GRADE DISPUTE POLICY
Protection Against Improper Academic Evaluation
Students should be free to take reasoned exception to the data or views offered in any course of study and to reserve judgment about matters of opinion. At the same time, they are responsible for maintaining standards of academic performance and understanding the material presented in each course in which they are enrolled. If a student feels he/she is being graded improperly, or that a grade is based on some standard other than academic performance, this Grade Dispute Procedure gives the student protection through orderly procedures against prejudices or capricious academic evaluation.
In keeping with the intent and spirit of these statements, it is incumbent upon all parties involved to show respect, restraint and responsibility in their efforts to resolve complaints. It is incumbent upon faculty members and students to arrange meetings and conferences with each other in good faith and to communicate decisions within established time frames to all concerned parties.
Burden of Proof
The burden of proof needed to substantiate the existence of an improper grade shall rest with the student. The student must demonstrate, by clear and convincing evidence, that a final grade was entered whereby all or part of the grade was calculated in a manner inconsistent with published grading procedures.
Instances of the above are limited to situations where a student believes s/he received an inappropriate grade in a particular course. They do not include questions concerning admission to a program or a specific course section or denial of financial aid.
Prohibition against Retaliatory Action
Any retaliatory action of any kind taken against a person seeking redress under these procedures is prohibited.
The vice president for academic affairs will decide issues of Academic Standing, if relevant, during the pendency of a grade dispute.
It is strongly recommended that the student meet with the campus coordinator as soon as s/he has received the grade so that the campus coordinator can provide the student information about this Grade Dispute Procedure. In no event should this meeting take place more than fourteen (14) days after the student is notified of the disputed grade.
The campus coordinator does not represent or advocate for any party in a grade dispute. The campus coordinator is available to all parties, the department chairperson and the Academic Review Board. S/he will advise all interested parties as to their rights and responsibilities. In addition, s/he will assist parties in drafting complaints or responses or narrowing issues and s/he will provide written documentation that is not available to a party (a grade book or class syllabus, for example).
The campus coordinator may appoint a designee to fulfill his/her duties if it is warranted or necessary.
Time Limits Defined
Days shall be defined as any day the College is open for business and shall exclude Saturdays and Sundays and any holiday the College has published as “College closed,” and emergency closings. Meetings should be arranged within the specified time limits whenever possible though they may take place at a later time if all parties are in agreement. Time limits may be waived for just cause.
PROCEDURE FOR PROCESSING COMPLAINTS
Step 1. Meeting with the Faculty Member
Within fourteen (14) days after the start of the fall or spring semester immediately following the receipt of the disputed final grade, the student shall contact the campus coordinator and inform the instructor in writing or via e-mail using the student’s Hudson Valley Community College e-mail account that s/he disputes the grade. The instructor shall arrange a meeting with the student, hear the student’s complaint and advise the student of the grading procedure.
This meeting is designed for both parties to understand the position of the other and reach some resolution.
In the event the instructor does not arrange the meeting within seven (7) days of receiving written notification that the student requests a meeting or in the event that the student is dissatisfied with the outcome of that meeting, the student shall proceed with Step 2.
Step 2. Meeting With the Department Chairperson and Instructor
The student shall notify the department chairperson immediately if a grade dispute is not resolved at step 1. The student shall request a meeting with his/her department chairperson and the Instructor, in writing. The meeting shall be scheduled at a mutually agreeable time, within seven (7) days of the receipt of the written request. Both the student and the instructor shall make themselves available for the meeting. A grade dispute cannot be presented to the Academic Review Board if this meeting has not been held. Therefore it is incumbent upon the department chairperson to arrange the meeting in a timely fashion or provide a written justification for the failure to hold the meeting.
If the student does not attend the meeting, or if the instructor is unavailable, the meeting will proceed and the dispute may be resolved without his/her input. The grade may be changed and/or the complaint dismissed without input from the non-present party. The department chairperson is under no obligation to schedule subsequent meetings if the student agreed to a date, time and place or if an instructor is unavailable or no longer employed at the college.
The department chairperson shall notify the campus coordinator as soon as possible of the outcome of the meeting in writing or via e-mail using the Hudson Valley Community College e-mail account.
When warranted, the department chairperson may appoint a suitable person to act as his/her designee.
Step 3. Preparation of Written Complaint and Documentation
If the meeting or meetings with the faculty member and/or department chairperson do not satisfactorily resolve the problem, the student may request an Academic Review Board Hearing.
All requests for an Academic Review Board Hearing shall be made in writing on the appropriate form provided by the campus coordinator. In addition to the form, the student must submit his/her entire dispute in writing, which will be presented to the Board. The student must submit any documentation s/he wishes the Board to review in order to meet the burden of proof as articulated above.
The written complaint, with attachments and the form, shall be submitted to the campus coordinator.
The campus coordinator shall forward the complaint and the form to the appropriate department chairperson and the Instructor. Each may submit a response or other documentation, but neither is obligated to present evidence to the Board. The instructor and/or the department chairperson must submit their responses, if any, within three (3) days of receiving the written grade dispute. There are times when specific items such as a course outline are requested by the campus coordinator or the Academic Review Board. In those cases, the documents requested must be produced even if the instructor chooses not to submit a written response to the complaint.
The campus coordinator will file with the Chairperson of the Academic Review Board the student’s form with his/her written complaint and any attachments or documents as well as responses, submissions or documents submitted by the instructor and/or the department chairperson, within seven (7) days of receiving the student’s complaint.
Step 4. Academic Review Board
The Academic Review Board will be comprised of the vice president for administration, or his/her designee, who shall be the chairperson, a faculty member who is a member of the Ethics and Conduct Committee, and one other member who shall be either an Academic Dean, Administrative Dean, or Department Director. The Academic Dean shall not be from the same division in which the grade dispute arose. The faculty member shall not be from the same department in which the grade dispute arose.
The Academic Review Board may adjourn or reconvene at its discretion, will call witnesses only at its sole discretion, may request further documentation if required and may act to facilitate negotiations between the parties.
The campus coordinator will attend the Academic Review Board Hearing and will be available to that Board to advise on the procedure, obtain new information or documents or call witnesses.
If the Academic Review Board finds the student has not met his/her burden of proof, the complaint will be dismissed.
If the Academic Review Board determines that there was an error in the grade or that a student was graded improperly and all attempts at negotiation have failed, they may determine that the grade will be changed. Members of the Board and/or the vice president for academic affairs and/or the department chairperson will assist the campus coordinator in implementing that change.
The Academic Review Board shall transmit a written decision to the campus coordinator. The campus coordinator will forward the decision of the Academic Review Board to the appropriate parties, the department chairperson and the vice president for academic affairs.
Step 5. Appeals
Within seven (7) days of the receipt of the decision, either party may appeal the decision, in writing, to the campus coordinator. S/he will forward the appeal to the other party, who may submit a written response within three (3) days. The other party is under no obligation to respond to an appeal. Within ten (10) days of receiving the appeal, the campus coordinator will present it to an Appeals Board which will determine if one or more of the following conditions can be established:
(1) A significant procedural error was committed;
(2) All evidence/information was not considered; or
(3) Newly discovered evidence is available.
The Appeal Board shall be comprised of members of the Committee on Ethics and Conduct and shall include three (3) members: a student, an administrator and a faculty member. The faculty member shall not be from the same division in which the grade dispute arose.
Within seven (7) days of receiving and reviewing the written appeal, the Appeals Board will render a written decision which shall be forwarded to the campus coordinator and distributed to the parties through that office. If the appeal is denied, there is no further remedy. If the appeal is determined to have merit, the campus coordinator shall reconvene the Academic Review Board for the purpose of correcting the error and rehearing the dispute.