Student Disability Grievance/Appeal Policy and Procedure
Occidental College is committed to providing equal educational opportunities for students with disabilities, who are otherwise qualified, in an academic environment free from harassment and discrimination. In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), Occidental College does not discriminate on the basis of disability in the administration of its education-related programs and activities.
The grievance procedure set forth below is applicable to undergraduate and graduate students of the College and covers all complaints of disability discrimination alleged to have occurred in any college program or activity. In general, it is designed to address all disability related disputes concerning the following:
A. Disagreements regarding disability status, requested service, academic adjustments or auxiliary aids, or modification of a college/course practice or requirement.
B. Inaccessibility of a program or activity.
C. Harassment or discrimination on the basis of disability in any college program or activity, including grade disputes and reinstatement.
D. Violation of privacy in the context of disability.
E. Complaints of retaliation based on having filed or participated in a prior complaint of disability discrimination at the College.
Disability Services Resolution Committee
Occidental College's Disability Services Resolution Committee is responsible for administering this grievance procedure. The Disability Services Resolution Committee consists of three faculty members and/or administrators, based on the nature of the complaint. The committee will consult with the Associate Dean of Students or the Dean of Students Office designee when conducting the investigation process. Although the composition of the Disability Services Resolution Committee will change periodically, all members will be knowledgeable concerning disability issues and the legal mandates of state and federal disability statutes. The Associate Dean of Students is the designated ADA/504 Compliance Officer and all grievances should be submitted directly to the Associate Dean or to the Dean of Students Office designee.
When a grievance is filed, the grievant will be notified of the composition of the committee members. Upon receipt of this information the grievant may challenge a committee member on the grounds of personal bias in advance of the investigation. The Associate Dean of Students or Dean of Students Office designee may disqualify a committee member. Members will remove themselves from the committee if they believe they have a bias towards the grievant.
Students may file a grievance through an informal and/or formal process. It is generally recommended that students attempt an informal resolution before filing a formal complaint; however, this is not always the most appropriate action and students have the right to request a formal resolution at any time.
For grade disputes involving a claim of harassment or discrimination on the basis of disability, please follow this grievance procedure, not the Grade Appeal Policy as noted in the College Catalog.
Optional Informal Resolution
- Students are encouraged to directly discuss the matter in person or in writing with the individual(s) most directly responsible.
- If no resolution results, or if direct contact is inappropriate under the circumstances, the student should then discuss the problem with the Associate Dean of Students.
- If the Associate Dean of Students is unable to assist in informally resolving the concern(s), the student will be referred to the formal complaint procedure.
- If the Associate Dean of Students is involved in the concern(s), the student should report to the Dean of Students Office designee and follow formal complaint procedures.
When to File Complaint
Complaints regarding auxiliary aids and academic adjustments shall be filed as soon as possible, but no later than 30 calendar days of the judgment they wish to appeal. All other complaints must be filed within 180 days of the incident.
What To File
A complaint must be in writing and include the following:
- The grievant's name, ID number, address, e-mail address, and phone number.
- A clear statement of the request or concern, identifying the type of grievance and the grounds on which the complaint is based. Please select one or more of the following statements:
- Disagreements regarding disability status, requested service, accommodation, or modification of a College/Course practice or requirement.
- Inaccessibility of a program or activity.
- Harassment or discrimination on the basis of disability in any College program or activity, including grade disputes and reinstatement.
- Violation of privacy in the context of disability.
- Complaints of retaliation based on having filed or participated in a prior complaint of disability discrimination at the College.
- The date of action the student's alleged discrimination occurred.
- The names of all Occidental College community members involved.
- A description of what efforts, if any, have been made to resolve the issue informally.
- A statement of the remedy requested.
Where to File Complaint
The complaint shall be filed with the Coordinator of Disability Services or the Dean of Students office.
Erica O'Neal Howard, Ph.D.
Associate Dean of Students
Arthur G. Coons Administration Center - Suite 111
1600 Campus Road
Los Angeles, CA 90041
Barbara J. Avery, Ed.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs/Dean of Students
Arthur G. Coons Administration Center - Suite 112
1600 Campus Road
Los Angeles, CA 90041
Notice of Receipt
Upon receipt, the Associate Dean of Students or Dean of Students Office designee will review the complaint for timeliness and appropriateness for this grievance procedure, and provide the grievant with written notice acknowledging its receipt. Within two business days of receipt, the Associate Dean of Students or Dean of Students Office designee will submit the complaint to the Disability Services Resolution Committee for investigation.
The Associate Dean of Students or Dean of Students Office designee shall promptly initiate a thorough and impartial investigation. In undertaking the investigation, the Associate Dean of Students or Dean of Students Office designee may interview, consult with and/or request a written response to the issues raised in the grievance from any individual believed to have relevant information, including faculty, staff, and students. The Coordinator of Disability Services or Dean of Students Office designee will present the investigative report to the committee for their review. The investigative report may include information including relevant documentation, recordings of interviews, and witness statements.
After all pertinent information has been presented to the committee, the members will hold a discussion and determine by majority vote if there is a preponderance of evidence to substantiate the grievance. When appropriate, the committee will also apply the following standards: 1) would the accommodation result in a fundamental alteration of the program or an essential academic requirement; 2) would the accommodation impose undue financial or administrative hardship on the institution.
If there is a preponderance of evidence substantiating the grievance, the committee, in consultation with the Coordinator of Disability Services or the Dean of Students Office designee, will then decide on the appropriate resolution for the grievance.
Findings and Notification
Upon completion of the Disability Services Resolution Committee's decision making process, the Associate Dean of Students or Dean of Students Office designee will prepare and submit a final written report containing a summary of the investigation, written findings, determination of whether discrimination occurred, and a proposed disposition to the Dean of Students/Designee who will review and approve of the decision. The final written findings will then be provided to the student, the party whom the complaint is directed, and the Associate Dean of Students or Dean of Students Office designee. A copy of this report will be kept in the student's file. This transmission will be expected within 45 calendar days of the filing of the formal complaint. The deadline may be extended by the Disability Services Resolution Committee or the Associate Dean of Students or Dean of Students Office designee for good cause. The final report shall also be provided, where appropriate, to any College officer whose authority will be needed to carry out the proposed disposition or to determine whether any personnel action is appropriate.
The disposition proposed by the Disability Services Resolution Committee and approved by the Dean of Students shall be put into effect promptly. The grievant or any party against whom the grievance or the proposed disposition is directed may appeal the decision to the Dean of Students/Designee (procedures set forth below). The appeal to the Dean of Students/Designee will not suspend the implementation of the disposition proposed by the Disability Services Resolution Committee, except in those circumstances where the Dean of Students/Designee decides that good cause exists making the suspension of implementation appropriate.
Whenever the application of any of the time deadlines or procedures set forth in this grievance procedure creates a problem due to the nature of the complaint, the Disability Services Resolution Committee, at the request of the grievant, will determine whether an appropriate expedited procedure is possible.
Appeal to the Dean of Students
The grievant or the party against whom the grievance is directed may appeal to the Dean of Students after completing the Formal Complaint Procedure described above.
When to File Appeal
Complaints must be filed within 5 business days of receipt of the final disposition of the formal complaint.
What to File
The written request for review must specify the particular substantive and/or procedural basis for the appeal, and must be made on grounds other than general dissatisfaction with the proposed disposition. Furthermore, the appeal must be directed only to issues raised in the formal complaint as filed or to procedural errors in the conduct of the grievance procedure itself, and not to new issues.
The individual must address one of the following two reasons why he/she is appealing accompanied by an explanation. (For grade disputes, please refer to the Grade Appeal policy in the College Catalog.)
- There are new facts and/or materials that could not have been discovered at the time of the committee investigation.
- There were procedural irregularities that substantially affected the outcome of the matter to the detriment of the grievant.
Should the appellant select new facts or materials as the reason for the appeal, the individual must submit these facts along with his/her explanation.
Where to File Appeal
The appeal shall be filed with the Dean of Students Office.
The Dean of Students/Designee shall review the appeal and may investigate further by taking action such as requesting a meeting with the appellant and other involved parties.
If there is a preponderance of evidence substantiating the appeal, the Dean of Students/Designee will then decide on the appropriate resolution for the appeal.
The Dean of Students/Designee written decision will be expected within 15 business days of receipt of written appeal and shall be sent to the parties, the Coordinator of Disability Services, student's file, and, if appropriate, to the college official whose authority will be needed to carry out the disposition. The deadline may be extended by the Dean of Students/Designee for good cause. The decision of the Dean of Students/Designee on the appeal is final.
Last updated June 20, 2012
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