STUDENT COMPLAINTS AND THEIR RESOLUTION
The State of Louisiana and the U.S. Department of Education have mandated that institutions of higher education have in place a specific procedure for the resolution of student complaints. State and federal governments are most interested in complaints that involve: 1) the mismanagement of federal financial aid funds and 2) false representation of programs and courses of study that may appear in an institution’s various publications. Although Nicholls State University adheres strictly to all rules and regulations and represents as clearly as possible to students the information pertaining to their education here, students who may have complaints in either of these areas are encouraged to bring them to the University’s attention through the procedure outlined below.
Nicholls State University Other complaints may be addressed through the same procedure; however, specific complaints such as those concerning discrimination, harassment, and grade appeals discipline, academic grievances must follow the procedures in the specified sub-section of the Code of Student Conduct.
Student Complaint Process
If a student has concerns related to academic or administrative actions, he/she should contact the faculty or staff member(s) with whom he/she has a conflict.
Within two years from the date of the incident about which the student is complaining:
A student who has a valid, documentable complaint against any office or employee of the University, or about any program or service offered by the University may file a written complaint along with documentation, either a) with the supervisor of the office, service, or program which provided grounds for the complaint, or b) with that individual’s supervisor. The complaint will be recorded in a file, noting the name of the complainant, the grounds for the complaint, and the date of filing. The student is encouraged to file the complaint as soon as possible after the incident occurred. The supervisor will meet with the student and the person giving grounds for the complaint within three workdays of the filing of the complaint to attempt to resolve the matter. The student must be prepared to present a resolution acceptable to him or her. It is expected that most complaints will be resolved at this point. The supervisor will record the outcome of the discussion in the complaint file. If the discussion has ended without resolution and if further investigation is necessary to resolve the complaint, the supervisor will conduct the investigation with the ten workdays following the discussion, keeping notes and results of his or her investigation, along with a recommendation for resolution, during a second meeting with the parties involved. The parties will again attempt to negotiate a resolution acceptable to all. The results of this meeting will be inscribed in the complaint log.
If the student does not agree to a resolution as proposed, developed, or modified during the second discussion, he or she may file an appeal to the next University officer in the chain of command, within five workdays of the second discussion. In the appeal letter, the student must state with specificity his or her desired resolutions preferable. Upon receipt of the appeal letter, the appeal officer will request that the complaint log page(s) and other records pertinent to this case be forwarded to him or her. The appeal will be decided within ten workdays, based on the student’s letter of appeal as well as all notes and documentation produced during the discussions. The appeal officer may speak with all of the parties involved, or with none, if he or she sees fit; however, the appeal officer will not speak with only one of the parties without also speaking with the other(s). The officer will keep notes of these discussions. The decision of the appeal officer will be inscribed in the complaint log (after having been communicated in writing to the student).
Subsequent appeals will follow the procedures in 4 and 5 above, through the President’s Executive Council Appeals Committee, which will make the final campus determination. If the student should decide to appeal the University President’s Executive Council Appeals Committee’s decision to the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System, the procedures to be followed are those determined by the Board. At whatever stage the complaint is resolved, its resolution must be recorded in the file, and a signed and dated copy of the record forwarded to the office of the appropriate vice president. The original will then be returned to the log book of the department where the complaint initiated.
The student is assured that no retaliatory action will be taken against him or her for filing and pursuing the resolution of a complaint. All written and otherwise recorded materials relating to the filing and resolution of student complaints are to be considered education records, and, as such, are protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“The Buckley Amendment”).
If the student is unable to resolve the complaint in this manner, or feels that not all issues were resolved with the final disposition of the institution, he/she should proceed to STEP 3 to utilize the Louisiana Board of Regents’ SARA Student Complaint Process.
The student must file a formal complaint with the Louisiana Board of Regents’ staff using the complaint form: Board-of-Regents-SARA-Student-Complaint-Form.
After receiving a complaint through the complaint form, Louisiana Board of Regents’ staff will, within 30 days of receipt of the complaint:
– Review the submitted materials and contact the complainant for any required additional information or clarifications;
– Send a copy of the complaint to the Louisiana-approved SARA institution against which the complaint has been filed and request a response;
– Forward the institution’s response to the complainant
Within 30 days of the conclusion of the previous step, a committee consisting of three Louisiana Board of Regents’ staff members will review all materials related to the complaint in order to:
– Determine whether the Louisiana-approved SARA institution’s student complaint process has been followed by both the institution and the student, and exhausted;
– Make a final, binding decision on the matter; and
– Inform both parties involved in the complaint of the Louisiana Board of Regents’ final disposition
In the event that the facts cannot be sufficiently determined based on documents submitted and by separately corresponding with the Louisiana-approved SARA institution and the complainant, the Louisiana Board of Regents’ staff may request both parties to participate in a telephone conference or meeting so that the facts can be sufficiently ascertained and a final determination can be made.