The Student Complaint Procedures are established so that students can resolve difficulties/problems they encounter in college-related activities. The Student Complaint Policy is designed to consider an alleged wrong against a student (see KCCD Board Procedures 4F9 for the Student Complaint and Hearing Panel procedures). Efforts will be made to resolve a complaint in a timely and fair manner. Students who contend they have been treated unfairly have the right, without fear of reprisal, to use a written procedure in their attempt to right an alleged wrong. Student complaints are taken seriously; therefore, the complaint must be of a compelling, substantive, and verifiable nature.
As laid out in KCCD policy, BEFORE submitting the completed Student Complaint Intake Form to the Office of Student Life, the student must first talk to the head of the department and/or respective Dean. Once the student has spoken to either individual and has not received the desired resolution, the Director of Student Life will assist the student in the process with this completed form. This form is only an intake form to start a conversation with the parties involved. Submitting this form does not start the KCCD Student Complaint Level I complaint process until it has been signed by the submitter.
Repeated filings of the same complaint, filings of a frivolous nature, or capricious complaints against school personnel will be considered abuse of the student conduct and/or complaint process. Repeated filings will be referred to the College President’s designee for a decision.
Filing of complaints against any party is a serious undertaking. Prior to filing a written complaint, and within ten (10) instructional days of the incident leading to the complaint, the student(s) should contact the staff member involved in an attempt to resolve the issue. If this attempt is not feasible or does not resolve the problem, the student(s) may initiate Level I action. Complaints may not be filed after ninety (90) instructional days from the date of the incident leading to the complaint. The Office of Student Life will receive and administer student complaints at Bakersfield College. At the written request of the student, action on the complaint may be delayed until the term of the class is completed. In this event, the Office of Student Life may delay any further action on the student complaint until the next semester. In the event of a group student complaint, at most two students shall be chosen to carry the complaint forward.
These procedures may apply to student complaints such as:
Student complaints are taken seriously; therefore, the complaint must be of a compelling, substantive, and verifiable nature. Repeated filings of the same complaint, filings of a frivolous nature, or capricious complaints against college personnel will be considered abuse of the student complaint process and may be subjected to the Student Conduct.
Notices sent to the last address in the College records and deposited in the United States mail, postage prepaid, shall be presumed to have been received and read. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that contact information is current at all times. Formal level proceedings may be recorded using audio and/or video recorders by the appropriate administrator. To protect the integrity and confidentiality of the proceedings, no other recording or transcription is allowed. Recordings are confidential and the exclusive property of the College/District. Recordings become a part of the complaint file and are maintained by the designated administrator.
The Informal Process
1. In the event of a student complaint, the student should first meet with the alleged staff member in an attempt to resolve the issue informally. If it is uncomfortable for the student to deal with the staff member alone, the student may hold a conference with the head of the department. If the situation then comes to a resolution, the student complaint is then considered resolved.
2. If the student, the staff member, and the head of the department cannot find a resolution, the next step is for the student to meet with the head of the department, who will attempt to mediate the issue. If the issue is not resolved to the satisfaction of the student, the student shall then submit a Student Complaint Intake Form and meet with the Office of Student Life.
The student should contact the office or department of the staff member’s immediate supervisor/designee to initiate the informal process first. If a resolution is not met during an information process, the student should meet with the Office of Student Life and submit a Level I Student Complaint Intake Form. Submitting the intake form does not start the KCCD Student Complaint Level I compliant process until the student has signed the complaint form and it has been submitted to the head of the department and/or respective dean.
The student will be given an opportunity to meet with the immediate supervisor/designee. The appointment to meet shall be within ten (10) instructional days of notice of the occurrence of the alleged incident. At the time of the appointment, the student and the immediate supervisor/designee will attempt to resolve the issue in a satisfactory manner. If the complainant fails to appear for the scheduled appointment, the Level I complaint process shall be terminated and the complainant shall have no further recourse.
Subsequent to the student meeting with the immediate supervisor/designee, the latter shall meet and confer with the staff member(s) involved in an effort to resolve the complaint. If possible, this meeting shall be within five (5) instructional days of the student meeting with the immediate supervisor/designee. After meeting with student and staff member(s), the immediate supervisor/designee shall notify the parties involved of the suggestion for resolution. If this resolution is acceptable to the student, the immediate supervisor/designee shall complete the Level I “Information/Disposition Form” and submit copies of it to the student, the staff member(s), the Office of Student Life, and maintain the original in a suitable file.
If the immediate supervisor/designee does not resolve the complaint to the complainant’s satisfaction, the student may, within ten (10) instructional days of the decision, file with the Office of Student Life a request to move the complaint to Level II.
Under certain circumstances, and in the interest of fairness to all parties, the immediate supervisor/designee may refer the complaint to Level II immediately. The immediate supervisor/designee shall notify the student, staff member(s), and the Office of Student Life when the referral has been made to Level II. If the student complainant chooses to move the complaint to Level II, the student must complete a “Request to Appeal from Level I Recommendation” form and submit to the Office of Student Life.
Once the Office of Student Life receives and meets with the student regarding the “Request to Appeal from Level I Recommendation” form, the student will sign the form to initiate the Level II Complaint Procedure and send it to appropriate administrators. Within ten (10) instructional days of receiving the request, the appropriate administrator shall investigate the allegations and convene a conference of the student, the staff member(s), and the staff member(s)’ immediate supervisor/designee.
The student bringing the complaint and the staff member(s) being complained against must be present at this conference. At this meeting, an attempt will be made to resolve the issue(s) and agree upon the remedy. If the complainant fails to appear for this conference, except for good cause, the Level II complaint process shall be terminated, and the complainant shall have no further recourse.
Following this Level II conference, the appropriate administrator shall, within five (5) instructional days, provide their written decision and the basis for the decision. Copies of this decision shall be sent to the student, the staff member(s), the immediate supervisor/designee, the appropriate Vice President, and the Office of Student Life. The student bringing the complaint and/or staff member(s) being complained against may challenge the Level II decision by proceeding to Level III.
If the student and/or the staff member(s) challenge the Level II decision they must file a “Request to Appeal from Level II Recommendation” form within ten (10) instructional days of notification of the Level II decision. This Level III appeal shall be submitted to the appropriate Vice President and the Office of Student Life. The appropriate Vice President must be provided with copies of all written materials, recordings, and any other documents generated regarding the complaint at Levels I and II.
The purpose of Level III is to make one last attempt to resolve the issues to the satisfaction of the parties involved. To that end, the appropriate Vice President shall, within ten (10) instructional days of receiving the referral assemble the complainant(s), the staff member(s), the appropriate administrator from Level II, the immediate supervisor/designee.
If the appropriate Vice President is able to resolve the complaint(s), such resolution shall be established in written form and shall be validated by the signatures of all parties involved. This agreement shall become part of the file and copies of same shall be made available to the complainant(s), staff member(s), appropriate administrator, immediate supervisor/designee, and the Office of Student Life.
If the appropriate Vice President is unable to resolve the complaint(s), the Vice President and/or the Office of Student Life shall assemble a Student Complaint Hearing Panel within ten (10) instructional days of that determination. The Office of Student Life shall provide the Hearing Panel with the procedure to be used and answer any procedural questions which may arise. )See KCCD AP 4F9(b), Student Complaint Hearing Panel Procedure.)
BC is committed to the concept of academic freedom, which guarantees individual instructors wide latitude in how they structure and conduct their classes. Such matters as the amount of homework, the kind and frequency of testing, the nature of the grading system, the degree of class participation expected, the choice of textbooks, the theoretical perspective or pedagogy, and the emphasized topics are all, within very wide boundaries, at the discretion of the instructor.
Difficulties occasionally arise between a student and a faculty member about grades. Most misunderstandings are resolved amicably and the college urges students to discuss the matters directly with the faculty member. Because some disagreements cannot be resolved informally, BC has a procedure for resolution of grade complaints that the student must initiate.
Grounds for a Grade Change
The most common problems are those concerning the grade assigned for classwork. According to California Education Code (5 CCR § 55025), a grade assigned by an instructor at the end of a term can be changed only by that instructor, except in cases of mistake, fraud, bad faith, or incompetence. This policy does not apply to challenges of deadlines for pass (P) or no pass (NP). Pass/no pass grades cannot be changed to letter grades once 25 percent of the class has passed.
If a clerical or tabulation error has been made, it can be handled through meeting with the instructor and/or head of the department. At the beginning of each class, instructors must give students a copy of their grading policies.
If a student believes that an instructor has deviated from these policies in the evaluation of the student’s work, the student may pursue a grade change appeal under the description of mistake, fraud, bad faith, or incompetence. A finding of bad faith should be supported by specific evidence that the instructor harbored ill-will or discriminatory intent, which motivated the instructor to assign to the student a grade lower than the grade the student should have earned based on objective criteria.
The Informal Process should be undertaken first; however, a formal complaint must be filed in writing with the Vice President of Instruction, or designee, within ten (10) instructional days of receiving the grade. The student must attempt to resolve the issue by contacting the faculty member who originally assigned the grade. For grades assigned at the conclusion of the fall semester, the ten (10) instructional day time-span begins with the first instructional day of the succeeding spring semester. For grades assigned at the conclusion of the spring or summer term, the ten (10) instructional day time-span begins with the first instructional day of the succeeding fall semester.
The Informal Process
1. In the event of a problem over a grade given in a class, the student should first meet with the instructor and request an explanation of the grade. If it is uncomfortable for the student to deal with an instructor alone, the student may conference the head of the department. If the instructor agrees to the grade change, the instructor completes a grade change form and submits to the Office of Admissions and Records.
2. If the student and the instructor cannot resolve the problem, the next step is for the student to meet with the department chair, who will attempt to mediate the issue. If the department chair is unable to achieve resolution, the next step for the student is to meet with the division dean, who will attempt to mediate the issue. The mediation effort shall include a conference with the responsible dean, the department chair, the student, and the faculty employee, if available, and/or individual or combined sequential meetings between all the parties. If the issue is not resolved to the satisfaction of the student, the responsible dean should prepare a written summary of the mediation efforts and forward it to the Vice President of Instruction for the continuation of the grade change appeal process.
The Formal Process
1. If after a good faith effort to complete the informal process, the student continues to believe an improper grade was recorded, the student may file a Written Request for a Grade Change with the Vice President of Instruction. Throughout the grade change procedure, the burden of proof rests with the student. In the absence of evidence of mistake, fraud, bad faith or incompetence, the grade assigned by a faculty member is presumed to be correct.
2. Within 30 days of receipt of the Written Request for a Grade Change, the Vice President of Instruction, or designee, after consultation with the faculty member, shall meet with the student and the faculty member who assigned the grade in question, if the faculty member is presently employed by the District.
3. If the Vice President of Instruction, or designee, approves the grade change request, the approver shall order the correction or removal of the grade and shall notify the grade issuing faculty member of the grade change and the specific reasons for it. If the Vice President of Instruction, or designee, denies the grade change request resulting in no correction or removal of the grade in question, the student, within 30 days of the grade change denial, may appeal the decision in writing to the Board of Trustees
Resolution Steps for Grade Complaints