Student Grievances Appeal Process and Role of Faculty In Nursing Education

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 Role of Faculty In Nursing Education and Student Grievances Appeal Process

Student Grievances Appeal Process and Role of Faculty In Nursing Education

What is Grievances and the Student Appeal Process In Nursing Education, The Student Appeal Process In Nursing Education, Faculty Role in the Appeal Process In Nursing Education.

What is Grievances and the Student Appeal Process In Nursing Education

    Even when a student has been treated in accordance with due process with a clear communication of policies and expected academic standards, it is possible that the student may wish to seek legal recourse in the face of an academic failure or dismissal. In such cases, the student may appeal to the court on the basis that faculty has acted in a capricious or arbitrary manner. 

    Courts have traditionally not overturned academic decisions unless the student can prove that faculty did not follow “accepted academic norms so as to demonstrate the person or committee responsible did not actually exercise professional judgment” (Regents of University of Michigan v. Ewing, 1985]) . 

    In this case, a student who was dismissed from medical school brought suit against the university, citing that university faculty moved to dismiss him based on circumstances that were not rational and were capricious. The court ruled that the university faculty did have cause to dismiss the student and thus a “substantive due process claim” had not occurred.

    There are other reasons why students may choose to bring suit against an institution. Breach of contract, described earlier, may be charged by students who may not be provided with due process protections, particularly in private institutions. 

    The court has generally followed the “well-steeled rule that relations between a student and a private university are a matter of contract” (Dixon v. Alabama State Board of Education, 1961). However, there is inconsistency in court cases that address grievances of contract issues depending on the substance of the case. 

    Students may also make charges of defamation or violation of civil rights, including discrimination. Courts generally have not hesitated to analyze cases in which discrimination based on any parameter (eg, race, gender, age, or disability) has been charged. 

    Brent (2001) reported that the best way to avoid such litigation is to maintain policies that clearly demonstrate adherence to the institutions and program's guidelines, which must be in compliance with all federal and state laws regulating civil rights.

The Student Appeal Process In Nursing Education

    Before seeking the assistance of the court system, students must first use all available recourse within the institution. A well-established principle of educational law is that the courts have generally relied on academic institutions to deal with grade disputes and have intervened only when there is evidence of the violation of student rights.

    Institutions of higher learning have established policies for hearing student grievances and appeals. The purpose of these guidelines is to establish common procedures to ensure that students are provided with due process and that faculty rights are supported.

    Institutional and program policies related to student appeals and grievance procedures should be made available in writing to students and faculty. Faculty are usually given this information in the faculty handbook on orientation to the institution and should refer to them periodically as changes are made. 

    Likewise, students should be informed that a formal grievance process policy exists and that it is their responsibility to initiate the procedure. It is recommended that programs distribute this information to students when they are first admitted to the institution and document that students have received such notification. 

    Students may choose not to initiate the grievance procedure that is their right, but they should always be aware of the option of doing so. Information about the appeal process should be reviewed with an individual student if the situation warrants. When a grievance occurs and the appeal process is implemented, there are two possible outcomes. 

    It is possible that the appeals board may review the information provided and find that there are insufficient grounds for the student's charge and that the assigned grade or faculty action should stand. The other option is that a recommendation for corrective action may be made based on a review of evidence that indicates that the student's charges have merit. 

    This may mean a change of grade or an opportunity for further evaluation. Implementation of the recommendations may vary depending on the specific charges and circumstances. If, at the conclusion of the institutional appeal process, the student is not satisfied with the outcome, the student has the right to pursue further recourse in the court system.

Faculty Role in the Appeal Process In Nursing Education

    Being involved in the appeal process can be a stressful experience for both the faculty member involved and the student. When a student indicates dissatisfaction with an assigned grade or evaluation and is considering an appeal, the faculty member should give consideration to reevaluation.

    If the faculty member finds that the student's evidence is legitimate and that the student truly deserves a higher grade, then the grade should be changed. If the faculty member believes no changes are justified after reviewing the situation and finding that all procedures and standards have been applied consistently and justly, then the faculty member should maintain the assigned grade. 

    However, a faculty member should not act in haste or out of fear in reaction to the threat of a grievance procedure. Changing a grade without justification sets a dangerous precedent and should be avoided. 

    Clear, consistent use of standards for grading that are made known to students will help effectively support grades that are assigned. Planning before the implementation of a course assignment or activity and providing clearly established grading criteria may help decrease student misunderstanding.

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