Student Disability Grievance Policy and Procedure

Introduction

Carolina University (CU) is committed to providing equal opportunities for students with disabilities to access and participate in academic, social, cultural and recreational programs at CU.  This commitment is grounded not only in disability law, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and the ADA Amendments of 2008, but also in Carolina University's commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging for all members of the academic community.

Scope & Application

This policy and procedure is intended to provide for the prompt and equitable resolution of complaints by any student enrolled in a Carolina University course or program who believes that they have been discriminated against on the basis of disability.

This procedure may be used to address concerns involving:

  • Disagreement regarding the determination and/or the delivery of a requested service, accommodation, auxiliary aid or service, assistive technology, or modification of a school/university practice or degree requirement in an effective or timely manner;
  • Denial of a requested accommodation;
  • Inaccessibility of a CU program, service or activity;
  • Harassment or disparate treatment because of a disability;
  • Any other instance in which a student believes that they have been subjected to discrimination on the basis of disability.    

Submitting a Formal Complaint

To initiate a formal complaint, students are asked to provide a detailed written account of their concerns to the Director/504 Coordinator (or designee) of Carolina University Accessibility Services (UAS) at accessibilityservices@carolinau.edu.

The following information should be included:   

  • A clear and concise statement of the problem or issues to be reviewed and a summary of steps taken, if any, by the student to resolve the matter;
  • A detailed description of the relevant facts, including information about the student’s disability and the related impact on their academic experience, names of persons with relevant information, and a description or copies of documents or other evidence related to the grievance;
  • A chronology or timeline of events;
  • The result and/or specific remedy that the student is seeking;
  • The name and contact information (including email address and phone number), and signature of the person initiating the complaint; electronic signatures are acceptable.

Timelines

Complaints must be submitted within ninety (90) days of the alleged act of discrimination. UAS may extend this timeframe where a delay is due to circumstances beyond a student’s control, such as illness or incapacity, or due to the time necessary for the completion of a school level disability complaint review/reconsideration process.

UAS will make every effort to complete a grievance investigation (including the initial assessment of the complaint, the exploration of informal resolution, and, where deemed necessary, the formal grievance investigation) with written results within forty-five (45) University working days from the time the formal written complaint is received by UAS; however, circumstances that affect UAS’s ability to reach fact witnesses and/or to attain and review relevant documents may result in extension of the deadline for completion.    

Any changes to established deadlines will be communicated in writing to the student and relevant stakeholders as deemed necessary.

Initial Assessment

Upon receipt of a formal complaint, UAS will first determine if the complaint falls within the scope of this policy as it pertains to disability discrimination under Section 504, the ADA, and the ADA Amendments.  If the complaint does not fall within this scope, then UAS will inform the student in writing of this determination and where possible, refer the student to alternate complaint avenues.  If it does fall within the scope of this policy, then UAS will proceed with exploration of an informal resolution.

It is expected that the initial assessment will take place within five (5) working days from the receipt of the formal complaint.

Informal Resolution

After determining that a complaint falls within its scope, UAS will meet with the student to discuss the student’s complaint submission.  In most cases, UAS will then contact the course instructor and the program administrator in an effort to resolve the complaint informally.   UAS may also contact other individuals with information relevant to the grievance or obtain academic, medical (with the student’s consent), or other information necessary to facilitate the discussion through an initial fact-finding process.   

It is expected that the informal resolution will take place within ten (10) working days from the completion of the initial assessment.   

Formal Investigation

Fact-Finding. If the informal resolution process is unsuccessful, the grievant, the department and the Chancellor will be informed, and then UAS will proceed with a formal investigation through a fact-finding process that typically includes in-depth interviews with the student and other stakeholders and the collection and exploration of additional information relevant to the complaint.   

Notification of Outcome. At the conclusion of the fact-finding process, a written report summarizing the investigation findings, conclusions, and recommendations for resolution will be prepared and provided to the student, the department, the Chancellor and other stakeholders as appropriate and consistent with applicable privacy and confidentiality law.   

Remedies. If an investigation results in a finding of discrimination, UAS will consult with the student and the Chancellor and other CU Administrators to resolve any discrimination and identify appropriate remedies and/or corrective actions.

It is expected that the formal investigation will take place within thirty (30) working days from the conclusion of the informal resolution process.

Rights and Responsibilities

The following expectations apply to all participants in the grievance process:

  • Advisors:  Grievants may request that an advisor or support person, generally Carolina University faculty, staff or students, accompany them during their interviews during the grievance proceedings; however, advisors may not address the investigator or pose questions.  Because the purpose of these proceedings is to provide a fair review of complaints filed by students with disabilities rather than a formal legal proceeding, persons acting as legal counsel are not permitted;
  • Accommodations:  UAS will make appropriate arrangements, upon request, to ensure that persons with disabilities are provided with accommodations during the grievance process.  Existing accommodations typically remain in place during the complaint/reconsideration process; provisional accommodations may also be put into place during the course of the complaint/reconsideration process pending the conclusion of the grievance process;
  • Confidentiality:  All persons involved in the grievance process will be advised of the importance of confidentiality as it pertains to the information discussed and the privacy of the student; however, it may be necessary for UAS to share relevant details of the student complaint with stakeholders on a need to know basis for the purpose of fact-finding and efforts to resolve the grievance, including, when the grievance is specifically directed against one or more individuals, the grievance itself or portions of the grievance;   
  • Cooperation: All participants are expected to cooperate and provide thorough and truthful information throughout the grievance process;
  • Prohibition Against Retaliation: Carolina University prohibits discrimination, including retaliation, against any person who requests accommodations, files a grievance alleging disability discrimination or participates in the grievance process. Guidance for addressing concerns about discrimination can be addressed through Carolina’s Non-Discrimination Statement.

Other Resources

While students are encouraged to utilize this policy and procedure for disability-related complaints, students also have a right to file a complaint directly with the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights (OCR) at Boston Office, Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education, 8th Floor, 5 Post Office Square Boston, MA 02109-3921 Telephone: 617-289-0111 TDD: 800-877-8339 Email: OCR.Boston@ed.gov.