Student Rights, Policies, & Procedures

Student Policies

All other Board Policies

Student Procedures

Equal Educational Opportunity Grievance

 
 
 

HCC is committed to providing an educational climate that is conducive to the personal and professional development of each individual. Students should be aware that discrimination and/or other harassment based on the race, sex, gender identity and gender expression, national origin, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, color or veteran status is prohibited by HCC Policy G.1 Discrimination and Harassment and D.1.1 Equal Educational Opportunities. HCC designates the chancellor or designated representative to coordinate its Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action efforts to comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, as amended, and with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Students who feel that they have been harassed or discriminated against or who feel that the college district has not adequately fulfilled its obligations under the provisions above of the should follow the Grievance Procedures stated below.

Sexual Harassment
HCC will provide an educational, employment and business environment free of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination and is not tolerated by HCC. Any student who feels that he or she is the victim of sexual harassment has the right to file a grievance. Substantiated accusations may result in disciplinary action against the offender, up to and including termination of the employee or suspension of the student. In addition, complainants who make accusations of sexual harassment in bad faith may be subject to appropriate disciplinary action.

Grievance Procedure
Any student who has a grievance concerning the interpretation, application or claimed violation of his or her rights as an HCC student or feels he or she has been discriminated against or harassed on the basis of, race, sex, gender identity and gender expression, national origin, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, color or veteran status including sexual harassment, has the opportunity to seek resolution of such grievance. This may take place informally, through the mediation of designated officers of the college, or formally, through an established grievance procedure.

Informal Resolution
A student who feels he or she is a victim of harassment or discrimination or that his or her rights as a student have been violated may attempt to resolve the matter informally by bringing a complaint to the college’s Dean of Student Services or to the college’s relevant Instructional Dean (Academic or Career & Technology Education) for cases involving instructional matters. The Dean, in coordination with the HCC Office of Institutional Equity, will attempt to resolve the conflict informally by informing the individual alleged to have caused the grievance that the complaint has been filed; seek to find out the facts; and, if both parties desire it, arrange a meeting to try to resolve the differences. In the event that an attempt at informal resolution of the problem is unsuccessful, or if the complainant deems that informal resolution is undesirable, the college officer will assist the complainant in filing of a formal complaint with the HCC Office of Institutional Equity.

Formal Resolution
In the event that a student wishes to initiate a formal complaint against another member of the college community, the student must submit in writing a formal complaint to the HCC Office of Institutional Equity, stating in detail, the nature of the complaint, any relevant dates, and the names of any potential witnesses. An investigation will be initiated to determine whether there is a reasonable basis for taking action. The Affirmative Action/Compliance Officer or designee must file a written report with the college’s president. For more information

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Course Grade Appeal

PURPOSE

The purpose of the Course Grade Appeal Process is to provide students a safeguard against receiving an unfair final course grade while also respecting the academic responsibility of the instructor and academic standards of Houston Community College.  The College must follow clear and consistent guidelines for all grade appeals.  It is the responsibility of all HCC faculty to evaluate each student’s work fairly and to assign a grade which is an impartial measure of the student’s achievement in the course.  In the event of a dispute over an assigned final course grade, students should be provided the opportunity, within certain guidelines outlined in the HCC Course Grade Appeal Process, to formally present a case and rationale for a grade appeal which will be evaluated using a fair and consistent review process.

This process is in accordance with the following SACSCOC Federal Requirements:

“4.3 The institution makes available to students and the public current academic calendars, grading policies, and refund policies.”

 “4.5  The institution has adequate procedures for addressing written student complaints and is responsible for demonstrating that it follows those procedures when resolving student complaints.”

APPLICABILITY  The Course Grade Appeal Process applies to all programs throughout the HCC district.
DEFINITIONS

Bias:  A particular tendency, trend, inclination, feeling, or opinion, especially one that is preconceived or unreasoned. An unfair personal opinion that influences one’s judgment.

Caprice:  a tendency to change one’s mind without apparent or adequate motive.

Business days:  Every official working day of the week at HCC.  Typically, they include days between Monday and Friday and do not include HCC-approved holidays or weekends.

Communication:  For the purposes of this process, communicate in writing between the student, instructor, panel chair, or department chair/dean/COE dean via HCC email account and/or the student contact information provided on the Grade Appeal Form).

Retention period:  the minimum time that a local government record must be retained as established on a records retention schedule accepted for filing by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

PROCEDURES

Introduction

Grade determination and awarding of all grades in a course is the responsibility of the instructor.  If a student believes a grade was awarded on an assessment in a capricious or arbitrary manner while a course is in progress, the student should discuss the matter with the instructor.  This Course Grade Appeal Process only applies to final course grades.  A student’s final course grade can be changed only at the discretion of the instructor or as a result of this Course Grade Appeal Process.  A student may appeal a final course grade if he/she is able to demonstrate that an inappropriate grade was assigned as a result of:

  • Bias
  • Caprice
  • Or other improper conditions such as computational error.

Other reasons for changing final grades will not constitute a valid appeal.  The burden of proof is on the student to justify the basis for changing the grade.

Note: In cases of a grade dispute regarding alleged academic dishonesty, a separate process will be followed (see Academic Dishonesty section of the Student Handbook).

The Grade Appeal Process is comprised of the following progressive levels to provide due process for the student:

  1. Informal Resolution
  2. Formal Appeal
  3. Grade Appeals Panel
  4. Appealing the Panel’s Decision

Resolution may be reached at various points throughout the process outlined below:

Level 1: InformalResolution

Whenever possible, students should attempt to resolve grade disputes informally with the instructor as this allows for the potential of immediate resolution.

After meeting with the instructor, if the student remains dissatisfied, the student should notify the appropriate department chair of the grade dispute.  If there is no chair assigned to that program, the appeal should be made to the appropriate dean.  The chair/dean/COE dean shall attempt to resolve the matter informally through consultation with the instructor.  If informal resolution is not obtained through mediation at that level, the grade dispute is consigned to the process of a formal appeal.

Level 2: Formal Appeal

Student grievances which are consigned to a formal appeal must be specified in writing using the Student Course Grade Appeal FormIt is recommended that the Authorization to Release Information for Course Grade Appeal – FERPA Release Form also be submitted at the same time by the student filing the appeal.

These forms must be submitted to the department chair/dean/COE dean no later than fifteen (15) business days from the day the grade was officially posted by HCC.

he department chair/dean/COE dean will review the student grievant’s appeal to determine if appeal criteria have or have not been met.  Again, the student must demonstrate that an inappropriate grade was assigned as a result of bias, caprice, or other improper conditions such as computational error.  The instructor may submit a written response to the appeal.  The decision of the department chair/dean/COE dean will be communicated in writing to the student (via their HCC email account and/or the contact information provided on the Grade Appeal Form submitted) and to the instructor within ten (10) business days of receipt of these forms.    The email will notify the student grievant whether or not the department chair/dean/COE dean finds grounds for a grade appeal.  That email will also notify the student that, if they do not accept the decision of the department chair/dean/COE dean, then he/she has five (5) business days from that notification to request a Grade Appeals Panel to review the case.  If no response is received from the student within five (5) business days, the appeal is closed.

Level 3: GradeAppealsPanel

If the student requests a Grade Appeals Panel, the Panel will render its decision no later than twenty (20) business days following receipt of that request.  In rare cases, such as when faculty are not on contract, no more than twenty (20) additional business days may be allotted.  A Grade Appeals Panel consists of at least two full-time instructors from the instructional area involved or a related instructional program as well as one student panelist independent of the class or program associated with the appeal.  The entire Grade Appeals Panel, including the student panelist, will be selected by the department chair/dean/COE dean.  The student panelist will be selected from the current Student Government Association leadership, or membership if an elected SGA leader is not available.

All proceedings and information discussed in the Grade Appeal Process are confidential.

The Grade Appeals Panel will select a chair.  The student panelist cannot serve as chair.  Upon appointment, the student panelist is required to sign the Acknowledgement of Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure of Protected Student Information form. Panel members shall neither engage in any independent investigation outside of the hearing nor consider any information obtained outside of the panel’s deliberations or hearings.  The instructor who assigned the disputed grade cannot serve as a member of the Grade Appeals Panel, however, may submit a written response to the appeal.  Both the student grievant and the instructor have the right to appear in person before the Grade Appeals Panel.  The student grievant and instructor shall represent him/herself, but either may be accompanied by another individual, who must be identified in advance of the panel hearing.  Neither additional individual is permitted toaddress the panel.  The panel can interview others who they determine may have relevant information.  When both student and instructor appear before the panel, they should be afforded access to each other’s submitted documentation.  Interviews with both the student and instructor should be conducted separately  If neither party appears in person, the panel should complete its review based on the written materials submitted.  The panel shall consider all aspects of the case before making its decision.

No more than five (5) business days after the hearing, the Grade Appeals Panel will decide either to let the student’s original grade stand or to change the grade.  The Grade Appeals Panel chair will prepare a written report stating the panel’s decision along with the justification for that decision.  A copy of that report will be emailed to the student (using the student’s HCC email account and/or the contact information the student indicated on the Grade Appeal Form), the instructor, the instructional supervisor, and/or the dean/COE dean.  If the Grade Appeals Panel determines that the student’s grade is to be changed, then the instructor’s supervisor will prepare and submit a Change of Grade Form.   The decision of the Grade Appeals Panel is final, except in cases of procedural error as specified below.

Level 4:Appealing the Panel’s Decision

A student grievant’s appeal of the Grade Appeal Panel’s final decision can only be based on procedural errors that compromised the fundamental fairness of the process.  If either the student grievant or instructor who assigned the grade believes that the appeals process was not properly followed, then he or she may file a written appeal to the Vice Chancellor for Instructional Services/Chief Academic Officer (VCIS/CAO).

The VCIS/CAO will review the appeal and conduct whatever investigation is appropriate.  If the VCIS/CAO determines that the grade appeal process was not properly followed andthat the failure to follow proper procedures biased the result of the grade appeal, then s/he will vacate the judgment of the grade appeal panel and direct that the process be repeated with a different panel using the same deadline restrictions.  If the VCIS/CAO rejects the appeal, the decision of the Grade Appeal Panel is final.

HCC Instructional Leaders:  For information regarding the required archiving of records related to Course Grade Appeals, go to MyHCC > Instructional Services > Faculty Guidelines/Faculty & Administrative Support > Course Grade Appeal Process

Rules

Student Records

Academic Year

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords students in “attendance” at Houston Community College certain rights with respect to their education records. “Attendance”, as defined by Houston Community College, begins on the first day of the term in which a student is enrolled. These rights include:

  1. The right to inspect and review the student’s education records within 45 days of the day the College receives a request for access. A student should submit to the registrar a written request that identifies the record(s) the student wishes to inspect. The college official will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected. If the records are not maintained by the college official to whom the request was submitted, that official shall advise the student of the correct official to whom the request should be addressed
  2. The right to request the amendment of the student’s education records that the student believes are inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy rights under FERPA. A student who wishes to ask the College to amend a record should write the College official responsible for the record, clearly identify the part of the record the student wants changed, and specify why it should be changed. If the College decides not to amend the record as requested, the College will notify the student in writing of the decision and the student’s right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment. Additional information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided to the student when notified of the right to a hearing
  3. The right to provide written consent before the College discloses personally identifiable information from the student’s education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent. The College may disclose education records without a student’s prior written consent under several FERPA exceptions including:
  • disclosure to school officials with legitimate educational interests
  • A school official is a person employed by the College in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research, or support staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff); a person or company with whom the College has contracted as its agent to provide a service instead of using College employees or officials (such as an attorney, auditor, or collection agent); a person serving on the Board of Trustees; or a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee, or assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks.
  • A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibilities for the College.
  • the student’s application for financial aid
  • submitting proof of dependency
  • response to a judicial order or subpoena
  • a bona fide health or safety emergency
  • information requested by other schools in which the student seeks or intends to enroll
  • As of January, 2012, The U.S. Dept. of Education’s FERPA regulations expand the circumstances under which your education records and personally identifiable information (PII) contained in such records—including your SSN, grades, or other private information – may be accessed without your consent.
  • First, the U.S. Comptroller General, The U.S. Attorney General, the U.S. Secretary of Education, or state and local education authorities (“Federal and State Authorities”) may allow access to your records and PII without your consent to any third party designated by a Federal or State Authority to evaluate a federal or state-supported education program. The evaluation may relate to any program that is “principally engaged in the provision of education,” such as early childhood education and job training, as well as any program that is administered by an education agency or institution.
  • Second, Federal and State Authorities may allow access to your education records and PII without your consent to researchers performing certain types of studies, in certain cases even when we object or do not request such research. Federal and State Authorities must obtain certain use-restriction and data security promises from the entities that they authorize to receive your PII, but the Authorities need not maintain direct control over such entities.
  • In addition, in connection with Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems, State Authorities may collect, compile, permanently retain, and share without your consent PII from your education records, and they may track your participation in education and other programs by linking such PII to other personal information about you that they obtain from other Federal or State data sources, including workforce development, unemployment insurance, child welfare, juvenile justice, military service, and migrant student records systems.
  • The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974, as amended, designates certain information related to a student as “Directory Information.” FERPA gives the College the right to disclose such information to anyone inquiring without having to ask a student for permission, unless the student specifically requests in writing that all such information not be made public without written consent  except by the National Student Clearinghouse to loan guarantors. HCC Confidentiality Form
  • Houston Community College has designated the following as “Student Directory Information:”
    • Student’s Name
    • Address and telephone number
    • Date of birth
    • Major field of study
    • Enrollment status (full/part-time)
    • Classification
    • Dates of attendance at HCC
    • Number of semester hours completed & in progress
    • Student classification
    • Degrees earned and dates awarded
    • Most recent previous educational institution attended
  1. The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the College to comply with the requirements of FERPA. The name and address of the Office that administers FERPA is:

Family Policy Compliance Office

U.S. Department of Education

400 Maryland Avenue, SW

Washington, DC 20202-5901

Class Attendance

You are expected to attend all lecture classes and labs regularly. You are also responsible for materials covered during your absences. Instructors may be willing to consult with you for make-up assignments, but it is your responsibility to contact the instructor. Class attendance is monitored daily. Although it is your responsibility to drop a course for nonattendance, the instructor has the authority to drop you for excessive absences. You may be dropped from a course after accumulating absences in excess of 12.5 percent of the total hours of instruction (lecture and lab). For example:

  • For a 3 credit-hour lecture class meeting 3 hours per week (48 hours of instruction), you can be dropped after 6 hours of absence.
  • For a 4 credit-hour lecture/lab course meeting 6 hours per week (96 hours of instruction), you can be dropped after 12 hours of absence.

Departments and programs governed by accreditation or certification standards may have different attendance policies. Administrative drops are at the discretion of the instructor. Failure to withdraw officially can result in a grade of “F” in the course.

Repeating Courses (Three-Peat rule)

As a result of recent Texas legislative changes, please be advised that HCC is charging additional tuition for students who enroll in the same class three or more times at HCC. While it is the hope of HCC that students will be successful in their first attempt at classes, we realize that life demands, academic struggles, and other issues may result in students needing to take the same class more than once. Speaking with an advisor will help you develop student success skills, improving your overall academic performance. If a student repeats a course in which a grade (A-F) has been received, the highest grade received at HCC is the permanent grade for the course and will be used in computing the GPA. All grades earned in a given course will be reflected on the transcript. Other colleges may compute the GPA differently than HCC.

Course Withdrawals (6-drop rule)

Students must withdraw by the withdrawal deadline in order to receive a “W” on a transcript. Final withdrawal deadlines vary each semester and/or depending on class length, please visit the online Academic Calendar, any HCC Registration Office, or any HCC advisor to determine class withdrawal deadlines.

 

Be certain you understand HCC policies about dropping a course and consult with a counselor/advisor to determine if withdrawing is in your best interest. It is your responsibility to withdraw officially from a class and prevent an “F” from appearing on your transcript. Senate Bill 1231 and limits the number of W’s a student can have to 6 classes over the course of their entire academic career. This policy is effective for students entering higher education for the first time in fall 2007 and subsequent terms. Withdrawals accumulated at any other Texas public higher education institution count toward the 6 course total. Withdrawals for certain circumstances beyond the students control may not be counted toward the 6-drop limit.

 

In addition, withdrawing from a course may impact your financial aid award or eligibility. Contact the Financial Aid Office or website to learn more about the impact of withdrawing on financial aid.

Health and Safety

Behavior Intervention and Threat Assessment

Behavior Intervention and Threat Assessment

Procedure:                           D. 4.4.1 Behavioral Intervention & Threat Assessment

Approval Body:                   Chancellor’s Operational Team

Applicable Board Policy:  D. 4.4 Student Rights and Responsibilties

Purpose:              

To ensure the safety of the campus community, this procedure was developed to provide reportees, who suspect another member of the campus community to pose a potential risk or threat to the campus community, with a means to report their concern. The Behavioral Intervention and Threat Assessment Team (BITAT) was established to quickly respond to such reports and proactively identify, assess, and manage threats to the health and safety of students, employees and visitors.

Applicability: This procedure applies to all students, those seeking academic, workforce, or continuing education credit. It is the responsibility of all members of the campus community to report potential risks or threats posed by students.

Definitions:

  • Threat — declaration or expression of an intention to cause harm or pain

 

Procedures:

  1. 1.     BITAT Members

Members of the BITAT consist of a multidisciplinary group comprised of representatives from the following areas:

Student Services                                                

Academic Affairs                                                                

Campus Police                                                   

Licensed Mental Health Professional(s)       

Ability Services                                                   

Legal Counsel

The BITAT is a standing group of representatives appointed by the President of each college within the Houston Community College System. The team is comprised of skilled and knowledgeable staff who convene to evaluate situations in which a student is experiencing distress or is a potential   danger to him/herself and/or others. BITAT is charged with evaluating such behavior and making recommendations to minimize its impact. The purpose of the BITAT is to:

  • Respond to reports of threatening behavior or potential violence exhibited by students
  • Evaluate the legitimacy of concerns and assess the level of risk of a subject causing harm to self or to others
  • Initiate appropriate intervention and/or referral to external parties for appropriate resolution
  • Authorize and initiate notification, within state laws and FERPA or HIPAA guidelines, of parents, guardians and/or next-of-kin when a subject poses a serious threat to self or others
  • Review cases regularly and evaluate response and recovery
  • Maintain documentation and secure storage of sensitive information
  • Inform campus community of the existence of the BITAT, educate the campus community regarding the signs of risks or threats, and the reporting process
  • Coordinate training for BITAT and campus community
  • Review BITAT procedures and update as needed.
  • Generate reports outlining reported incidents and trends.

 

The BITAT does not replace the College disciplinary process, faculty classroom management, and/or the response and responsibility of campus police to reported and suspected incidents.

 

  1. 2.     Identifying an Individual Who May Pose a Potential Threat

There are three general categories of potential threats:

  1. Self-injurious behavior (i.e. severe depression, hopelessness, thoughts of suicide/attempt, cutting behavior, dangerous alcohol/substance consumption, etc.)
  2. Disturbed behavior (i.e., changes in personality, bizarre behavior, shifts in mood, unexplained irritability and/or lethargy, deficient in skills that regulate emotion, cognition, self, behavior and relationships, etc.)
  3. Threatening behavior that violates campus community safety (i.e., aggressive, hostile, homicidal threats, stalking, assault, cyber bullying, carrying or access to weapons, etc.)

Below is a list of behaviors that may suggest that a subject is in need of intervention as a potential threat to self or others. This is not an exhaustive list, but provides some examples of concerning behaviors.

  • Unusual change in behavior
  • Uncharacteristic decline in grades and academic performance
  • Behavior which regularly interferes with effective class management
  • Marked changes in personal hygiene
  • Dependency (e.g., the student who hangs around or makes excessive appointments during office hours)
  • Impaired speech and/or disjointed thoughts
  • Bizarre behavior that is obviously inappropriate for the situation
  • Appearance of extreme nervousness, tension or tearfulness
  • Extreme reaction to a loss or traumatic event
  • Preoccupation with weapons, violent events or persons who have engaged in violent acts
  • References to harming others or planning a violent or destructive event
  • Threats towards others
  • Evidence of depression, hopelessness, or suicidal thoughts/plans
  • Expressed violent or suicidal thoughts in writing which may be presented as fictitious
  • Inappropriate responses such as prolonged irritability, abrasiveness, angry outbursts, or aggressive behavior
  • Strained interpersonal relations, isolating behaviors, or change in self esteem
  • Significant change in life circumstances such as loss of job or relationship
  1. 3.     Reporting

All members of the campus community share the responsibility to report suspicions of potential threat or danger to others. Reportees who suspect a potential threat are to report the situation to the BITAT.

  1. 4.     Response  

The BITAT combines the expertise of key campus units to coordinate responses to students in distress and to manage potential critical incidents involving HCC students.  The efforts of the BITAT team members allow for early response and intervention, collaboration among units to address all contributing factors and concerns, as well as coordinated support to the college community.

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Sexual or Gender-Based Misconduct

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. This includes sexual or gender based misconduct. Sexual violence is covered under Title IX, and institutions of higher education have a responsibility to take immediate and effective steps to respond to reported incidents. Acts of sexual violence include rape, acquaintance rape, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.  

   Report an Incident