Guidance Letter A-080

CLEVELAND STATE COMMUNITY COLLEGE Cleveland, Tennessee

Subject:  Final Course Grade Appeal Process

The grade appeal process affords the student the opportunity to appeal a final course grade that the individual thinks has been unjustly assigned.  Grades assigned by faculty members are final unless there is evidence that the grade was influenced by consideration of race, color, religion, sex, marital status, handicap or national origin, arbitrary or capricious action, or other reasons not related to the academic performance of the student.  In all cases, the complaining student shall assume the burden of proof with regard to allegations.  The student has the right to discontinue the appeal at any time during the appeal process.

  1. Steps of the Final Course Grade Appeal Process
    1. Prior to initiating the official Final Course Grade Appeal Process, the student should make an appointment with the instructor(s) who assigned the grade to discuss the complaint in an effort to reach a satisfactory resolution to the problem.  This meeting between the student and the instructor(s) must occur before the end of the second week (10 working days) of the subsequent term (including summer).  The instructor must document the day and time of the meeting and write a brief synopsis of the discussion.
      1. In the event the student is unable to schedule a meeting with the instructor(s), the student must contact the instructor(s)’s supervisor who will schedule a meeting between the instructor(s) and the student (and the supervisor, if appropriate).
      2. In the event the instructor(s) is no longer employed by the college or is not readily available (for instance, during the summer), the supervisor will make reasonable effort to contact the instructor(s).  If unable to contact the instructor(s), the supervisor will instruct the student to proceed to the next step of the appeal process.
    2. Step 1.2 must be completed within 10 working days.
      If the student complaint is not resolved to the student’s satisfaction during the meeting(s) described above, the student has 5 working days from the date of the meeting with the instructor(s) (and/or the instructor(s)’s supervisor) to contact the Dean of the appropriate area to inform him/her that the student wishes to initiate an Official Final Course Grade Appeal Process.  At this point, the Dean will provide the student with Student Final Course Grade Appeal Form (see Attachment 1).  The student must submit the completed Final Course Grade Appeal Form to the Dean within 5 working days from the day he/she receives the form.
    3. The receipt of the completed Student Final Course Grade Appeal Form constitutes the beginning of the final grade appeal process.  Upon receipt of the completed Student Final Course Grade Appeal Form, the Dean has 10 working days in which to mediate a discussion with the instructor(s) and the student in an attempt to reach a satisfactory resolution of the complaint.  The Dean must document the day and time of the meeting, and write a brief synopsis of the discussion.
    4. The Dean must notify, in writing, the parties involved by the end of the 11th working day of his/her decision.  If the student wishes to continue the appeal, the student has 5 working days to request that the Dean forward the appeal to the Vice President for Academic Affairs.  The Vice President for Academic Affairs will then have 15 working days in which to attempt to resolve the complaint.  The Vice President will maintain a record of activities and meetings conducted to resolve the issue.  The student, the instructor(s), and the Dean will be notified in writing of the Vice President for Academic Affairs’s disposition of the complaint by the end of the 16th working day.
    5. If the student or the faculty member is not satisfied with the outcome, he/she will have 10 working days from the date of receipt of the Vice President for Academic Affair’s disposition in which to request, in writing, that the appeal be forwarded to the Academic Appeals Committee.
    6. Once the request to forward the appeal to the Academic Appeals Committee has been received, the Vice President for Academic Affairs will forward to the chair of the Academic Appeals Committee all materials submitted throughout the appeal process to date.  The Committee will have 10 working days to convene and determine if a hearing is merited.
      1. If the Committee decides that the appeal does not merit a hearing, the existing disposition of the grade and its consequences will stand.  The Committee Chair will inform the Vice President for Academic Affairs, the Dean, the student, and the instructor(s) of the Committee’s decision.
      2. If the Committee decides a hearing is merited, the Committee Chair will contact the student and the instructor(s) to schedule a date for the hearing.   The hearing must occur within 20 working days of the date of the Committee’s decision to grant the hearing.  Notification of the date of the hearing will be given by the committee Chair to the Vice President for Academic Affairs, the Dean, the student, and the instructor(s) at least 10 working days prior to the date of the hearing.  This notification will also inform both the student and the instructor(s) that they should bring to the hearing whatever additional information and materials they consider pertinent to the complaint.  The student and the respondent should be notified of the date of the hearing by return receipt certified mail.
      3. The Committee will have 10 working days from the conclusion of the hearing to reach its decision.  Within 5 working days of the Committee’s decision, the Committee Chair will notify, in writing, the Vice President for Academic Affairs, the Dean, the student, and the instructor(s), of the Committee’s decision.
      4. All voting of the Committee is done by secret ballot.  The decision of the Academic Appeals Committee is final, except in cases covered under TBR policy 1:02:11:00.  This policy is a mechanism for appeal to the Chancellor and to the Board if the student contests on basis of violation of state or federal law, or institution or Board policy.
      5. Pending resolution of the appeal, the contested grade and its consequences will stand.
  2. Committee Membership and Attendance
    1. Membership
      The number of members must remain uneven, and the majority of members must be faculty.  The Chair, elected by the voting members, has a vote.  The committee shall consist of two faculty from each of the five divisions, selected by the faculty of the college; two faculty selected from the general faculty by the Faculty Senate; three students selected by the Student Senate; and the President, ex-officio.
    2. Attendance
      1. All members of the Committee are expected to attend all scheduled hearings.  In order for a hearing to be conducted, there must be at least 5 faculty members and at least 2 student members in attendance.  Since from time to time it might be impossible for a member to attend, alternate members must be identified.
        1. The faculty of each School will identify a member to serve as an alternate.
        2. The Faculty Senate will identify a member to serve as an alternate.
        3. The Student Senate will select two students to serve as alternates.
      2. If a Committee member (faculty or student) is unable to attend a meeting, he/she must arrange for his/her alternate to attend the meeting and must inform the Chair that his/her alternate will be attending the meeting.  The alternate must attend all meetings dealing with the complaint.
  3. The Hearing
    1. General Guidelines
      The Academic Appeals Committee will hear the presentation of the student’s complaint and the response from the instructor(s) involved.
      1. Because the purpose of the Appeals Committee is “to hear” the student’s complaint, it is recommended that the student complainant attend the hearing.
        1. If extenuating circumstances prevent either the student or the faculty member involved in the appeal from attending the scheduled hearing, he/she must contact the Committee Chair to request an alternate date for the hearing.
        2. If emergency circumstances prevent the student from attending the hearing, or if the student prefers not to attend, the student must inform the Committee Chair that he/she wishes the Committee to proceed using the information on the Grade Appeal Form and any other documents submitted.
        3. If the student fails to attend the scheduled hearing without having notified the Chair, the Committee reserves the right to uphold the existing disposition of the grade.
      2. The parties involved have the right to have witnesses speak to the points of the complaint.  The Committee hearing is not a court hearing, and due process does not extend to having an attorney present who represents any of the parties.
      3. Participants involved in the Final Course Grade Appeal Process should be aware of the need for confidentiality throughout the process.  Materials and information that are a part of the appeal process are confidential and should not be disclosed to or discussed with anyone not involved in the process.  Likewise, a Final Course Grade Appeal Hearing is a confidential hearing, and materials presented and matters deliberated in the hearing should not be disclosed to or discussed with anyone not involved in the hearing.
    2. Procedures
      1. The meeting will be called to order by the Chair.  The Chair will inform all Committee members that this is an academic appeals hearing; that the presentations by the complainant, by the respondent involved in the appeal, and by witnesses for each side, and the question-and-answer periods that may follow each presentation are being taped.  The Chair should reiterate this notice of taping each time a new person appears to participate in the hearing.
        1. The Committee will audio or video tape presentations by the, by witnesses for the complainant, by the respondent involved in the appeal, by witnesses for the respondent involved in the appeal, and the final decision of the Committee.  The Committee’s deliberations will not be taped.
        2. The audio tape recording of the appeals hearing will be kept on file for one year from the date of the hearing.
      2. Presentations, remarks, questions, and discussions by all participants must stay focused on the grade appeal being considered.  The Committee has no jurisdiction regarding departmental policies and/or procedures.
    3. The Committee will first hear the complainant’s presentation.
      1. Complainant will be informed that the hearing is an academic grade appeals hearing and that his/her remarks are being taped.
      2. Complainant’s presentation will be limited to a maximum of 15 minutes.
      3. At the end of the complainant’s remarks, committee members will have the opportunity to question the student regarding the complaint.
      4. When Committee members have completed their questions, the complainant will be excused.
    4. The addition of witness(es) is optional.  If the complainant requests such an addition, the witness(es) will be heard following the complainant’s presentation.
      1. The number of witnesses for the student complainant will be limited to three.
      2. Each witness will be informed that the hearing is an academic grade appeal hearing and that his/her remarks are being taped.
      3. The Committee will hear each witness separately, with each witness’ presentation limited to a maximum of ten minutes.
      4. Following presentations by each witness, Committee members will have the opportunity to question the witness.
      5. When Committee members have completed their questions, the witness will be excused.
    5. The Committee will next hear the presentation of the student or faculty respondent involved in the appeal.
      1. The respondent involved in the appeal will be informed that his/her remarks are being taped.
      2. The respondent will have a maximum of 15 minutes to make his/her presentation.
      3. Following the presentation by the respondent, Committee members will have the opportunity to question the respondent.
      4. When Committee members have completed their questions, the respondent will be excused.
    6. The addition of witness(es) is optional.  If the respondent requests such an addition, the witness(es) will be heard following the respondent’s presentation and the following will apply:
      1. The number of witnesses will be limited to three.
      2. Each witness will be informed that his/her remarks are being taped.
      3. The Committee will hear each witness separately, with each witness’ presentation limited to a maximum of ten minutes.
      4. Following presentations by each witness, Committee members will have the opportunity to question the witness.
      5. When Committee members have completed their questions, the witness will be excused.
    7. At this point, the Committee may ask both the complainant and the respondent to meet together with the Committee for further questions or clarification.
      1. This joint session will be taped and should focus only on the issue of the grade being appealed.
      2. Complainant and respondent involved in the appeal will be excused when Committee members have completed their questions.
    8. The Committee will then conduct its confidential deliberations regarding the grade appeal.  These deliberations will not be taped.
    9. Voting will be done by secret ballot.  The Chair will announce the outcome of the vote.  This announcement will be taped.
    10. The decision of the Committee will be forwarded to the Vice President for Academic Affairs and to the parties involved.
    11. One copy of all materials presented as part of the appeal process will be forwarded by the Chair to the Vice President for Academic Affairs.  The materials will be maintained in a file in the office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs for one year from the date of the hearing.


Source: Policy No. 2:06:02:00

Approved by: Student Academic Appeals Committee Meeting April, 1997, Curriculum and Academic Standards Committee Meeting, March 2003 and February 7, 2013; President’s Cabinet February 12, 2013.


                                                                        Attachment 1

CLEVELAND STATE COMMUNITY COLLEGE

STUDENT FINAL COURSE
GRADE APPEAL FORM

Student Name:_________________________________________ Social Security Number:___________________

Course Name Number, Section:______________________________ Enrollment Date:  ______________________

Date of meeting with instructor to discuss grade problem:_______________________________________________

Date of meeting with instructor’s supervisor:_________________________________________________________

APPEAL OF A GRADE:  Please refer to and abide by the guidelines outlined in the Student Handbook Section of the Cleveland State Community College Catalog.  If additional space is needed, please attach page(s) and any other pertinent information, including a copy of your transcript and a syllabus for the course in question.

Detailed Reasons for Appeal:_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________________


Student’s Signature:_______________________________________________ Date:________________________

Date of Meeting with Division Dean:__________ Date Student Grade Appeal Form Received by Dean:__________

Date Appeal reviewed by Division Dean:_____________ Signature of Division Dean:________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Signature of Division Dean:_________________________________________ Date:________________________

Date Appeal received by Executive Vice President (if appeal not settled by Division Dean):____________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Signature of Executive Vice President:_________________________________ Date________________________
Original – Dean of School involved in appeal               Yellow – Executive Vice President & Dean of Faculty                   3)Student