Disputed Final Grades

Board Policy 10.002

  1. Purpose
    The Disputed Final Grade Policy provides an orderly process to examine situations in which a student may contest a final grade assigned in a course. The intent of this policy is to provide an internal, equitable fact-finding process. This process provides orderly informal (VIII) and formal (IX) processes.  Students who want to contest a final grade assigned in a course must start with the informal process.  
  2. Philosophy
    As a post-secondary educational institution, Delta College’s philosophy is that students are self-sufficient, independent, and responsible citizens.  As such, when involved in a conflict situation, students are expected to speak for themselves as part of this internal college process. 
  3. Ground for appeal
    There are only three grounds for a student grade appeal, and any of these grounds may be sufficient to warrant an appeal:
    1. The assignment of a grade using standards other than that described on the course outline, course syllabus, appropriate documented addendums or program handbook.
    2. The assignment of a grade using a method other than that used for the other students in the same class section.
    3. The assignment of a grade in a manner inconsistent with college policy, rules, and regulations.
      However, grade disputes can be resolved when the errors are computational, computer errors, misunderstandings in completion of assignments, or other easily resolved issues.  These disputes should be resolved during the Informal Process.
  4. Time limits
    1. In computing time limits specified under these procedures, Saturdays, Sundays, official Delta College closings, and holidays will be excluded.  The time limits identified (see parts VIII B, IX A, B and C, X A and C, XI A and B, and the graphic at the end of the policy) are considered maximum and must be adhered to unless modified by the Academic Dean or the Grade Ombudsperson for good cause shown. The validity of mitigating circumstances will be determined by the Academic Dean during the informal process and determined by the Grade Ombudsperson during the formal process. If the student is planning to continue in a program, the student and the College will make every effort to expedite the procedures. The student may choose to drop his or her appeal at any step in the process.
  5. Grade ombudsperson
    1. The Grade Ombudsperson is a non-faculty member of the Senate Assembly who is appointed by the College President in consultation with the Faculty Executive Committee.  The Grade Ombudsperson will serve a three year term.
    2. At any time before, during or after the informal process, a student may seek the assistance of the Grade Ombudsperson.  However, the student is fully responsible for initiating this informal process. The Grade Ombudsperson is available only to assist in the process.
    3. The student is required to contact the Grade Ombudsperson to initiate the formal process.
  6. Grade Appeal Board
    1. The Grade Appeal Board is composed of seven members:  Four Faculty members [three selected by the FEC and one appointed by the academic Associate Dean from the division which offers the course in which the grade is being appealed; since the academic Associate Dean of the division will ordinarily have already reviewed and decided upon the merits of the case, it is required that someone other than the academic Associate Dean serve as the divisional faculty member] and three members as follows: one Dean or Associate Dean, one Student and Educational Services representative appointed by the Vice President of Student and Educational Services, and one student from the Student/Senate Liaison Committee appointed by the Senate President. The Faculty members selected by the FEC, the appointee of the Vice President of Student and Educational Services, and the student representative will be selected to serve for an entire calendar year and appointed no later than December of the preceding calendar year.
    2. Members of the Grade Appeal Board accept membership knowing that they may have to meet at times outside of their normal work days/hours, such as weekends, after 6:00 p.m. or before 8:00 a.m., or during spring/summer, etc. The Grade Appeal Board will meet at a time when both parties are available to respond to the Board’s questions.
  7. Rules
    1. A final grade assignment is made on an individual basis.  Therefore this procedure may be used only by an individual questioning his or her grade and cannot be used to challenge grades of another individual or group. 
    2. Any party may have an internal advisor during any stage of this process.  The internal advisor may advise the individual, but does not speak on his or her behalf.
    3. If a party to the process chooses to retain legal counsel, that counsel is retained at that party’s sole cost and may not participate or be present in any stage of this process.
    4. The Grade Appeal Board may request individuals with actual knowledge of a specific incident to speak privately with the Board at the hearing.
    5. Intentionally or unintentionally skipping a step in the process results in the process being returned to the prior skipped step. The Grade Ombudsperson can seek the assistance of the academic Associate Dean or Department Supervisors in scheduling the meetings and requiring attendance if difficulties arise.
    6. Notifications and documentation required throughout this process will be delivered electronically by Delta College email.
    7. If any of the parties cannot be physically present, participation may be via a conference call or another electronic medium.  The decision for a conference call or electronic medium attendance is at the discretion of the Grade Ombudsperson.
    8. Failure of one party to comply with a stated timeline deadline does not stop the process.  The process will continue on behalf of the other party.
    9. At any point, if a resolution to the situation is reached and agreed to by the parties, the Grade Dispute is ended and does not need to proceed to the next step.  If at a later date, either party is not in agreement with the resolution of the Grade Dispute, the Grade Dispute may continue, but it follows the original timelines.  If the original timelines have expired, the process has ended.
    10. In the event a member of the Grade Appeal Board is unavoidably unable to participate, the process may continue at the discretion of the Grade Ombudsperson. 
  8. Informal process
    1. When a student believes he or she has received an incorrect final grade, the student will first collect information about the course requirements to help in making an informed decision.  Those sources of information can include: 1) the course syllabus for the course objectives and instructor's grading system, 2) program requirements as defined in the course or college handbooks, and 3) a preliminary discussion with the instructor.
    2. Steps at this Informal Process, in order, include contacting:  1) the Faculty Member; 2) the academic Associate Dean; and 3) the Academic Dean.  Students may contact the Grade Ombudsperson at any point in the informal process.
      The student must start the informal process as soon as possible, but no later than 10 days after the college due date for submission for final grades for the course in question. At no time may the informal process extend beyond 25 days after the college due date for submission of final grades.
      The instructor and the student should make every effort to resolve this issue, and it is expected that in most cases, any misunderstandings will be resolved at this level.  Students are reminded that determining a grade is the faculty member’s responsibility and prerogative based on course requirements, assignments, and the student’s work.  Faculty members are reminded that they must participate in meetings required by this policy, according to the timeline. 
      The academic Associate Dean’s role is to assist in the resolution of the issue.  The Academic Dean will review the merits of the appeal and make any necessary referrals to the appropriate person if a process is to continue.
    3. After these steps, if no satisfactory resolution has been made, the student must make an appointment with the Grade Ombudsperson before initiating the formal appeal.
  9. Formal grade appeal procedure – Preparation
    1. After completing the above informal process, the student must arrange a meeting with the Grade Ombudsperson, which will take place no later than 5 days after the meeting with the Academic Dean has taken place.  The Grade Ombudsperson is responsible for facilitating the formal procedure process and will distribute the following to the student: 10.002 Disputed Final Grade policy, Student Guide for Final Grade Appeal, and Student’s Timeline Checklist. 
    2. The student will submit a one to three page formal word processed statement with an introduction, body and conclusion that includes a statement of the problem, how the grade contradicts the course grading standards, and what resolution is sought, to the Grade Ombudsperson, no later than 5 days after their meeting.  The Grade Ombudsperson will distribute the statement to the faculty member.
    3. The faculty member will submit to the Grade Ombudsperson a one to three page formal written response statement to the student’s complaint along with a copy of the course syllabus and any other related material, no later than 5 days after the receipt of the student’s formal written statement.  The Grade Ombudsperson will distribute a copy of the instructor’s statement and related materials to both the student and the academic Associate Dean. 
  10. Formal grade appeal procedure – Hearing
    1. The Grade Ombudsperson will schedule a hearing of the Grade Appeal Board, to take place no later than 10 days after receiving the formal written response statement and any supporting documentation from the faculty member.  All parties (the student, the faculty member, the academic Associate Dean, individuals and Grade Appeal Board Members) will send confirmation to the Grade Ombudsperson that they have received notice of the board hearing.  The Grade Ombudsperson will provide Grade Appeal Board members with copies of the two statements and any supporting documentation provided by the parties, no later than 3 days prior to the scheduled hearing of the Grade Appeal Board. 
    2. The Grade Appeal Board members will review any written materials or testimonies submitted by the student and the faculty member concerned.  The hearing is closed to all but the parties concerned.  The student will be given the opportunity to privately meet with the Grade Appeal Board and present his or her side.  The faculty member is also given the opportunity to meet privately with the Grade Appeal Board and present his or her side.  The Grade Appeal Board members may ask questions of both sides, and may also request the attendance of any individuals with actual knowledge regarding the facts surrounding the dispute.  These individuals will meet privately with the Grade Appeal Board. If the Grade Appeal Board requests, parties may be called back to the hearing to answer questions by the Grade Appeal Board members only, not to give additional statements.
    3. The Grade Appeal Board shall consider the facts and circumstances of the grade appeal and make one of the following determinations:
      1. The appeal is dismissed and the grade remains.
      2. The grade dispute is resolved by changing the grade, or changing the grade under specific conditions.  All members of the Grade Appeal Board will determine by majority vote if the grade should be changed, and the faculty members on the Grade Appeal Board by majority vote will decide the specific grade to be awarded.

        The Grade Appeal Board will submit a written decision to the Grade Ombudsperson within 2 days of the hearing.  The Grade Ombudsperson will distribute said written decision to the student, faculty member, and the academic Associate Dean. If the appeal proceeds to the Procedural Appeal Phase, the decision of the Grade Appeal Board will not be implemented until after the deadline in the Procedural Appeal Phase is passed.
  11. Appeal of Grad Appeal Board's decision: Procedural appeal
    1. Decisions by the Grade Appeal Board may be appealed to a Vice President of Academic Services, or the designated representative, by the student or the faculty member, no later than 5 days after the delivery of the Grade Appeal Board’s decision.  This appeal may only consider claims of procedural mistakes made in the process and will not consider or decide the grade to be awarded in the course.
    2. The Vice President may:
      1. Dismiss the appeal.
      2. Return the case to the Grade Appeal Board for rehearing, with rationale or further direction.

The College Vice President will return a written decision to the Grade Ombudsperson for distribution to the student, the faculty member, and the Grade Appeal Board, no later than 10 days after receipt of the appeal.

Disputed final grade policy and procedure timelines

Informal process

Student is responsible for contacting:

    • Grade Ombudsperson for assistance
    • Faculty member: to start the Informal process
    • Academic Associate Dean for assistance in resolving the matter
    • Academic Dean for review of the merits of the appeal and to make any necessary referrals.

Initiation must be made no later than 10 days after the college due date for submission for final grades for the course in question.
Informal Process may not exceed 25 days after the college due date.

Formal process

*Completion of informal process must occur first.

Preparation/Hearing/Procedural Appeal:

    • Student Arranges Meeting with Ombudsperson (5 days) - (Part of the Preparation process)
    • Student Submits Formal Written Statement (5 days) -(Part of the Preparation process)
    • Faculty Submits Formal Written Response (5 days) - (Part of the Preparation process)
    • Grade Appeal Board Hearing Takes Place (10 days) - (Part of the Hearing process)
    • Grade Appeal Board Decision (2 days) -  (Part of the Hearing process)
    • Student or Faculty Member May Appeal (5 days) - (Procedural Appeal process)
    • Vice President of Academic Services Written Decision (10 days) - (Procedural Appeal process)

Formerly Senate Policy 4.025
Board Action 5457 - August 9, 2022