Student Grievance Policy

Student Grievance Procedure

Relating to Complaints under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

I.          PURPOSE AND SCOPE

The University of Notre Dame is committed to providing equal educational opportunities for qualified students with disabilities. Accordingly, the University complies with federal and state laws and regulations, including the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended (the “ADA”), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), and does not discriminate on the basis of disability in the administration of its education-related programs and activities.

Any University of Notre Dame student who disagrees with, or believes that he or she has been subjected to discrimination on the basis of disability as a result of, an adverse eligibility determination and/or the denial of access to services or accommodations by the Sara Bea Disability Services office, has the right to seek a review of such concerns in accordance with this Procedure.* Such students have the option of pursuing an informal resolution in accordance with Section II below.  If the outcome of the informal process is not satisfactory, then the students may initiate a formal grievance.  Requests for review of an adverse determination, whether through the informal resolution process or as a formal grievance, must be submitted and pursued only by students and not by family members or other third parties acting on their behalf.

*Students who wish to report an incident of discriminatory harassment based on disability may report to the Office of Community Standards (574-631-5551 or ocs@nd.edu) for incidents involving a student, and the Office of Institutional Equity (574-631-0444 or equity@nd.edu) for incidents involving a faculty or staff member.

II.        INFORMAL RESOLUTION

Prior to initiating the formal grievance procedure described below, the student should discuss their questions and concerns with the Program Coordinator for Disability Services. If the student still believes he or she has been subjected to discrimination following this discussion, they must then attempt to informally resolve the concern by consulting with the Director of the Center for Student Support and Care (248 Flanner Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556, (574) 631-7833, mmorgan2@nd.edu). The student may also consult with a member of the Sara Bea Disability Services office at this point for advice concerning the student’s position, and on the grievance process if necessary. At the conclusion of this informal consultation regarding the student’s grievance, the Director of the Center for Student Support and Care will inform the student, in writing, of his or her efforts to resolve it and the student’s right to file a formal complaint in the event the student remains unsatisfied. The student may then submit a formal, written grievance to the Office of Institutional Equity in accordance with Section III below.

III.       FORMAL GRIEVANCE

After attempting to resolve any concerns through the informal process, the student may file a formal, written grievance with the Office of Institutional Equity (100 Grace Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556, (574) 631-0444, equity@nd.edu) within 60 calendar days after the student becomes aware of the adverse decision.  

Because the University’s review of formal grievances is limited in nature and intended to ensure that the University’s policies and processes were followed, students must establish in their written submission that their formal grievance is based on one of the following grounds for review:

(1) specifically identified irregularities in the process or procedural errors that substantially affected the determination by the Sara Bea Disability Services office to the detriment of the grievant, or

(2) a failure to consider appropriate information that substantially affected the determination of the Sara Bea Disability Services office to the detriment of the grievant.

Mere dissatisfaction with a determination of the Sara Bea Disability Services office is not grounds for a formal appeal.  If, after the Sara Bea Disability Services office makes its initial determination, new evidence or information becomes available which may have substantially affected the initial determination, such information should first be addressed through the appropriate accommodations process, or the informal resolution process above.  A formal grievance must be directed only to issues and evidence that the Sara Bea Disability Services office considered (or failed to consider) as part of its initial determination.

The student’s written grievance must include the following information: (1) the name, address, email address, and phone number of the student-grievant; (2) a fact-specific description of the alleged discrimination or adverse determination, including the dates of the discrimination or determination, and other relevant background information; (3) the names of the individuals or offices responsible for the alleged discrimination or adverse determination; (4) as noted above, the specific, permissible ground(s) upon which the grievance is based; (5) the relief sought (if known); and (6) whether the student requires any accommodations (such as the provision of materials in an alternative or accessible format) to participate in this grievance procedure.

The Office of Institutional Equity will review the grievance solely to determine whether it involves an academic issue or a non-academic issue. If the Office of Institutional Equity determines that the grievance involves the denial of an academic accommodation or another academic issue, it shall forward the grievance within five class days of receiving the grievance to the Office of the Provost for review and resolution. As used throughout this grievance procedure, “class days” refers to all class days (Monday-Friday) from the first class day to the last class day, as reflected on the Registrar’s calendar, and does not include reading days or final examination days.

If the Office of Institutional Equity determines that the grievance involves non-academic issues, it shall forward the grievance within five class days of receiving the grievance to the Vice President for Student Affairs for review and resolution.

IV.       REVIEW AND DECISION

Appropriately filed formal grievances shall be reviewed, investigated and resolved by the Provost or the Vice President for Student Affairs, or their respective designees. For purposes of this grievance procedure, a “designee” is defined as any designee of the Provost or Vice President for Student Affairs who was not involved in the initial decision that gave rise to the student’s grievance. The purpose of the review conducted by the Provost or the Vice President for Student Affairs is to ensure that the University’s policies and processes were followed and, where they were not followed, to address any resulting consequences and take appropriate corrective action. For the purpose of this review, the decision-maker shall provide reasonable accommodations as requested in the grievance (including, where requested, the provision of materials in an accessible format).

  1. Academic Grievances

Upon receipt of the grievance from the Office of Institutional Equity, the Provost (or designee) must confirm (i) that the grievance involves the denial of an academic accommodation or another academic issue, (ii) that any student grieving the denial of an academic accommodation has fully exhausted all other options under the applicable Academic Accommodations Process, and (iii) that the student has exhausted the above informal resolution process. The Provost (or designee) must then take one of three actions:

  1. If the Provost (or designee) concludes that the grievance does not involve an academic accommodation or another academic issue, the Provost (or designee) shall forward the grievance within five class days of its receipt of the grievance to the Vice President for Student Affairs for review and resolution.
  2. If the Provost (or designee) concludes that the student has not exhausted all options under the applicable Academic Accommodations Process and/or the informal resolution process, the Provost shall deny the grievance (without prejudicing the student’s right to later refile the grievance) and inform the student of the need to exhaust all remaining options under the applicable accommodations process, and/or the information resolution process, before refiling.
  3. If the Provost (or designee) concludes that the grievance involves the denial of an academic accommodation or another academic issue, that the student has exhausted all options under the applicable Academic Accommodations Process, and that the student has exhausted the informal resolution process, then the Provost (or designee) shall promptly review, investigate, and resolve the student’s grievance.
    1. When investigating a grievance, the Provost (or designee) may consult with, interview and/or request a written response to any issues raised in the grievance from any individual believed to have relevant information, including faculty, staff, and students.
    2. Within 20 class days following the receipt of the grievance by the Office of the Provost, the Provost (or designee) must prepare and submit to the student and to the individual(s) against whom the grievance is directed a final written report containing a summary of any investigation, findings and conclusions, and a proposed disposition. 
    3. The Provost (or designee) shall promptly implement the proposed disposition where possible and may provide the final report to any University official who may have a legitimate need to know of the proposed disposition. 
    4. The Provost (or designee) shall send a copy of the final report and all other records related to the case to the Office of Institutional Equity.

The decision of the Provost (or designee) is final, and may not be appealed.

  1. Non-Academic Grievances 

Upon receipt of the grievance, the Vice President for Student Affairs (or designee) must confirm that (i) the grievance involves non-academic issues, (ii) that any student grieving the denial of a non-academic accommodation has fully exhausted all other options under the applicable accommodations process, and (iii) that the student has exhausted the above informal resolution process. The Vice President for Student Affairs (or designee) must then take one of three actions:

  1. If the Vice President for Student Affairs (or designee) concludes that the grievance involves the denial of an academic accommodation or another academic issue, the Vice President shall forward the grievance within five class days of receiving the grievance to the Office of the Provost for review and resolution.
  2. If the Vice President for Student Affairs (or designee) concludes that the student has not exhausted the applicable accommodations process or the informal resolution process, the Vice President of Student Affairs shall deny the grievance (without prejudicing the student’s right to later refile the grievance) and inform the student of the need to exhaust all remaining options under the applicable accommodations process, and/or the information resolution process, before refiling.
  3. If the Vice President for Student Affairs (or designee) concludes that the grievance involves non-academic issues, that the student has exhausted all options under the applicable accommodations process, and that the student has exhausted the informal resolution process, then the Vice President for Student Affairs (or designee) shall promptly review, investigate, and resolve the student’s grievance.
    1. When investigating a grievance, the Vice President for Student Affairs (or designee) may consult with, interview and/or request a written response to any issues raised in the grievance from any individual believed to have relevant information, including faculty, staff, and students.
    2. Within 20 class days following receipt of the grievance, the Vice President for Student Affairs (or designee) must prepare and submit to the student, and to the individual(s) against whom the grievance is directed, a final written report containing a summary of any investigation, findings and conclusions, and a proposed disposition.
    3. The Vice President for Student Affairs (or designee) shall promptly implement the proposed disposition where possible and may provide the final report to any University official who may have a legitimate need to know of the proposed disposition.
    4. The Vice President for Student Affairs (or designee) shall send a copy of the final report and all other records related to the case to the Office of Institutional Equity.

The decision of the Vice President for Student Affairs (or designee) is final, and may not be appealed.

V.         DEADLINES

The deadlines in this grievance procedure may be extended upon written notice to the student-grievant for good cause shown (such as an inability to contact relevant parties, obtain relevant information, etc.), and will typically be extended when they fall during or after a University break period (e.g., summer break, Christmas break, etc.).

VI.       RECORD-KEEPING

The Office of Institutional Equity shall maintain records of the processing of each grievance filed under this procedure. These records shall reflect, and the Office shall maintain a list that includes, at a minimum, the following information for each grievance: the subject matter of the grievance; the date it was filed; the date notice of the grievance was provided to the appropriate decision-maker; whether any individual involved requested, or was provided, any accommodations (including the provision of materials in an alternate or accessible format); a summary of the decision-maker’s final disposition; the date the disposition was issued; and the reason(s) for any delays. These records shall be treated as confidential and shall not be shared except with those individuals with a legitimate need to know.

VII.      NON-RETALIATION

No person shall be subjected to retaliation for having utilized or having assisted others in the utilization of this grievance procedure.