Grievance Policy and Procedures

A grievance may arise out of a decision or action reached or taken in the course of official duty by a member of the faculty, staff, or administration of Chicago State University. The purpose of the grievance procedures is to provide a process for an impartial review and to ensure that the rights of all involved parties are properly recognized and protected.

Definition of "Grievable Action"

A grievable action is defined as capricious, arbitrary, unreasonable, false, malicious or professionally inappropriate sanction, evaluations or behavior.

In the case of alleged sexual harassment or discrimination, students should bypass the College of Education grievance process and consult the Chicago State University Department of Legal Affairs for guidance on filing a grievance. Grievances based on physical or mental ability should be initiated in the Office of Abilities Services.

Timeliness of Grievance

Students who question the action or decision of a faculty, administrator or staff member (grade dispute, unprofessional behavior, etc.) must make a good-faith effort to resolve the issue within sixty (60) academic calendar days from the time the student became aware of or could reasonably be expected to have known of the action being grieved. Academic calendar days consist of days which the University is open (excluding weekends and designated University holidays). Issues initiated after this time will not be considered.

The only allowed exception to this timeline is during the summer semester. If (a) a portion of the sixty-day period of filing falls within the summer semester AND (b) the faculty or staff member is on hiatus during the summer semester and not in an official working status during the summer semester, the period from the last day of the Spring semester until the day before the first day of the Fall semester is excluded from the time period.

Written Communication Within the Grievance Process

Students must complete a grievance form to begin the grievance process. Documents can be obtained within academic departments or the Dean’s Office. All parties are responsible for providing a functional U.S. mail address, email address or telephone number to receive notifications within the grievance process. Once contact information for correspondence is submitted, it becomes the responsibility of all parties to check that source for correspondences regarding the grievance process. Failure to check for correspondence or failure to notify the department of a change in contact information will not preclude the process of notification and the adherence to timelines. All parties are responsible for retaining copies of all written correspondences within the grievance process.

Departmental Grievance Levels

A grievance can be heard at both the department and college levels. Before a case can be heard by the College Grievance Committee, it must proceed through three prior levels of deliberation. These levels include the following:

  • Level One: Conference between student and instructor/staff, when practical and if applicable;
  • Level Two: Conference between student and department chairperson; and
  • Level Three: Hearing before the Department Grievance Committee.

If circumstances prohibit individuals from beginning the grievance process at level one, a grievant is to begin his/her grievance at the next appropriate level. Examples of this include, but are not limited to faculty unavailability due to retirement or other non-affiliation actions or if the respondent is a chairperson. It is the student’s responsibility to make an appointment with the faculty or staff member involved to try to resolve the issue.

Once this procedure of due process has begun, the grievant must follow the steps within the departmental grievance procedure. Once the grievance process has begun, the grievant has the responsibility to keep all scheduled appointments and sessions within this process. As the grievant has the opportunity to agree on scheduled appointment dates within the grievance process, missed appointments (outside of verifiable emergencies) at any level within the grievance process will result in a grievance being withdrawn from the process and the grievant may not re-file the grievance at a later time.

a. Level One: Conference between student and instructor/staff

When a grading evaluation or other dispute occurs, students should attempt to discuss with the faculty or staff how the decision was made. This communication can occur in written format (e-mail or regular mail) but a face-to-face meeting is preferred. As far as possible, the student and the faculty or staff should attempt to resolve the grievance at this level. Many times, questions about grades or other decisions affecting the student can best be resolved through communication at this level. If a resolution is found, the grievance process concludes at this level and no further action is needed. If no satisfaction is obtained, either party may request that the matter be escalated to level two of the grievance process. Further, if the staff or faculty refuses to meet with the student to discuss the issue, the student has the right to request that the matter be escalated to level two of the grievance process.

b. Level Two: Conference between student and department chairperson

A request for a Level Two Conference with the department chair should be submitted to the department chair in writing within ten (10) academic calendars days after the date of the Level One conference. This request will occur in the form of a completed and signed grievance form. At minimum, a grievance must contain:

  • Identification of individual against who the grievance is directed.
  • The date of the alleged violation.
  • The specifics of how the grievant believes a policy or right was violated.
  • A brief summary of the evidence supporting the allegations and a brief summary of the argument.
  • Information about attempts to resolve the grievance with the faculty or staff and information about the results of those attempts.
  • The proposed resolution to the issue.

Upon receipt of a completed grievance form (obtained from the department), the department chair will send a copy of the grievance to the respondent, requesting a written response. During the grievance process, it is permissible to transmit correspondence related to a grievance by email. However hard copies of all documents must also be sent by U.S. or campus mail or delivered by hand. Upon submission, if it is determined that the grievance form is incomplete, the student will have ten (10) academic calendars days from the date of notice to modify the grievance form. If the form is not completed within this time period, the grievance will be dismissed and written notice of this action will be provided to the student within ten (10) academic calendars days.

The department chair will meet with the instructor and student for the purpose of clarification as the matter warrants, and in an attempt to arrive at a solution within ten (10) academic calendar days. At the request/discretion of the student or department chair, the person against whom the complaint is made may or may not be present at the initial discussion. If situations warrant, the student may request the presence of a student observer and the department chair may request the presence of another department chair or comparable level administrator observer at the Level Two session. Observers attend this session for observation purposes only. They should not be relatives of the grievant.

A written statement should be submitted to the grievant, respondent, college grievance officer and the office of the dean within ten (10) academic calendar days regarding the outcome of the meeting. If a resolution is found, the grievance process concludes at this level and no further action is needed. If no satisfaction is obtained, the matter may proceed to Level Three for a hearing before the departmental grievance committee.

c. Level Three: Hearing before the Department Grievance Committee

If the student is not satisfied with the outcome of the meeting with the department chair, the student should notify the department chair (in writing), within ten (10) academic calendar days of receipt of written notification of the outcome of the Level Two conference, of the desire to have a departmental hearing on the matter.

A grievance hearing will ordinarily be completed within thirty (30) academic calendars days after the department chair's receipt of the formal complaint. Should the grievance be brought at a time when this period extends into the summer semester, the hearing committee will attempt to proceed within the set timeline, but if this cannot be accomplished due to summer absences of any involved party, the chair will notify all parties that the process will be held in the beginning of the fall academic semester.

Once an agreed upon date is secured, the department chair shall convene a departmental grievance committee consisting of two faculty members from the department and one student from any program in the college. This committee will function as a standing departmental committee. The department chair shall appoint one of the selected faculty members to function as the hearing committee chair. The selected student must be representative of the same level (or higher) of the program. For example, a graduate student may only serve on the committee within the graduate studies department. One of the selected faculty members should be a content specialist on the presented issue, as applicable.

At this level of the grievance process, legal counsel or guests (outside of pertinent witnesses) are not allowed at the grievance committee hearing. The ordinary rights of the student and instructor or staff will apply, including the right to notice of the hearing; the decision reached; the right to be present at the hearing; and the right to present and inspect evidence. If either party fails to show to a scheduled hearing, the hearing will still occur and a decision will be rendered.

Hearings will only be rescheduled in the event of a verified emergency, which is determined by the department chair. Documentation may be requested. The initiating party has the option of requesting (in writing to the department chair) that their grievance be withdrawn from the process and may not re-file the grievance at a later time.

The hearing committee chair is responsible for conducting the hearing, including limiting questioning and testimony to relevant issues. The hearing committee shall make all decisions based on relevant evidence submitted as a part of the hearing. A recording or other official record shall be kept of all proceedings in which evidence is presented. Upon the conclusion of the hearing the hearing committee shall decide whether the evidence presented supports the request contained within the grievance. A two-thirds majority shall be considered a decision of the committee. The hearing committee shall forward a written report of its findings to the department chair, the office of the dean and the college grievance officer. Within ten (10) academic calendar days, following the hearing, the department chair should also forward findings and recommendations to the grievant and respondent.

VI. Appealing through the College-Level Grievance Process

The student may appeal the departmental grievance committee’s decision within ten (10) academic calendar days of notification of the decision by submitting a copy of the committee’s decision, a copy of the original grievance form, all pertinent evidence and a letter of dissent to the College of Education’s Office of the Dean. College-level hearings will be held within thirty (30) academic calendar days upon the receipt of all required documentation by the College of Education Grievance Officer. If it is determined that all required documentation has not been received, the student will have ten (10) academic calendars days from the date of notice to submit required documents. If documentation is not submitted within this time period, the grievance will be dismissed and notice of this action will be provided to the student within ten (10) academic calendar days.

At this level of the grievance process, legal counsel or guests (outside of pertinent witnesses) are not allowed at the grievance committee hearing. The ordinary rights of the grievant will apply, including the right to notice of the hearing; the decision reached; the right to be present at the hearing; and the right to present and inspect evidence. If either party fails to show to a scheduled hearing, the hearing will still occur and a decision will be rendered. Hearings will only be rescheduled in the event of a verified emergency, which is determined by the College of Education Grievance Officer. Documentation may be requested. The initiating party has the option of requesting (in writing to the College of Education Grievance Officer) that the grievance be withdrawn from the process and may not re-file the grievance at a later time.

Specific procedures for the hearing of each case shall be determined by the members of the committee deliberating that case. The composition of the College Grievance Committee shall be:

  1. The College of Education Grievance Officer or an administrative representative designated by the Dean of the College of Education who shall chair the committee and convene the committee meetings.
  2. Two faculty members or one faculty member and one administrator not from the department involved. Adjunct faculty members will be eligible to serve on the College Grievance Committee at the discretion of the Dean or his/her designated representative.
  3. Two student representatives; one from the department involved and the other from another department or program within the college. The student representatives should not be enrolled in any classes of the grievant.
  4. The faculty or staff member against whom the grievance is lodged should not be a member of the grievance committee.
  5. The student who is filing the grievant should not be a member of the grievance committee.

The College of Education Grievance Officer or an administrative representative designated by the Dean of the College of Education is responsible for conducting the hearing, including limiting questioning and testimony to relevant issues. The hearing committee shall make all decisions based on relevant evidence submitted as a part of the hearing. A recording or other official record shall be kept of all proceedings in which evidence is presented. Upon the conclusion of the hearing the hearing committee shall decide whether the evidence presented supports the request contained within the grievance. A three-fifths majority shall be considered a decision of the committee.

The College Grievance Committee makes recommendations to the Dean of the College of Education within five (5) academic calendar days after the hearing. A decision will be rendered to all involved parties within fifteen (15) academic calendar days after the hearing. The decision rendered from the Dean of the College of Education is final and is not grievable.

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