Student Grievance Procedure
Definitions: A “grievance” shall mean a complaint which has been filed by a grievant alleging a violation of student rights or responsibilities as outlined in the Student Handbook. The alleged violation may have taken place at SH/BHSON, its clinical affiliations, Signature Healthcare Brockton Hospital or its immediate grounds, or at a SH/BHSON sponsored event. A “grievant” shall mean a student or groups of students filing the grievance.
Purpose: A student who has a concern related to rights and responsibilities as listed in the Student Handbook which has not been resolved to their satisfaction has the opportunity to have this concern reviewed by a higher authority. The primary purpose of this procedure is to secure prompt and equitable resolution of a grievance. Customary channels of communication shall be used wherever feasible in seeking clarification of questions or concerns. Every effort shall be made to maintain confidentiality at each level of the procedure.
- Step 1: If a grievant has a concern with faculty or staff, they should attempt to resolve the conflict between them. Mutual times should be set aside for communication. The grievant shall first present their grievance orally and informally to the person against whom a grievance exists. Should a grievant feel uncomfortable meeting alone with faculty or staff, they have the option to have another faculty or staff person present for support purposes only. This should be done within five school days from the date of the grievable act or from the date that the grievant knew of the grievable act. If the grievant is satisfied with the outcome of this step, the grievance is considered resolved.
- Step 2: If the grievant is not satisfied with the outcome of Step 1, the process proceeds to Step 2. The grievant must present, in writing, a statement of the grievance, including all of the relevant facts to the Associate Dean within five school days of the Step 1 meeting. Once the written statement of the grievance is received, the formal grievance process begins. The Associate Dean will discuss the grievance with the grievant, gather other relevant information from those involved and will provide a written response to the grievant and SH/BHSON agent involved within five school days following discussion with the grievant. If the grievant is satisfied with the outcome of this step, the grievance is considered resolved.
- Step 3: If the grievant is not satisfied with the outcome of Step 2, the process proceeds to Step 3. A written statement of the grievance, including all of the relevant facts must be submitted to the chairperson of the Grievance Committee. Submission of the written statement may be delivered by hand, emailed or traditional mail. Upon receipt of a formal grievance by the Grievance Committee chairperson, a Grievance Review Board shall be convened. The Grievance Review Board then has the responsibility to investigate the alleged violation as presented in the grievance and to recommend resolution.
Students have the right to a pre-hearing conference with the Grievance Committee chairperson and the Associate Dean for the purpose of reviewing Grievance Review Board hearing procedures and related aspects of the review system. In addition, students may use this opportunity to waive their right to a hearing and accept the decision of Step 2 of the process. If the student waives their right to a hearing at Step 3, the grievance is considered resolved.
The Grievance Review Board chairperson shall set a reasonable meeting time. The grievant will receive in hand, by return receipt email or by return receipt requested, addressee only certified mail, the following information from the Grievance Review Board chairperson: the specific rule, regulation, or policy allegedly violated; the staff, faculty or administrator involved, the time and place of the alleged violation and such information as needed to prepare a proper defense; the name(s) of the person(s) reporting the alleged violation; explanation of the right of appeal and the time and place of the scheduled meeting with the Grievance Review Board.
The chairperson of the Grievance Review Committee will supply the chairperson of the Grievance Review Board with a copy of the grievance. The chairperson of the Grievance Review Board will assemble any pertinent rules, regulations, policies, or other resources needed for consideration and distribute these along with a copy of the grievance to the members of the Grievance Review Board.
Hearing and Evidence: At the time of the Grievance Review Board meeting, all evidence and argument pertaining to pertinent data such as procedure, interpretation of rules and regulations and any other questions will be presented by the grievant.
Witness and Evidence: Each grievant involved in the hearing will be given the opportunity to testify and present evidence and witnesses, and an opportunity to hear and question adverse witnesses. In no cases shall the Grievance Review Board consider statements against a student unless the student has been given the opportunity to rebut unfavorable inferences which might be drawn from them. Burden of Proof: The burden of proof shall rest upon the grievant.
Deliberation and Decisions: Immediately following the meeting, the Grievance Review Board shall meet in executive session. A majority of the members must concur first with the facts of the case and thereafter with a resolution to the concern. The chairperson shall forward the recommendation, in writing, within 24 hours to the Associate Dean. The Associate Dean can accept or modify the recommendation and subsequently will notify the grievant of the decision in writing within five school days of the Grievance Review Board meeting. If the grievant is satisfied with the outcome of this step, the grievance is considered resolved.
- Step 4: If the grievant is not satisfied with the outcome of Step 3, the process proceeds to Step 4. The grievant must file a petition of appeal with the Dean within five school days following notification of the Grievance Review Board’s decision. Appeal letters must include a rationale, of one or two paragraphs in length, outlining the reasons for the appeal. The Dean may schedule a meeting with the grievant, their support person, and faculty, staff or administration member involved. The purpose of this meeting is to attempt to resolve the grievance. A written decision is required, normally within thirty (30) days, on any grievance presented to the Dean. When the Dean rules on an appeal, the case shall be considered closed.
Other: Filing a grievance in accordance with the procedure set forth above shall not affect the student’s right to file complaints with appropriate state and federal agencies or courts.
- The Grievance Review Board shall select a secretary who shall keep records and all correspondence.
All records of Grievance Review Board hearings and of the final determination in each case shall be confidentially maintained by the chairperson of the Grievance Committee for eight (8) years in a private, locked, secure file or electronically. All paper and electronic copies will be deleted after the subsequent ACEN visit.
- The Grievance Review Board shall determine quorum at the first organizational meeting of a grievance.
- Meetings shall be conducted in accordance with due process.
- Recommendations shall be made in writing citing the alleged violation(s), a brief statement of the facts upon which the finding is based and the disciplinary sanction recommended, if any.
- A minimum time of 48 hours must be given to the accused faculty or staff to prepare their appropriate defense. All parties shall be provided with a copy all reviewed pertinent data at least 48 hours prior to the hearing.
- Hearings shall be conducted openly, unless the student(s) involved, at any time, requests a closed hearing. In an open hearing, the chairperson of the Grievance Review Board may limit the number of spectators in an effort to maintain order and decorum. A closed hearing prevents the attendance of spectators not directly involved in the grievance.
- Decision of the Grievance Review Board shall be made with the concurrence of not less than two-thirds of the members present.
- All members of the Grievance Review Board shall keep in strict confidence all information that relates to any case heard by the board.
- Cases occurring just prior to examination and/or lengthy vacation periods shall be referred by the Chairperson of the Grievance Committee to the appropriate administrative officer to ensure timely adjudication.
- No lawyer or legal representative is allowed to participate in the informal or formal proceedings.
- No audio or video recording devices will be permitted in the informal or formal proceedings.
All written responses shall be served by delivering, in hand, by return-receipt requested email or by the mailing of a certified letter to the grievant addressed to their residence as recorded in the Office of the Registrar.
Specific policies related to the conduct of members of the SH/BHSON community are outlined in the Student Handbook. Subsequent changes in policy are sent to students via email as addendums to the current year’s Student Handbook.
SH/BHSON takes very seriously students’ complaints and concerns. Complaints should be resolved at the campus level. However, after completing the SH/BHSON Grievance process, if a student feels that their complaints have not been resolved, per federal Student Regulations CFR 34, Section 600.9 (a)(1) and 668.43 (b), the student may file a complaint with:
Massachusetts Board of Higher Education
Office of the General Counsel
One Ashbuton Place, Room 1401
Boston, MA 02108
Fax: 617-727-0955 www.mass.edu