Student Complaint Procedures

Section 1: Non-Academic Student Complaint Procedures

Guiding Principles:

Austin Community College (ACC or College) strives to achieve the highest standards in its provision of services but recognizes that concerns or complaints may arise from time to time. The procedure outlines the process for addressing concerns promptly, fairly and constructively in order to achieve the highest level of quality. The College seeks to minimize student complaints by ensuring that students have opportunities to participate in the decision making process. In the event the student is dissatisfied with a service, the College will seek to:

a. Resolve the matter at the earliest possible opportunity;
b. Investigate fairly and thoroughly;
c. Ensure the process is unbiased.

Non-Academic Student Complaints may include (but are not limited to) issues with college services and offices, or interactions with employees.

A. Confidentiality

Protecting the privacy of employees and students is extremely important to ACC. Information   received is strictly confidential and will only be disclosed for the purpose of resolving the complaint. The College will make every effort to ensure complaints remain confidential to the parties involved.

B. Complaints

Complaints specifically covered by the Administrative Rules or other policies below are not included in these procedures:

  • 6.02.002 Prohibition of Discrimination or Harassment of Students on the Basis of Disability
  • 6.02.003 Prohibition of Discrimination or Harassment of Students on the Basis of Race, Color, or National Origin
  • 3.10.003 Prohibition of Sexual Misconduct
  • 4.01.010 Grade Change
  • 7.07.005 Satisfactory Progress Policy for Financial Aid Recipients; and
  • Admission and Records Appeal

Section 2: Informal and Formal Resolution Process

A. Informal Resolution

The College encourages students to discuss their concerns with the appropriate college official at the lowest level who has the authority to address the concerns.
Concerns should be expressed as soon as possible to allow for early resolution. Any deadline extension shall be mutually agreed upon in writing and will not affect a formal complaint deadline.

Informal resolution is encouraged but shall not extend any deadlines in this policy, except by mutual written consent.
Complaints that potentially fall under two different administrative rules or resolution processes will run concurrently.

B. Formal Process

A student may initiate the formal process described below by submitting a written complaint. Dean/Associate Dean of Student Affairs or designee may advise the student on the process of filing a complaint.

Even after initiating the formal complaint process, students are encouraged to seek informal resolution of their concerns. A student whose concerns are resolved may withdraw a formal complaint at any point in the process.

The process described in this policy shall not be construed to create new or additional rights beyond those granted by law or Board policy, nor to require a full evidentiary hearing.

Students shall file First Level complaint with the immediate supervisor. If the complaint is not filed with the appropriate supervisor, the receiving supervisor must note the date and time the complaint was received, and immediately forward the complaint form to the appropriate supervisor.

Procedures:

Within 5 business days of the final informal attempt at a resolution, a written complaint should be made by submitting a Student Non-Academic Complaint form to the immediate supervisor of the person or program against whom the complaint is made.

Initial written complaint must include the following:

  • Student’s name and contact information, including daytime phone number, mailing address, and ACC-issued email address;
  • A full description of the complaint, providing relevant dates of events and including the names of all parties involved;
  • A statement describing attempt(s) to resolve the issue informally;
  • The proposed resolution, relief or action sought.

Upon receipt of the written complaint, the supervisor will review the document(s), inform the Dean/Associate Dean of Student Affairs and meet with any or all parties cited in the complaint. Both the complainant and respondent will receive a copy of the initial complaint. The supervisor will render a decision within ten (10) business days from the receipt of the written complaint.

C. Appeals

If the student is not satisfied with the resolution and wishes to appeal, student may submit an appeal with the second level supervisor (e.g., dean, director or department chair) within ten (10) business days.

After receiving notice of the appeal, the immediate level supervisor shall prepare and forward the following documentation to the second level supervisor:

The Second Level supervisor record shall include:

  • The initial written complaint and any attachments;
  • All other documents submitted by the student;
  • The written response issued by the supervisor and any attachments;
  • All other documents relied upon by the supervisor in reaching a decision.

The second level supervisor shall provide a resolution within ten (10) business days.

If the student is not satisfied with the resolution and wishes to appeal, then the student may submit an appeal with the third level supervisor (e.g., AVP or Vice President) within ten (10) business days from the receipt of the written determination.

The Third Level Supervisor record shall include:

  • Initial written complaint;
  • Second level supervisor record;
  • The written response issued by the supervisor and any attachments;
  • All other documents relied upon by the supervisor in reaching a decision.

The appeal shall be limited to the issues and documents considered at Second Level. If at the Third Level conference the supervisor intends to rely on documentation and information not included in the Second Level record, the supervisor shall provide the student notice of the nature of the documentation and information at least three (3) business days before the conference.

The Third Level supervisor will make a decision concerning the complaint and notify the student of the decision in writing within ten (10) business days of the receipt of the Second Level appeal. The decision of the Third Level supervisor is final.

D.Freedom from Retaliation

Neither the Board nor any College employee shall retaliate against any student for bringing a concern or complaint.

E. Documentation

All formal complaints are documented in the College’s official conduct software (currently Maxient).

F. Terminology

Business days - Weekdays (Monday through Friday; excluding holidays and college closures).
College Official - Faculty member, staff member, or administrator employed by the Austin Community College District.
Supervisor - The individual to whom the college official reports to.
First Level – Immediate supervisor
Second Level – supervisor’s supervisor (e.g., dean, director, or department chair)
Third Level (final) – Next level supervisor (e.g., Associate vice president or vice president)

G. Notice to Students
The College shall inform students of this policy through appropriate College publications.

H. Filing
Complaint forms and appeal notices may be filed in person or through an ACC-issued email address.

I. Scheduling Conferences
The College shall make reasonable attempts to schedule conferences at a mutually agreeable time. Failure of student to appear or respond does not halt complaint process.

J. Response:
Response means a written communication or phone call to the student from the appropriate college official. Responses may be hand-delivered or sent to an ACC-issued email address.