Grade Grievance Policy and Procedure
This process is under review by the South Orange County Community College District at the time of this printing. Please refer to the Admissions and Records website for the current process and timelines.
By law, the instructor is solely responsible for the grades assigned; no instructor may be directed to change a grade except in certain narrow circumstances authorized by the California Education Code, Section 76224 (a).
When grades are given for any course of instruction taught in a community college district, the grade given to each student shall be the grade determined by the instructor of the course and the determination of the student's grade by the instructor, in the absence of mistake, fraud, bad faith, or incompetency, shall be final.
The District's grade grievance policy (Board Policy 5505) outlines the procedures for challenging grades given in any course of instruction offered in the District.
Board policies are accessible online at the south Orange County Community College District website: www.socccd.edu
Grievance form is available here.
For further information about the Grade Grievance Policy and the appeal process, students should first contact the dean of the instructional area for the class. If students wish further assistance, they may contact the Office of Instruction, Room A 119, 949-451-5212.
Definition of Terms
- Mistake: An unintentional act, omission or error by the instructor or the college.
- Fraud: A deception deliberately practiced in order to secure unfair or unlawful gain.
- Bad Faith: An intent to deceive or to act in a manner contrary to law and/ or a grade assigned in violation of the protections described in California Education Code and Title 5, California Code of Regulations, guaranteeing students' rights to participate in college programs free from discrimination and harassment. If it is deter- mined that a grade was the result of discrimination or harassment, the grade may be changed as a remedy for the discrimination or harassment.
- Incompetence: A lack of ability, legal qualification, or fitness to discharge a required duty.
Any student who believes he or she has a grade grievance should make a reasonable effort to resolve the matter on an informal basis with the faculty member who assigned the grade or that person's dean or designee prior to requesting a grievance hearing. If informal resolution of the problem is not possible, the student may elect to pursue a formal grievance.
Formal Grievance Process
The first stage of the formal grievance process is completing and filing a written, signed Statement of Grievance form stating the basis for the grade grievance. The student must file the form with the appropriate dean or designee no later than 45 business days after the student knew or should have known of the grade in the course. The form must be filed whether or not the student has initiated efforts at informal resolution, if the student wishes the grievance to become official.
Requesting a Grievance Hearing
The second stage of the formal grievance process is requesting and filing a Request for Grievance Hearing form. The student must file the request form with the appropriate dean or designee within 30 business days after filing the Statement of Grievance.
Students may obtain the Request for Grievance Hearing form here.
The student may withdraw the written Statement of Grievance and/or Request for a Grievance Hearing at any time. The notice of withdrawal must be in writing and filed with the appropriate dean or designee.
The Grievance Hearing Panel
Within 15 business days following receipt of the Request for Grievance Hearing, the Grievance Hearing Panel meets to select a chair and determine on the basis of the Statement of Grievance whether there are sufficient grounds for a hearing. The panel consists of the appropriate dean or designee, a representative appointed by the Associated Student Government and a faculty member appointed by the Academic Senate. The panel's determination is regulated by specific requirements set forth in Board Policy 5505. These include but are not limited to whether the grievance is frivolous, without foundation, or filed for purposes of harassment, and whether it was filed by a duly enrolled student in a timely manner.
If the panel determines that the written Statement of Grievance does not meet the requirements as set forth in Board Policy 5505, the chair will notify the student in writing within five days of the Hearing Panel decision that the Request for a Grievance Hearing has been rejected. The notice will include the specific reasons for the rejection of a hearing and the procedures for appeal.
If the panel determines that the written Statement of Grievance does meet each of the requirements, the chair will schedule a grievance hearing no later than 45 business days from the decision of the Hearing Panel. All parties to the grievance will be notified in writing by the chair of the date, time and location of the grievance hearing 10 business days prior to the grievance hearing.
The hearing will be closed and confidential. It will include the presentation of oral and written testimony relevant to the issues alleged in the grievance by each party. The burden shall be on the grievant to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the facts alleged are true. Further details concerning the conduct of the hearing are described in AR 5530: Grade Grievance.
Hearing Panel Decision
Within 15 business days following the close of the hearing, the Grievance Hearing Panel will prepare a written decision that includes specific factual findings regarding the grievance and the specific conclusions regarding whether a legal basis for a grievance has been established.
The Hearing Panel decision will also include a specific statement regarding the relief to be afforded the grievant, if any. The Hearing Panel decision will be based only on the record of the hearing, and not on matters outside the record. The record consists of the written Statement of Grievance, any written response by the respondent and the oral and written evidence produced at the hearing.
Written statement of Appeal
Within 10 business days following the Grievance Hearing Panel decision regarding the merits of the grievance, any party to the grievance may file a written Statement of Appeal with the college president stating the specific basis for the appeal. This statement will be sent to all parties.
The college president will review the record of the hearing and the documents submitted in connection with the appeal, but will not consider any matters outside the formal record. The college president may decide to sustain, reverse or modify the decision of the Grievance Hearing Panel. The president's decision will be in writing and will include a statement of reasons for the decision. The college president's decision shall be final.
The decision on appeal will be reached within 20 business days after receipt of the appeal documents, and copies of the decision will be sent to all parties.