Student Services

Student Information & Policies: Complaint/Grievance

Title VI, Title IX, Section 504 and Public Law 101-226

Part 1.  General Statement of Policy
A student has the right to seek a remedy for a dispute or disagreement through a designated complaint or grievance procedure. Each college and university shall establish procedures in consultation with student representatives and others, for handling complaints and grievances. These procedures shall not substitute for other grievance procedures specific in board, college, or university regulations or negotiated agreements. Students are encouraged to use available informal means to have decisions reconsidered before filing a complaint or grievance. No retaliation of any kind shall be taken against a student for participation in a complaint or grievance.

Part 2.  Procedures
The chancellor shall establish procedures to implement this policy. Each college and university shall inform students of the established complaints and grievance, policies and procedures. These procedures should be publicized to students at least annually and include information for students about how and where to obtain grievance forms.

The student grievance policy and procedures of colleges and universities shall comply with these procedures:


Definitions

Appeal: A request for reconsideration of a grievance application of a policy or procedure.
Complaint: An oral claim concerning any college or university issue brought by a student alleging improper, unfair, arbitrary or discriminatory treatment.
Confidentiality Release Form (Tennessen Warning): This Tennessen Warning Form will be used to request information from an individual during an investigation of complaints. It is not a required release but aids in investigative work.
Day: A day is a class/work day. Weekends, vacations and days when classes are not in session or faculty are not under contract are not included under this definition.
Grievance: A written claim raised by a student, alleging improper, unfair, arbitrary, or discriminatory action by an employee involving the application of a specific provision of a college or university rule/regulation or a board policy or procedure.
Retaliation: Retribution of any kind taken against a student for participating or not participating in a complaint or grievance.
Student: An individual student, a group of students, or the student government.


Complaints

A student may complain concerning any college or university issue and discuss it with the appropriate employee(s) and/or administrator(s) as established by college procedure. A complaint may constitute a grievance if it is not resolved and if the complaint falls within the definition of a grievance.


Grievance

This grievance procedure is established as an orderly means for considering and resolving grievances rising from an allegation(s) of discriminatory acts within Minnesota West and is available to all students and employees of the College. The discriminatory acts may be based upon sex, race, color, religion, marital status, creed, age, disability, national origin, status with regard to public assistance, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or membership or activity in a local commission as defined by law, within Minnesota West and is available to all students and employees of the College. The use of this procedure is not required if the grievant(s) prefers other alternatives such as the Office of Civil Rights (OCR), Commission of Human Rights, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the courts. Hearings and conferences under this procedure shall be conducted at a time and place that will allow a fair and equitable opportunity to all persons.

Privacy - During the grievance procedures, the grievant(s) shall have the right to designate whether the procedure and meetings will be confidential, including names and related information. The Confidentiality Release Form (Tennessen Warning) will be used to request information from an individual during an investigation of complaints. It is not a required release but aids in investigative work.

Remedial Action - If the Campus Administrator or College President or designee determines reasonable cause exists to believe that a discriminatory practice has occurred or is occurring, a serious determined effort will be made to eliminate the alleged practice by conference, conciliation and persuasion. Appropriate action for remedy and relief will be taken. The Campus Administrator, College President or designee will obtain proof of compliance before the grievance case is closed.

The Campus Administrator or designee on each campus will be the Title VI, Title IX, Section 504 and Sex Equity Coordinator. Grievance Report forms may be obtained in the Administration office from the Campus Administrator.

Reprisals and Retaliation - Retaliation is any action taken against a student for participating in a complaint or grievance. Participants in a grievance submitted shall not be subjected to reprisals, retaliation or different treatment because of such participation. Participation shall not be recorded in the student’s personal records.

Right to Information - Unless state laws and right-to-privacy laws are violated, all relevant records with names and identifying information must be made available to the grievant(s) for use as evidence in the grievance procedure.

Right to Present Witnesses and Evidence
- Grievant(s) shall be allowed to present the grievance with relevant evidence and pertinent witnesses. Both parties shall have the opportunity for hearing and questioning witnesses.

Right to Representation
- Grievant(s) will have the right to be represented.


Steps in Filing a Grievance

The college or university shall develop and publish a timeframe that establishes reasonable time requirements for each step of the process. All participants shall adhere to the time limits prescribed for each level. Failure by the administration at any step of the procedure to communicate the decision on a grievance within the specified time limit shall permit the grievant(s) to proceed to the next step. Failure on the part of the grievant(s) to appeal the decision to the next step within the specified time limits shall be deemed to be an abandonment of the grievance. These procedures do not deny the right of any individual to pursue other avenues of recourse that may include filing charges with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, initiating civil action or seeking redress under state and federal law.

Step I:
A student may discuss a complaint with the appropriate employee(s), and/or administrator(s) as established by the following college procedure. A complaint may constitute a grievance, if not resolved, and if the complaint falls within the definition of a grievance. Students utilizing this grievance procedure shall discuss the issue orally with their immediate advisor/counselor at a mutually agreeable time within ten (10) days from the time the grievant has become aware of the issue giving rise to the disagreement through reasonable diligence. The advisor/counselor shall respond orally, not later than five (5) days from the time of the discussion with the grievant.

Step II:
A meeting with a Campus Administrator must be held within five (5) days from the referral and an oral response made within five (5) days.

Step III:
If the issue cannot be resolved informally, a written grievance, dated and signed, may be submitted by the student(s) to the Campus Administrator within ten (10) days of the receipt of the informal response from Step II. All grievances must be submitted in writing. The grievance issue should be described as specifically and completely as possible. Include the names of all witnesses and chosen representative, if any. A meeting with the grievant(s) and the designated administrator shall be held within ten (10) days at a mutually agreeable time. The response of the college or university shall be in writing at the conclusion of the grievance process. A written response shall be submitted to the grievant(s) within ten (10) days.

Step IV:
If the grievance is not resolved satisfactorily at STEP III, the grievant(s) may appeal in writing to the College President. A meeting shall be called within ten (10) days at a mutually agreeable time and minutes of the meeting recorded. A written response shall be submitted to the grievant(s) within an additional five (5) days.

Step V:
If the grievant(s) is not satisfied with the decision of the President or chooses not to use the local grievance procedure, appeal or counsel may be obtained by contacting one or more of the following offices:

Office of the Chancellor
350 Wells Fargo Place
30 Seventh St. East
St. Paul, MN 55101

Director of the Office of Civil Rights Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
300 South Wacker Drive
Chicago, IL
Regional Office, 310 West Wisconsin
Suite 800
Milwaukee, WI 53202
414-281-1111

Minnesota Department of Human Rights
Army Corps of Engineers Center
190 East 5th Street
St. Paul, MN 55101
651-296-5663 or 800-657-3704
TTY: 651-296-1283


Appeals

The grievance procedure shall include an opportunity for a student to appeal a grievance decision. The individual to whom an appeal is directed should be identified by the college or university for the issue(s) in question.

If the grievance involves a college or university rule or regulation, a student may appeal an official grievance through procedural steps up to the College President or designee. The decision of the College President or designee is final and binding.

If the grievance involves a board policy or the actions of a college or university president, an issue of institutional or program quality such as an institution's compliance with the standards of an accrediting or licensing agency, or a claim of consumer fraud or deceptive trade practice, a student may further appeal the college or university decision to the chancellor. The decision of the chancellor is final and binding.