Section 504/ADA Student Grievance Procedure

I. Policy Statement

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits the exclusion of people from jobs, services, activities, or benefits based on disabilities. In addition, Section 504 states that no otherwise qualified individual with a disability shall, solely by reason of his or her disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Education. Further, it specifically ensures that no qualified individual with a disability shall, on the basis of disability, be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity that receives federal financial assistance.

Consistent with its nondiscrimination policy, Gallaudet has made many accommodations and implemented technological advancements to facilitate a fully accessible, barrier-free environment. Gallaudet will, upon disclosure, attempt to make other reasonable accommodations if appropriate. Please refer to Gallaudet University Administration and Operation Manual (A & O) policy 1.10 Reasonable Accommodations

Students who believe they have been discriminated against, in violation of the Acts, should follow the procedures described below.

II. Scope of Grievance

Any University student who believes that he or she has been subjected to discrimination on the basis of disability or has been denied access or accommodations required by law shall have the right to invoke this Grievance Procedure. In general, this Grievance Procedure is designed to address the following types of concerns:

  1. Disagreements or denials regarding requested services, accommodations, or modifications to University practices or requirements; 
  2. Alleged inaccessibility of a University program or activity;
  3. Alleged harassment or discrimination on the basis of a disability; and
  4. Any other alleged violations of the ADA and/or Section 504.

This Grievance Procedure, however, is not intended and shall not supersede other University policies and procedures which may exist for addressing issues of concern unrelated to disabilities for which separate University policies and procedures exist, including, for example, grade appeals. For these types of alleged violations, students should use the Student Grievance Policy procedures.

III. Procedures

All disability-related grievances covered by these procedures must be filed within 45 days of the alleged compliance violation. The University may extend this time frame when a delay is due to circumstances beyond the students control, e.g., illness or incapacity. As an initial matter, all grievances shall be reviewed to determine whether they are submitted within a timely manner and/or whether they contain all required information. The University shall not review a grievance that is untimely or fails to contain all required information, including a clear statement of all grounds for the grievance. To facilitate a clear and prompt resolution, once initiated, a grievance shall not be expanded beyond the issues presented in the student’s initial complaint. The University reserves the right to redirect a grievance to the proper grievance procedure or to any other appropriate review procedure.

The written complaint shall include the following:

  1. A full description of the problem and any relevant facts;
  2. A summary of the steps the student has already taken in attempt to resolve the problem, including the names of persons involved;
  3. A statement of the requested resolution and the student’s rationale for the requested accommodations for each perceived violation;
  4. Any supporting documentation; and
  5. The name, contact information and signature of the person initiating the complaint.

Informal Grievance Procedures

A University student is encouraged to first attempt to resolve his or her complaint informally by selecting any of the following steps:

  1. Present their concern in writing to the instructor or to the department head and/or Dean within 45 days of the incident causing the complaint. The complaint should explain the nature of the problem and a suggested solution. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, the instructor or department head will resolve the complaint or respond within 10 days.
  2. The student may bring their concern to the Director of the Office for Students with Disabilities or his or her designee. The regular OSWD documentation/accommodation process will be followed.
  3. Students may consult and seek the assistance of the University’s Ombuds as a way of informally mediating any unresolved issues.

Formal Grievance Procedures

If no satisfactory resolution is reached after the above informal attempts to resolve the complaint are made, or if the student chooses to bypass the above informal complaint process, students should submit a written complaint. If a student attempts to resolve the matter informally and that attempt has failed or the student decides to end the informal process for any other reason, the student will have an additional 10 days to file a formal complaint. A listing of all meetings and/or written attempts to resolve the issue should be included with the formal complaint.

  1. Where the complaint alleges the denial of an approved academic accommodation or service by a faculty member, the complaint should be filed with the Office for Students with Disabilities (OSWD). OSWD shall assess the formal complaint and review all information necessary to render a written determination to the student and the Administrative Officer or appointed designee. If requested, the student shall submit any additional information and/or documentation as requested by OSWD. OSWD will issue a letter of determination to the student and faculty member of their findings within 10 days of the student’s formal complaint.
  2. If the student disagrees with the determination given by OSWD, the student may seek a review of the grievance by the Office of Equal Opportunity Programs. The University’s EEO Officer will review the letter of determination offered by OSWD and review all information necessary to render a written determination. If needed, the student shall submit any additional information and/or documents as requested by University’s EEO Officer. The EEO Officer will issue a letter of determination within 10 days of receiving the student’s request. The EEO Officer will supply the student and relevant parties with a copy of the letter of determination and take any steps necessary to implement his or her decision, including but not limited to, providing a copy of the letter of determination to the appropriate University officials.
  3. If the complaint is against the Office for Students with Disabilities, e.g., regarding the denial of requested accommodations, the complaint should be filed with the University’s EEO Officer. Similarly, all other complaints of disability discrimination covered by this procedure (e.g., alleging inaccessibility of a University program or activity, harassment, or other discrimination based on disability) should be filed with the EEO Officer. The EEO Officer will conduct an investigation of the complaint. This will include providing the student with an opportunity to submit evidence, including identifying witnesses and documents for the EEO Officer’s consideration as part of the investigation. The EEO Officer will provide a written letter of determination to the student, the individual accused of discrimination, and the Administrative officer or appointed designee. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, the University’s EEO Officer will issue the letter of determination within 10 days of receiving the formal complaint. If extenuating circumstances cause a delay, the EEO Officer will notify the student in writing of the delay along with an anticipated time-frame for issuance of the final letter of determination. The EEO Officer will supply the student and relevant parties with a copy of the letter of determination and take any steps necessary to implement his or her decision, including but not limited to, providing a copy of the letter of determination to the appropriate University officials.
  4. If the student disagrees with any determination made by the EEO Officer, the student may seek a review with the Provost or his/her designee. The student shall submit a written letter requesting a review of the complaint. The Provost or Designee shall review the student’s letter, all pertinent records, and documentation. The Provost or his/her designee will provide a letter of determination to the student within 10 days of the student’s request unless there are extenuating circumstances. If extenuating circumstances cause a delay, the Provost will notify the student in writing of the delay along with an anticipated time-frame for review and issuance of the final letter of determination.
  5. A student may withdraw a formal grievance at any time by written notice to the administrator or office handling the grievance at that time. 6. Grievance records will be held in the office where the formal grievance is first filed. Records will be held for a period of three years after which the records will be destroyed.

Timeliness

Specified time limitations refer to the academic year, September through May. If a student presents a grievance in June or the alleged incident allegedly occurred during the summer months, the time calculation may be suspended between the end of the academic year and the opening of the following academic year in September. In such a situation, the 45-day time-frame would begin the first day of the academic year. In addition, time limitations do not include official University holidays or other closures during the regular academic year. The term "days" refers to days when the University is open for business.

OCR Complaint

Although students are encouraged to attempt to resolve complaints pertaining to disabilities by using this grievance procedure, they have the right to file a complaint directly with the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR):

U.S. Department of Education
Office for Civil Rights D.C.
Enforcement Office 400
Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20202-1475
Telephone: 1-202-245-8300 FAX: 202-245-8301 TDD: 877-521-2172
Email: ocrdc@ed.gov

Retaliation

The University prohibits retaliation against any student for filing a grievance under this process or against any other individual participating in the investigation of a grievance. Any such retaliation is against state and federal laws and Gallaudet University Policy. Retaliation may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination. Students or any individual who has participated in the grievance process in support of the student may file a grievance under these procedures with the University’s EEO Office if they feel they have been retaliated against.

Confidentiality

The student’s confidentiality shall be maintained by each person involved in the informal or formal investigation or resolution of a student grievance under this policy. Any disclosures regarding the student or the investigation shall be limited to the minimum necessary to accomplish the investigation or address the student’s grievance.

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