimed at conflict resolution.
The District requires that all reports of discrimination, including harassment on the basis of disability, be addressed by the District’s complaint procedure pursuant to California Code of Regulations, Title 5, section 59300 et seq. The District’s procedures for complaints of discrimination may be found on the district website under the student portal. Full discrimination policy and forms are located at the following: Title IX.
The District is responsible and has an affirmative duty to respond to complaints of discrimination in a timely manner. The District has identified Human Resources as its Responsible District Officer. All complaints of discrimination pursuant to section 59300 et seq, will be processed by Human Resources. The address for Human Resources office is as follows:
Vice President Human Resources Officer
Mt. San Jacinto Community College District
41888 Motor Car Parkway
Temecula, CA 92591
(951) 346 - 2058
Information about grievance procedures and a copy of this document should be available to grievant(s) and/or the student respondent(s) upon request.
Students may grieve unfair acts by an employee against a student where the act has a negative impact on the student.
Students may not grieve the following:
(A) Grades except with evidence of:
1. Mistake – unintentional error on the part of the instructor;
2. Fraud – intentional misrepresentation of any or all facts, which lead to a negative outcome;
3. Bad Faith – includes fraud and any other intentional act of the instructor, which negatively impacts the grade of the student;
4. Incompetence – there is evidence that the instructor does not have the knowledge skills and/or abilities to conduct and fairly grade the course. Incompetence is usually pervasive, and not restricted to one student or one incident.
(B) Acts by another student (see Standards of Conduct).
(C) Acts which, though deemed unfair, do not have a specific negative impact on the student. Included among non-grievable issues are situations which are deemed to be petty or to have no significant negative impact upon the student in question.
(D) Acts which affect another student. Only the student affected by an act may file a grievance. A student may not file on behalf of another student.
It is the responsibility of any faculty member (instructor, counselor, or librarian), classified staff member, or administrator who receives a complaint or potential grievance from a student concerning any faculty or staff member to refer the student immediately to the subject of the grievance, except in cases of sexual harassment or discrimination, in which case the student shall be referred to the Office of Human Resources. Any person claiming discrimination based on a disability, including allegations of failure to accommodate, shall be referred to the Disabled Students Programs and Services office.
The appeal procedure for eligibility, disqualification, and reinstatement of Financial Aid may be obtained in the Financial Aid Office. Information about other procedures is listed in the schedule of classes, the College catalog, or may be obtained from the Chief Student Services Officer.
SECTION I: DEFINITION OF TERMS
- Academic Senate: The elected representative body of the College faculty.
- Administrator: The College Superintendent/President or another person designated by him or her who holds a status identified by the Governing Board as an administrative position.
- Chief Student Services Officer: The Vice President of Student Services.
- Complainant: A student who alleges that he or she has been personally wronged as a result of an alleged violation or misapplication of the procedures or regulations set forth in the college catalog, board policies, or operating procedures of the college district or instructional procedures, or specific provisions of applicable federal or state law or applicable college district policy, and chooses to pursue resolution via an informal process. (See specialized programs exception.)
- Day: Unless otherwise specified in this policy, the term “day” shall refer to “working day,” which shall be defined as any day Monday through Friday on which the college offices are open.
- Decision: Any final outcome of the Grievance Committee. This includes tie votes or no decision.
- Director of Student Judicial Affairs: The Director of Student Judicial Affairs is responsible for student conduct and investigating and assisting students with the grievance process at the College.
- District: The Mt. San Jacinto Community College District.
- Faculty Member: Any academic employee of the District who is the instructor of record for a class in which a student is enrolled, or a counselor who is providing or has provided services to the student, or other academic employees who provide services related to the student’s educational program.
- Formal Grievance Hearing Committee: This committee of five members (two students, two faculty or staff and an administrator) hears grievances filed by students after they have gone through the informal process.
- Grievance: A formal written charge filed by a student which alleges a violation of one or more specific provisions of applicable federal or state law or applicable college district policy. A grade assigned by an instructor is not a grievable matter, except as outlined in Education Code section 76224(a) which states that “when grades are given for any course of instruction taught in a community college district, the grade given to each student shall be the grade determined by the instructor of the course and the determination of the student’s grade by the instructor in the absence of mistake, fraud, bad faith, or incompetence, shall be final.”
- Grievance Council: This committee is composed of the Vice President of Student Services , the Vice President of Instruction, the Vice President of Human Resources , Vice President of Institutional Effectiveness, and the Vice President of Business Services of the College or their designees.
- Grievant: A student, or person who has filed an application for admission to the college, or former student who alleges that he or she has been personally wronged as a result of an alleged violation of applicable federal or state law, applicable district or college policy, or instructional procedures and the allegation utilizing the formal grievance procedure. Former students shall be limited to grievances relating to course grades to the extent permitted by Education Code Section 76224(a), and must file their grievance within one (1) year of the date the grade was awarded.
- Party: The student or any persons claimed to have been responsible for the student’s alleged grievance, together with their representatives. Party shall not include the Formal Grievance Hearing Committee, members of the Grievance Council, or the Director of Student Judicial Affairs.
- Right to Representation: The student may represent him or herself or may be represented by another person, except that he or she shall not be represented by an attorney unless the charges include allegations that would constitute a criminal offense under California law. In such case, the student must provide the name and address of the attorney to the Director of Student Judicial Affairs no later than five (5) days prior to the date of the hearing.
- Respondent: Any party who is claimed by a grievant to be responsible for the alleged grievance.
- Statute of Limitations – The filing of grievances shall be permitted only through the end of the sixth week of the semester following the semester in which the alleged incident occurred or two weeks following the posting of the grades from the previous semester, whichever is greater. Grievances occurring during the summer shall be handled on a calendar-day basis, and filing of such grievances shall only be permitted through the end of the first week after the end of the summer term.
- Student Advocate: An individual selected from a pool established by the College Superintendent/President or, with mutual agreement by the Director of Student Judicial Affairs, an individual selected by the student (grievant or complainant) to assist them through the process. This person cannot speak during hearings, but can give guidance and help explain the process as the student works through it.
- Student Government Association: The elected student representative body at the College.
- Subject of Complaint or Grievance – Any individual who is the alleged offending party. Please note: Student on student complaints or grievances will be pursued utilizing the Standards of Conduct process.
- Supervisor – An individual having the first line of jurisdiction over a staff member. It could be a supervisor, program coordinator or director, dean, or college administrator.
- Title IX Coordinator – An individual identified by the college to address matters within the federal regulations outlined under Title IX and provides support to students as an unbiased representative relative to gender-equity issues on campus. The Title IX Officer for issues involving any college employee is the Vice President of Human Resources.
SECTION II: PROCEDURES
All parties involved should be encouraged to seek an informal remedy. Informal meetings and discussion between persons directly involved in a grievance are essential at the outset of the dispute and should be encouraged at all stages. An equitable solution should be sought before persons directly involved in the case have assumed official or public positions that might tend to polarize the dispute and render a solution more difficult.
In an effort to resolve the matter in an informal manner, the student may, if appropriate, schedule a meeting with the person with whom the student has the grievance, schedule a meeting with the person’s immediate supervisor, and/or schedule a meeting with the appropriate College administrator.
If the matter is not resolved in an informal manner, the student may, if appropriate, schedule a meeting with the Director of Student Judicial Affairs to explore student rights and responsibilities and receive assistance with an informal resolution.
The Director of Student Judicial Affairs may gather information, communicate with all parties, and attempt to mediate an informal resolution.
Formal Written Statement of Grievance
If the student believes the issue has not been resolved satisfactorily, the student may submit a written Statement of Grievance to the Director of Student Judicial Affairs, specifying the time, place, nature of the complaint, the specific policy or regulation alleged to have been violated, if any, and remedy or correction requested. This statement must be submitted to the Director of Student Judicial Affairs within thirty (30) days of the incident or thirty (30) days after the student learns of the basis for the grievance, whichever is later, but not to exceed one (1) year of the occurrence. (A form is included as Appendix B to guide the format of the complaint).
At the end of ten (10) days following the receipt of the written Statement of Grievance by the Director of Student Judicial Affairs, if there is no informal resolution of the complaint, the student(s) shall have the right to request a Formal Grievance Hearing.
Formal Grievance Hearing
The student grievant(s) shall file a Formal Grievance Hearing Request Form (Appendix C) with the Director of Student Judicial Affairs no sooner than ten (10) days, but not more than fifteen (15) days from filing the written Statement of Grievance.
The grievant(s) and/or the respondent(s) may request from the Director of Student Judicial Affairs the assistance of a Student Advocate. The grievant(s) or the respondent(s) shall select an advocate from the pool established by the College Superintendent/President.
Within ten (10) days following receipt of the Formal Grievance Hearing Form, the Director of Student Judicial Affairs shall meet with the grievant and all parties to outline their rights and responsibilities.
Formal Grievance Hearing Committee Composition
The College Superintendent /President shall establish annually a standing pool from which one or more Formal Grievance Hearing Committees may be appointed. The pool shall consist of a minimum of:
- Ten (10) students recommended by the Student Government Association;
- Ten (10) faculty members recommended by the Academic Senate;
- Ten (10) administrators, supervisors or staff selected by the College Superintendent/ President.
The College Superintendent/President shall appoint a Formal Grievance Hearing Committee from the standing pool. The College Superintendent/President shall ensure that these Committee members have no possible conflict of interest in hearing the grievance. The Committee shall include two (2) students, two (2) faculty members, and one (1) College administrator, supervisor or staff member selected from the pool described above.
The Formal Grievance Hearing Committee shall select a chairperson from among its members.
Once a Formal Grievance Hearing has commenced, only those Committee members present throughout the Hearing may vote on the recommendation.
No person shall serve as a member of the Formal Grievance Hearing Committee if that person has been personally involved in any matter giving rise to the grievance, has made any public statement on the matters at issue, or could otherwise not act in a neutral manner. The grievant(s) or the respondent(s) may challenge for cause any member of the Formal Grievance Hearing Committee prior to the beginning of the Hearing by addressing a challenge, in writing, to the Associate Dean of Student Services, who shall determine whether cause for disqualification has been shown. If the Associate Dean of Student Services believes that sufficient grounds for removal of a member of the Formal Grievance Hearing Committee has been presented, the Associate Dean of Student Services shall remove the challenged member or members and replace them with another member or members from the standing pool.
Within ten (10) days following receipt of the Formal Grievance Hearing Request Form, (Appendix C) the Formal Grievance Hearing Committee shall meet to select a chairperson and to determine if the Formal Grievance Hearing Request fulfills all of the following requirements:
- The request contains facts/documentation which, if true, would constitute a grievance;
- The grievant is a student as defined in these procedures, which includes applicants and former students;
- The grievant is personally and directly affected by the alleged grievance;
- The grievant conformed with the grievance procedures and the grievance was filed in a timely manner;
- The grievance is not clearly frivolous or without foundation, or not clearly filed for purposes of harassment.
- The resolution sought is within the purview of the Grievance Hearing Panel
If the Formal Grievance Hearing Committee rejects the request for a Formal Grievance Hearing, the grievant and the Director of Student Judicial Affairs shall be notified in writing, within five (5) days, by the Committee’s Chairperson. The specific reason(s) for rejection and the appeal process outlined in this document shall be included in this notification.
If the grievant(s) is dissatisfied with the decision of the Formal Grievance Hearing Committee not to grant a Formal Grievance Hearing, a written appeal may be filed with the Grievance Council within five (5) days after receipt of the Formal Grievance Hearing Committee’s decision. The Grievance Council’s decision on the appeal is final.
If the request for a Formal Grievance Hearing satisfies all of the requirements listed above, the Committee Chairperson shall notify the grievant and the Director of Student Judicial Affairs, in writing, within five (5) days.
The Director of Student Judicial Affairs shall schedule a Formal Grievance Hearing which shall commence within ten (10) days following the decision to grant a Formal Grievance Hearing. All parties to the grievance shall be given no less than five (5) days notice of the date, time, and place of the Hearing.
The student may represent him or herself or may be assisted by another person except that an attorney shall not represent him or her.
Conduct of the Hearing
Opening: The Committee Chairperson shall call the Hearing to order, introduce the participants, and announce the purpose of the Hearing.
Burden of Proof and Producing Evidence: Each party to the grievance may call witnesses and introduce oral and written testimony relevant to the issues of the grievance. The grievant(s) and the respondent(s) have the right to question all witnesses and to review all documents presented to the Formal Grievance Hearing Committee. The grievant(s) and respondent(s) will be afforded no more than one hour each to call witnesses and introduce oral and written testimony relevant to the issues of the grievance.
Formal rules of evidence shall not apply. Any relevant evidence shall be admitted.
The burden shall be upon the grievant to prove by a preponderance of evidence that the facts alleged are true.
Student Advocacy: The grievant(s) or the respondent(s) shall have the right to be assisted by a Student Advocate or by an individual of their choice. The grievant(s) and the respondent(s) may assist him or herself, or may be assisted by a person of the party’s choice, except that neither the grievant(s) nor the respondent(s) shall be entitled to representation by legal counsel.
Exclusion of Witnesses: The Hearing shall be closed and confidential, unless it is the request of both parties that the Hearing be open to the public. Any such request must be made in writing to the Director of Student Judicial Affairs no less than five (5) days prior to the date of the Hearing.
In a closed Hearing, witnesses shall not be present at the Hearing when not testifying unless both parties and the Formal Grievance Hearing Committee agree to the contrary.
Recording: The Hearing shall be recorded in accordance with the following procedures:
- All oral testimony shall be recorded. If a person called upon to give oral testimony refuses to consent to being recorded, they may not testify at the Hearing.
- At the beginning of every Hearing, all parties present for the Hearing shall orally identify themselves by name for the tape-recording.
- The Committee Chairperson shall instruct all parties present for the Hearing to identify themselves when speaking and instruct all present that only one person is to speak at a time so the recording will be understandable.
- Only one recorder shall be allowed at the Hearing. No other recording device shall be allowed.
When the presentation of evidence is concluded, the Formal Grievance Hearing Committee’s deliberations shall be confidential and closed to all parties. The Formal Grievance Hearing Committee’s deliberations shall not be recorded. Only those Committee members present throughout the entire Hearing may vote on the decision.
The grievance file, including recordings, and all documents, shall be retained in a secure location on campus for a period of four (4) years. The grievant(s) and the respondent(s) may have access, upon request, to the files and recordings through the Director of Student Judicial Affairs. The individual making the request pursuant to Board Policy or Administrative Procedure shall pay the costs of any copies requested.
The Formal Grievance Hearing Committee shall meet and consider the relevance and weight of the testimony and evidence presented. This Committee shall reach a decision only upon the record of the Hearing and shall not consider matters outside of that record. Within five (5) days following the conclusion of the Hearing, this Committee shall issue a written recommendation that includes a statement of reasons for its conclusions.
The Committee’s recommendation shall be forwarded to the Grievance Council through the Chief Student Services Officer with copies to the grievant(s) and the respondent(s).
The Grievance Council shall be composed of the following representatives:
- Vice President of Instruction
- Vice President of Human Resources
- Vice President of Business Services
Upon receipt of the Formal Grievance Hearing Committee’s recommendation, the Chief Student Services Officer shall call a meeting of the Grievance Council.
The Grievance Council shall consider the Committee’s recommendation, and any materials pertinent to the grievance, but shall not consider matters outside of the record. The Grievance Council shall render a written decision to the grievant(s) and the respondent(s) within five (5) days of receipt of the Formal Grievance Hearing Committee’s recommendation.
If either party is dissatisfied with a Grievance Council’s decision, a written appeal may be filed with the College Superintendent/President within five (5) days of receipt of the Grievance Council’s decision.
Within ten (10) days, the Grievance Council, or the College Superintendent/President shall send copies of the appeal to each party.
Appeals shall be based on the record and recommendation of the Grievance Hearing Committee and Grievance Council. The College Superintendent/President, after reviewing the record of the Formal Grievance Hearing Committee, shall make a final decision on the appeal and notify the parties in writing within five (5) days.
The College Superintendent/President’s decision shall be in writing and shall include a statement of reasons for the decision. The College Superintendent/President’s decision shall be final.
Role and Duties of the Director of Student Judicial Affairs
The role of the Director of Student Judicial Affairs is that of a facilitator of the grievance process, and not that of an advocate for either the grievant(s) or the student respondent(s).
The Director of Student Judicial Affairs shall provide information to the grievant(s) and the respondent(s) regarding the grievance procedures at any stage in the grievance process. During the informal resolution stage of the grievance process, the Director of Student Judicial Affairs shall facilitate informal meetings and discussions that may lead to a resolution of the grievance.
The Director of Student Judicial Affairs shall sit with the Formal Grievance Hearing Committee, but shall not serve as a member or vote. During the Formal Grievance Hearing stage of the grievance process, the Director of Student Judicial Affairs shall coordinate the preparation and shall conduct the Hearing, including providing in-service training to Committee members on Hearing procedures and operations.
The Director of Student Judicial Affairs shall ensure that the entire grievance process is conducted in an orderly, fair, and respectful manner. The Director of Student Judicial Affairs shall have the authority to exclude from the Hearing any individuals who fail to conduct themselves in an orderly, fair, and respectful manner.
The Director of Student Judicial Affairs shall be responsible for recording the Hearing and arranging for safe storage of the grievance file, including recordings and documents, for a period of no less than four (4) years.
Student Advocate Pool Members - Composition and Role
The College Superintendent/President shall annually establish a standing pool from which the student(s) who files the grievance or the respondent(s) select Student Advocates. The pool shall consist of a minimum of:
- Two (2) students recommended by the Student Government Association;
- Two (2) faculty members recommended by the Academic Senate;
- Two (2) administrators, supervisors or staff selected by the College Superintendent/President.
The Director of Student Judicial Affairs will train the Student Advocate(s) regarding the grievance process, regulations, and procedures. This training shall take place prior to the Student Advocate’s assumption of the duties of this position.
The Student Advocate(s) shall assist the grievant(s) or the respondent(s) in understanding the grievance procedures, filing the appropriate forms, meeting all the timelines of these procedures, and communicating with College officials.
Any times specified in these procedures may be shortened or lengthened if there is mutual concurrence by all parties.
Resolution or Withdrawal of Grievance
At any time during the process, the student may come to a resolution with the respondent or withdraw their complaint by notifying the Director of Student Judicial Affairs in writing or by email that they wish to withdraw the grievance or consider it resolved.
Section III: Non-Grievance Procedures and Processes
There are established procedures for resolving complaints from not only prospective and current students, but also from community members. For example, as a standard practice, the first step should be to seek a resolution at the local level with the appropriate department. If the complainant does not feel that the issue has been solved at this level to his or her satisfaction, the complainant is able to pursue the matter through the established chain of command. (See Appendix A for a chart showing the titles of the various administrators overseeing applicable areas of the college) The process must be clearly stated and in compliance with Federal regulation (HEA Title IV, CFR, Sections 600.9 and 668.4 (3) (b) since all Title IV eligible institutions must not only have, but also state its administered complaint process.
Process for Submitting All Types of Complaints by Prospective and Current Students:
Send an email to the department supervisor detailing a summary of the problem, including the steps taken to resolve the issue, and the desired outcome. If, after meeting with the department supervisor, you are not satisfied with the outcome, contact the Administrator of the appropriate Department or Division. If, after meeting with the Administrator of the appropriate Department or Division, you are not satisfied with the outcome and have taken the appropriate steps to resolve the matter through the established chain of command, contact the Vice President of that Division.
Process for Submitting All Types of Complaints by Community Members:
Send an email, detailing a summary of the problem, including the steps taken to resolve the issue and the desired outcome to the Vice President of Business Services, Vice President of Instruction or the Vice President of Student Services or the College Superintendent/ President. The form to submit your complaint can be found at: Student Conduct
Process for Submitting Unresolved Complaints from Prospective Students, Current Students, and/or Community Members to the State Level:
Although it is our goal to resolve complaints at the campus level, there may be times when a complainant is not satisfied with the outcome. In these situations, the complainant is encouraged to contact the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office. The form to submit your complaint can be found at: Complaints Form. There is a separate link for discrimination complaints.
Process for Submitting Discrimination Complaints:
If you are submitting a complaint that pertains to unlawful discrimination, you can submit the complaint to the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office website at: Complaint-Process-Notice
Process for Submitting Accreditation Complaints:
If you are submitting a complaint that pertains to the institution’s compliance with academic program quality and accrediting standards, please submit the information to the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC), which accredits the academic programs of the California Community Colleges. The link to submit your complaint can be found at: Complaint-process
(Nothing in this disclosure should be construed to limit any right you may have to take civil or criminal legal action to resolve your complaints.)
Informal Complaint Resolution Chart
|Subject Area||First Level||Second Level||Third Level|
|Academic Matters||Instructor||Department Chair||Dean of Instruction/Division Dean|
|Accessibility Matters||Director of Accommodation Service Center||Dean of Student Services||Vice President of Student Services|
|Admissions and Registration||Director of Enrollment Services (SJC) or Dean of Student Services (MVC)||Dean of Student Services||Vice President of Student Services|
|Discipline||Instructor/Staff member||Department Chair/Supervisor||Dean of Instruction or Dean of Student Services|
|Discrimination or Harassment||Vice President Human Resources||Vice President Human Resources||Vice President Human Resources|
|Financial Aid||Director of Financial Aid||Dean of Student Services||Vice President Student Services|
|Grade Dispute Matters||Instructor||Department Chair||Dean of Instruction/ Division Dean|
|Matriculation||Dean of Student Services||Vice President of Student Services||Vice President of Student Services|
|Residency Determination||Director of Enrollment Services (SJC) or Dean of Student Services (MVC)||Vice President of Student Services||Vice President of Student Services|
|Security and Parking||Campus Safety Department||Director of Campus Safety||Vice President of Student Services|