It is the intent of the School of Professional Psychology (SOPP) to ensure that all students receive fair and equitable treatment during their time in the program and to provide them with an accessible procedure for resolving grievances. The purpose of this grievance procedure is to resolve grievances among students and between students and faculty or staff in a manner that allows constructive relations to be maintained throughout the SOPP community.
Issues may be grieved when students believe they have been adversely affected by decisions, differences, misunderstandings, or problems that have arisen with faculty, staff, or other students. No student will be penalized in any way for pursuing problems in good faith through this procedure. In initiating and pursuing a grievance a student is obligated to proceed in candor and good faith at all times, and may not initiate or pursue a grievance for abusive or obstructionist purposes.
Note that students who believe they have been adversely affected by issues that fall within the scope of other SOPP student policies must address their concerns within the context of the appropriate policy. For example, many student issues may be addressed by existing policies on Grading and Remediation or the Professional Integrity and Conduct of Students. Each of these policies includes processes for appealing decisions related to implementation of the policy. In addition, this Grievance Policy may not be used to dispute actions or decisions in the following areas:
- A final decision in a prior grievance.
- The process for appealing decisions related to a grievance is located.
- Recommendations made by an Ad Hoc Disciplinary Committee or decisions based upon such recommendations. The policy and procedures for an Ad Hoc Disciplinary Committee include a process for appealing decisions related to implementation of the policy.
Informal Resolution of Grievances
In most instances, grievances among students or between students and faculty or staff should be resolved informally without the involvement of an Ad Hoc Grievance Committee. Normally, the informal resolution is accomplished through meetings or discussion between the complainant and the respondent with whom the grievance has developed. If it is deemed beneficial by both parties to the grievance, one or more mutually-agreed upon members of the faculty or staff or student body may facilitate or mediate the discussion and informal resolution of the issue. If a resolution to the grievance cannot be reached through informal processes, or if either the complainant or respondent decides not to participate in an informal attempt at resolution, either party may request that an Ad Hoc Grievance Committee be formed to review relevant information and make recommendations relative to the grievance.
Formal Process for Resolution of Grievances
Either party to a grievance may request that the grievance be addressed through a formal Grievance Committee. The request for a formal Grievance Committee should be made, in writing, to the Associate Dean. (Note that, in the event that the Associate Dean is a party to the grievance, his or her role will be filled by the Director of Clinical Training. In the interest of timely resolution of grievances, a request for a formal Grievance Committee should be made no later than two academic semesters following the semester in which the event leading to the grievance occurred, otherwise this formal option to pursue the grievance will be forfeited. The written request should describe the event or dispute giving rise to the grievance, any attempt(s) to achieve informal resolution of the grievance and the resolution wanted by the aggrieved party. The Associate Dean will review the request to determine whether the issue(s) raised are within the scope of this policy and procedures. The Associate Dean will then select an Ad Hoc Grievance Committee to address the grievance.
Responsibilities of the Ad Hoc Grievance Committee
The Ad Hoc Grievance Committee is responsible for conducting a fair and impartial review of grievances that develop between students or between a student and a faculty or staff member when such disputes cannot be resolved through informal means. The formal meeting(s) will provide an opportunity for the Committee to review all facts related to the grievance. Based on the information presented at the formal meeting(s), the Committee is responsible for forwarding its findings and recommendation(s) to the Associate Dean.
Composition of the Committee
The Ad Hoc Grievance Committee will be selected by the Associate Dean in consultation with the core faculty of the School. Normally, in instances when both parties to the grievance are students or when a student has a grievance against a staff member or non-core faculty member, the Committee is composed of three members of the core faculty; when a student has a grievance against a core faculty member, the Committee will be composed of three faculty who are members of other departments or schools at Wright State University. Exceptions to this general rule for committee composition may be made with the approval of both parties to the grievance and the core faculty of the School. The Associate Dean will solicit one or two nominees for the Committee from both parties to the grievance as well as from members of the core faculty. The Associate Dean will consider these nominees when forming the committee. As previously noted, exceptions to the above procedures will be made in situations in which the grievance directly involves the Associate Dean. In such an instance the Dean will serve in the role of the Associate Dean. Prior to the hearing, either party to the grievance may challenge the Committee membership by specifying his or her concerns to the Associate Dean. Following discussion between the Associate Dean and the challenged member(s), the Associate Dean will determine whether the challenged member(s) should be disqualified and replaced. Even if not challenged, a committee member shall disqualify himself or herself if the member feels that his or her objectivity may be compromised.
Procedures for the Ad Hoc Grievance Committee
The following procedures will apply to the Ad Hoc Grievance Committee meeting:
- In the interests of both parties, the Committee should meet in a timely manner. The Chair of the Ad Hoc Grievance Committee will arrive at a mutually-agreed upon day and time for the first meeting, and at least five business days in advance of the first meeting, the Chair will inform both parties, in writing, of the scheduled meeting and the names of the members of the Ad Hoc Grievance Committee.
- Either party to the grievance shall be permitted to have a faculty advisor (Any staff member who is party to a grievance will have the option of choosing a member of the staff as an advisor; non-core faculty may also choose a faculty advisor.) The faculty advisor to either party may accompany him or her and assist in preparation for any meetings to which the party is requested to attend. The faculty advisor may not assist in questioning people who attend meetings. Only the parties to the grievance and members of the Grievance Committee may ask questions. The faculty advisor may assist in preparing an appeal.
- The formal meetings will be closed and all information exchanged in the grievance process will be held in strict confidence by all participants. An audio or video tape recording of the presentation of information and responses will be made for use as a record. Either party to the grievance may request a copy of the video/audio tape. The Grievance Committee's deliberations will be private and not recorded.
- The Chair of the Committee may request the appearance of persons on behalf of the Committee or on behalf of either party to the grievance. Faculty, staff, and students are expected to comply with these requests. Should either party to the grievance fail to appear for the formal meeting, it will be conducted as scheduled.
- Both parties to the grievance will have the opportunity to hear and question people providing information to the Committee and to present information in response.
- After all information has been presented, the Committee will deliberate privately and develop one or more recommendations which will be communicated, in writing, to the Associate Dean within seven working days.
- The Committee's recommendation will be forwarded to the faculty for procedural and/or implementation review. A majority vote of the faculty is required in order to affirm the recommendations of the Committee. In the case that a majority vote is not achieved, the faculty will modify the recommendations in order to address procedural or implementation issues. The Associate Dean will then communicate the decision, in writing, to both parties to the grievance within seven days of the date of the Faculty's final decision
Either party to the grievance may appeal the decision to the Dean of the SOPP within seven working days of receipt of the Faculty's decision. Failure to appeal within the above time frame renders the Faculty's decision final. The appeal must be made in writing and must state the reason(s) why the Faculty's decision is believed to be inappropriate. Appeals can be based on, but are not restricted to, the following: procedural irregularities, insufficient evidence to warrant the actions taken, lack of due process. The Dean will review all information regarding the appeal and will inform the individual making the appeal, in writing, of the final decision. The Dean's decision is final. If an instance arises in which the Dean is a party to the grievance or has coordinated the process, the decision will be appealed to the university Provost and the Provost's decision will be final.