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Procedures

Sunday, November 19, 2017

These procedures are intended to apply to Title IX/Civil Rights grievances involving student allegation of employees, employee allegation against student, student-on-student allegation, employee allegation against employee, and campus visitor/guest allegation against student, employee, or other campus visitor. All other grievances by students, employees, or guests will be addressed through other conduct procedures.

The college benefits from formal and informal procedures that encourage prompt resolution of complaints and concerns raised by members of the college community.

A. Informal Complaint Resolution

Before pursuing the formal complaint process, every reasonable effort should be made to constructively resolve issues with students, faculty, staff, or administrators. Whenever possible and safe, the problem or complaint should first be discussed with the individual involved in the complaint. If satisfactory resolution is not reached after discussion with the individual, the complainant should contact the individual’s direct supervisor to resolve the complaint. The supervisor will make the Title IX Coordinator aware of the complaint and action taken. If these efforts are unsuccessful, the formal complaint process may be initiated. The college does not require a complainant to contact the person involved or that person’s supervisor if doing so is impracticable, or if the complainant believes that the conduct cannot be effectively addressed through informal means.

B. Formal Complaint/Grievance Procedures

B. FORMAL COMPLAINT/GRIEVANCE PROCEDURES

1. Responsibility to Report

Any student, faculty member, staff member, administrator, or visitor to the campus who has experienced or witnessed sexual harassment is strongly encouraged to report it.  The college must know about incidents of sexual harassment in order to stop them, protect victims, and prevent future incidents.

It is the responsibility of college faculty, administrators and supervisors to report complaints of sexual harassment that they receive and of possible sexual harassment of which they become aware. When there is a relationship that involves legally recognized professional confidentiality between the complainant and the person to whom the harassment is reported, the report may be withheld at the request of the complainant.

2. Notification

Students, faculty members, administrators, staff members, or visitors to the college are strongly encouraged to report allegations of discrimination or harassment to the Title IX Coordinator or his or her deputy.  A report of sex discrimination or harassment should be made as soon as possible after the incident in order to facilitate an effective response.  The longer a report is delayed, the more difficult it will be for the college to investigate.  A person who raises a complaint may discuss with the Title IX Coordinator any situation believed to constitute sexual discrimination or harassment. Reports may be made by the person experiencing the discrimination or harassment or by a witness. Persons wishing to file an online complaint may submit the complaint via email at [email protected] Submissions may also be made in writing or in person to any Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Coordinator.

Upon receipt of the complaint/grievance, the Title IX compliance officer will open a formal case file and notify the investigating officer and, at the appropriate time, notify the respondent and complainant.  The Title IX Coordinator is the Vice Chancellor for Student Services, and deputies are the Dean of Students and the Human Resources Generalist.

3. Investigation

The assigned deputy will determine how many investigators are needed and will designate the appropriate number for the complaint. The lead investigator will confer with the Title IX Coordinator or his or her deputy on accommodations for the complainant or other necessary remedial short-term actions. The Title IX compliance officer will apprise the Vice Chancellor for the appropriate division of the grievance, or if the grievance is against a student, the Vice Chancellor of Student Services.

The deputy (or Investigation Team) will:

a. Identify the correct policies allegedly violated;

b. Conduct an immediate initial investigation to determine if there is reasonable cause to charge the respondent(s);

1. If there is insufficient evidence to support reasonable cause, the grievance should be closed with no further action.

c. Meet with the complainant to finalize the grievance.

d. Prepare the notice of charges on the basis of initial investigation.

e. Develop a strategic investigation plan which may include a witness list, an evidence list, an intended timeframe, and an order of interviews for all witnesses, including the respondent.

f. Conduct a thorough, reliable and impartial investigation. Witnesses may or may not be given notice prior to the interview.

g. Complete the investigation promptly, and without unreasonable deviation from the intended timeline.

h. Make a finding on the case, based on a preponderance of the evidence which indicates that it is more likely than not that a policy violation has or has not occurred.

i. Prepare a complete report on the investigation and its findings to present to the Deputy.

Following the investigation, a Letter of Determination will be sent to the affected parties.

a. The individual (s) alleged to have committed discrimination or harassment may accept the findings; accept the findings in part and reject the findings in part; or reject all findings.

b. The complainant will also be notified of the outcome of the investigation.

If the findings indicate that it is likely that the alleged discrimination or harassment has not occurred, the investigation should be closed.

If the complaint is against a student, the sanction will be determined by the Vice Chancellor of Student Services in consultation with the Dean of Students and the investigative team.

If the complaint is against a UA-PTC employee, the Vice Chancellor for the appropriate division, in consultation with the Deputy for Employees and the Dean or Director of the appropriate division, will determine the sanction.  UA-PTC will act to end the discrimination, prevent its recurrence, and remedy its effects on the person who filed the complaint and on the UA-PTC community.


Appeal Procedures

Any party who files an appeal must do so in writing to the Title IX Coordinator within five days of receiving the Letter of Determination.  Acceptable means of appeal submission include email, facsimile, hand delivered notification, or postal delivery. The Title IX Coordinator will share the appeal with the other concerned parties. The original finding and sanction will stand if the appeal is not timely or substantively eligible, and the decision is final.

Because the original finding and sanction are presumed to have been decided reasonably and appropriately, the party requesting an appeal must show error.  The ONLY grounds for appeal are as follows:

a. A procedural or substantive error occurred that significantly impacted the outcome of the hearing (e.g. substantiated bias, material deviation from established procedures, etc.).

b. New information has been found which was unavailable during the original hearing or investigation that could substantially impact the original finding or sanction. A summary of this new information and its potential impact must be included.

c. The sanctions imposed are substantially disproportionate to the severity of the violation.

If the Title IX Coordinator determines that a material procedural or substantive error occurred, the Coordinator may return the grievance to the Investigation Board with instructions to reconvene to correct the error. In rare cases, where the procedural or substantive error cannot be corrected by the Investigation Board (as in cases of bias), the Title IX Coordinator may order a new investigation on the complaint with an Investigation Board made up of new members. The results of a reconvened hearing cannot be appealed. The results of a new hearing can be appealed, once, on the three applicable grounds for appeals.

If the Title IX Coordinator determines that new evidence should be considered, he or she will return the grievance to the Investigation Board to reconsider only the new evidence.  The reconsideration of the Investigation Board is not appealable.

If the Title IX Coordinator determines that the sanctions imposed appear to be disproportionate to the severity of the violation, the Title IX Coordinator will refer the complaint to a board composed of three (3) President’s Executive Council members, which may then increase, decrease or otherwise modify the sanctions.  This decision is final.

The appeal procedure and determination will typically be completed within 20 business days.

The procedures governing the hearing of appeals include the following:

  1. Sanctions imposed are implemented immediately unless the party determining the sanction stays their implementation in extraordinary circumstances, pending the outcome of the appeal.
  2. All parties should be informed in a timely manner of the status of requests for appeal, the status of the appeal consideration, and the results of the appeal decision.
  3. The appeal will be returned to the original hearing body unless bias has been determined.
  4. Appeals are not intended to be full re-hearings of the complaint, with the exception of substantiated cases of bias. In most cases, appeals are confined to a review of the written documentation or record of the original hearing, and pertinent documentation regarding the grounds for appeal.
  5. The Title IX Coordinator will render a written Letter of Determination to the affected parties.

COMPLAINT AND GRIEVANCE PROCESS PROVISIONS

A. Time Periods

All effort will be made to make a determination in no more than 60 calendar days of filing a formal complaint/grievance.

For purposes of calculating all time periods set forth in this Complaint and Grievance Policy, a business day is defined to mean normal operating hours, Monday through Friday, excluding recognized national and state holidays and UA-PTC closings.

Timelines may be modified in cases where information is not clear, judged to be incomplete, relevant parties are not available for interview, and/or other related circumstances as may arise.  In the event that this step is necessary, the Title IX Coordinator or his or her respective deputies will notify the complainant who filed the grievance in writing within the set timeline.

B. No Retaliation

Retaliation against any person who files a complaint of discrimination, participates in an investigation, or opposes a discriminatory employment or educational practice or policy is prohibited by PTC policy and federal and state law.  A person who believes retaliation has occurred should notify the Title IX Coordinator as soon as possible.

C. False Reports

UA-PTC will not tolerate intentional false reporting of incidents.  It is a violation of the Codes of Conduct governing UA-PTC to make an intentionally false report of any policy violation, and it may also violate state criminal statutes and civil defamation laws.

D. Office of Civil Rights Complaint

Although complainants are encouraged to attempt to resolve complaints pertaining to discrimination by utilizing this Grievance Procedure, they have the right to file a complaint directly with the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) (Dallas regional office).  Information regarding applicable timelines and procedures is available from OCR.

E. Effective Date

UA-PTC policies that were in force at the time of the alleged incident are the policies that will be used when determining if it is more likely than not that a policy violation occurred. The procedures in force at the time the complaint is made are the procedures that will be followed throughout the investigation, hearing and any appeals that are heard.  UA-PTC reserves the right to make changes and amendments to this policy and procedure as needed, with appropriate notice to the community.  

Education and Counseling Support

Because of the traumatic nature of sexual assault, victims are strongly encouraged to seek professional help. Students seeking professional help may obtain a listing of referrals at Counseling and Advising Services.

Those who would like to receive more information about options for pressing charges for reporting an incident, for filing internal complaints or finding counseling and educational materials can contact one of the college offices listed below: