5.11 Student Disciplinary Procedures
The Vice President of Student Services or designee shall receive all allegations of student misconduct, investigate the complaints, which includes meeting with the student to give him/her the opportunity to respond to the allegations of misconduct. If the allegations of misconduct are discrimination and/or harassment based on federal or state civil rights laws, the college will investigate those incidents through the Civil Rights Grievance and Investigation Process (3.18)
Once the investigation is complete, either through this process or the Civil Rights Grievance and Investigation process, the CSSO or designee shall render a sanction decision.
The CSSO or designee may decide that the charges can be disposed of administratively by mutual consent of the parties involved on a basis acceptable to them. If an administrative resolution is not achieved, the CSSO or designee shall issue a decision which determines whether the alleged conduct occurred; whether the conduct violated the Code of Conduct or College procedures; and impose a sanction(s) if appropriate.
In cases of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking, the complainant and the respondent will be notified simultaneously in writing of the outcome of any disciplinary proceeding, as well as any changes to those results or disciplinary actions prior to the time that such results become final and shall be given the rationale for the discipline decision
The student shall receive written notice of the decision and be advised of his or her right to appeal the Decision, subject to the grounds below, by filing a written appeal with the CSSO or designee within seven (7) days of service of the Decision.
In the event of an appeal, the CSSO or designee shall give written notice to the other party (e.g., if the accused student appeals, the appeal is shared with the complainant who may also wish to file a response), and then the CSSO or designee will draft a response memorandum (also shared with all parties). All appeals and responses are then forwarded to an appeals officer appointed by the College President, or an appeals committee (see below) for initial review to determine if the appeal meets the limited grounds and is timely. The original finding and sanction will stand if the appeal is not timely or substantively eligible, and the decision is final.
If the appeal has standing, the documentation is forwarded for consideration. Because the original finding and sanction are presumed to have been decided reasonably and appropriately, the party appealing the decision must specifically cite the error(s) in the original determination on which the appeal is based. The ONLY grounds for appeal are as follows:
- A material procedural or substantive error occurred that significantly impacted the outcome of the hearing (e.g. substantiated bias, material deviation from established procedures); which must be explained in the written appeal; or
- To consider new evidence, unavailable during the investigation or hearing that could substantially impact the original finding or sanction. A summary of this new evidence and its potential impact must be included in the written appeal, as well as the reasons the new evidence was not available during the original proceeding.
The appeals committee shall be appointed by the NJC President and shall consist of one (1) administrator, three (3) faculty members (none of whom shall be a current or past instructor or advisor of the student filing the appeal), and one (1) student representative (an officer from the Associated Student Government). If the appeals officer or committee determines that a material procedural or substantive error occurred, it may return the complaint to the CSSO or designee with instructions to reconvene to cure the error. In rare cases, where the procedural or substantive error cannot be cured by the CSSO or designee in cases of bias, the appeals officer or committee may order a new hearing be held by a different individual acting in the place of the designated CSSO or designee. The results of a reconvened hearing cannot be appealed. The results of a new hearing can be appealed, once, on the two applicable grounds for appeals.
If the appeals officer or committee determines that new evidence should be considered, it will return the complaint to the CSSO or designee to reconsider in light of the new evidence, only. If the subject matter pertains to discrimination and/or harassment pursuant to 3.18 of the NJC Student Handbook, the appeals officer or committee will return the complaint to the Title IX Coordinator to reconsider in light of the new evidence, only. The reconsideration of the CSSO, designee, or Title IX Coordinator is not appealable.
The procedures governing the hearing of appeals include the following:
- All parties should be timely informed of the status of requests for appeal, the status of the appeal consideration, and the results of the appeal decision;
- If the appeals officer or committee determines there is new evidence or error in the original proceeding, every opportunity to return the appeal to the CSSO or designee for reconsideration (remand) should be pursued;
- Appeals are not intended to be a full rehearing of the complaint. In most cases, appeals are confined to a review of the written documentation or record of the original hearing, and pertinent documentation regarding the grounds for appeal;
- An appeal is not an opportunity for an appeals officer or committee to substitute their judgment for that of the CSSO or designee merely because they disagree with its finding and/or sanctions.
- Appeals decisions are to be deferential to the original decision, making changes to the findings only where there is clear error and a compelling justification to do so.
- Sanctions imposed are implemented immediately unless the CSSO or designee stays their implementation in extraordinary circumstances, pending the outcome of the appeal.
- The appeals officer or committee will render a written decision on the appeal to all parties within four (4) days from receiving the appeal request. The committee’s decision to deny appeal requests is final.
Additional Discipline Process Provisions
The student may have the opportunity to be advised by a personal advisor of their choice, at their expense, at any stage of the process and to be accompanied by that advisor at any meeting or hearing. An advisor may only consult and advise his or her advisee, but not speak for the advisee at any meeting or hearing. These procedures are entirely administrative in nature and are not considered legal proceedings. The CSSO may remove or dismiss an advisor who becomes disruptive or who does not abide by the restrictions on their participation.
- The student must notify the CSSO of the identity of the advisor at least two (2) days before the date of any scheduled meeting. If meetings are scheduled with less than two (2) days’ notice, the student is expected to notify the CSSO as soon as possible.
- The student is responsible for presenting his or her own case and, therefore, advisors are not permitted to speak or to participate directly in any hearing except when the student is under the age of eighteen (18) or incapacitated.
- Student shall have the right to identify documents, witnesses and other material she or he would like the CSSO or designee to review before making a final decision.
- Any hearing held shall be conducted in private unless all parties agree otherwise.
- A record of the hearing should be maintained by the CSSO or designee.
- Audio and/or Video Recording- the college, at its discretion, may audio or video record any meeting throughout the process. Should a recording exist, the student may request a copy at the end of the process. No other audio or video recording will be allowed.
- If student has a disability and would like to request an accommodation to assist him/her through the discipline process they may do so by informing the CSSO or designee. The CSSO or designee will then work with disability support services to accommodate the request.
- Proceedings under this procedure may be carried out prior to, simultaneously with, or following civil or criminal proceedings off-campus.
- Standard of proof - the College will use the preponderance of evidence standard in the disciplinary proceedings, meaning, the College will determine whether it is more likely than not a conduct code was violated.
- All sanctions imposed by the original decision maker will be in effect during the appeal. A request may be made to the CSSO or designee for special consideration in exigent circumstances, but the presumptive stance of the college is that the sanctions will stand. Graduation, study abroad, internships/externships/clinical placements, extra-curricular activities, etc. do not in and of themselves constitute exigent circumstances, and students may not be able to participate in those activities during an appeal. In cases where the appeal results in reinstatement to the college or of privileges, all reasonable attempts will be made to restore the student to their prior status, recognizing that some opportunities lost may be irretrievable in the short term.
- The procedural rights afforded to students above may be waived by the student.
- All timelines may be extended as agreed upon by both parties.
It is a violation of this procedure to engage in retaliatory acts against any employee or student who reports an incident(s) of code of conduct violations or any employee or student who testifies, assists or participates in the discipline proceeding, investigation or hearing relating to such allegation(s) of code of conduct violations.
Revising this Procedure
CCCS reserves the right to change any provision or requirement of this procedure at any time and the change shall become effective immediately.