Student Complaints and Grievances

Definitions

Complaint - An informal claim raised by a student alleging improper, unfair, arbitrary, or discriminatory treatment involving the application of a specific rule or procedure.

Grievance - A written claim by a student alleging improper, unfair, arbitrary, or discriminatory action involving the application of a specific LSSC Board Rule or LSSC Administrative Procedure.

Appeal - A formal written request for reconsideration of an application of a rule or procedure due to serious circumstances beyond the student’s control.

How to resolve a complaint or grievance

For students who wish to file a complaint, a grievance, or appeal a decision, LSSC has adopted both an informal and formal process to ensure that students have access to a fair, equitable and timely course of action. As outlined in LSSC Administrative Procedure 4.14, students have the right to appeal administrative decisions and are encouraged to use available informal means in the resolution of the complaint prior to filing a formal grievance or appeal. 

If the matter cannot be resolved through the informal process as shown in the LSSC Resolution of Student Complaints/Grievances Chart below, the student may elect to proceed through a formal written grievance or appeal process.

 

LSSC Resolution of Student Complaints/Grievances Chart

Issue

First Response

Next Level

Next Level

Admissions

Assistant Director Admissions

Director of Enrollment Management

Provost & Executive Vice President

Advising

Student’s Assigned Academic Advisor

Dean of Students

Vice President Academic Affairs

Bookstore

Manager Bookstore

AVP Finance & Controller

Provost & Executive Vice President

Counseling

Student’s Assigned Academic Advisor

Dean of Students

Vice President Academic & Affairs

Accessibility/Disability Services

Assistant Director, Student Development Accessibility Services

Sr. VP Academic & Student Affairs

N/A

Discrimination/Equity

Dean of Students

Equity Officer/Director Human Resources

Provost & Executive Vice President

Testing

Manager, Testing Services

Dean of Libraries

Vice President Academic Affairs

Faculty Concerns

Instructor

Program Manager or Associate Dean of Discipline Area

Dean General Studies or Dean Workforce Programs

Nursing Faculty Concerns

Instructor

Dean of Allied Health

Vice President Academic Affairs

Financial Aid

Assistant Director Financial Aid

Director Financial Aid

Provost & Executive Vice President

Florida Residency

Assistant Director Admissions

Director of Enrollment Management

Provost & Executive Vice President

Grades

Instructor

Program Manager or Associate Dean of Discipline Area

Dean of General Studies or Dean Workforce Programs

Graduation

Assistant Registrar

Registrar

Director of Enrollment Management

Learning Center

Manager Learning and Development Center

Dean of Library and Learning Services

Vice President Academic Affairs

Library

Dean of Library and Learning Services

Sr. VP Academic & Student Affairs

N/A

Orientation

Student’s Assigned

Academic Advisor

Dean of Students

Vice President Academic Affairs

Parking

Director of Campus Safety

Provost & Executive Vice President

N/A

Records

Assistant Registrar

Registrar

Provost & Executive Vice President

Registration

Assistant Registrar

Registrar

Director of Enrollment Management

Security

Campus Security Supervisor

Director Campus Safety

Provost & Executive Vice President

Starfish

Instructor

Student’s Assigned Academic Advisor

Dean of Students

Student Accounts

Student Accounts Manager

Director Cash Management

AVP Finance & Controller

Student Activities, Student Life, Clubs & Organizations

Director Student Life (SL), Assistant Director Student Life (LE), Assistant Dean of Students (SU)

Executive Director of Athletics

Provost & Executive Vice President

Student Conduct

Dean of Students

Sr. VP Academic & Student Affairs

N/A

Transcripts/Records

Assistant Registrar

Registrar

Director of Enrollment Management

 

Student Appeals

Students who are unable to resolve their complaint, grievance, or appeal through the chain of command described above may appeal in writing to the Vice President of Academic Affairs, or their designee, who must hear the appeal and render a final decision as outlined in LSSC Administrative Procedure 4.14.

Student or student organizations have the right to appeal the final decision of the hearing officer in cases involving violations of the LSSC Student Code of Conduct directly to the Vice President of Academic Affairs, or their designee, who must hear the appeal and render a final decision.  The Vice President of Academic Affairs, or their designee, may not have directly participated in any other proceeding related to the charged violation. (F.S.1006.60)

Elected or appointed officers of the LSSC Student Government Association who have been disciplined, suspended, or removed from office, have the right to directly appeal such decision to the Vice President of Academic Affairs, or their designee, who must hear the appeal and render a final decision.   The Vice President of Academic Affairs, or their designee, may not have directly participated in any other proceeding related to the charged violation. (F.S.1006.60)

The Vice President of Academic Affairs will consider grievances against decisions or actions that were made by employees or agents of LSSC based on: 

  • Procedural errors - when published procedures were not followed and the error(s) egregiously violated the student’s, club’s or organization’s rights.
  • Substantive errors - when the evidence presented at the hearing was not sufficient to justify the decision reached or if the sanction(s) imposed is (are) unreasonably harsh based upon the circumstances of the case and the prior record of the student.
  • New evidence - when information, existing at the time of the hearing, was not available or known to exist at the time of the hearing.

 

Appeals Process

Students, Student organizations, or appointed officers of the LSSC Student Government Association who wish to appeal a decision to the Vice President of Academic Affairs, must do so within ten business days of the receipt of the final administrative action or decision, to request a formal hearing.

The written appeal request must contain:

  1. A description of the specific administrative action or decision that is being appealed
  2. A statement outlining the background of the case and the basis for the appeal including all pertinent facts and documentation that the student wishes the Vice President of Academic Affairs, or their designee to consider
  3. An explanation of the steps taken by the student in an effort to resolve the grievance informally
  4. An explanation of the resolution or administrative action being sought by the student

The failure of a grievant to comply with the specified time frames outlined in this procedure shall terminate the proceedings and the decision most recently rendered will become final.  The hearing will be informal in nature and conducted in a spirit of mediation and reconciliation.

Students requesting review have the right to an advisor, advocate, or legal representative, of their own choosing and at their own expense, present at the proceeding.  Such person may directly participate in all aspects of the proceeding, including the presentation of relevant information and questioning of witnesses.  The advisor or advocate may not serve in any other role, including investigator, decider of fact, hearing officer, or decide the charge, or any appeal.   (F.S. 1006.60).

The Vice President of Academic Affairs or their designee will make reasonable efforts to accommodate an advocate; however, the availability of students or student organization members; witnesses, the designated administrator and other necessary participants, as well as the expectation to promptly complete the disciplinary or conduct procedure, may take priority when determining the date for a hearing. An Advocate may not delay, disrupt, or otherwise interfere with a disciplinary or conduct procedure.

It shall be the prerogative of the Vice President of Academic Affairs, to limit the number of witnesses included in the hearing while ensuring that all pertinent information is reviewed.

The Vice President of Academic Affairs, or their designee, may seek legal advice from the LSSC Legal Counsel.

Witnesses and all other persons involved in the appeal are expected to maintain strict confidentiality regarding the proceedings and are not permitted to record the proceeding by video or audio.

The Vice President of Academic Affairs, or their designee, shall consider the evidence and reach a decision, basing that decision only on the evidence and exhibits received at the proceeding, arguments made in accordance with these procedures, and any opinions received from the LSSC College Counsel.

The Vice President of Academic Affairs, or their designee, will determine whether a preponderance of the evidence presented demonstrates that a procedural error, substantive error, or new evidence was presented that significantly altered the understanding of the action or decision, and if so, will recommend remedies.

The Vice President of Academic Affairs or their designee will then prepare a formal letter detailing a finding for or against the grievant along with any recommendations for resolving or terminating the matter.

The grievant will be notified of the final decision via LakeHawk email within ten business days of the conclusion of the hearing.  The decision of the Vice President of Academic Affairs, or their designee, is final and no further appeals can be made.

 

Hearing Documentation

  1. The Vice President of Academic Affairs shall obtain and make available to all involved parties all pertinent documentation in the possession of the College within (5) business days prior to the scheduled hearing date.
  2. The Vice President of Academic Affairs will be responsible for maintaining all records of the appeal.
  3. The records for each grievance will be maintained for a period of four years after the final decision has been rendered.
  4. All original documentation, including paper and electronic records related to the grievance, shall be maintained in the designated grievance file by the Vice President of Academic Affairs and may be released only in accordance with the requirements of Florida law.

 

College Ombudsperson

The Title IX Coordinator serves as the College's Student Ombudsperson. Pursuant to Florida Statute 1006.51, each institution in the Florida College System must have an established procedure by which a student may appeal to the office of the ombudsman a decision that is related to the student’s access to courses and credit granted toward the degree. The Ombudsperson offers a safe and confidential environment for students to discuss concerns, problems or complaints. As an advocate, the Ombudsperson serves as an independent and unbiased mediator as students resolve academic challenges. In this vein, the Ombudsperson helps students understand College procedures, assists students in exploring possible options for resolution, and makes referrals to appropriate internal and external resources.

College Complaint Procedure Information 

Federal regulations and State laws require that public colleges in The Florida College System have processes for students, employees, and applicants to file complaints against their respective college. In almost every situation, the college's process for resolving complaints must be followed first.  If a student believes that their complaint has not been addressed satisfactorily after exhausting the college's complaint or grievance procedure, they can pursue filing a complaint with the Florida Department of Education. Click here for more information.

Additional Information:

Lake-Sumter State College is committed to providing prompt and equitable resolutions to students' complaints in accordance with college policy, state statutes and federal regulations. If a student or prospective student believes their complaint has not been addressed satisfactorily after exhausting all available complaint procedures outlined by the College, they have the right to file an external complaint with the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE), the College's accreditation agency, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), the Office of Civil Rights and for distance education students the FL-SARA PRDEC Council:

  • SACSCOC--should be contacted only if there is evidence that appears to support the College's noncompliance with an accreditation requirement or standard. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500.
  • A student may file a complaint of discrimination with the Office of Civil Rights at https://www.hhs.gov/ocr/index.html.

Distance Education students, who have completed the internal institutional grievance process and the applicable state grievance process, may appeal non-instructional complaints to the FL-SARA PRDEC Council. For additional information on the complaint process, please visit the FL-SARA Complaint Process page.