5.16 – Student Discipline and Appeals

A. Purpose

To detail the college’s process for investigating alleged instances of violations of the Standards of Student Conduct, to describe the possible sanctions which may be imposed on students who violate the Standards of Student Conduct and to describe the process for students to appeal disciplinary determinations.

B. Policy

The college will maintain formal, fair and equitable procedures for addressing alleged violations of the Standards of Student Conduct.

The established procedures are focused on resolving such violations appropriately, expediently and fairly and will include the process for appealing a disciplinary determination.

C. Procedures

Inherent Authority

The succeeding disciplinary procedures, which include interim measures, investigation, notice of finding and sanctions, may be initiated and finalized by the vice chancellor for student affairs, the dean of students or the designated campus or center administrator.

The succeeding appeals procedures will be received, heard and finalized by the vice chancellor of student affairs. The chancellor may also receive and finalize appeals as described under Chancellor Review.

Interim Measures

Upon receipt of a report of a violation of the Standards of Student Conduct and prior to the completion of the investigation, the dean of students or designated campus or center administrator may issue one of more of the following restrictions:

No-Contact Order

A no-contact order between the respondent and others may be issued. The no-contact order prohibits communication between/among the respondent and others including but not limited to: contact by telephone, email, hand-written note, instant messaging, text messaging, online postings/message boards, through a third person, or in person. This includes any email or message accounts that are affiliated with the parties’ identities. If the no-contact order is violated, additional disciplinary action may be pursued.

Interim Suspension

In certain circumstances, an interim suspension will be imposed. Interim suspension may be imposed only where, in the opinion of the designated administrator, the presence of the respondent would:

    • seriously disrupt the operation of the college; or
    • constitute a danger to the records or other physical properties of the college; or
    • constitute a danger to the safety or welfare of the respondent or other persons.

During interim suspension, the respondent shall be denied access to part or all of campus, college facilities, activities, classes or privileges for which the respondent might otherwise have access.

The respondent must be notified of this action in writing and a resolution meeting date must be set as soon as practical.

Other Interim Measures

Other interim measures as deemed appropriate for the circumstances may be implemented.

Investigation

When the dean of students or other appropriate campus or center administrator receives information that a student has allegedly violated the Standards of Student Conduct, an investigation of the alleged violation shall commence.  The investigation may include the following actions:

  • Contacting all involved parties to schedule an individual meeting, obtain a statement in writing detailing the events of the incident in question or review a statement if already available. The length of time of the investigation is dependent on the complexity of the incident and number of individuals involved if applicable.
  • At a minimum, the investigation will include interviews of all witnesses identified by the individuals involved in the incident, or a review of a written summary of their testimony, or a review of a copy of their written statements if already available, a review of all relevant records and documents, a review of photographs and other physical evidence, and/or a review of security video footage if available.
  • Following meetings with the involved parties, interviews of witnesses or reviews of their written testimony, a review of all relevant records and documents, a review of any available photographs and other physical evidence, and a review of security video footage, if available, informal means of resolution may be utilized such as mediation, in lieu of additional formal processes.
  • Investigations of these cases will be completed as quickly as possible and all reasonable attempts will be made to complete the disciplinary process within sixty (60) days of receipt of the violation information. The length of the resolution process will depend upon the complexity of the case.

Notice of Finding

At the conclusion of an investigation, if, by a preponderance of the evidence, it is determined that the Standards of Student Conduct have not been violated, sanctions will not be imposed.  In that event, a notice of finding will be sent to the respondent and complainant, if applicable, which will include a description of the information considered, the results of the investigation and a copy of this policy.

At the conclusion of an investigation, if, by a preponderance of the evidence, it is determined that violation of the Standards of Student Conduct has occurred, a notice of finding will be issued within five (5) college business days from the date the decision is made. The notice of finding will be sent to the respondent and complainant, if applicable.  The notice of finding will include a description of the conduct that violated the Standards of Student Conduct, the sanction imposed and a copy of this policy. This notice of finding is final, subject to the respondent’s or complainant’s appeal rights, described below.

The severity of sanctions will depend on the frequency or severity of the offense and history of past misconduct.  One or more of the following sanctions may be imposed for violation(s) of the Standards of Student Conduct:

Types of sanctions include, but are not limited to:

Censure
Written reprimand to the respondent on whom it is imposed, giving official notice that subsequent violations of the Standards of Student Conduct will carry heavier penalties because of this infraction.

Probation 
The respondent may continue to attend classes but may be prohibited from officially representing the college or participating in any extracurricular activities. Probation may be for a designated period of time or indefinite as outlined in the letter to the respondent. Any further violations of the Standards of Student Conduct may lead to suspension or expulsion from the college.

Withholding of Transcripts/Registration Restrictions
Imposed upon a respondent who fails to pay a debt owed the college or who has a disciplinary case pending a final written decision.

Restitution
Reimbursement by the respondent for damage to, or misappropriation of property. Reimbursement may include appropriate service to the college to repair or otherwise compensate for damages.

Loss of Computer Network Privileges
Indefinite or permanent loss of computer privileges and network access and/or denial of future access to the college’s information technology resources.

No Contact Order following Notice of Finding
Requires that one or more involved individuals have no contact through any means of communication with another party. This order remains in effect until rescinded by the dean of students or designated center or campus administrator or by written request from all involved parties.

Failing or lowered grade
In cases of academic integrity violations, final course grades assigned may be lowered or an “F” grade assigned.

Suspension
Severs the relationship of the respondent with the college and college related activities under conditions which permit and anticipate the respondent’s eventual return to the college. Suspension may be for a designated period of time or indefinite.

Expulsion
Permanent severance from the college. Expulsion may be rescinded only by the chancellor.

Other remedial measures
Other remedial measures may be implemented as appropriate based on the circumstances. For example, a person found to have violated the Standards of Student Conduct may be required to undergo training or counseling.

Appeals

The respondent or complainant, if applicable, may file an appeal within ten (10) college business days of the written decision. Any such request for appeal must be made in writing to the vice chancellor for student affairs and must include the following:

  • the name of the individual requesting the appeal;
  • the disciplinary decision being appealed and the date the disciplinary decision took place; and
  • the basis for the appeal

Appeals can be filed for the following reasons only:

  • new information that alters the finding of fact and was not reasonably available at the time of the issuance of the written decision;
  • a procedural error that unfairly and materially affected the outcome of the investigation;
  • the sanction imposed is excessive or disproportionate to the offense(s); and/or
  • conflict of interest or bias on the part of the person(s) who participated in the preparation and/or completion of the written decision.

The status of the respondent will not be changed during the process of the appeal except in the event of an interim suspension. Any violation of the Standards of Student Conduct occurring during the appeal process may result in a change of status of the respondent.

If the respondent or complainant, if applicable, chooses not to appeal or does not request an appeal by the appropriate date, the prior notice of finding will go into effect as specified.

Appeal Extensions

Within ten (10) college business days of the written decision, a respondent or complainant may request an extension of the timeframe for appealing the prior notice of finding:

·         An extension will be granted only for serious illness or injury of the respondent/complainant, serious illness or injury of the respondent’s/complainant’s immediate family, or a death in the respondent’s/complainant’s immediate family.

    • The request for an extension must be made in writing to the vice chancellor for student affairs and include documentation supporting the reason for the needed extension such as an obituary notice, doctor’s note, etc.
    • Within five (5) college business days from receipt of the request for an extension, a written decision on the request will be sent to the requesting student. If the college grants an extension, the decision will include the length of the extension and the new date by which the student must appeal the notice of finding in question.
    • The decision of the vice chancellor for student affairs concerning a request for a time extension to appeal shall be final.
    • The college will grant to students with disabilities a reasonable amount of additional time to appeal a disciplinary determination when a student’s disability impacts or limits the student’s ability to appeal the written decision within the deadline of ten (10) college business days after receipt of the notice of finding of the decision. Upon receipt of an untimely appeal from a student with disabilities, the vice chancellor for student affairs, in consultation with the director for disability support services, will determine if the student’s untimely appeal was due to a disability impacting or limiting the student’s ability to appeal within the ten (10) day deadline.  The vice chancellor for student affairs’ decision to grant or deny the appeal is final, and notification of the decision will be made in writing within five (5) college business days.

Procedure for Appeals and Appeal Hearings

When an appeal has been timely filed or has otherwise been granted with an extension, the vice chancellor for student affairs will review the substance of the appeal request and may take one of the following actions:

    • deny the appeal request if a proper basis for appeal has not been identified;
    • review and decide the matter without a hearing before the student conduct panel; the student conduct panel may not be convened if a hearing panel has already completed their investigation, as is the case for allied health grievances;
    • refer the matter for a hearing before the student conduct panel. The conventional course of action is for appropriately-filed appeals to be sent to a hearing before the student conduct panel when the notice of finding has resulted in severe sanctions such as suspension or expulsion. However, at all times, the decision of the vice chancellor for student affairs in this respect is final.

If the appeal will be reviewed without a hearing before the student conduct panel:

    • The vice chancellor for student affairs will review the appeal and the investigation file and then make a determination on the appeal, including sanctions if applicable.
    • The vice chancellor for student affairs may also choose to meet with the respondent, complainant and other individuals with pertinent knowledge.
    • The vice chancellor’s decision is final subject to the parties’ right to chancellor review.
    • The vice chancellor’s written decision will be sent to the respondent within five (5) college business days of receiving the appeal.

If an appeal is referred to the student conduct panel:

    • The panel shall consist of at least three individuals chosen from a pool of trained faculty, staff and administrators and will be appointed by the vice chancellor for student affairs.
    • The chairperson of the panel will be selected by the panel by majority vote and the chairperson will preside over the hearing.
    • Proceedings will be closed to all but members of the panel, the respondent, the complainant, if applicable, the vice chancellor for student affairs, a note taker appointed by the chairperson, support person/advisor and pertinent witnesses.
    • Prior to the hearing, both the respondent and complainant will be notified in writing of the date and time of the hearing and be given similar and timely access to information that will be used by the panel during the hearing.
    • The chairperson of the panel shall prepare a record of the hearing, which shall include a copy of the notice of the hearing, all documentary and tangible evidence, a summary or transcript of all testimonial evidence, and any other material considered by the panel, and the panel’s decision for submission to the vice chancellor for student affairs.
    • The results of a polygraph test will not be used nor will a polygraph test be requested with respect to any process described in these procedures.
    • Both the respondent and complainant may be present during the hearing. Upon request from the complainant, arrangements will be made so that the complainant and the respondent are not in the room at the same time. The complainant’s presence is not a prerequisite to conducting a hearing.
    • Cross examination of the parties or witnesses is not permitted. However, the respondent or the complainant may present questions to be asked of a party or witness by the chairperson of the panel.  The chairperson has discretion to determine whether the question is appropriate and relevant and whether he or she will ask the question on behalf of a party.
    • In proceedings involving alleged violations of policy 4.06 – Sexual Misconduct Policy, questioning about the complainant’s past sexual history with anyone other than the respondent is not typically permitted, especially when the purpose is to show the complainant’s sexual predisposition. However, in certain circumstances it may be permissible, such as if the complainant raises the issue or if it is of particular relevance to the current complaint. Evidence of a prior consensual dating or sexual relationship between the respondent and complainant by itself does not imply consent or preclude a finding that the Sexual Misconduct Policy was violated.
    • The respondent and complainant, if applicable, will have the opportunity to make an opening statement. The respondent and complainant are not required to testify at a hearing, and no inference will be drawn from the failure to testify. The respondent and complainant will have equal opportunities to offer testimony and other evidence at the hearing.
    • During the hearing, the college has the burden to prove the violation(s) of the Standards of Student Conduct by the preponderance of the evidence standard. Proceedings before the panel are non-adversarial; the rules of evidence of court proceedings do not apply.
    • When a respondent or complainant wishes to present witnesses who are members of the college community, they can request that the vice chancellor for student affairs’ office issue notifications to the witnesses requesting their presence at the hearing, but the college shall not be responsible in any manner for the presence of any witnesses at the hearing.
    • If evidence is presented at the hearing that was not previously made known to the respondent or complainant, the respondent or complainant may have time during the hearing to examine and respond.
    • Following the hearing, by majority vote, the panel will provide a written decision to the vice chancellor for student affairs within five (5) college business days from the hearing. If the panel finds that a violation occurred, the written decision will include recommended sanctions.
    • The vice chancellor for student affairs will review the decision of the panel giving presumptive weight to the decision of the panel. The vice chancellor for student affairs can affirm, vacate or modify the panel’s decision and recommended sanctions in whole or in part. The vice chancellor for student affairs’ decision is final subject to the parties’ right to chancellor review, described below.  The vice chancellor for student affairs written decision will be sent simultaneously to the respondent and complainant within five (5) college business days of receiving the panel’s decision.

Chancellor Review

The respondent or complainant may request that the chancellor review the vice chancellor for student affairs’ decision from an appeal hearing only where the sanction imposed is expulsion or a suspension of more than ten (10) college business days.  The request must be made within five (5) college business days of the vice chancellor’s decision. The request for review must be made in writing to the vice chancellor for student affairs. If the respondent or complainant, if applicable, chooses not to seek a review or does not request a review by the appropriate date, the decision of the vice chancellor for student affairs will go into effect as specified.

Any request for review by the chancellor shall include the following:

    • the name of the individual requesting the review;
    • the decision being reviewed;
    • the reasons for the review; and,
    • any other information the person requesting the review believes is important

A decision can be reviewed for the following reasons only as determined by the vice chancellor for student affairs:

    • new information that alters the finding of fact and was not readily available at the time of the hearing;
    • a procedural error that materially or unfairly affected the outcome;
    • the sanction imposed is excessive or disproportionate to the offense(s); and/or,
    • conflict of interest or bias on the part of person(s) who participated in the decisions.

When a request for review has been timely filed or has otherwise been accepted with an extension, the vice chancellor for student affairs will review the substance of the request and may take either of the following actions:

    • deny the request if a proper basis for review has not been identified or,
    • send the record of the hearing, the vice chancellor for student affairs’ decision and the request for review to the chancellor.

The vice chancellor for student affairs’ decision to grant a review by the chancellor is final.

The standard of review will be the preponderance of the evidence and the chancellor will give presumptive weight to the decision of the vice chancellor for student affairs. The decision of the chancellor will be final and is not subject to further appeal or review.

The chancellor can affirm, vacate or modify the vice chancellor for student affairs’

decision in whole or in part. The chancellor may also remand the matter to a student

conduct panel for an appeal hearing if one was not previously conducted or for an

additional appeal hearing for further fact finding. The decision of the chancellor

will be sent in writing simultaneously to the respondent and the complainant.

Chancellor Review Appeal Extensions

Within five (5) college business days from receipt of the vice chancellor for student affairs’ decision from an appeal or appeal hearing, the respondent or complainant may request an extension of time to request a review by the chancellor:

    • An extension will be granted only for serious illness or injury of the respondent/complainant, serious illness or injury of the respondent’s/complainant’s immediate family, or death in the respondent’s/complainant’s immediate family.
    • The request for an extension must be made in writing to the vice chancellor for student affairs and include documentation supporting the reason for the needed extension such as an obituary notice, doctor’s note, etc.
    • Within five (5) college business days from receipt of the request for an extension, a written decision on the request will be sent to the requesting student. If the college grants an extension, the decision will include the length of the extension and the new date by which the student must submit a review request.
    • The decision of vice chancellor for student affairs concerning a request for a time extension to submit a request for a review by the chancellor shall be final.
    • The college will grant students with disabilities a reasonable amount of time to request a review when a student’s disability impacts or limits the student’s ability to request a review within the deadline of five (5) college business days after receipt of the vice chancellor’s decision. Upon receipt of an untimely request for review from a student with disabilities, the vice chancellor for student affairs, in consultation with the director for disability support services, will determine if the student’s untimely request for review was due to a disability impacting or limiting the student’s ability to request a review within the 5 day deadline. The vice chancellor for student affairs’ decision to grant or deny the review is final, and notification of the decision will be made in writing within five (5) college business days.

The chancellor may appoint a person to act for the chancellor concerning any process set forth in this section.

Other Matters

Non-Disclosure

The college will not require a respondent or complainant to abide by a non-disclosure agreement, in writing or otherwise, that would prevent the re-disclosure of information related to the outcome of a disciplinary proceeding, appeal hearing or chancellor review.

Conflicts with Federal or State Law

In the event a portion of this policy or these procedures conflict with state or federal law, the state or federal law shall be followed.

Other College Procedures

Complaints of sexual misconduct, as defined in Policy 4.06 – Sexual Misconduct, are governed by Policy 4.06 and its related procedures.  However, an appeal by a student respondent would utilize the appeals process set out in this Policy 5.16 and its related procedures.

Complaints of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation on the basis of a protected status (that are not considered to be sexual misconduct) as defined in Policy 3.39 – Anti-Harassment, Anti-Discrimination Grievance Procedures, are governed by Policy 3.39 and its related procedures.  However, an appeal by a student respondent would utilize the appeals process set out in this Policy 5.16 and its related procedures.

Issues of academic integrity, as defined in Policy 5.24 – Academic Integrity, are governed by Policy 5.24 and its related procedures.  An appeal by the student would utilize the appeals process set out in Policy 2.62 – Academic and Course Grade Appeal and its related procedures.

Conflicts of interest

If any person involved in implementing these procedures determines that he or she cannot apply them fairly because of the identity of a respondent or witness, or due to any other conflict of interest, another appropriate individual will be designated to fulfill his or her responsibilities.

Support person

A student is allowed to have a support person attend an administrative or appeal hearing.

Retaliation
Neither the college nor any officer, employee or agent of the college may retaliate, intimidate, threaten, coerce or otherwise discriminate against any individual for exercising their rights to avail themselves of the college’s disciplinary procedures or otherwise participating in the process outlined above (for example, as a witness).

D. Definitions

College business day – Any day the administrative offices of the college are open for business.

Complainant – An individual who is the alleged recipient of alleged behaviors prohibited by policies 5.15, 4.06 or 3.39 and their related procedures.

Preponderance of the evidence – More likely than not that the respondent violated college policy, procedure or the Standards of Student Conduct.

Respondent – A student who is alleged to have violated the Standards of Student Conduct.

Support person – A person who assists a respondent or complainant during an administrative meeting or appeal hearing. While a support person may attend with the respondent or complainant, they may not address hearing bodies, speak in resolution meetings, or question witnesses. Because the purpose of this disciplinary process is to provide a fair review of alleged violations of the Standards of Conduct rather than a formal legal proceeding, a support person may not advocate for a party, may not be actively involved in the proceedings, and must agree to maintain the confidentiality of the process.

E.    Authority

This policy and these procedures are maintained under the authority of the vice chancellor for student affairs.

F.    Related Policies

3.39 – Anti-Harassment, Anti-Discrimination Grievance Procedures

4.06 – Sexual Misconduct

5.15 – Standards of Student Conduct

5.24 – Academic Integrity

G.    Implementation 

a.     Policy approved and adopted by the Board of Trustees on 2/23/98. Revised 7/13/09, 11/10/14.

b.     Purpose, procedures, responsibilities and definitions approved and adopted by the Cabinet on 10/31/14. Revised 03/30/2018, 12/12/2019.

c.     Set for review in fiscal year 2022-2023.