HEOA Filing Complaints

ADDRESSING STUDENT CONCERNS

There are policies, grievance procedures, and appeal procedures established by Coastal Georgia that govern certain rights and obligations of students. These are all set forth in the College of Coastal Georgia Catalog and College of Coastal Georgia Student Code of Conduct Manual. There are three student concern categories at the College of Coastal Georgia:

  • Complaints (academic or non-academic that focuses on dissatisfaction with services provided by the College)
  • Appeals (academic or non-academic formally requesting a change in a decision made that is deemed by the student to be unfair)
  • Grievances (student allegation that his or her rights have been violated, including discrimination and sexual harassment)

COMPLAINTS

Student complaints can range from an experience with a College of Coastal Georgia employee to a matter relating to College facilities (e.g., parking lot), academics (e.g., classroom issue), student services (e.g., advising), or auxiliary services (e.g., campus dining).

To promptly, efficiently, and effectively resolve a complaint, the College offers students the Alternative Dispute Resolution Program (ADR). The program involves using one or more dispute resolution processes as an alternative to the traditional appeals and grievance processes. Alternative methods of dispute resolution may include one or more of the following: frank and open discussion between the parties to dispel any miscommunication which may have occurred; determining the issues to be resolved and negotiating with each other to reach an acceptable conclusion; or participating in a mediation session with an objective third party. (The third option, mediation, has been highly successful in the corporate world and is becoming much more widely used in educational settings.) ADR is an appropriate process to use regarding issues of intellectual diversity (when someone feels they have been treated unfairly by an instructor because of their ideas or opinions on a specific issue). Mediation is a voluntary process in which an impartial third party facilitates communication and negotiation between the disputing parties to reach a mutually acceptable agreement. The mediator has no firsthand knowledge of the problem nor any preconceived ideas of how the dispute should be settled. The mediator does not maintain a record of the session – the only written document is the negotiated agreement given to both parties.


APPEALS

Academic Appeals
Students have the right to appeal grades assigned by faculty if they believe that the grade has been assigned in a capricious, arbitrary or discriminatory manner by a faculty member. Students may appeal decisions made by faculty and administrators on the interpretation or application of an academic policy or procedure. The process for such appeals can be found in the College of Coastal College Catalog and the College of Coastal Georgia Student Code of Conduct Manual. It should be noted that in dealing with the outcomes of student academic appeals, faculty members and administrators have the same right to appeal the decisions of the supervisor or the Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs, as do the students. The same appeal process and timetable are followed as outlined in the Student Appeals section of the College Catalog.

Student Academic Appeal Policy
If a student believes a final grade was assigned incorrectly or unjustly, or that an established academic policy was violated or misused, the student may use the academic appeal process. Note that a student cannot appeal the professional judgment of the faculty member and, in all cases, the policy in the course syllabus shall prevail in determining the grade. Students wishing to file an academic appeal must follow the steps below.

Note: All appeals and documentation must be in writing.

  1. The student must start the process by reviewing the situation with the instructor in the case of a grade appeal or the responsible academic administrator in the case of academic policy.
  2. If the issue is not resolved, the student may submit an appeal packet to the immediate supervisor of the instructor or academic administrator. The student can contact the Office of Academic Affairs at 912-279-5711 if he/she is unsure of who the supervisor may be.

The appeal packet must include:

  • a letter describing all points which the student considers to be pertinent to the appeal, and
  • in the case of a grade appeal, a copy of the instructor’s syllabus as well as a copy of the student’s grades for the entire semester, as well as
  • any other documentation the student considers pertinent to the appeal.

Additional points will not be later considered if they are not in the initial appeal packet. Where applicable, the immediate supervisor, Chair, and/or Dean will work jointly to review the case and render a decision. The decision will be communicated to the student and instructor via email. The student must submit his or her appeal within ten business days into the term immediately following the term in which the event occurred. If the appeal impacts enrollment in the subsequent term, then the student must submit their appeal packet within five business days of the last day of the semester. It is recommended the student submit their materials in person or via email to expedite this process.

A student who believes that the appeal was decided in an arbitrary, capricious, discriminatory or unfair manner by the immediate supervisor may submit their original appeal packet, along with a letter of rationale describing why he or she believes due process was not exercised by the supervisor, to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs (PVPAA) unless it is the PVPAA's decision that is being appealed. Additional points will not be considered if not included in the written appeal. The PVPAA will review the appeal, examine the facts, and render a decision. The decision will be communicated to the student, instructor, Chair, and Dean via email. The student must submit his or her appeal within ten business days of the notification of the supervisor’s appeal decision. If the appeal impacts enrollment in the subsequent term, the student must submit their appeal packet within two business days of the notification of the supervisor’s appeal decision. It is recommended the student submit their materials in person or via email to expedite this process.

Appeals of decisions made by the PVPAA may be made in writing to the College President within three business days of notification of the PVPAA’s appeal decision. The student must submit his or her original appeal packet, along with a letter of rationale describing why he or she believes due process was not exercised by the PVPAA. The President may appoint a faculty committee to review all facts and circumstances connected with the case and submit its findings, and report thereon to the President. The President shall make a decision which shall be final so far as the institution is concerned.

If, at any stage, the deadline cannot be met due to legitimate documented reasons (e.g., medical or legal reason or the student is deployed in the military), the student can appeal to the Office of Academic Affairs for an extension. Such appeals must include documentation of the reason for the request. Throughout this document, business days refer to business days in which the College is open.

Please consult the College Catalog for more details.


GRIEVANCES

There are times in which students have a grievance or issue with another student, a faculty member, or a College staff member, which is of a non-grade/non-harassment related nature College of Coastal Georgia Student Handbook. These grievances could include issues of intellectual diversity (when someone feels they have been treated unfairly by the institution because of their ideas or opinions on a specific issue). It is recommended in these situations that student follow these informal procedures:

  1. In a situation where it is a grievance with a fellow student, students are encouraged to meet with the Vice President of Student Affairs & Enrollment Management. The Vice President or his/her designee will investigate the situation and assist the students involved in resolving the problem or grievance in a collaborative manner.
  2. In a situation where it is a grievance with a faculty or College staff member, students are encouraged to meet one-on-one with the person with whom they have a complaint or issue to discuss the issue openly. If this does not resolve the situation, students should meet with the immediate supervisor or supervisors of the college personnel with whom they have the complaint or grievance. If the situation still is not resolved, students are encouraged to meet with the senior administrator in the employee’s chain of command.
  3. If this informal process does not resolve the issue, students are encouraged to consider using the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Program. The ADR program is fully explained in the College of Coastal Georgia Student Handbook. This program may provide mediation as an option to the parties involved at no cost to the student.

Harassment/Discrimination Grievances

The College of Coastal Georgia attempts to provide equal opportunity to all students and applicants for admission without regard to race, creed, color, gender, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, veteran status, or handicap. The College does not discriminate against any student or applicant in regard to any position for which the student is qualified. Any student who believes that he or she has been discriminated against because of race, creed, color, gender, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, veteran, or handicapped status is encouraged to let appropriate authorities at the College know of this treatment.


TITLE IX

The College is committed to being a safe and respectful environment to live and study and complies with the mandates that govern the handling of gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual assault. The Offices of Student Conduct and Title IX jointly collaborate with the Campus Police Department to effectively implement community policies and build rapport with students. The Offices assign officers to specific locations and hosts programs and events to engage residents. Additionally, the Offices ensure an impartial and timely student conduct process for all students involved in any possible policy violations by implementing a student conduct process encompassing properly trained investigators and conduct officers providing transparency and due process. Furthermore, the Offices diligently track all student conduct cases and using the data to target programming initiatives on campus. In doing so, the Offices are able to accurately provide detailed reports of student conduct violations and sanctions. In 2016, the College added two employees in the Office of Residence Life and Housing as Residence Hall Directors. They serve as investigators and conduct officers for the majority of all cases within the residence halls. Also, the department added a Deputy Title IX Coordinator to the Office of Student Conduct Staff that serves and supports the College's Title IX Coordinator.

There are three ways to file a report:

  1. Contact the Title IX Coordinator, Dr. Michael Butcher, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs/Dean of Students, at mbutcher@ccga.edu or 912-279-5815;
  2. Contact Campus Police at 912-258-3133 (Brunswick campus), 912-552-5277 (Camden Center), or your off-campus local law enforcement; or
  3. Complete and submit an anonymous complaint through the Campus Police Anonymous Report Form.

SEXUAL MISCONDUCT POLICY

In accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (“Title IX”), the USG does not discriminate on the basis of sex in any of its education programs or activities or in employment. The USG is committed to ensuring a safe learning and working environment for all members of the USG community (USG BoR - 6.7 Sexual Misconduct Policy). To that end, the College has created an institutional policy that prohibits sexual misconduct, as defined in the Student Code of Conduct Manual.

If the student chooses, he or she may file a grievance through the channels outlined in the College’s Non-Discrimination and Harassment Policy.


DISTANCE EDUCATION

In compliance with the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, institutions offering distance education must provide students with contact information for filing complaints with accrediting agencies and with the appropriate state agencies for handling complaints. The College wants to resolve student grievances, complaints and concerns involving e-learning in an expeditious and fair manner. Complaints regarding any aspect of Coastal Georgia operations should be filed initially with Academic Affairs and then, if needed, to external authorities, such as NC-SARA, which utilizes a flowchart presentation depicting the complaint process. If the complaint cannot be resolved at the college level, the student can appeal to the NC-SARA Georgia Portal, the Georgia Nonpublic Postsecondary Education Commission (GNPEC) unless the student is located in Massachusetts or California.


ETHICS HOTLINE COMPLAINTS

The College of Coastal Georgia recognizes that each member of the academic community attempts to live by his or her own values, beliefs, and ethical decision-making processes. The Ethics Hotline & Reporting Wrongdoing Policy guides students and other members of the College's community and sets forth a reporting mechanism for Hotline complaints; however, depending on the nature of the complaint, additional College of Coastal Georgia policies may detail the exact process to follow for investigation and resolution of a specific Hotline complaint. For example, Hotline complaints alleging sexual harassment, academic misconduct, poor work performance, and conflicts with other employees will be investigated according to the applicable procedures set forth in the corresponding College policy.


COMPLAINTS TO THE UNIVERSITY SYSTEM OF GEORGIA (USG)

The USG has Procedures for Handling Complaints, including a Student Complaint Form that the College makes available to students and the public. In the unlikely event that a complaint cannot be resolved through either the College or USG protocol, students may file a complaint with their resident state licensing authority. Georgia residents may complete the Georgia Nonpublic Postsecondary Education Commission Authorized School Complaint Form.


COMPLAINTS TO THE SOUTHERN ASSOCIATION OF COLLEGES AND SCHOOLS COMMISSION ON COLLEGES (SACSCOC)

Although no complaints involving SACSCOC have been received to date, they would be routed through the Office of the President. For complaints regarding College of Coastal Georgia accreditation, the SACSCOC contact information is published on the Accreditation web page. All student complaints are investigated to the extent allowed by the College, the USG Board of Regents, the Georgia Open Records Act, and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (Georgia Open Records Act, College of Coastal Georgia Student Handbook - FERPA).