Grievance Procedures, School of Social Welfare
To articulate the procedures for hearing grievances arising in Social Welfare.
Persons having grievances with the departments in Social Welfare.
Pursuant to Article XIV of the University Senate Code (Code) and Articles V and VI of the University Senate Rules and (USRR) of the University of Kansas, Lawrence, the School of Social Welfare establishes the following procedure for the hearing of grievances within the School. In all instances where questions arise relative to the application of these procedures, the matter(s) will be resolved by conformance with the Code and the USRR. This procedure shall not be used to hear disputes assigned to other hearing bodies under USRR Article VI, Section 4.
For disputes involving alleged academic misconduct or alleged violations of student rights, the initial hearing normally will be at the School level. The option to hold an initial hearing at the Judicial Board level exists if both parties agree, or either party petitions the Judicial Board chair to have the hearing at the Judicial Board level and the petition is granted. The petition must state why a fair hearing cannot be obtained at the unit level; the opposing party has an opportunity to respond to the petition (USRR 126.96.36.199).
Purpose. The purpose of these procedures is to resolve conflict situations within the University community. The governance system does not command sanctions and has no enforcement powers. Its aim, therefore, is to find the facts of a contested situation and to make reasonable and appropriate recommendations to those having the legal power and the responsibility to act. Recommended action should be in the University community’s best interest and protective of the rights of the individuals involved (see Article VI, § 1).
This procedure shall be the sole procedure available to faculty, staff and students at the School level. Complaints in which the dean is named as a respondent shall be processed under the Provost’s grievance procedures. Except as provided in USRR 6.5.4, no person shall be disciplined for using the grievance procedure or assisting another in using the grievance procedure.
The collegial atmosphere of the University community and of the School of Social Welfare is best served through informal resolution of disputes. Prior to pursuing formal grievance procedures, the grievant should attempt to resolve the matter informally through direct or indirect consultation with the other party or through discussions with one’s advisor or other supervisory personnel. If resolution of the disagreement is not achieved at this informal level, participants shall be referred to mediation, where, in an atmosphere of respect and fair dealing and with the assistance of a neutral third party, they will have the opportunity to resolve the grievance in a nonadversarial process.
The School of Social Welfare shall provide a copy of this procedure to anyone who requests it.
1. To start the grievance process, the complainant must submit a written complaint to the dean or chair of the Faculty Executive Committee. If submitted to the dean, the dean shall refer the complaint to the chair of the Faculty Executive Committee. The complaint shall contain a statement of the facts underlying the complaint and shall specify the provision(s) of the Faculty Code of Conduct, University Senate Code, The University Senate Rules and Regulations, the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities, or other applicable rule, regulation, or law allegedly violated. The complainant shall indicate the injury suffered as a result of the challenged conduct. The complaint shall also indicate the witnesses or other evidence relied on by the complaining party, and copies of any documents relevant to the complaint shall be attached to the complaint.
2. At the time the complaint is submitted to the chair of the Faculty Executive Committee, the complaining party shall provide a copy of the complaint, with accompanying documents, to the dean and to the party/parties (respondent(s)) charged in the complaint.
3. Upon receipt of the complaint, the chair of the Faculty Executive Committee shall contact the respondent to verify a copy of the complaint has been received and to provide the respondent with a copy of these procedures.
4. Pursuant to University Senate Code 14.2c, a respondent has the privilege of remaining silent and refusing to give evidence in response to a complaint. The respondent also has the right to respond and give evidence in response to the complaint.
5. The respondent shall submit a written response to the chair of the Faculty Executive Committee within 14 calendar days of receiving the complaint. The response shall contain the respondent’s statement of the facts underlying the dispute and any defenses to the allegations made in the complaint. The response shall indicate the witnesses or other evidence relied on by the respondent and copies of any documents relevant to the response shall be attached. The respondent shall provide a complete copy of the response to the complaining party.
6. Upon receipt of the response, the chair of the Faculty Executive Committee shall contact the complaining party to verify a copy of the response has been provided.
7. Upon receiving the complaint and response, or if the respondent fails to respond within the 14-day time period, the chair of the Faculty Executive Committee shall appoint a committee comprised of three School of Social Welfare faculty members, to consider the complaint. The committee members shall be disinterested parties who have not had previous involvement in the specific situation forming the basis of the complaint.
8. Pursuant to USRR 188.8.131.52, the chair of the committee may contact other hearing bodies within the University to determine whether a grievance or complaint involving the underlying occurrence or events is currently pending before or has been decided by any other hearing body.
9. Time Limits: To use this procedure, the complainant must file the written complaint with the chair of the Faculty Executive Committee within six months from the action or event the forms the basis of the complaint. The six month time period shall be calculated using calendar days (including weekends and days during which classes are not in session). The chair of the Faculty Executive Committee shall accept complaints during the period from May 15 to August 15, but need not take action on them during that period. Nothing in this procedure prevents the chair from referring the parties to mediation and/or the grievance committee from hearing or otherwise acting on the complaint during this time if none of the participants’ rights are violated by doing so.
10. Upon receiving the complaint, if the chair of the Faculty Executive Committee determines that any of the following grounds exist, s/he may recommend to the Dean that the complaint be dismissed without further proceedings. The ground for such dismissal are: (a) the grievance or another grievance involving substantially the same underlying occurrence or events has already been, or is being, adjudicated by proper University procedures; (b) the grievance has not been filed in a timely fashion; (c) the committee lacks jurisdiction over the subject matter or any of the parties; (d) the grievance fails to allege a violation of a School or University rule; (e) the party filing the grievance lacks standing because s/he has not suffered a distinct injury as a result of the challenged conduct and has not been empowered to bring the complaint on behalf of the University; or (f) the party filing the grievance has been denied the right to file grievances pursuant to USRR, 6.5.4.
11. If the chair of the grievance committee determines that a grievance on its face properly should be heard by another body, the chair of the grievance committee will recommend that the chair of the Faculty Executive Committee send the grievance to the appropriate hearing body without further proceedings in the School. The chair of the Faculty Executive Committee will send a copy of the referral to the complainant(s) and any responding parties.
12. Unless either party to the dispute waives mediation, mediation shall occur prior to a hearing on the dispute. Mediation shall be governed by USRR 6.2.3. A mediator shall be selected by the parties either from a list of trained and/or experienced mediators maintained by the University Ombudsman and the Judicial Board Chair, or the parties may agree on another individual to serve as a mediator. If the parties cannot agree on a mediator, they may request that the Associate Dean for Academic Programs or the Ombudsman select the mediator. The procedures to be followed in mediation shall be determined by the mediator in consultation with the parties.
13. If mediation is successful, the mediator will forward to the dean, the chair of the Faculty Executive Committee, the chair of the appointed grievance committee, and all parties a letter indicating the outcome of the mediation and the terms upon which the parties have agreed to resolve the dispute. This letter shall be a recommendation to the Chair of the Faculty Executive Committee. The Chair will notify the mediator, the grievance committee chair, and the parties that the recommendation has been accepted, modified, or rejected.
14. If mediation is not successful, the mediator will notify the dean, the chair of the Faculty Executive Committee, the grievance committee chair, and the parties that mediation has terminated. If mediation is not successful, or if it is waived by either party, the grievance committee will schedule a hearing no later than 30 calendar days from the written submission of the complaint. The 30-day period may be extended for good cause as determined by the chair of the committee. The 30-day period shall be suspended during the mediation process. The hearing will be closed unless all parties agree that it shall be public.
15. Each party may represent him or herself or be represented by an advisor or counsel of his or her choice.
16. Each party has the right to introduce all relevant testimony and documents if the documents have been provided with the complaint or response.
17. Each party shall be entitled to question the other party’s witnesses. The committee may question all witnesses.
18. Witnesses other than parties shall leave the hearing room when they are not testifying.
19. The chair of the hearing, in his/her discretion, may place reasonable time limits on each party’s presentation of evidence and arguments.
20. The chair of the grievance committee shall have the authority and responsibility to keep order, rule on questions of evidence and relevance, and shall possess other reasonable powers necessary for a fair and orderly hearing.
21. The hearing shall not be governed by the rules of evidence, but the chair of the grievance committee may exclude evidence s/he deems irrelevant, unnecessary, or duplicative. Statements or admissions made as part of the mediation process are not admissible.
22. The grievance committee will make a audiotape of the hearing but not of the deliberations of the grievance committee. The audiotape will be available to the parties, their authorized representatives, the members of the committee, the chair of the Faculty Executive Committee, and the dean. If a party desires a copy of the audiotape or a transcript of the tape, that party will pay for the cost of such copy or transcript. In the event of an appeal, the audiotape will be provided to the appellate body as part of the record of the case.
23. After presentation of evidence and arguments, the grievance committee will excuse the parties and deliberate. The grievance committee’s decision will be a written recommendation to the dean. The grievance committee shall base its recommendations solely on the information presented at the hearing.
24. The grievance committee will send its written recommendation to the dean and the parties as soon as possible and no later than 14 calendar days after the end of the hearing.
25. Each party shall receive notice of the decision of the dean to accept, modify, or reject the recommendation of the committee within 14 calendar days of receiving the committee recommendation. The dean will advise the parties of the procedure available to appeal the decision.
University of Kansas
School of Social Welfare
1545 Lilac Lane
Lawrence, KS 66045-3129
4/22/14 - technical edits.