HEOA Filing Complaints
Addressing Student Concerns
Policies, grievance procedures, and appeal procedures established by South Georgia State College (SGSC) govern certain student rights and obligations. These are all outlined in the South Georgia State College Catalog and Student Handbook.
Within the Student Rights and Responsibilities framework, SGSC students are encouraged to communicate responsibly on matters of concern. The College expectsstudents tol attempt to resolve complaints at the lowest possible level before submitting a formal complaint. The goal is the successful resolution of the issue. All records of the formal complaint process, including the complaint form and all reports and findings, are the property of the College.
Students have the following avenues for addressing complaints:
Non-Academic Complaints or Grievances. If the source of the complaint arose outside the classroom setting, the student should take it directly to the other party(s) involved. If the student and the other party cannot resolve the matter or, for any reason, the student does not feel at ease in going to the other party, the student has the right to submit a formal written complaint. Students should submit the complaint via the SGSC Student Complaint Portal. The SGSC Student Complaint Portal provides an electronic pathway for students to submit non-academic complaints. The complaint will be directed to the appropriate office on campus for review and resolution. If the complaint is lodged about a process, procedure, or student service, it will be directed to the supervisor of the area at issue. The formal complaint procedure for non-academic complaints is set up to take no more than 50 working days. To have a remedy under the formal complaint process, complaints must be filed within 30 days of the incident. Complaints filed more than 30 days after the incident will not be accepted.
Student Non-Academic Complaint Form
Academic Complaints or Grievances. Academic complaints or grievances that emerged within a classroom or related setting are resolved following the steps described in the process for a Grade Appeal (see pages 3-5 of the Student Handbook). The formal complaint procedure for academic complaints that are not grade appeals is set up to take no more than 50 working days. To have a remedy under the formal complaint process, complaints must be filed within 30 days of the incident. Complaints filed more than 30 days after the incident will not be accepted.
Students who are uncomfortable addressing a complaint with a faculty member with whom they are concerned should address the issue with the faculty member's Division Chairperson or Dean.
South Georgia State College is committed to freedom of expression and intellectual diversity. Failure on the part of faculty and staff to honor this commitment is a legitimate reason for a student to file a grievance. For more information about Academic Freedom and Intellectual Diversity, please refer to the American Council of Education's Academic Rights and Responsibilities statement. Please click here to view the Intellectual Pluralism and Academic Freedom Statement.
To ensure excellent service and compliance with ethical standards, the University System of Georgia maintains a hotline for ethics and compliance reporting. Information and directions for reporting concerns related to compliance with ethics standards can be found at https://bor.alertline.com/gcs/welcome.
Appeals may be made in any cases where sanctions are issued, even when such sanctions are held "in abeyance," such as probationary or expulsion. Where the sanction imposed includes a suspension or expulsion (even for one held in abeyance), the following appellate procedures must be provided.
The Respondent (and in cases involving sexual misconduct or other forms of discrimination and/or harassment, the Complainant) shall have the right to appeal the outcome on any of the following grounds: (1) to consider new information sufficient to alter the decision, or other relevant facts not brought out in the original hearing (or appeal), because such information was not known or knowable to the person appealing during the time of the hearing (or appeal); (2) to allege a procedural error within the hearing process that may have substantially impacted the fairness of the hearing (or appeal), including but not limited to whether any hearing questions were improperly excluded or whether the decision was tainted by a conflict of interest or bias by the Title IX Coordinator, Conduct Officer, the investigator(s), decision-makers(s); or (3) to allege that the finding was inconsistent with the weight of the information.
The appeal must be made in writing, set forth one or more of the bases outlined above, and submitted within five business days of the date of the final written decision. The appeal should be made to the institution's President or their designee.
The appeal shall only be a review of the record, and no new meeting with the Respondent or any Complainant is required. The President or their designee may affirm the original finding and sanction, affirm the original finding but issue a new sanction of greater or lesser severity, remand the case back to any lower decision-maker to correct a procedural or factual defect, or reverse or dismiss the case if there was a procedural or factual defect that cannot be remedied by remand. The President or their designee's decision shall be simultaneously issued in writing to the parties within a reasonable period. The President or their designee's decision shall be the institution's final decision.
Should the Respondent or Complainant (where applicable) wish to appeal the final institutional decision, they may request a review by the Board of Regents in accordance with the Board of Regents Policy on Discretionary Review.
Appeals received after the designated deadlines will not be considered unless the institution or Board of Regents has granted an extension before the deadline. If an appeal is not received by the deadline, the last decision on the matter will become final.
Please consult the College Catalog for more details.
There are times when students have a grievance or issue with another student, a faculty member, or a College staff member, which is of a non-grade/non-harassment-related nature in the South Georgia State College Student Handbook. These grievances could include issues of intellectual diversity (when someone feels they have been treated unfairly by the institution because of their ideas or opinions on a specific issue). It is recommended in these situations that students follow these informal procedures:
- Students are encouraged to meet with the Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs when there is a grievance with a fellow student. The Vice President or their designee will investigate the situation and assist the students involved in collaboratively resolving the problem or grievance.
- In a situation where it is a grievance with a faculty or College staff member, students are encouraged to meet one-on-one with the person with whom they have a complaint or issue to discuss it openly. If this does not resolve the situation, students should meet with the immediate supervisor or supervisors of the college personnel with whom they have the complaint or grievance. Students are encouraged to meet with the senior administrator in the employee's chain of command if the situation is unresolved.
- If this informal process does not resolve the issue, students are encouraged to consider using the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Program. Also known as "mediation," ADR aims to resolve disputes between two persons without a formal grievance procedure or legal action. The goal of such a resolution is to satisfy the needs of both parties in a non-threatening manner in an atmosphere where both sides are expressed and the disputants themselves develop possible solutions to the dispute. To arrive at a win-win solution that will satisfy both parties, a certified mediator facilitates the expressions of concern, identifies issues for negotiation, and helps the parties work toward an agreement that can satisfy their needs. This process works very well for most disputes that do not involve criminal activity or academic grades.
- Further, the positions of the disputants are of minimal concern. Therefore, disputes between student and faculty member, faculty and staff, student and student, and faculty/staff and administration can be reasonably settled through mediation. For Alternative Dispute Resolution (mediation) information, please contact Academic Affairs at 912-260-4201.
The South Georgia State College attempts to provide equal opportunity to all students and applicants for admission without regard to race, creed, color, gender, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, veteran status, or handicap. The College does not discriminate against any student or applicant in regard to any position for which the student is qualified. Any student who believes they have been discriminated against because of race, creed, color, gender, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, veteran, or handicapped status is encouraged to let appropriate authorities at the College know of this treatment.
All student grievances concerning discrimination based on race, color, gender, sexual orientation, religion, creed, national origin, age, veteran status, or disability should be directed to the College's Affirmative Action Officer, the Director of Human Resources.
Affirmative Action Officer
South Georgia State College
100 W. College Park Drive
Douglas, Georgia 31533-5098
The College is committed to being a safe and respectful environment to live and study in and complies with the mandates that govern the handling of gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual assault.
Upon notice of the alleged Sexual Misconduct, the institution's Title IX Coordinator ("Coordinator") will assess whether a formal investigation, informal resolution, or dismissal would be appropriate. In making this determination, the Coordinator will determine whether the allegation(s), if true, would rise to the level of prohibited conduct, whether a Formal Complaint must be filed, whether an investigation is appropriate considering the circumstances, and whether the parties prefer an informal resolution, and whether any safety concerns exist for the campus community. The need to issue a broader warning to the community in compliance with the Clery Act shall be assessed in compliance with federal law.
For additional questions about Title IX, please contact:
Ms. Carmen James
Title IX Coordinator
Thrash Hall Building, Office 108 (Douglas Campus 100 W. College Park Drive)
email@example.com | 912-260-4375
Ms. Sandra Adams
Deputy Title IX Coordinator
Powell Hall, Office 208 (Douglas Campus 100 W. College Park Drive)
firstname.lastname@example.org | 912-260-4375
SEXUAL MISCONDUCT POLICY
In accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 ("Title IX"), the USG does not discriminate on the basis of sex in any of its education programs, activities, or employment. The USG is committed to ensuring a safe learning and working environment for all members of the USG community (USG BoR - 6.7 Sexual Misconduct Policy). To that end, the College has created an institutional policy that prohibits sexual misconduct, as defined in the Sexual Misconduct Policy referenced on p. 26 in the Student Handbook.
In compliance with the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, institutions offering distance education must provide students with contact information for filing complaints with accrediting agencies and the appropriate state agencies for handling complaints. The College wants to resolve student grievances, complaints, and concerns involving e-learning expeditiously and fairly. Complaints regarding any aspect of Coastal Georgia operations should be filed initially with Academic Affairs and then, if needed, to external authorities, such as NC-SARA, which utilizes a flowchart presentation depicting the complaint process. If the complaint cannot be resolved at the college level, the student can appeal to the NC-SARA Georgia Portal, the Georgia Nonpublic Postsecondary Education Commission (GNPEC), unless the student is in Massachusetts or California.
ETHICS HOTLINE COMPLAINTS
The South Georgia State College recognizes that each member of the academic community attempts to live by their values, beliefs, and ethical decision-making processes. The Ethics and Compliance Reporting Hotline guides students and other members of the College's community and sets forth a reporting mechanism for Hotline complaints; however, depending on the nature of the complaint, additional South Georgia State College policies may detail the exact process to follow for investigation and resolution of a specific Hotline complaint. For example, Hotline complaints alleging sexual harassment, academic misconduct, poor work performance, and conflicts with other employees will be investigated according to the applicable procedures outlined in the corresponding College policy.
COMPLAINTS TO THE UNIVERSITY SYSTEM OF GEORGIA (USG)
The USG has Procedures for Handling Complaints, including a Student Complaint Form that the College makes available to students and the public. If a complaint cannot be resolved through the College or USG protocol, students may file a complaint with their resident state licensing authority. Georgia residents may complete the Georgia Nonpublic Postsecondary Education Commission Authorized School Complaint Form.
COMPLAINTS TO THE SOUTHERN ASSOCIATION OF COLLEGES AND SCHOOLS COMMISSION ON COLLEGES (SACSCOC)
Although no complaints involving SACSCOC have been received to date, they would be routed through the Office of the President. For complaints regarding South Georgia State College accreditation, the SACSCOC contact information is published on the Accreditation web page. All student complaints are investigated to the extent allowed by the College, the USG Board of Regents, the Georgia Open Records Act, and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (South Georgia State College Student Handbook [p. 9]).