Academic Appeal Due Process
The purpose of the Academic Appeal Due Process is to provide National Park College students with an opportunity to secure equitable resolution to issues that may affect their academic progress. To ensure due process dealing with academic appeals of students, the Vice President for Academic Affairs, in collaboration with the Dean of Students, appoints an Academic Appeals Committee at the beginning of each fall semester. This committee consists of six faculty members and six students. The appointed members elect a chairperson.
Students may appeal any final course grade, within reason, that they believe was awarded based upon an arbitrary determination by the faculty member and that does not reflect an academic assessment of their work or that is inconsistent with the grading procedures and standards outlined by the faculty member in their course syllabus, or as specified in written or oral instructions. The student must seek a formal academic appeal within 45 days of the final grade being awarded. Requests to hear appeals beyond this deadline will be heard only on an exceptional basis by the Vice President for Academic Affairs.
The following are examples of inappropriate reasons for making an academic appeal: the course was graded too severely, the faculty member did not offer extra credit, or the faculty member did not take into account the student’s personal commitments, such as work schedule.
The appeals process is outlined below.
Within 30 days of the final grade being awarded, the student must address his or her concern directly with the faculty member by arranging a meeting. Should the faculty member be off campus, the student must attempt to reach the instructor by Blackboard, phone, and email, working with college personnel as needed. The student should document each attempt to reach the faculty member. When discussing the appeal with the faculty member, the student should present as much evidence as possible and remember that civil and honest discourse is the best approach.
In the event that the faculty member is not on campus and the student has documented their inability to reach them or in the event that the faculty member is no longer employed at the college, the student may proceed to the formal resolution procedures.
Level 1: Formal Resolution by Academic Dean
To initiate a formal appeal, a student contacts the Dean of Students and meets to discuss appropriate procedures. This meeting ensures that the student has thought out the complaint and exhausted any hope of resolving the matter informally with his or her instructor.
The student is required to submit a written complaint concerning the grading of the faculty member with the guidance of the Dean of Students. This statement must contain clearly stated concerns to be addressed in the appeal. The statement is given to the academic dean that manages the instructor in question. The academic dean will initiate the level one resolution process.
The academic dean will collaborate with the division chair or program director, as appropriate, and will request a written statement regarding the appeal from the faculty member. The division chair/program director assists the dean by collecting and verifying any required evidence as it relates to the concerns specified in the student’s statement. The academic dean may meet separately with each party but is not allowed to exert pressure on either party as he or she serves as a first evaluator. The dean will make a written recommendation to each party within 10 working days of receiving the complaint. The matter may end at this point, if the involved parties are satisfied. If the student is dissatisfied, a written appeal is sent along with the dean’s written recommendation to the Dean of Students and copied to the Vice President for Academic Affairs within 5 working days of the dean’s recommendations.
Level 2: Formal Resolution by Committee
If the student chooses to appeal the dean’s written recommendation, the case will be reviewed by an Academic Appeals Committee (AAC). The AAC is charged with making a final recommendation to the Vice President for Academic Affairs.
The Dean of Students will contact the AAC chairperson and request a hearing. The academic dean will forward all relevant materials to the AAC chairperson for the committee’s review. The chairperson of the committee arranges with other members to place a case on the calendar and, in writing, notifies the parties involved of the time and place of the hearing. If the student does not appear, except in extreme instances beyond personal control, the appeal is dropped. If the faculty member does not appear, except in extreme instances beyond personal control, it is assumed that nothing is to be added to the evidence already submitted to the committee.
Other procedures are as follows:
• All hearings are closed.
• Hearings are informal but a recorded transcript is made and maintained by the Vice President for Student Affairs office. The recordings will be treated as confidential. Neither party may make private recordings during or after the appeal hearing, but a copy of the recorded hearing can be made available upon request.
• Either party may ask members of the College community (students, faculty, or staff) to present testimony relevant to the case.
• The faculty member and the student will have access to written statements of the other prior to the hearing or prior to any questioning by members of the committee at the time of the hearing.
• Notice of the hearing and rules governing the committee are made available in advance to both parties.
• Pertinent student and faculty records are to be made available in advance to both parties.
• Both parties to the appeal have the right to ask questions of the other during the hearing.
• Either party may have access to legal counsel during the hearing, but legal counsel may not answer for the client nor make comments or ask questions unless directed to do so by the committee chairperson. Either party may confer with legal counsel before answering a question or making a comment. A student under 18 may have a parent or legal guardian present at the hearing.
• The members of the committee may question both parties in the dispute. Questions must be relevant to the issues of the appeal.
• A quorum consists of not less than eight members, and a quorum must be present at all times during a hearing. A meeting of the Academic Appeals Committee shall have priority over all other academic responsibilities.
• Decisions of the committee are based on a majority vote of the members of the committee present. In case of a tie, the matter challenged will not be changed.
• If the student or faculty member involved in the appeal is a member of the Academic Appeals Committee, they are to be disqualified from the hearing. A pre-selected alternate shall be used to maintain a proper mix of faculty and student committee members.
• Hearings will be conducted only during the Fall and Spring semesters.
The decision and the reasons for the decision are reported in writing to both parties, to the officials who reviewed the appeal, and to the Vice President for Academic Affairs. Majority and minority opinions are included in the report. Upon final signature by the Vice President for Academic Appeals, the decision of the Academic Appeals Committee is considered final; however, in the event of a procedural error, a final appeal can be made to the Vice President for Academic Affairs.
In cases involving a grade change, the Registrar receives a copy of the decision authorizing him or her to change the grade on the student’s official record. If the case involves suspension from the College and is resolved in favor of the student, the Vice President for Student Affairs receives a copy authorizing him or her to reinstate the student. Decisions of the committee involving other parties in the College result in letters to the said parties authorizing them to take appropriate action.
All matters pertaining to the appeal shall be treated as confidential. No information will be released without written permission of both parties involved. Members of the committee are instructed at the initial meeting of the importance of confidentiality and absolute necessity of not discussing any part of the hearing. After the hearing is completed, the Vice President for Student Affairs will be responsible for gathering all materials used during the hearings and destroying all information except one official copy which will be filed in the College vault.
Level 3: Procedural Appeal
A final appeal can be made to the Vice President for Academic Affairs only in rare situations involving a procedural error in the resolution of the academic appeal case (e.g., material deviation from established AAC procedures, new evidence that was unavailable during the AAC hearing that may have affected the outcome, sanctions that are disproportionate to the severity of the violation). The Vice President for Academic Affairs has the power delegated by the Board of Trustees to take whatever action judged appropriate to resolve the matter. There are no further college appeals beyond the Vice President for Academic Appeals.
NPC Board Policy Number: 6.300