Student Disability Services Grievance Process


Procedure for resolving complaints regarding student disability accommodations.

Saint Mary's College of California ("Saint Mary's") is committed to ensuring that no qualified student with a disability is, on the basis of that disability, denied the benefits of, excluded from participation in, or otherwise subject to discrimination in any Saint Mary’s program or activity. Saint Mary’s is further committed to providing reasonable and appropriate accommodations to qualified disabled students who request such in order to participate fully in Saint Mary’s programs or activities.

The office of Student Disability Services is available to guide and support students through this Procedure to facilitate early, effective resolutions regarding disability services, accommodations and accessibility (collectively referred to as "Services"). The processes here described shall be conducted on as confidential a basis as possible, consistent with the goal of implementing any appropriate accommodation. The Director of Student Disability Services ("Director") is designated to assist students in obtaining such accommodations. Saint Mary’s adopts this Procedure to provide for the prompt and equitable resolution of complaints concerning disability accommodation or discrimination concerns. Additionally, this Procedure should be used to raise complaints of retaliation based upon invoking or participating in disability complaint processes.

"Student" in this Procedure includes anyone registered as a student when any part of the Procedure is invoked or when the claimed discrimination or failure to accommodate occurred. "Student" also includes those who have accepted an offer of admission to Saint Mary's.

Section I: Collaborative Process.

A qualified student with a disability is encouraged to raise all concerns regarding disability accommodation or discrimination to the Director in an effort to resolve the matter in an expeditious and collaborative manner. The Director (or those to whom the Director delegates this responsibility) will involve those members of the Saint Mary's community who the Director believes will be helpful to such a resolution. The Director will interact with the student to gain a consensus on who to involve and will obtain any necessary written releases from the student concerning the involvement of others. Any resolution reached at this stage will be confirmed in a memo from the Director to the student, with copies to those with a need to know for any implementation purposes. Additionally, the Director will confirm to the student in writing any decision by the student to opt out of or disengage from the collaborative process. If a student wishes to use this collaborative route, but is experiencing difficulty in doing so, the student should promptly bring the matter to the attention of the Assistant Vice Provost for Student Success (AVP).

Section II: Accommodation Complaint Procedure: Written Process

If the student does not wish to attempt a resolution of the complaint through the collaborative process above, or, in the event that the student believes the collaborative process has been unsuccessful, the student may utilize a written complaint procedure as follows:

Getting Started:

A. The student's written complaint should be filed as soon as possible and must be filed with the office of Student Disability Services within thirty (30) days of the complained-about action, inaction, decision or other situation. In the case of a student opting out or disengaging from the collaborative process, the written complaint must be filed within 30 days of the student’s receipt of written confirmation from the Director that the process in section I has ended.

B. The complaint must include the student's name; contact information; the date of the complaint; the date of the contested action, inaction, decision or situation; a description of why Services are needed; and a description of what, if any, other steps have been taken by the student to attempt to address the complaint.

C. The complaint should include supporting documentation, and/or any other information the student would like to be considered (including the identities of witnesses concerning any facts in dispute).

After the Written Complaint is Submitted:

D. The Director shall meet with the student promptly following receipt of the complaint to attempt resolution of the issue and to obtain any further information necessary to such resolution. The Director (or a member of Student Disability Services office to whom the Director has delegated such task) will engage in any necessary investigation of the issues raised. If the complaint contests actions by the Student Disability Services office, it will be directed to the Assistant Vice Provost for Student Success, who shall appoint an individual outside of such office to investigate the complaint. The Director (or other investigator) will provide the student with a written response to the complaint as promptly as possible and generally within 30 days of receipt of the complaint. The Director will also provide a copy of the response to the Assistant Vice Provost for Student Success. The AVP shall be responsible for determining any appropriate action to be taken as a result of the investigator's findings.

Presenting an Appeal:

E. Any findings by the Director (or other assigned investigator) with which the student disagrees either because of a belief that the process was not followed or a belief that errors were made in the process, may be appealed by the student to the AVP. Any such appeal must be submitted within 7 business days of the student’s receipt of the decision being appealed.

F. The student should include a copy of all writings related to the complaint in the written appeal which should specify why the student disagrees with the outcome reached. It is not an appropriate ground for an appeal to argue that a different accommodation would have been preferable to one that reasonably met the student’s needs. The AVP will respond to the appeal within 7 business days of its receipt. The AVP determination will be based on a review of whether a reasonable inquiry was made concerning the items complained about and whether the outcome was appropriate based on the facts considered and goals of this Procedure.

G. Should more time be needed to render a decision, the student will be notified in writing of the delay and expected completion date of the review. The student will receive a written explanation of the AVP decision on the appeal. The AVP decision on the appeal is final.

A Special Note Regarding Retaliation and/or Adverse Treatment for Brining a Compliant 

All students raising a complaint or issue under this Procedure will be treated with respect and will be responded to promptly. Complaints are not to result in retaliation against anyone including the person raising the complaint, witnesses, or institutional representatives. If a student ever believes that he/she has been subjected to adverse treatment because of making or participating in a complaint), the Director must be immediately so notified in writing. If the Director is not available, or the student would prefer to raise the issue with someone other than the Director, the concern regarding retaliation should be addressed to the AVP.

This Complaint Procedure is not intended to impede any student’s right to file a timely complaint with an appropriate external state or federal agency. Students may seek resolution through the Office of Civil Rights of the Federal Department of Education. Information on how to proceed may be accessed on their website at: