Sep 28, 2021  
2021-2022 Updated Catalog 
  
2021-2022 Updated Catalog

Complaints and Grievances


Student Complaint and Grievance Procedures

Title IX Grievance Procedures

The Title IX Grievance Process differs from the Student Complaint and Grievance Procedures. The procedure under the Title IX regulations (34 C.F.R. part 106) implements Northwest Florida State College policy and state and federal law that prohibit discrimination and harassment based on sex and gender in employment and educational programs or activities.   

Any person may make a report of sexual harassment (whether or not that person is the Complainant or alleged victim of the conduct that could constitute sexual harassment). Reports may be made in person or via mail, phone call, or email by contacting the Title IX Coordinator:

Jessica Holley-Guiles
HR Specialist, Title IX Coordinator
100 College Blvd. East, Niceville, FL 32578
Building 310
Phone: (850) 729-5365
Email: holleyj4@nwfsc.edu   

If an individual discloses sexual harassment or discrimination to a Responsible Employee of the College, that employee is obligated to report the alleged harassment to the Title IX Coordinator.  

The Title IX Coordinator will contact each Complainant to discuss the availability of supportive measures and the Complainant’s wishes regarding the supportive measures. The Title IX Coordinator will also discuss with the Complainant the process of filing a formal complaint and whether the Complainant will file a formal complaint.

If a formal complaint is filed either by the Complainant or the Title IX Coordinator, the College will treat Complainants and Respondents equitably and will include an objective evaluation of all relevant evidence. Each party may have an advisor. An investigation will be conducted by a trained investigator who will collect relevant evidence and interview both parties and witnesses. The investigator will provide the evidence to both parties for review, allowing at least ten (10) days for the parties to review and provide a written response. The investigator will consider these written responses before submitting the investigative report.  

The decision-maker, who cannot be the same person as the Title IX Coordinator or the investigator, must allow each party’s advisor to cross examine the other party and all witnesses at a live hearing. Both parties will be given at least ten (10) days between receiving the investigative report and the live hearing. Either party may request that the hearing take place with the parties in separate rooms and technology enabling the parties and decision-maker to see and hear the proceedings. The decision-maker will issue a written determination, which either party may appeal in writing within seven (7) days of the written determination.  

During the formal complaint procedure, the parties may agree to an informal resolution, which is a remedies-based, non-judicial approach designed to eliminate a hostile environment without taking disciplinary action against a Respondent. Both parties must voluntarily consent to the informal resolution process in writing. The College cannot offer or facilitate an informal resolution process to resolve allegations that an employee sexually harassed a student.   

To read the College’s full Title IX procedure, click here

 

These procedures are designed to encourage a prompt and equitable resolution of complaints however it does not prohibit individuals from seeking assistance from other sources. The College prohibits retaliation against any person who files a complaint alleging discrimination or any person alleged to have committed discrimination.

Definitions

An informal complaint or formal grievance is a dispute against any employee or department of the College who has:

  1. Violated a written College policy or procedure
  2. Not properly followed the College’s published policies, regulations, rules, or procedures.

Informal Resolution of Complaints

A student who has a complaint against an employee or department of the College should attempt to resolve the matter informally. Outlined below are the procedures for informally resolving a complaint. The Director of Student Development and Campus Engagement may act as the Student Ombudsman and assist in the resolution of informal complaints. Informal complaints should be discussed directly with the instructor, allowing department chairs, program directors, deans and vice presidents to participate in the formal grievance process.

  • Academic (informal)
  1. Academic complaints are any dispute (meeting the definition above) with an instructor or department related to in-class activity.
  2. As part of the informal process, students must first attempt to resolve the dispute directly with the instructor.
  • Non-Academic (informal)
  1. Non-academic complaints are any dispute (meeting the definition above) with a college employee or department related to non-class activity.
  2. As part of the informal process, students must first attempt to resolve the issue directly with the employee.

 

Formal Grievances

Limit of Scope

A formal grievance cannot be used:

  1. As a resolution of matters student-to-student.
  2. To challenge the legitimacy of existing policies, regulations, rules, or procedures.
  3. Against any non-employee of the College.

Formal Resolution of Grievances (Step 1)

A student who has a formal grievance against an employee or department of the College who has attempted to satisfactorily resolve the matter informally (as outlined above) may file a formal grievance. Outlined below are the procedures for resolving a formal grievance. A formal grievance may be escalated to a higher step if an administrator was involved in prior adjudication.

  1. The student will submit their Step I Grievance through an electronic form available on the website.
  2. The student must explain, within 30 days of the last contact with the individual in the informal complaint, the circumstances pertaining to the situation.
  3. The student must identify the policies that have been violated or not properly followed.
  4. The student must identify what action would be a satisfactory resolution to the situation.

 

Formal grievance Investigation Procedure (Step 1)

Academic

Non-Academic

The instructor’s Program Director or Department Chair (hereafter “the administrator”) will investigate.

The employee’s Director or Executive Director (hereafter “the administrator”) will investigate.

  • The administrator may, for safety reasons, issue temporary sanctions or accommodations, as appropriate, during the investigation.
  • The administrator will meet with the appropriate parties to collect the facts of incident.
  • Once all known facts of the incident have been collected, the administrator will consider the details and render a decision. All decisions will be based on a “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard.
  • The administrator will notify the individual(s) of the decision. If the individual is found “responsible” for the incident sanctions will be applied.
  • A response with a decision to the student through email within 10 business days of submission.

 

Formal Resolution of Grievances (Step 2)

  • A Step 2 Grievance must be filed within 10 calendar days of the issuance of the Step 1 finding. 
  • The student will submit their Step 2 Grievance through an electronic form available on the website.
  • During the appeal process the sanctions issued in Step 1 will stand.
  • A Step 2 Grievance may be filed if the individual filing the Grievance believes there was an error or omission of fact or law considered by the administrator in Step 1.
  • The individual filing the Grievance must identify the following points in their submission:
    • Why the outcome issued by the administrator is factually flawed or contrary to federal law, state law or college policy or practice.
    • Desired outcome of the Grievance.

 

Formal grievance Investigation Procedure (Step 2)

Academic

Non-Academic

The Program Director or Department Chair’s Dean (hereafter “the administrator”) will investigate.

A Director or Executive Director not supervising the involved parties (hereafter “the administrator”) will investigate.

  • The administrator will review all materials collected in the Step 1 Grievance.
  • The administrator will make a determination as to whether the outcome issued by the administrator in Step 1 was factually flawed or contrary to federal law, state law or college policy or practice.
  • The administrator may convene a panel to assist with the investigation of the Grievance (as needed).
  • The administrator may call on the individual filing the Grievance, witnesses, or any other appropriate party to resolve the Grievance.
  • A response with a decision to the student through email within 10 business days of submission.
    • If additional information is requested by the administrator and not received within 10 business days, the finding of the Step 1 Grievance will be upheld.
    • If the administrator determines the Step 1 Grievance findings were incorrect, all sanctions will be reversed and the student’s written, desired outcome will be met.

 

Formal Resolution of Grievances (Step 3)

  • A Step 3 Grievance must be filed within 10 calendar days of the issuance of the Step 2 finding. 
  • The student will submit their Step 2 Grievance through an electronic form available on the website.
  • During the appeal process the sanctions issued in Step 1 will stand.
  • A Step 3 Grievance may be filed if the individual filing the Grievance believes there was an error or omission of fact or law considered by the administrator in Step 1.
  • The individual filing the Grievance must identify the following points in their submission:
  • Why the outcome issued by the administrator is factually flawed or contrary to federal law, state law or college policy or practice.
  • Desired outcome of the Grievance.

 

Formal grievance Investigation Procedure (Step 3)

Academic

Non-Academic

The Vice President, Academic Affairs will be the sole arbiter.

The Vice President, Student Success will be the sole arbiter.

  • The Vice President will review all materials collected in the Step 1 and Step 2 Grievances.
  • The Vice President will make a determination as to whether the outcome issued by the administrator in Step 2 was factually flawed or contrary to federal law, state law or college policy or practice.
  • The Vice President may convene a panel to assist with the investigation of the Grievance (as needed).
  • The Vice President may call on the individual filing the Grievance, witnesses, or any other appropriate party to resolve the Grievance.
  • A response with a decision to the student through email within 10 business days of submission.
    • If additional information is requested by the administrator and not received within 10 business days, the finding of the Step 2 Grievance will be upheld.
    • If the Vice President determines the Step 2 Grievance findings were incorrect, all sanctions will be reversed and the student’s written, desired outcome will be met.
  • The Step 3 Grievance is the final step in the college’s Grievance process.