Complaints and Concerns Procedure

Central Oregon Community College
Complaint/Concerns Procedures

Approved June 2001

CONTENTS

I. General Policy Statement

II. Student Concerns Procedure

III. Sexual Harassment: Informal Procedure

IV. Discrimination/Discriminatory Harassment: Informal Procedure

V. Sexual Harassment and Discrimination: Formal Procedure

VI. Other Concerns/Complaints: Informal and Formal Procedures

VII. Complaint Review Committee

VIII. Outside Avenues for Resolution of Sexual Harassment or Discrimination Complaints

IX.  Internal Contacts

I. General Policy Statement

Central Oregon Community College has specific procedures designed to maintain an atmosphere free of discrimination and harassment and one that allows for free and effective communication between individuals. Such procedures provide an avenue to resolve differences within the College. Community members, employees, students and applicants for admission or employment may have recourse to such procedures to address issues of harassment, discrimination and other concerns. Specific procedures exist to address complaints of discrimination, discriminatory harassment, sexual harassment and violation of rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Members of the college community who believe they have been subjected to discrimination, discriminatory harassment or sexual harassment are urged to contact the appropriate officer of the college to facilitate resolution of such complaints.

There are both informal and formal complaint procedures. The informal procedure attempts to resolve the complaint through cooperative meetings with the parties involved. Appropriate officers of the College may be contacted to provide assistance in the informal process and to advise complainants on options for filing their claims. If the informal procedure fails to resolve the issue, the complainant has the option of filing a formal complaint and/or pursuing outside assistance. It is not necessary to follow the informal procedure prior to filing a formal complaint, but the College encourages informal resolution whenever possible.

At any time during the process, complainants have a legal right to pursue their concern through outside channels. See the Section VIII, Outside Avenues, for specific information related to filing complaints with external agencies or attorneys.

Retaliation against the complainant is expressly forbidden. Sanctions will be applied to all violations of this rule.

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II. Student Concerns Procedure (Revised 4/2009)

The College expects that most issues will be resolved informally by way of discussion between the student and the appropriate staff member.

For certain complaints or concerns, the College has established specific procedures to be followed. For example, complaints regarding grades are subject to the to the limitations and requirements of the Grade Appeal Procedure; complaints regarding harassment are subject to the harassment policy. Students will be expected to initiate their concerns or express their concern in accordance with those specific policies. In any other cases, students may have recourse to the Student Concerns Procedure.

Procedure:

1. The student will bring the issue to the appropriate staff members (for example, the instructor and/or department chair or the Director of Student Life) in an effort to resolve the issue informally.

2. If no resolution is reached, the student will present the concern in writing to the appropriate Vice President or Dean (any College administrator can be contacted for referral to the appropriate Vice President or Dean *).

Form for written concern: The student shall make clear

· The act, omission, or matter which is the subject of the concern

· All facts the student believes are relevant to the concern

· Steps previously taken to resolve the matter informally

· The resolution sought

· All arguments in support of the desired solution

Note that the burden of proof at this point in the procedure is on the student, so the written statement of the concern should be prepared carefully and with full and relevant detail and documentation. A student who wishes assistance with preparation of a concern may contact the Director of Student Life, who will provide such assistance on request.

3. The Vice President * may 1) dismiss the concern as having no grounds for further review or 2) initiate an investigation.  A concern may be dismissed (either prior to or following an investigation) if the Vice President * concludes the concern is:

· Untimely

· Based upon a non-grievable matter

· Being concurrently reviewed in another forum

· Previously decided pursuant to this review procedure

· Frivolous or filed in bad faith.

4. All parties to the concern will be given a copy of the written concern and asked to respond in writing.

5. The investigation will normally be concluded within two weeks. The Vice President * will provide all parties to the concern a written report of the results of the investigation and may provide a recommendation for resolution (or dismissal of the concern).

6. If the Vice President's* recommended resolution is rejected by the complainant, or if no solution is recommended, the Vice President will refer the matter to the Student Concerns Committee.

7. Complaint Review Committee: Please see Section VII, Complaint Review Committee. Both the introductory paragraph and item 2 apply.

8. The Committee will provide all parties with advance notice of hearing dates, times, and places. The hearing will normally be convened within one week of the referral to Committee.

9. All parties to the concern shall be entitled to present witnesses, proffer documentary evidence, and question opposing witnesses. All parties are invited to present an oral summation to the Committee.

10. The Committee shall meet to review the concern and come to its conclusion in private. The Committee's decision shall be presented in writing, within one week of the hearing, to all affected parties.

11. Appeals

  • Appeals may be made in writing to the President.
  • Such Appeals must be made within ten (10) business days of the Committee's finding.
  • Appeals may only be made for the following reasons:
    • The party was not given notice of the proceeding; or
    • New evidence that would significantly alter the outcome of the proceeding that was not available at the time of the hearing is now available. (Note: Witnesses who were available at the time of the hearing but were not called do not constitute "new evidence.")
  • The decision of the President shall be made within ten (10) business days of the appeal and will be the final decision of the College.

* All references to "Vice President" refer to appropriate Vice President or Dean

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III. Sexual Harassment: Informal Procedure

1. Complaints must be addressed to one of the Board-approved Sexual Harassment Officers (contact the Human Resources Office for names of current officers) within one year (365 calendar days) of the alleged incident.

2. The Sexual Harassment Officer will investigate the complaint using a variety of means including but not limited to meeting with the complainant, the alleged harasser, appropriate college officials, and others involved in the disputed incident. Within fifteen (15) working days of the initial complaint, the Officer will report the findings to the complainant. The findings may recommend a solution to the alleged incident. A copy of this confidential report may also be distributed to appropriate College administrative staff, on a "need to know" basis only.

3. If the concerned party accepts the solution and/or findings, the matter ends. If a solution is not accepted, or if the findings are not satisfactory, the complainant may file a formal complaint and/or pursue solutions outside the College.

IV. Discrimination/Discriminatory Harassment: Informal Procedure

1. Complaints within the scope of discrimination/discriminatory harassment must be addressed to the Board-approved Equal Opportunity Officer (contact the Human Resources Office for the name of the current officer) within one hundred and eighty (180) calendar days of the alleged incident.

If the complaint lies within the scope of disability discrimination, the complainant may begin the process with the Board-approved Disability Coordinator.

2. The Equal Opportunity Officer will investigate the complaint using a variety of means including but not limited to meeting with the complainant, the accused party, appropriate college officials, and others involved in the disputed incident. Within fifteen (15) working days of the initial complaint, the Officer will report the findings to the complainant. The findings may recommend a solution to the alleged incident. A copy of this confidential report may also be distributed to appropriate College administrative staff, on a "need to know" basis only.

3. If the concerned party accepts the solution and/or findings, the matter ends. If a solution is not accepted, or if the findings are not satisfactory, the complainant may file a formal complaint and/or pursue solutions outside the College.

 

V. Sexual Harassment and Discrimination: Formal Procedure

Classified Association of COCC Represented Employees

Classified Association of COCC represented employees who wish to file a formal complaint must use the grievance procedures outlined in the collective bargaining agreement. College Sexual Harassment Officers and/or the Equal Opportunity Officer are available to advise complainants on various options available to them for their claims. The Classified Association Grievance Procedure is outlined in Article 5 of the collective bargaining agreement.

Faculty Forum Members

Faculty Forum Members who wish to file a formal complaint must use the grievance procedures outlined in the collective bargaining agreement. College Sexual Harassment Officers and/or the Equal Opportunity Officer are available to advise complainants on various options available to them for their claims.  The Faculty Forum grievance procedure is outlined in Article 5 of the Faculty Bargaining Agreement.

Members of the Public, Non-Union Staff Members, Students

Members of the public, non-union staff members and students who believe they have been subjected to sexual harassment can file a formal complaint with the Director of Human Resources or the Sexual Harassment Officer for the College. If the complaint is discrimination, the complainant can file the formal complaint with the Director of Human Resources or the Equal Opportunity Officer of the College. The appropriate Officer of the College will complete the following steps to attempt internal resolution of the complaint.

Step One: Investigation by Officer of the College

  1. The Officer of the College will complete an investigation within thirty (30) calendar days after receipt of a signed written statement by the complainant. The officer will notify the person against whom the complaint has been made, appropriate management and supervisory staff. The investigation will include interviewing both parties to the complaint and interviews with witnesses identified by both parties. All parties have the right to have a witness present at such interviews. The investigating officer will collect all supporting documentation.
  2. Upon completion of the investigation, the investigating officer will prepare a report including interview summaries and supporting documentation. The report will be completed within fifteen (15) working days of the completion of the investigation. The report will be discussed with both parties to the complaint.
  3. The final report will be sent to the appropriate administrative officer, as designated by the Officer of the College. Summaries will be sent to the involved parties.

Step Two: Administrative Officer Written Decision

  1. Within fifteen (15) working days of the receipt of the written report, the administrative officer will attempt to meet with the complainant and attempt to resolve the issues. The complainant has the right to decline to meet with the administrative officer.
  2. The administrative officer will issue a written decision. The decision should contain an outline of actions proposed to remedy the situation. The written decision shall be sent to the complainant, the accused and the originating investigating officer within ten (10) working days of the meeting with the complainant or of the complainant's refusal to meet.
  3. The complainant reviews the written decision to determine if he or she is satisfied with the findings and remedy. If so, the matter ends. If not, and he or she wishes to pursue the complaint further, the complainant may ask the College President to appoint a Complaint Review Committee.

Step Three: Complaint Review Committee Hearing

  1.  The President will convene the appropriate Complaint Review Committee based on the nature of the complaint. See Complaint Review Committee section below for committee makeup.
  2. The committee will conduct a confidential and independent administrative review hearing. The committee will be provided a complete record of the complaint that includes: the original formal complaint statement, the report written by the originating investigator for the College and the administrative officer's written decision.
  3. The committee will hear brief statements from the complainant and the accused. Both parties may bring one person to the review meeting for counsel and support. Confidentiality will be maintained throughout the process to protect the due process rights of both parties.
  4. The committee submits a written report of findings and recommendations to the College President. The report will be delivered to the President within fifteen (15) working days from the date of the hearing.
  5. The President notifies the complainant and the accused of the decision. Notification must be made in writing within ten (10) working days of receipt of the committee findings.
  6. The complainant reviews the written decision to determine if he or she is satisfied with the findings and remedy. If so, the matter ends. If not and he or she wishes to pursue the complaint further the complainant may ask the Board of Directors to review the decision, based on process issues only.

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 VI. Other Concerns/Complaints: Informal and Formal Procedures

Employees, applicants and community members who believe the college or a college employee has treated them improperly or inappropriately, may have recourse to the Concerns Procedure. (Note: students with such concerns are directed to the Section II of this policy, Student Concerns Procedure.)

Discrimination or sexual harassment complaints are to be handled under the process specific to harassment and discrimination above. Matters covered under collective bargaining agreements may not be a subject of a concern.

The procedure outlined below is designed to provide an avenue for resolution of disagreements with college decisions or with members of the college community.

Other Concerns/Complaints, Informal Procedure:

  1. The concerned parties are encouraged to attempt an informal resolution on their own, but are urged to contact the Director of Human Resources for assistance. The informal process may include meeting with the concerned parties, appropriate college staff and officers, and others involved in the alleged incident.
  2. If the concern is not resolved informally, the complainant will submit a written statement of the concern to the Director of Human Resources for formal processing.

Other Concerns/Complaints, Formal Procedure:

Step One: Investigation by the Director of Human Resources

  1. The Director of Human Resources will conduct an investigation within thirty (30) calendar days after receipt of the written statement of concern. The Director will collect supporting documentation and conduct appropriate interviews.
  2. Upon completion of the investigation, the Director will prepare a report including interview summaries and supporting documentation. The report will be completed within fifteen (15) working days of the completion of the investigation. The report will be discussed with both parties to the concern.
  3. The final report will be sent to the appropriate administrative officer, as determined by the Director of Human Resources.

Step Two: Administrative Officer Written Decision  

  1. Within fifteen (15) working days of the receipt of the written report, the administrative officer will attempt to meet with the concerned party and attempt to resolve the issues. The concerned party has the right to decline to meet with the administrative officer.
  2. The administrative officer will issue a written decision. The decision should contain an outline of actions proposed to remedy the situation. The written decision shall be sent to the complainant, the accused and the originating investigating officer within ten (10) working days of the meeting with the concerned party or of the concerned party's refusal to meet.
  3. The complainant reviews the written decision to determine if he or she is satisfied with the findings and remedy. If so, the matter ends. If not and he or she wishes to pursue the concern further the concerned party may ask the College President to appoint a Complaint Review Committee.

Step Three: Complaint Review Committee Hearing  

  1. The President will convene the appropriate Complaint Review Committee based on the nature of the formal complaint. See Complaint Review Committee section below for committee makeup.
  2. The committee will conduct a confidential and independent administrative review hearing. The committee will be provided a complete record of the complaint that includes: the original formal complaint statement, the report written by the originating investigator for the College and the administrative officer's written decision.
  3. The committee will hear brief statements from the complainant and the accused. Both parties may bring one person to the review meeting for counsel and support. Confidentiality will be maintained throughout the process to protect the due process rights of both parties.
  4. The committee submits a written report of findings and recommendations to the College President. The report will be delivered to the President within fifteen (15) working days from the date of the hearing.
  5. The President notifies the complainant and the accused of the decision. Notification must be made in writing within ten (10) working days of receipt of the committee findings.
  6. The complainant reviews the written decision to determine if he or she is satisfied with the findings and remedy. If so, the matter ends. If not and he or she wishes to pursue the complaint further the complainant may ask the Board of Directors to review the decision, based on process issues only.

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VII. Complaint Review Committee

For cases of sexual harassment, discrimination or other concerns, a Complaint Review Committee may need to be selected to review the written decision of an administrative officer of the College as outlined above. The committee will be comprised as follows. Members for committees will be chosen from a published pool of potential members. The President will publish the pool on an annual basis. Additionally, the President will designate one member of the appointed committee to be the chair.

1. If the complainant is an employee of the college, the committee will be comprised of one administrator, one classified staff member, one faculty member, one employee to be designated by the President on a case-by-case basis, and an administrative officer of the College. The administrative officer of the College must be other than that responsible for the written decision.

2. If the complainant is a student, the committee will be comprised of two students, one faculty member, one employee to be designated by the President on a case-by-case basis, and an administrative officer of the College. The administrative officer of the College must be other than that responsible for the written decision.

3. If the complainant is a community member or applicant for a position, the committee will be comprised of one community member, one faculty member, two employees to be designated by the President on a case-by-case basis, and an administrative officer of the College. The administrative officer of the College must be other than that responsible for the written decision.

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VIII. Outside Avenues for Resolution of Discrimination or Sexual Harassment Complaints

Members of the college community have the legal right to pursue their complaints through external channels. Students should contact the United States Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (OCR). The OCR has a filing deadline of 180 days from the date the complainant knew of the alleged discriminatory incident.

College employees may contact either the state Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) or the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). BOLI complaints must be filed within one year of the date the employee knew of the alleged discriminatory incident. EEOC complaints must be filed within 300 days from the alleged discriminatory act.

Also, complainants always have the right to consult a private attorney at their own expense. Under Oregon law (ORS 30.275) any person intending to file a discrimination suit against a public agency must file a notice of intent to sue within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory act.

In cases on discrimination, complainants have the right to appeal in writing to the Commissioner of Community Colleges and Workforce Development, in accordance with OAR 581-043-0700.

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IX. Internal Contacts

COCC Director of Human Resources: 541.383.7216

COCC Director of Student Life: 541.383.7591

COCC Equal Opportunity Officer - contact Director of Human Resources

COCC Sexual Harassment Officers - contact Director of Human Resources

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