Academic Student Complaints

Jackson College Academic Complaint Form (pdf)

An academic student complaint is a non-civil rights related complaint generated by an individual student concerning the work-related activities of a faculty member. Academic complaints can include but are not limited to the following: an evaluation of academic work (e.g. grades dispute, exam retakes), failure of a faculty member to follow College policies in the conduct of classes or examinations, etc. Each student complaint is processed separately unless the instructor agrees to meet with multiple students.

A student filing an academic complaint will be required to undertake the following steps. If the faculty member named in the academic complaint is the department chair, then the “department chair” role in all steps of this process will be completed by a different department chair, preferably of a related discipline (e.g. Science & Math, Nursing & Allied Health, Language, Literature and Arts & Foundation Studies, Social Science & Business & Technical Trades).

Step 1. Student meets with instructor

Students must initiate a conference with the instructor with whom they have a complaint. At this meeting, the student must identify the concern(s) and propose a resolution. This meeting must take place no later than the end of the fourth week of the semester following the relevant incident/dispute. A face-to-face meeting is strongly preferred, but electronic format that allow for multiple participants are acceptable. In cases where electronic formats are not available, communications in written format shall be used. One representative, who must be from the College (i.e. a current student, instructor, administrator or Student Ombudsman (SO), may be requested by each party to participate in this scheduled informal meeting. If the instructor is no longer employed by the College, the student will meet with the department chair instead.

Step 2. Student put complaint in writing

If the conflict is not resolved in the meeting between the student and the instructor, and the student chooses to pursue the matter further, he/she must put the complaint in writing. The complaint should contain (at a minimum): the date and time of the alleged conflict or action, the date and time of the Step 1 meeting to resolve the matter, a summary of the complaint, and any relevant documentation. The student must also include the resolution or outcome he or she is seeking. The form and any supporting documents must be submitted to the SO within 10 business days of the meeting with the instructor.

  • The SO logs the complaint in the student‘s record in the CASM Colleague screen.
  • The SO determines the type of complaint, that it meets the appropriate complaint criteria outlined in the introductory paragraphs above, and what department(s) should be consulted and/or included in the resolution.
  • The SO contacts the instructor via email to confirm whether a Step 1 meeting between the student and instructor has taken place regarding the complaint. If it has, the SO will include the confirmation email from the instructor in the complaint documents for future steps. If it has not, the SO will notify the student to return to Step 1 of the process. If the SO does not hear back from the faculty member within five (5) business days, it is assumed the step 1 meeting has taken place and the process continues to step 3. 41 Faculty Manual 2019-2022
  • If the complaint is determined to meet the academic complaint criteria (including that the Step 1 meeting has taken place), the complaint form and all supporting materials (including documents submitted by the student as well as relevant information from the SO) shall be scanned and emailed to the responsible department chair within three (3) business days from confirmation of Step 1.
  • If the complaint is determined to be non-academic, refer to section H: Nonacademic Student Complaints.
  • The SO shall track the academic complaint, as necessary, through the following steps, in order to assure the timeliness requirements are met, the student is continuing to receive due process and to document the resolution.
  • Once a final decision is made, at any step of the process, the SO shall record the disposition and the complaint/appeal record and assure the student is notified of the outcome.

Step 3. Complaint submitted to department chair

Within five (5) business days of receipt of the complaint materials, the department chair will contact the instructor and the student to arrange an informal meeting regarding the complaint within a reasonable timeframe. The department chair will not release a full copy of the complaint documents to the instructor, but will paraphrase the complaint issues.

Step 4. Department chair holds an informal hearing

The department chair shall convene a meeting with the student and the instructor. A face-to-face meeting is strongly preferred, but electronic formats that allow for multiple participants are acceptable. In cases where electronic formats are not available, communications in written format shall be used. The department chair shall conduct any necessary investigation prior to the meeting. The department chair’s role in this meeting is as a neutral mediator. The department chair will make a written recommendation within five (5) business days of the meeting. This recommendation will be forwarded via email to the instructor, student, and SO. It will include the date of the meeting, the parties present at the meeting, any verbal resolutions the parties agreed to at the meeting, and any recommendations the chair can make towards a resolution of the conflict.

Step 5. Complaint submitted to Dean

If the student or instructor is unsatisfied with the results of the meeting with the department chair, they must request that the SO send the complaint forward to the Supervising Dean within five (5) business days of the receipt of the department chair’s written recommendation. The SO shall promptly forward the original complaint, any supporting documents, and the department chair’s written recommendation to the Supervising Dean who will then promptly provide the instructor and the Association President with a true and complete copy of all these documents.

Step 6. Dean holds a formal hearing

Within five (5) business days of the time the instructor and the Association should have received the relevant complaint documents, the Supervising Dean shall contact the student, instructor, and the Association President to arrange a formal hearing within a reasonable timeframe. The instructor may write and submit a written statement of facts as he/she understands them to the Dean before the time of the hearing. Parties of interest that may attend the hearing include the student, the SO (if the student so desires), the instructor, their Association representative and the department chair. Other individuals may be present at the 42 Faculty Manual 2019-2022 hearing but they may not participate in the proceedings. A face-to-face hearing is strongly preferred, but electronic formats that allow for multiple participants are acceptable. In cases where electronic formats are not available, communications in written format shall be used.

Step 7. Dean issues a resolution

Within five (5) business days after the hearing, the Supervising Dean will distribute a written resolution of the complaint to the student, instructor, the Association President, and the SO. The written resolution will state the facts as assessed by the Dean and indicate what appropriate actions will be taken.

Step 8. Appeal to the Chief Academic Officer

The student or instructor may appeal the Dean’s disposition of the complaint to the Chief Academic Officer. An appeal to the Chief Academic Officer will only be considered if it meets one of the following criteria:

  • There is substantive new evidence not previously available at the time of the Dean’s hearing which could have materially affected the outcome.
  • There were procedural errors in the case that substantively impacted the fairness of the hearing.

If the student or instructor has grounds for appeal as delineated above, they must submit a letter to the Chief Academic Officer outlining the grounds for their appeal within five (5) business days of the receipt of the Supervising Dean’s written resolution. The Chief Academic Officer may request all relevant complaint documentation from the Supervising Dean and the SO. The Chief Academic Officer will decide within five (5) business days of receipt of all relevant documents whether a formal appeal hearing is warranted.

If the Chief Academic Officer determines that a formal appeal hearing is warranted, he/she shall contact the student, instructor, and the Association President to arrange a formal hearing within a reasonable timeframe. Parties of interest shall that may attend the hearing include the student, the SO (if the student so desires), the instructor, their Association representative, the department chair, and the Supervising Dean. The Chief Academic Officer may include a non-participating Academic Dean in the appeals process. A face-to-face meeting is strongly preferred, but electronic formats that allow for multiple participants are acceptable. In cases where electronic formats are not available, communications in written format shall be used.

Step 9. Chief Academic Officer issues an Appeals Resolution

Within five (5) business days after the hearing, the Chief Academic Officer will distribute a written resolution of the appeal to the student, instructor, the Association President, the SO and the Supervising Dean. The written resolution will state the facts as assessed by the Chief Academic Officer and indicate what appropriate actions will be taken. This is the ultimate step in the Academic Student Complaint Process and the decision of the Chief Academic Officer is final.


Filing a Complaint with the Corporations, Securities & Commercial Licensing Bureau

The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs’ Corporations, Security & Commercial Licensing Bureau is the agency designated to review complaints against institutions of higher education providing distance education. Complaints concerning JC’s distance education activities regulated by Michigan’s Higher Education Authorization and Distance Education Reciprocal Exchange Act (2015 PA 45) may be directed to the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, Corporations, Securities & Commercial Licensing Bureau, P.O. Box 30018, Lansing, MI 48909.

Process for filing a complaint (pdf)