Student Disciplinary Policy & Procedure

Student Code of Conduct Definitions

Accused Student: The student who is alleged to have violated the College’s Student Code of Conduct.

Administrative Disposition – A resolution of a complaint, which is mutually agreed upon by the CCO and the Accused Student. An administrative disposition shall result in an Accused Student waiving his/her right to a Judicial Board hearing or Appeal.

Appeals Officer – The College’s Senior Student Affairs Officer or designee.

Code of Conduct Officer (CCO)–The College Official charged with the responsibility of administering the college’s Student Code of Conduct.

College Property – Includes all land, buildings, facilities, and other property in the possession of or owned, used, or controlled by the college, including adjacent streets and sidewalks.

Complaint – All allegation of a violation of the Code of Conduct, which is filed with or by the CCO.

Day – As used in this policy, shall mean a calendar day. The number of days indicated at each level shall be considered as a maximum. All reasonable efforts shall be made to expedite the process; but, the CCO may extend the time limits at his/her discretion with notice to both parties in writing.

Judicial Board – Members of the college community selected by the Code of Conduct Officer to conduct a hearing when it has been determined by the CCO that a violation of the Student Code of Conduct has occurred. Members of the Judicial Board shall act in a fair and impartial manner.

Student – Includes all persons taking courses at the college, both full-time and part-time, credit and non-credit. Persons who are not officially enrolled for a particular term but who have a continuing academic relationship with the College are considered “students.”

Disciplinary Offenses

A student shall be subject to disciplinary action under this policy for engaging in acts including, but not limited to:

Physical violence or the threat thereof and/or any conduct that threatens or endangers the health or safety of any person.

Creating or false reporting of bombs.

Extortion – The use, or the express or implicit threat of the use, of violence or other criminal means to cause harm to person, reputation, or property as a means to obtain property from someone else without his/her consent.

Unauthorized use of fire alarm or fire equipment.

Unauthorized or illegal gambling.

Hate crimes as defined under state or federal law.

Hazing as defined under state or federal law.

Illegal or unauthorized possession of firearms, explosives, other weapons, or dangerous chemicals on college premises.

Conduct resulting in a violation of the college’s Information Technology Acceptable Use and/or Email Policies.

Failure to comply with directions of college officials or law enforcement officers acting in performance of their duties, including failure to identify oneself when requested to do so.

Violation of college’s drug and/or alcohol policies.

Breach of peace: including disorderly, lewd, or indecent conduct, or aiding, abetting or procuring another person to breach the peace on college premises or at functions sponsored by, or participated in, by the college.

Defacement or destruction of college property.

Acting in a manner that interferes with or disrupts the normal and/or safe operation of the college.

Harassment (verbal or physical) and/or intimidation of a member of the college community.

Acts of dishonesty, including but not limited to the following:

a. Forgery, alteration or misuse of any college document, record, or instrument of identification;

b. Furnishing false information to any college official, faculty member or office; or

c. Disrupting or tampering with the election process of any college recognized student organization.

17.  Acts of academic dishonesty, including but not limited to the following:

a. Use of any unauthorized assistance in taking quizzes, tests, or examinations;

b. Dependence upon the aid of sources beyond those authorized by the instructor in writing papers, preparing reports, solving problems, or carrying out other assignments; or

c. The acquisition, without permission, of tests or other academic material belonging to a member of the college faculty or staff.

d. Plagiarism, which is defined as the use, by paraphrase or direct quotation, of the published or unpublished work of another person without full and clear acknowledgement. It also includes the unacknowledged use of materials prepared by another person or agency engaged in the selling of term papers or other academic materials. Taking credit for work done by another person or doing work for which another person will receive credit. Copying or purchasing other’s work or arranging for others to do work under a false name.

18.  Abuse of the Disciplinary process, including but not limited to:

a. Falsification, distortion, or misrepresentation of information before a Judicial Board.

b. Disruption or interference with the orderly conduct of a judicial proceeding.

c. Attempting to discourage an individual’s proper participation in, or use of, the judicial system.

d. Attempting to influence the impartiality of a member of a Judicial Board prior to, and/or during the course of, the judicial proceeding.

e. Harassment (verbal or physical) and/or intimidation of a member of a Judicial Board prior to, during, and/or after a judicial proceeding.

f. Failure to comply with the sanction(s) imposed under the Student Code.

g. Influencing or attempting to influence another person to commit an      abuse of the judicial system.

19.  Unauthorized possession, duplication, or use of keys to any college premises or unauthorized entry to or use of college premises.

20.  Unauthorized solicitation, including but not limited to sale of goods and services for personal profit.

21.  Unauthorized activity that constitutes forgery.

22.  Violation of State or Federal Laws not otherwise enumerated herein.

23.  Violation of published college policies, rules, or regulations not otherwise enumerated herein.

Discipline in the Classroom

Disrupting or interfering in the educational process is prohibited under this policy. If a student engages in disruptive conduct in the classroom, a faculty member may address and informally resolve the matter without filing a complaint under the Code. A faculty member may exercise his/her right to immediately remove a disruptive student from a class meeting. However, if the removal of a student from the classroom is intended to be permanent, a complaint under this policy shall be filed with the CCO by the faculty member. The CCO can exercise his/her discretion to allow the accused student to attend class during the disciplinary process upon consultation with the faculty member and the Chief Academic Officer or his/her designee.

Off Campus Behavior

The College reserves the right to take disciplinary action against a student for off-campus conduct when such conduct adversely affects the college community, poses a threat of harm to the college community interferes with the college’s pursuit of its objectives and mission, and/or if a student is charged with a violation of state or federal law. Proceedings under this Student Code may be carried out prior to, simultaneously with, or following civil or criminal proceedings off-campus.

Interim Suspension

The college reserves the right to issue an interim suspension when it reasonably concludes that a student poses a threat to: (a) him/herself or others; (b) college property or equipment; or (c) disrupts or interferes with the normal operations of the college During an interim suspension, a student is prohibited from entering upon college’s property or participating in any college activities.

Complaints Alleging Sexual Harassment or Discrimination

Claims of discrimination or sexual harassment shall be pursued under the College’s Affirmative Action Plan. For more information, please contact the College’s Affirmative Action Officer, at 978-630-9160.

Code of Conduct Disciplinary Process

The Disciplinary Process is initiated once a complaint is filed against a student by a member of the college community or by the CCO. This policy is not intended to prevent members of the college community from attempting to resolve matters informally. Failure to cooperate with the college’s investigation of an alleged Code of Conduct violation will result in the student forfeiting his/her rights to a hearing or appeal and/or may result in disciplinary action.

1. Disciplinary Process

A. All complaints under the Code of Conduct shall be filed with or by the CCO.

B. When the CCO files or receives a complaint alleging that a student has acted in a manner which may in violation of the Code, the CCO initiates the disciplinary process by meeting with the Accused Student, putting him/her on notice of the alleged violation and providing him/her an opportunity to respond to the allegations. The CCO may conduct a further investigation if necessary.

C. If the CCO determines that a violation exists, three procedural options are available:

1. Verbal or Written Warnings–For low-level offenses, the CCO may issue a verbal or written warning to the accused student. Warnings shall not be subject to a hearing before a Judicial Board or an appeal.

2. Administrative Disposition–Under an Administrative Disposition, the accused student, and the CCO mutually agree upon a disciplinary remedy. By accepting the Administrative Disposition, the accused student waives his/her right to a hearing before the Judicial Board or an appeal.

3. Judicial Board Hearing–When an Administrative Disposition cannot be reached, the CCO shall refer the alleged violation to the Judicial Board for a hearing. Please see Section 2 below for Judicial Board rules.

Failure to cooperate with the college’s investigation of an alleged Code of Conduct violation, which includes appearing before a Judicial Board or College official if summoned to do so, will result in the student forfeiting his/her rights to a hearing or appeal and/or may result in disciplinary action.

2. Judicial Board Hearing

A. A hearing with the Judicial Board shall be scheduled by the CCO not later than 30 days following an Accused Student’s request not less than five days prior to the hearing.

B. A written Statement of Charges shall be presented to the Accused Student not less than five days prior to the hearing.

C. A Judicial Board hearing is an administrative hearing. The rules of evidence do not apply.

D. In a manner involving more than one Accused Student, the Judicial Board may permit at its discretion, individual hearings for each Accused Student.

E. The Accused Student has the right be accompanied by any advisor of his/her own choosing and at his/her own expense. The advisor may be an attorney. An advisor’s role is limited to advising the Accused Student directly. An advisor is not permitted to participate directly in the hearing.

3. Conduct of Hearing

A. A hearing is normally conducted in private.

B. There shall be a record created of all hearings. The record shall be the property of the college.

C. All procedural questions are subject to the final decision of the Judicial Board.

D. Admission of any person(s) to the hearing shall be at the discretion of the Judicial Board.

E. A hearing shall proceed as follows:

The CCO presents the Statement of Charges on behalf of the College.  The CCO may present documents, materials and/or witnesses in support of the Statement of Charges.

Accused Student responds to the Statement of Charges. The student may present documents, materials and/or witnesses in response to the Statement of Charges.

Following the parties’ presentations, the Judicial Board may question each party, their witnesses, and/or review all information presented. The Judicial Board has the discretion to request additional documents, materials or information from either party.

While direct cross-examination by the parties is not permitted, each party will be given the opportunity to question the other by presenting questions through the Judicial Board. If the Board determines a question is relevant, the other party will be asked to respond.

The Board shall have a final opportunity to question the parties.

F. After the hearing, the Judicial Board shall determine by majority vote whether the Statement of Charges has been proven.

G. In reaching its decision, the Judicial Board shall determine whether it is more likely than not that the Accused Student violated the Code of Conduct based on the information presented.

H. Within 15 days of the conclusion of a hearing, the Judicial Board shall issue a written decision outlining its findings and disciplinary action, if any, to the parties.

4. Sanctions

A student found in violation of the college’s Code of Conduct shall be subject to one or more of the following sanctions:

A. verbal or written warning

B. restrictions/loss of privileges

C. community/educational service

D. restitution

E. probation

F. suspension

G. expulsion

The intent of the college is to impose sanctions in a progressive manner, beginning with the least punitive sanction. However, depending on the nature and severity of a student’s violation the college reserves the right to impose any of the above-referenced sanctions at any time.

5. Appeal

A. Within five days of receiving the Judicial Board’s decision, either the   CCO or the Accused Student may appeal the Judicial Board’s decision to the college’s Appeals Officer.

B. An appeal must be in writing. An appeal is permitted only to consider new evidence, which was not presented at the hearing because it was not reasonably known to the Accused Student at that time, and which is sufficiently relevant such that it could alter the Judicial Board’s decision.

C. The Appeals Officer shall issue a written decision within 10 days of receiving the appeal. The Appeals Officer may accept, reject or modify the Judicial Board’s decision or sanction.

D. The Appeals Officer’s decision shall be final.

Adopted on: July 1, 2010.

Student Grievance Procedure Massachusetts Community Colleges Dated: April 2001

POLICY GOAL: CONFLICT RESOLUTION

Before invoking the student grievance procedure, a reasonable effort shall be made by those involved in a dispute to resolve it amicably. A dispute is most effectively handled and resolved by those closest to the problem, having the best understanding of the issues, and having the ability to formulate a mutually acceptable resolution. Therefore, it is in the best interest of the student, the potential subject of a grievance, and the college to resolve disputes through open and cooperative dialogue. Only when such efforts are unsuccessful should the student grievance procedure be invoked. Throughout all phases of the student grievance procedure, all reasonable efforts shall be made to maintain confidentiality in accordance with applicable law.

DEFINITIONS

  1. Complaint: the informal, unwritten stage of an allegation of mistreatment.
  2. Grievance: a written complaint filed by a student with the person designated by the president as the student grievance officer specifically alleging an abridgment of his or her rights as a student.
  3. Grievant: the student or students filing the complaint or grievance.  The grievant must have been a registered student of the college at the time of the alleged mistreatment.
  4. Responding party: the person against whom a complaint or grievance is directed.
  5. Student grievance officer: a college employee assigned responsibility for administering the student grievance procedure, including the maintenance of specified records. The student grievance officer shall ordinarily be the senior student affairs officer. If this individual is the person against whom the grievance is filed, the president shall designate another college official to act as the student grievance officer.
  6. Time: the number of days indicated at each level shall be considered as a maximum. All reasonable efforts shall be made to expedite the process, but, the president or his/her designee may extend the time limits in extenuating circumstances with notice to both parties in writing, or by mutual written agreement between the grievant and the responding party.
  7. Day: as used in this policy, shall mean a calendar day.
  8. Senior officer: senior level employee who reports to the president for the responding party’s work area.
  9. Instructional period: the academic semester, summer session or intersession when a grievant knows or should have known of a grievable act or inaction. The instructional period shall end on the last day of final exams.

UTILIZING THE STUDENT GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE

The student grievance procedure may be used by a student to address complaints concerning the alleged abridgment of the student’s rights.

The student grievance procedure may not be used for complaints alleging sexual harassment or discrimination. When a student believes that he/she has been discriminated against due to his/her race, creed, religion, color, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability, veteran status, genetic information or national origin, the college’s affirmative action grievance procedure is a mechanism for resolution. The college’s affirmative action grievance procedure is contained in the college’s affirmative action plan.

If a complaint involves a grade dispute, a student shall process the complaint in accordance with the student grievance procedure; even if the student alleges that a grade was improper because of discrimination.

At any level of the student grievance procedure, either party may request mediation by contacting the student grievance officer. Mediation shall be mutually agreed upon, and not unreasonably refused by either party. The student grievance officer shall select an impartial mediator who shall be mutually agreed upon and not unreasonably refused by either party, make the arrangements, determine the timetable for the mediation process, and inform the parties of the timetable in writing. Where practicable, a mediation session shall be conducted no later than thirty (30) days after requested and agreed to by the parties. The purpose of mediation is to resolve the dispute to the satisfaction of both parties. If a resolution cannot be achieved, the grievant may proceed with the grievance process.

A claim of physical or sexual assault shall not proceed under the student grievance procedure. A student claiming physical or sexual assault by an employee of the college shall report the incident to the college’s campus police and/or the director of human resources. A student claiming physical or sexual assault by another student or an employee claiming physical or sexual assault by a student shall report the incident to the college’s campus police and/or the senior student affairs officer.

Further, in matters involving physical assault, students and employees are strongly encouraged to report the incident to the local authorities.

Except under extenuating circumstances, as determined by the president or his/her designee, failure by either party to comply with the student grievance procedure during the course of a grievance shall result in the waiving of the noncompliant party’s rights under the procedure.

LEVEL ONE—INFORMAL PROCEDURE

This is the informal stage where most complaints are resolved. The grievant and the responding party should consult with the student grievance officer at this time.

A student grievant initiates the informal phase of the grievance process. As students are strongly encouraged to address complaints as soon as possible so that the responding party may take corrective action, if necessary, an informal complaint shall be brought to the responding party’s attention by the grievant within thirty (30) calendar days from when the grievant knew or should have known of the grievable act or inaction.

The responding party must respond to the grievant’s complaint within ten (10) days. Though this phase of the process is informal, the parties may present their positions in writing. If the matter is not resolved informally within ten (10) calendar days from the date a response to the complaint was due, the grievant may proceed to level two.

In some cases, due to the nature of a grievant’s complaint, a grievant may be unwilling to confront a responding party during the instructional period.  Under such circumstances, in order for a grievant to initiate the grievance procedure and preserve his/her rights under the procedure, the grievant must submit his/her informal complaint to the student grievance officer within thirty (30) calendar days from when the grievant knew or should have known of the grievable act or inaction. Thereafter, the grievant may request the student grievance officer to notify the responding party of the informal complaint without identifying the grievant, or the grievant may request that the responding party not be notified until the conclusion of the instructional period. In either case, the student may file a formal complaint no later than thirty (30) calendar days following the end of the instructional period during which the grievant knew or should have known of the grievable act or inaction.

LEVEL TWO—FORMAL PROCEDURE

Prior to filing a written grievance at level two, a grievant must consult with the student grievance officer. The responding party should also consult with the student grievance officer at this phase of the process.

L2-STEP ONE

The student grievance officer shall notify the parties in writing when a complaint is not resolved informally at level one. The grievant may, within ten (10) calendar days after receipt of the student grievance officer’s written notice, file with the student grievance officer a formal written grievance. The grievance shall contain the following information: the name and title of the person(s) against whom the grievance is directed, a statement of all known facts, documents and materials supporting the grievance, a list of individuals who have information pertinent to the grievance, and the relief sought by the grievant. All supporting documents, if any, shall be attached to the grievance as part of the grievance. The grievance shall also state the date it is filed and that it is being filed at “level two, step one.”

The grievance may be filed with the student grievance officer by regular mail, certified mail, or in hand. Thereafter, the student grievance officer shall deliver the grievance, and shall forward supporting documents, if any, to the responding party within five (5) calendar days. If the responding party is unavailable at the time the grievance is filed, the student grievance officer shall use reasonable means to deliver the grievance within a reasonable period of time.

The responding party shall forward a written level two-step one response to the student grievance officer within ten (10) calendar days of his/her receipt of the grievance. The student grievance officer shall deliver the written response to the grievant within five (5) calendar days of receipt.

L2-STEP TWO (Supervisor Level)

If the grievance is not resolved to the satisfaction of the grievant within ten (10) calendar days after his/her receipt of the step one response, or if no written response is submitted, the grievant may within ten (10) calendar days after the written response was received or due, request the student grievance officer to forward the written grievance and response, if any, to the supervisor of the responding party, with a copy to the senior officer of the work area of the responding party.

The supervisor shall investigate the grievance and confer with the senior officer. The supervisor shall forward his/her written decision to the student grievance officer within ten (10) calendar days after receipt of the step two grievance. Thereafter, the student grievance officer shall deliver the decision to the grievant and the responding party within five (5) calendar days.

At any time before the issuance of the supervisor’s step two decision, the senior officer may request that the parties meet to discuss the issue and attempt to resolve it.

Grade appeals do not go beyond this step (level two-step two) per the section on grade appeals.

Neither party to a grievance may raise any new issues or allegations after step two.

L2–STEP THREE (Student Grievance Committee Level)

If the grievance is not resolved to the satisfaction of the grievant within the period allowed at level two-step two, the grievant may request a hearing before a student grievance committee. Such a request must be in writing and presented to the student grievance officer within ten (10) calendar days from the issuance of the supervisor’s level two-step two decision.

Within ten (10) calendar days of the student grievance officer’s receipt of the grievant’s request for a hearing, the student grievance officer shall arrange a hearing before a student grievance committee. The student grievance officer shall use reasonable efforts to schedule the hearing at a time mutually convenient to the parties. At least twenty-four (24) hours prior to the hearing, the student grievance officer shall provide each member of the committee and all parties to the grievance with copies of the grievance, responses to the grievance, decisions issued, and all relevant supporting documentation and materials. The committee’s make-up and hearing rules are discussed later in this policy.

The committee shall deliver its findings and recommendations to the student grievance officer within ten (10) calendar days following the hearing. A copy of the committee’s findings and recommendations shall be delivered to the grievant, the responding party, and the president or his/her designee, within five (5) calendar days of receipt.

Within ten (10) calendar days of the president’s receipt of the committee’s findings and recommendations, the president or his/her designee, shall issue a written statement accepting, modifying or rejecting the committee’s recommendations. The decision of the president, or his/her designee, shall be final and binding on all parties.

GRADE APPEALS

Complaints or grievances filed in connection with assigned grades represent a special case within the grievance procedure. Grading reflects careful and deliberate assessment of a student’s performance by the instructing professional(s).  As such decisions are necessarily judgmental; the substance of those decisions may not be delegated to the grievance process.  Nevertheless, the college recognizes that in rare cases the process of grading may be subject to error or injustice. Except as otherwise provided by separate appeals procedures for clinical programs as approved by the president of the college, a student who alleges an error, or injustice, in the grading process may file a grievance under the student grievance procedure. A grade appeal grievance shall proceed no further than level two-step two. For purposes of a grade appeal, the senior academic officer of the college, or his/her designee, shall serve as the student grievance officer throughout the grade appeal process.

If the faculty member who assigned the challenged grade is no longer employed by the college or is not available within the timelines specified (see “time” definition), the student may initiate his/her level one complaint with the chief administrator of the appropriate instructional division (who shall be identified by the senior academic officer).

If at any level substantial evidence of error is produced, the grading process may be remanded to the instructor of record for reassessment. If the instructor of record is no longer available, the chief administrator of the appropriate instructional division or his/her designee shall instead reassess the grading process.

MEMBERSHIP OF THE STUDENT GRIEVANCE COMMITTEE

The composition of the college’s student grievance committee shall consist of five members: one student, one unit professional, one faculty member, one non-unit professional and one unit classified employee. The president or his/her designee shall appoint each member from among the recommendations submitted by the student grievance officer.

Service on a committee shall be voluntary, provided that a member who has a personal interest in the particular grievance shall be ineligible to serve on a grievance committee. All college employees serving on a student grievance committee, and acting within the scope of their official duties on the committee, shall be covered to the full extent provided under Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 258, including, the indemnification provision contained in M.G.L., Chapter 258, Section 9.

All student grievance committee members, as well as all others in attendance at a student grievance proceeding, shall maintain the confidentiality of the proceedings. The student grievance officer shall attend all committee hearings, but shall not vote.

GUIDELINES FOR COMMITTEE HEARINGS

The following guidelines provide the framework for conducting a student grievance committee hearing:

  1. Prior to the hearing, the newly impaneled committee shall meet to elect a committee chairperson. The chairperson shall be selected by a simple majority vote.
  2. The chairperson on the committee shall be responsible for conducting the hearing and drafting the decision of the committee, but shall vote only in the event of a tie.
  3. All hearings shall be closed and deliberations of the committee shall be confidential and conducted in private.
  4. The grievant and the responding party shall be in attendance at the hearing. Each party may be accompanied by an advisor at the hearing.  The advisor, however, may not participate in the hearing or question witnesses. Either party may at any time during a hearing consult in private with his/her advisor.
  5. Witnesses may be asked by the committee to remain outside of the hearing room until they are called to testify.
  6. The grievant will address the committee first. The grievant will state the nature of his/her grievance and may present relevant evidence and/or witnesses in support of the grievance.
  7. The responding party may respond to the grievant’s complaint and present relevant evidence and/or witnesses in opposition to the grievance.
  8. Once the parties have presented their respective positions, the committee may question the parties and/or witnesses.
  9. After the committee has questioned the parties, each party will be given the opportunity to question the other party and their respective witnesses. All questions must be directed through the committee. If the committee determines that a question is relevant to the grievance, the party or witness to whom it is addressed will be asked to respond.
  10. Following the parties’ questioning of each other, the committee will have another opportunity to question the parties and witnesses.
  11. Hearings before the committee shall not be subject to the formal rules of evidence. In all cases, the hearing shall be conducted in a fair and impartial manner.
  12. If a party to a grievance fails to appear for a scheduled hearing, the committee has the discretion to proceed with the hearing and issue its findings and recommendations in the party’s absence.
  13. The decision of the committee shall be based on the relevant evidence presented at the hearing. The decision shall be in writing and include:  a list of all documentary evidence and witnesses presented; a summary of the testimony offered by both parties and their respective witnesses; the findings of the committee and its recommendations. Copies of the decision and recommendations of the student grievance committee shall be forwarded by the student grievance officer, to the grievant, the responding party, and the president or his/her designee.
  14. When deciding upon a grievance, the committee shall consider whether a finding against the responding party is fundamentally fair and reasonable under the circumstances and in accordance with applicable college rules and procedures.

WITHDRAWAL

A student may withdraw his/her complaint or grievance at any time.  Withdrawal must be accomplished in writing or by oral agreement confirmed in writing.

REPRISALS

No member of the college community shall retaliate or threaten to retaliate against, interfere with, restrain, or coerce any student in the exercise of his/her rights under the student grievance procedure or his/her participation in any grievance proceedings.

COLLATERAL RIGHTS OF PERSON GRIEVED BY STUDENT

If the recommendations made at any level of the grievance procedure result in sanctions against a college employee, the sanctions shall be regarded as administrative actions subject to all conditions of applicable collective bargaining agreements and college or Massachusetts Department of Higher Education personnel policies.

ALTERNATIVE FORUMS

Filing a grievance in accordance with the student grievance procedure in no way abrogates a student’s right to file a complaint with an appropriate state or federal agency or in another forum.