Education Policy Committee

Procedure for Student Greivances

Respectful treatment of students is an obligation and responsibility for faculty and supervisors; and the evaluation of student ability and performance is a right and responsibility for faculty, programs and supervisors. The purpose of the Undergraduate and Graduate Student Grievance Procedure is to provide a mechanism for ensuring the fair treatment of students. These guidelines pertain to fair treatment both in terms of maintaining a respectful environment and providing fair evaluation of students.

This grievance procedure provides a process for constructively resolving serious academic, supervisory or administrative grievances that students may have with faculty, supervisors, staff or administrators. Its purpose is to resolve in a fair manner particular grievances arising from grading, other evaluation or supervisory practices. To that end, all concerned should display a cooperative manner, resolutions should be attempted between the parties involved, mediated rather than directed outcomes are to be sought, and us are to be sought at the lowest possible administrative level. Confidentiality of the student(s) and faculty members(s) involved should be maintained at all times.

If a student believes that he or she has been evaluated unfairly, the student should discuss the matter with the faculty member or supervisor involved as soon as possible after the evaluation in question has been received. This discussion should provide an opportunity for further dialogue and clarification between faculty and student about how the evaluation was determined, what criteria were used, and any related issues. If such a discussion results in a mutually acceptable resolution, the matter will be considered closed. If either party wishes to have a written statement of the outcome, the parties will put the resolution in writing, sign it, and each retain a copy. [If the student anticipates that discussing the matter directly with the faculty member would be hostile, the student may request an ombudsperson. In this case, the Chair or appropriate Dean will make a reasonable effort to assure an assignment agreeable to the student.]

If the student continues to have serious reasons for believing that the faculty member, supervisor or program staff has treated him or her arbitrarily, unethically or based on error, he/she may submit to the faculty member or supervisor a written statement of his/her concerns, including the facts and circumstances and the reasons that the outcome of the initial contact (described in paragraph above) is unsatisfactory to him/her. The faculty member will respond in writing to the student within ten school days after receipt of the student's written statement. Upon the student's request, a copy of the student's statement may also be filed in the student's academic folder. The faculty member may also submit his or her views in writing to the student's academic folder. If such communication results in a mutually acceptable resolution, the matter will be considered closed. If either party wishes to have a written statement of the outcome, the parties will put the resolution in writing, sign it, and each retain a copy.

If, however, a mutually acceptable disposition cannot be achieved, the student may present the matter in writing to the Chairperson of the department in which the faculty member or supervisor is located administratively. The student's written statement to the Chair must clearly specify the nature of the complaint and the remedy requested.

The Chairperson should meet formally with the faculty member and the student involved and may review the previously written faculty and student responses to the grievance. The Chairperson should meet again with the faculty member and student involved, either separately or jointly or both, in order to work out a resolution of the problem. The Chairperson will provide a written response within two weeks of the meeting with the student and the faculty member. If a settlement is reached, it is to be put in writing and signed by the Chairperson and each of the parties, with each to retain a copy. If no resolution is reached, the Chairperson will prepare a written summary of events relevant to the grievance and provide a copy of it to the student and the faculty member involved.

In the event that the grievance concerned treatment or evaluation in the practicum, the student would follow this same procedure. Specifically, he or she should discuss the matter first with his or her field supervisor. If this discussion did not lead to resolution, the matter would be brought to the appropriate Director of Field Placements who will follow the guidelines described above for Department Chairs. [Certain field site grievances involving persons not affiliated with Boston College, should be pursued through that organization's grievance procedures. In this case, the student is advised to inform his or her university supervisor of the grievance.]


Formal Appeal Procedures

If an undergraduate or graduate student is dissatisfied by the outcome of the discussions and process at the Chairperson level, she/he may initiate a formal grievance procedure with an ad hoc committee. A formal grievance consists of a written explanation of the grievance sent to the Dean, the reasons she or he believes the faculty member's or supervisor's evaluation was arbitrary, unethical, or based on extrinsic error, and reasons why previous discussions were not satisfactory. The faculty member or supervisor along with the Chair will submit in writing his/her evaluation of the merit of the current appeal and a summary of the attempts to resolve the grievance from previous meetings. The Dean would then convene an ad hoc committee composed of three members. Two members would be members of the Academics Standards Committee and would be appointed by the co-chairs of that committee to serve on the ad hoc committee. A third member would be appointed by the Dean based on her/his expertise in the content area of the appeal. This ad hoc committee will conduct an independent review of the informal sessions including discussing the grievance with the Chairperson, faculty member and student. Within thirty days after receiving the formal appeal, the ad hoc committee will confirm in writing any resolution reached or a statement of her/his resolution of the matter.

Initiation of the formal appeal procedure should be done as early as possible, but not later than the first two weeks of the semester following the semester in which the evaluation, incident or complaint was filed with the Chair.

Following the formal grievance, the student may then appeal directly to the Dean's office for further consultation and mediation. If the undergraduate or graduate student is dissatisfied by the outcome of the discussions and process by the ad hoc committee, she/he may initiate a formal grievance procedure with the Dean. The decision of the Dean is final, and it will be communicated to the student in writing. If a faculty member believes the outcome of the grievance process is unfair, she or he may appeal to the University Grievance Committee.

There are several situations in which the Lynch School of Education Undergraduate and Graduate Student Grievance Procedure should be superceded. For students who wish to grieve treatment or evaluation related to their second major, the student should follow the policies of that department. If the student believes that he or she has experienced discriminatory harassment, the student should follow the discriminatory harassment policies Described in the University Policy against Discriminatory Harassment in section 1-200-025 of the Boston College Policies and Procedure Manual. .