The following procedure for resolving student complaints is from the SouthArk College Catalog, which is located at https://www.southark.edu/admissions/resources/course-catalog. When students believe they have been treated unfairly, the following procedures will provide redress of their complaint or grievances:
SouthArk students have the right to appeal decisions that adversely affect their academic standing, such as admission to or continuance in programs, course grades, and/or actions relating to cheating or plagiarism, etc.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The student should continue to attend class, lab, clinical, and/or educational site (ex: internship site) until the appeal process is completed UNLESS the student poses a potential danger to others or is prohibited by another agency or facility.
Step 1a: INSTRUCTOR: Within five (5) working days of the student’s adverse event, the student will email the instructor expressing his/her concern. The instructor will discuss or meet with the student to respond to the concern. *If no agreeable resolution is reached, then the student may move forward to Step 1b or Step 2, whichever is applicable.
Step 1b: PROGRAM DIRECTOR, IF APPLICABLE: Within three (3) working days of the instructor’s response, the student will email the program director his/her concern and will provide all applicable information and/or documentation. The program director will discuss or meet with the student and will provide his/her decision about the concern within three (3) working days*. If no agreeable resolution is reached, then the student may move forward to Step 2.
Step 2: Within three (3) working days of the program director’s decision (or the instructor’s decision if there is no program director), the student must present the appeal in writing to the applicable division dean.
This notice of appeal must:
- Be in writing via email from the student’s SouthArk email address (a text message is not acceptable);
- Detail specific information about the issue, including exactly what the student is appealing (Ex: course grade, program dismissal, actions relating to cheating, etc.) and provide applicable documentation. Students may request assistance accessing the material.
- Include the grounds for the appeal (Ex: error by instructor in calculating course grade, instructor/program director not abiding by policy and/or procedure, etc.); AND
- The remedy sought by the student.
The dean will then research the issue with the persons involved and, within five (5) working days*, provide the student with a written decision regarding the appeal. If no agreeable resolution is reached, then the student may move forward to Step 3.
Step 3: Within three (3) working days of the dean’s decision, the student must present, in writing with the same requirements listed in step 2, the appeal to the office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA). The VPAA will then research the issue with the persons involved and will, within five (5) working days*, provide the student with a written decision regarding the appeal. If no agreeable resolution is reached, then the student may move forward to Step 4.
Step 4: Within three (3) working days of the VPAA’s decision, the student must notify the VPAA in writing that he/she wishes to request a formal hearing before the Academic Hearing Committee**.
The VPAA will convene this committee and schedule the hearing, where the student will present his/her appeal for consideration. The applicable instructor and the applicable program director and/or division dean will present their positions regarding the appeal.
Within three (3) working days of hearing the appeal*, the Academic Hearing Committee will submit a written decision to the parties involved and to the President of the college.
In cases of grades, the Academic Hearing Committee can only recommend changes, because the instructor has final authority; however, the instructor should give serious consideration to the Committee’s recommendation.
*If there are extenuating circumstances at any step, such as applicable personnel being unavailable, the program director or dean being the instructor, etc., the college reserves the right to appoint a different representative and/or extend the timeline.
**The Academic Hearing Committee, a sub-committee of the Academic Standards Committee, shall consist of the following voting members: five (5) faculty members from the Academic Standards Committee (appointed by the committee and approved by the VPAA) and two students (appointed by the VPAA). The VPAA shall attend as a non-voting member. The committee has the authority to recommend waiving or modifying college policy within the limits of sound educational practices.
Any student who remains unsatisfied after going through the Complaint Resolution procedure above may file a formal complaint with the Arkansas Department of Higher Education [ADHE] at https://www.adhe.edu/students-parents/colleges-universites/student-grievance-form/.