Complaints and Grievances

Complaints & Grievances

Informal Complaints

Many issues can be resolved through open and honest communication between the involved parties. Anyone who experiences a problem should first attempt to resolve the concern informally with the person(s) or office(s) most closely connected to the issue. If the issue cannot be resolved through this informal complaint process, the aggrieved person should file a formal, written grievance.

Formal Grievances

A grievance is a formal complaint of alleged unfair or discriminatory practice or decision by faculty, administration, or administrative staff. The central focus of a grievance is not a policy but rather the action of the individual against whom the grievance is filed.

A person filing a grievance must do so in writing and provide supportive evidence that shows that the unfavorable decision is in violation of institutional policy or practice, or that the person has been treated in a different way than other persons in similar circumstances have been treated.

Retaliation against any person who files a complaint or grievance of alleged discrimination, participates in an investigation, or opposes discriminatory employment or education practice or policy is strictly prohibited under institutional policy and by State and Federal law.

Procedures

  1. The complainant shall submit the grievance by completing the online Formal Complaint/Grievance form requesting reconsideration of an unfavorable decision. The grievance will be forwarded to the faculty member, staff, or administrator in question (copied to the individual’s immediate supervisor), who will provide a written response to the complainant no later than 15 working days after receipt of the initial petition.
  2. If the complainant is not satisfied after step one, s/he may forward the original grievance petition and response to either the Academic Leadership Team (if filed against a faculty member) or the immediate supervisor (if filed against a staff member or administrator). The Academic Leadership Team or the immediate supervisor must respond in writing no later than 15 working days after receipt of the grievance petition.
  3. If the complainant is not satisfied after step two and if the grievance petition has not yet involved the College President, s/he may forward the original grievance petition and responses to the College President. The College President must respond by mail no later than 15 working days after receipt of the grievance petition. The decision of the College President shall be final.

The complainant who receives no response within 15 working days at any level in the grievance process may appeal to the next higher level. Those hearing the grievance at the higher level shall secure the written opinion of those who failed to respond at the lower level.

Although the College will make reasonable efforts to comply with these timelines, circumstances such as access to information, availability of personnel, and school breaks, may justify an extension of time.

External Entities for Mediating Grievances

Any Massachusetts resident with a grievance that cannot be resolved after exhausting the school’s grievance procedures may file a complaint with the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education. The student should submit a complaint via the online form at https://www.mass.edu/forstufam/complaints/complaintform.asp.

Any Virginia resident with a grievance that cannot be resolved after exhausting the school’s grievance procedures may file a complaint with the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV). The student should submit written complaints to: State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, Private and Out-of-State Postsecondary Education, 101 N. 14th Street, 9th Floor, James Monroe Building, Richmond, VA 23219.

Any online student with a grievance that cannot be resolved after exhausting the school’s grievance procedures may file a complaint with the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education in its capacity as the SARA portal entity for Massachusetts-based institutions. The student should submit a complaint via the online form at https://www.mass.edu/foradmin/sara/complaints.asp.