There are two (2) procedures to address disability-related complaints, depending on the nature of the complaint. Two (2) distinct policies guide the processes noted below:
- Failure to accommodate (Accessibility and Reasonable Accommodation for Individuals with Disabilities Policy)
Under this policy, Section 7 spells out the Student Disability Accommodation and Accessibility Grievance Procedure. This procedure addresses student complaints regarding accommodations or accessibility. Through this process, a student may seek a review of decisions related to a denial of a requested accommodation, failure to provide an approved accommodation, or access-related concerns at the University.
- DISCRIMINATION (Preventing and Responding to Discrimination Policy)
Under this policy, Section 4 spells out the Disability Discrimination Complaint Procedure. This procedure addresses student complaints alleging harassment or other forms of discrimination based on disability (unrelated to access or accommodation) and all types of employee and third-party disability discrimination complaints. These complaints should be filed directly with Equity and Access Services and not through SAEO and the Student Disability Accommodation and Accessibility Grievance Procedure.
The most efficient way to resolve a potential issue related to accommodation or accessibility is to communicate concerns directly to the responsible VCU official (instructor, staff, administrator). VCU encourages students who believe they have been denied a reasonable accommodation or sufficient access by a VCU instructor or a VCU office, including SAEO or the Division for Academic Success, to attempt to resolve the issue directly with that person or office. To facilitate the timely resolution of such concerns, students should raise the issue as soon as possible and clearly articulate in a written statement their concerns and the resolution that they seek. Students may contact their SAEO case manager or the Division for Academic Success for advice on handling such matters and support related to an accommodation approved by that office, including mediation if appropriate.
Most concerns about accommodation and accessibility can be resolved in this manner and students should make every reasonable effort to achieve this resolution. If the issue is resolved to the student’s satisfaction, no formal grievance is necessary.
If such direct communication does not resolve concerns related to accessibility or accommodation, VCU encourages students who believe they have been denied a reasonable accommodation or sufficient access because of their disability to use the Student Disability Accommodation and Accessibility Grievance Procedures set forth below.
Student Disability Accommodation and Accessibility Grievance Procedure
If the student’s concern is not resolved through direct communication with the responsible individual or office, the student may formally submit a grievance through the SAEO Grievance Form. These offices maintain grievance records, including complaints and resolution, and report as appropriate to the university’s Section 504/ADA Coordinator in Equity and Access Services.
Once Student Accessibility and Educational Opportunity or the Division for Academic Success receives a complaint, the student may be required to meet with a representative from that office. The representative will gather relevant information and may speak with involved parties in an effort to clarify and resolve the issues underlying the grievance. As part of this information gathering, the student will have the opportunity to suggest witnesses who may have relevant information or present other evidence to the representative. The representative will notify the student and involved parties via email of the outcome, including any relevant finding, rationale, and resolution, within ten (10) business days of receiving the complaint or as soon as is reasonably practical thereafter.
If the grievance is not resolved to the student’s satisfaction in Step 1, the student may pursue Step 2. If the initially assigned representative from Student Accessibility and Educational Opportunity or the Division for Academic Success is the Director of this office, the student will skip Step 2 and pursue Step 3 directly.
If the student disagrees with the Step 1 decision, they can appeal via email to the Director (or their designee) of Student Accessibility and Educational Opportunity or the Division for Academic Success. An appeal must include a written statement of the reason for contesting the Step 1 decision and must be submitted within five (5) business days of the Step 1 outcome email notification.
The Director (or designee) will review the submitted material and may contact the student and any involved parties in an effort to clarify and resolve the grievance. The Director (or designee) will notify the student and involved parties of their decision to uphold or modify the Step 1 decision via email within ten (10) business days of the appeal or as soon as reasonably practical thereafter.
If the grievance is not resolved to the student’s satisfaction, the student may file a disability discrimination complaint with Equity and Access Services pursuant to the Preventing and Responding to Discrimination Policy as set forth below.
Disability Discrimination Complaints by Students, Employees and Third Parties
Equity and Access Services reviews reports of discrimination based on disability submitted by students, employees, and third parties to determine whether the complainant was subject to discrimination as prohibited by the university’s Preventing and Responding to Discrimination Policy, consistent with Sections 503 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended.
EAS receives reports by the Equal Opportunity Incident Reporting Form. While the online reporting form is the most efficient way to communicate relevant information, EAS will also receive complaints by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at (804) 828-1347, or in-person by scheduled appointment. EAS follows the complaint resolution procedures and timeframes consistent with the Policy.