Grievance Policy

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), the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, 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 all students of the College and visitors. It covers all complaints in regard to contesting accommodations or access to programs or activities.  All other allegations of disability discrimination covering all complaints alleged to have occurred in any College program or activity can be reported via the College's Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation Policy.  In general, the Disability Grievance Policy 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. Violation of privacy in the context of disability.
 

Grievance Procedure

Students or visitors 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 or visitors are encouraged to discuss the matter in person or in writing with the Disability Services Coordinator.
  • If the Disability Services Coordinator is unable to assist in informally resolving the concern(s), the student will be referred to the formal complaint procedure.
  • If the Disability Services Coordinator is involved in the concern(s), the student should report to the Senior Associate Dean of Students or the Dean of Students Office and follow formal complaint procedures. The Senior Associate Dean of Students has the discretion to designate an appropriate officer to review the appeal (“designee").

Director of Disability Services & Student Support:
Luci Masredjian

Dean of Students Office
Berkus Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90041
(323) 259-2661
 

Formal Complaint
When to File Complaint

Complaints regarding academic or housing accommodations (including, but not limited to, auxiliary aids and adjustments) shall be filed as soon as possible, but no later than 30 calendar days of the judgment they wish to appeal.

What to File

A complaint must be in writing and include the following:

1.     The complainant’s name, ID number (if student), address, e-mail address, and phone number.

2.     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.
  • Grade disputes based on denial of accommodations.
  • Violation of privacy in the context of disability.

3.     The date of action the student's alleged discrimination occurred.

4.     The names of all Occidental College community members involved.

5.     A description of what efforts, if any, have been made to resolve the issue informally.

6.     A statement of the remedy requested.

Where to File Complaint

The complaint shall be filed with the Senior Associate Dean of Students or Dean of Students Office designee.

Senior Associate Dean of Students:
Erica O'Neal Howard

Dean of Students Office
Berkus Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90041
(323) 259-2661

 

Notice of Receipt

Upon receipt, the Senior 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 complainant with written notice acknowledging its receipt. If, upon receipt, it is clear that the complaint should be reviewed through the College’s Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation policy, the complainant will be notified and referred to the proper policy. 
 

Privacy and Confidentiality

The College is committed to protecting the privacy of all individuals involved in the investigation and resolution of reports under this Policy. With respect to any report under this Policy, the College will make reasonable efforts to protect the privacy of participants, in accordance with applicable state and federal law, while balancing the need to gather information to make an informed decision.
 

Investigation

The Senior Associate Dean of Students or Dean of Students Office designee shall promptly initiate a thorough and impartial investigation. In undertaking the investigation, the Senior 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 Senior Associate Dean of Students or Dean of Students Office designee will convene the Disability Services Resolution Committee and 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.
 

Disability Services Resolution Committee

The Disability Services Resolution Committee consists of a total of three faculty and staff members, based on the nature of the complaint.  If needed, the committee will consult with the Senior Associate Dean of Students or the Dean of Students Office designee when reviewing the investigative report. Although the composition of the Disability Services Resolution Committee will change semester-by-semester, all members will be knowledgeable concerning disability issues and the legal mandates of state and federal disability statutes.

When a grievance is filed, the complainant will be notified of the composition of the committee members. Within 2 days of receipt of this information, the complainant may challenge a committee member on the grounds of bias or conflict of interest by submitting such a challenge, in writing, to the Senior Associate Dean of Students. The Senior Associate Dean of Students or Dean of Students Office designee may disqualify a committee member if, upon review, the claims of bias or conflict of interest are substantiated. Members will remove themselves from the committee if they believe they have a bias towards the complainant.

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 (more likely than not) substantiating the grievance, the committee, in consultation with the Senior Associate Dean of Students or the Dean of Students Office designee, will then decide on the appropriate resolution for the grievance. Such resolutions will be decided on a case-by-case basis and may include, but will not be limited to, approval and/or administration of a particular accommodation, remediation to address previously available opportunities, and/or facilitation of communications between the complainant and the person against whom the grievance is filed.
 

Findings and Notification

Upon completion of the Disability Services Resolution Committee's decision making process, the Committee will submit their decision and findings in writing to the Senior Associate Dean of Students or Dean of Students Office designee. The Senior Associate Dean of Students/Designee will then prepare and submit a final written report containing a summary of the investigation, the written findings of the Committee, determination of whether discrimination occurred, and a proposed disposition to the student. The final written findings will also be provided to the party whom the complaint is directed, and the Disability Services Coordinator. A copy of this report will be kept in the student's Disability Services file. This report 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 Senior Associate Dean of Students or Dean of Students Office designee for good cause. The Disability Services Resolution Committee or the Senior Associate Dean of Students/Designee will notify the complainant promptly if there is a need to extend the deadline. 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.
 

Final Resolution

The disposition proposed by the Disability Services Resolution Committee and approved by the Dean of Students shall be put into effect promptly. The complainant or any party against whom the grievance or the proposed disposition is directed may appeal the decision to the Vice President for Student Affairs or Designee (procedures set forth below). The appeal to the Vice President for Student Affairs/Designee will not suspend the implementation of the disposition proposed by the Disability Services Resolution Committee, except in those circumstances where the Vice President for Student Affairs/Designee decides that good cause exists making the suspension of implementation appropriate.

Urgent Matters

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 complainant, will determine whether an appropriate expedited procedure is possible.

Appeal to the Vice President for Student Affairs

The complainant or the party against whom the grievance is directed may appeal to the Vice President for Student Affairs after completing the Formal Complaint Procedure described above. The Vice President for Student Affairs has the discretion to designate an appropriate officer to review the appeal (“designee"). If, however, the original grievance was filed against the Vice President for Student Affairs, any appeal must be filed directly with the President’s Office.

When to File Appeal

Appeals must be filed within 5 business days of receipt of the final disposition of the formal complaint.

What to File

The written appeal must specify reasons for appeal that are not based on disagreement or general dissatisfaction with the standards, policies, and procedures of Disability Services themselves. Specifically, the grounds to appeal must include one or more of the following criteria:

  1. There is New Information of a Substantive Nature: New, significant or relevant information regarding the case becomes available that could not have been discovered by the student at the time of the Disability Resolution Committee’s deliberation. Information is not considered new if the student voluntarily withheld the information at the time the committee deliberated regarding those decisions.
  2. There was a Significant Procedural Error: The specified procedural error or error in interpretation of policies may have substantially affected the Disability Resolution Committee’s deliberations such that the error prevented the Disability Resolution Committee from rendering a fair decision.
Where to File Appeal

The appeal shall be filed with the Dean of Students Office, to be reviewed by the Vice President for Student Affairs & Dean of Students or Designee.

Vice President for Student Affairs & Dean of Students:
Rob Flot

Dean of Students Office
1600 Campus Road
Los Angeles, CA 90041
(323) 259-2661

Appeal Review

The role of the Vice President for Student Affairs/Designee as appeal officer is limited. Appeals are not intended to be a full hearing of the complaint, and are confined to a review of the grounds stated above. The findings contained in the final report are presumed to have been decided reasonably and appropriately. The Appellant carries the burden of proof to demonstrate that either the alleged error, or the proposed new evidence, would significantly impact the outcome of the proceeding.

If there is a preponderance of evidence (more likely than not) substantiating the appeal, the Vice President for Student Affairs/Designee will then decide on the appropriate resolution for the appeal. The Vice President for Student Affairs/Designee written decision will be expected within 15 business days of receipt, though the deadline may be extended by the Vice President for Student Affairs/Designee for good cause. If the Vice President for Student Affairs/Designee determines the new information is not substantive and there has been no significant procedural error, the decision of the Disability Resolution Committee will be upheld. This decision of the Vice President for Student Affairs/Designee is final, and will promptly be communicated to the Appellant, other affected parties, and the Disability Services Coordinator.

 

Last updated October 2017