General Student Complaint Process

A. Introduction

In the event of an alleged violation of a Shoreline Community College policy or procedure, refer to the specific policy or procedure for the applicable complaint process. If there is no such complaint process within the applicable SCC policy and procedure, then this general complaint procedure is available to SCC students. The purpose of this procedure is to establish a process whereby a student may complain about the action, or inaction, of a Shoreline Community College employee or representative of the College such as a vendor or third-party contractor.

A student may initiate the general complaint process to seek resolution of an alleged incident or violation of a policy or procedure that occurred while enrolled as a student at Shoreline Community College. If the complaint falls under a policy that has a specific dispute resolution procedure, that procedure will take precedence. Federal and state laws (other than consumer protection laws), rules and regulations shall not be grievable matters under this process.

The general complaint process utilizes and encourages an informal process to resolve problems that do not violate college policies, or state or federal law. However, a formal complaint process can be used in any situation where the informal process does not successfully resolve the issue or at the request of the student making the complaint.

This general complaint process is available to any student who is currently enrolled or was enrolled as a student at Shoreline Community College at the time of the incident. Documentation related to complaints are subject to the requirements of public records law or other legal reporting requirements. The College is not responsible for the confidentiality of the parties involved and cannot guarantee confidentiality to any participant.

B. Making A Complaint

Informal Process

This process promotes constructive dialogue and understanding and does not require the student to submit paperwork or forms. If the complaint involves violation of college policy or state/federal law, the student should pursue the formal complaint process.

Supervisors will keep written records of the complaint, including date, student information, nature of the complaint, and resolution. Faculty names will not be maintained with these records, and students will be informed that no such record will be kept. Students who wish the complaint to be linked with an individual faculty should pursue the formal process.

Prior to filing a formal complaint, the student must use the following informal process:

  1. Within twenty-one (21) calendar days following the alleged incident that gave rise to the complaint, the complainant should discuss the complaint informally with the respondent involved.

    • Any College official receiving a complaint shall refer the complaint to respondent’s immediate supervisor for review.

  2. At their discretion, the complainant may report the concern to the supervisor of the respondent who is the subject of the complaint. In the case of a complaint against a vendor, the concern may be reported to the President or designee.

  3. Both parties, complainant and respondent or supervisor, should discuss the matter, explore alternatives, and attempt to arrive at a satisfactory resolution to the complaint within fifteen (15) calendar days following the date the complainant first made the issue or problem known to the respondent.

    • Depending on the nature of the complaint, the College may be required by law to take action, notwithstanding the complainant’s desire to address the issue informally.

  4. If a complainant is not satisfied with respect to the outcome of the informal process to the complaint, they may (at their discretion) initiate a formal process to address their concern.

Formal Process

If an informal attempt at resolution is unsuccessful, a complainant may proceed with a formal complaint. A complaint may be submitted verbally or in written form, or online. Verbal and written complaints should be submitted to the supervisor of the employee when possible. The College official receiving the complaint shall mark the date the complaint was received and refer the complainant to the appropriate unit administrator for an initial review within a reasonable time-period, taking into consideration all relevant circumstances, including the due process rights of the person(s) subject to the complaint. In the event that the person subject to the complaint is a member of the executive team, then the reviewing official shall be the President or their designee who does not report directly or indirectly to the respondent. In the event that the person subject to the complaint is the President, then an alternate administrator shall be designated by the Board of Trustees to review and respond to the complaint. The following is the process for a formal complaint: 

  1. If a complainant wishes to make a complaint that seeks a formal resolution, the complaint must be filed no later than ninety (90) calendar days following the alleged incident that gave rise to the complaint.

  2. The formal complaint should normally include the following:

    • Date, time, place of the alleged incident(s) or violation(s)

    • Description of the alleged incident(s) or violation(s)

    • The identity of the employee named in the complaint

    • The Shoreline policy or procedure allegedly violated, if applicable

  3. Once the formal complaint is submitted, the appropriate supervisor (the reviewing official) shall meet with the complainant.

    • The purpose of this meeting is to discuss and review the complaint and the options available to the complainant through the formal complaint procedure. If the complainant fears retaliation in a class in which they are currently enrolled, the identity of the complainant will be withheld until the completion of the quarter and grades have been submitted.

    • At the initial meeting with the complainant, if in the reviewing official’s judgment an informal approach has not been attempted or exhausted and would be effective, the reviewing official may request that the complainant meet with other party(ies) involved in an effort to resolve the concern.

  4. The reviewing official shall begin an investigation to be normally completed within 20 instructional days for faculty and 30 business days for all others (investigations may take longer if classes are not in session or in the event of extenuating circumstances). All such investigations shall comply with the College’s obligations under any applicable collective bargaining agreement, including modifying any deadlines or procedures of this procedure to comply with that agreement.

    • After reviewing all evidence presented from the investigation, the reviewing official shall submit written conclusions and recommendations that the official deems appropriate from the evidence presented. The complainant and the employee shall each receive copies of written conclusions and recommendations.

    • Both the complainant and the employee shall be given 14 calendar days or 7 instructional days, whichever is longer, to submit a written statement in rebuttal to any of the findings. Any reply to such rebuttal shall be submitted within seven calendar days thereafter. The terms of any applicable collective bargaining agreement shall prevail over this procedure, in the event of a conflict.

    • If the complaint is not resolved by this process or by mediation, and/or if either of the parties decides not to participate in mediation, when recommended, then the reviewing official shall, after an investigation, submit a written report to the chief student services administrator or designee, including the complaint, any responses, finding, and any other information the unit administrator deems relevant. The employee who is the subject of the complaint shall be provided an opportunity to defend themselves against any charges brought by the complainant or brought by any witnesses who testify regarding the events at issue.

    • Within 14 calendar days, based upon the recommendations of the chief student services administrator, corrective action will be taken if necessary and appropriate. The chief student services administrator or designee shall provide all parties with copies of the final decision. The terms of any applicable collective bargaining agreement shall prevail over this procedure, in the event of a conflict.

    • An employee who disagrees with the decision of the chief student services administrator or designee, or with the appropriateness of any corrective measures may contest the same through applicable sections of the most current negotiated faculty agreement. Disciplinary action taken against faculty shall be limited to procedures regarding Corrective Action as described in the most current negotiated faculty agreement.

    • If the complainant disagrees with the decision, said complainant retains all legal rights to seek redress that may exist at the completion of this procedure.