Students who believe that they have been treated unfairly may use this procedure to have their grievance considered. This procedure applies to all student grievances except those that are governed by more specific procedures, such as Procedure 2666 - Student Appeal of Grades and Procedure 2110 - Equal Opportunity, Harassment, and Non-discrimination. Nothing in this procedure is intended to limit the Administration’s ability to investigate possible problems regardless of whether a grievance has been submitted.
This procedure should be used only for problems that affect a student directly, in a significant way. Grievances may include, but are not limited to, any action or inaction taken against a student that violates college policies, procedures, or standard operating practices. Insubstantial grievances such as personality conflicts, miscommunications, or differences of opinion should be addressed without filing a formal grievance. A student may only file a grievance once for the same incident.
Step 1. Informal Resolution
A student who has a grievance shall first attempt to resolve the grievance informally by speaking directly with the individual responsible for the grievance. If a mutually satisfactory understanding is reached, the process is concluded. If not, the student may proceed by contacting an NPC employee to help mediate between the two parties. For instruction-based grievances, a mediator can be a faculty member of the student’s choosing, the department chair, or the dean of the appropriate division. For non-instruction-based grievances, a mediator can include any of the aforementioned individuals or an academic advisor (hereafter referred to as the mediator). The request for mediation services must include the following information:
- the names, email addresses, and phone numbers of the disputing parties;
- the date the dispute arose;
- a brief statement setting forth the issues in dispute; and
- the remedy desired.
When the mediator receives a request for mediation services, it is forwarded to the person with whom the student has a dispute (the respondent). The respondent has fifteen (15) college business days to submit a written response to the mediator that must include a brief statement of the respondent’s position.
After receiving written statements form the disputing parties, the mediator shall have fifteen (15) college business days in which to assist in resolving the conflict to the mutual satisfaction of the parties involved. Mediation services may not commence if there is threat of danger of physical harm. Mediation services end if:
- there has been a meeting with each party at least once; and
- it is determined that the matter cannot be successfully mediated; or
- a mutually satisfactory resolution results.
The mediator will coordinate meetings and/or the exchange of correspondence between the disputing parties. The mediator shall establish the time, date, and place of each meeting, giving at least 48 hours’ notice. The mediator may also meet with each party individually. All mediation meetings shall be held in closed session and shall be confidential.
The mediation process culminates in a written summary prepared by the mediator and sent to each of the parties within fifteen (15) college business days after the mediation process has ended. The summary shall contain the following:
- the names of the disputing parties;
- the length of time mediation was attempted;
- the outcome of the mediation process;
- notice that the student, if dissatisfied with the result of the mediation process, may have a right to begin the formal grievance process; and
- the name and contact information of the Vice President for Learning and Student Services (VPLSS) if the student chooses to file a formal grievance.
Step 2. Initiating a Formal Grievance
If attempts at informal resolution are not successful, the student shall submit a written statement of grievance to the Office of the VPLSS. The statement shall:
- State that the student is initiating the grievance procedure.
- Provide the student’s name and contact information (including at least telephone number and personal email address).
- Identify the nature of the grievance, including the names of any individuals whose actions or inactions are relevant to the grievance.
- Identify the steps that have been taken to resolve the grievance informally and the outcome of such efforts. If the student was unable to address the grievance informally, the student shall explain why.
- State what action the student wants to have taken to resolve the grievance.
Grievances shall be submitted within twenty (20) college business days following mediation in Step 1. Grievances filed more than twenty (20) college business days after mediation may be investigated if warranted by the circumstances and as determined by a Review Panel, a three-member group appointed by the VPLSS. Groups of students negatively impacted by the same incident may file a grievance together; however, depending on the circumstances, separate investigations may take place and different decisions may be made for each student as deemed appropriate by a Review and/or Appeals Panel.
Step 3. Investigation of the Grievance
The VPLSS shall review the grievance within five (5) college business days of the student submitting their letter and will appoint a three-member Review Panel to investigate the grievance. This panel will be chosen from a larger pool of possible panelists appointed annually on July 1 and will consist of college employees with relevant experience or expertise related to the grievance as well as administrators with sufficient authority over the individuals or conditions involved to resolve the grievance if the grievance is found to be meritorious.
The Review Panel will determine if a formal grievance is warranted, if the issue can be resolved informally, or if the issue falls under a different procedure. If the Review Panel determines that there is still an opportunity to resolve the grievance informally, the Review Panel may decline to investigate the grievance until such efforts have been exhausted. Within ten (10) college business days of being appointed to the grievance, the Review Panel will notify the student in writing regarding:
- a determination whether or not the issue meets the criteria for a grievance as outlined in this procedure;
- the name and contact information for a member of the Review Panel that will serve as their primary point of contact; and
- an estimated timeline for investigation and resolution of the grievance.
Step 4. Decision
The Review Panel that investigates the grievance shall provide a written decision to the VPLSS within thirty (30) college business days of the filing of the grievance statement. If unusual circumstances make it impossible to meet this deadline, the reason for the delay will be clearly articulated to the student along with a new estimated time of completion. The VPLSS will inform the student within five (5) business days of the decision of the Review Panel.
The written record of the decision will include the reasoning for the decision and will be shared with the student who brought the grievance and the college employee(s) against whom the grievance was raised.
If the student is dissatisfied with the investigation or the decision, they may appeal their case to the VPLSS in writing within five (5) college business days of receiving the decision, explaining why they do not feel that the investigation or the decision was fair. The VPLSS will review all related grievance documentation and the rationale for the prior decision. If an appeal is warranted, the VPLSS will refer the appeal to a three-member Appeals Panel for further review of the grievance. The Appeals Panel is appointed annually on July 1; no grievance Review Panel members may serve on the Appeals Panel. The Appeals Panel will provide a written decision to the VPLSS within ten (10) business days of the appeal. If unusual circumstances make it impossible to meet this deadline, the reason for the delay will be clearly articulated to the student along with a new estimated time of completion. The VPLSS will inform the student within five (5) business days of the decision of the Appeals Panel. If an appeal is deemed to be unwarranted, the VPLSS will notify the student in writing within ten (10) business days.
Some grievances may fall within the scope of Procedure 2606 – AZ SARA Out-of-State Distance Education Student Complaints. The VPLSS will notify the student of their additional options to appeal under Procedure 2606 at the conclusion of this grievance process.
No retaliation shall be taken against any student for bringing a grievance or for cooperating with the investigation of a grievance.