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SMC|Enrollment Development|Financial Aid and Scholarships|Student Complaints, Hearings and Appeals

Student Complaints, Hearings and Appeals

To protect the interests of both the College and its students, Santa Monica College has an established “due process” through which its disciplinary and removal powers are exercised. As a further safeguard of student rights, an appeal procedure exists for these policies, as well as for appeals of grades, matriculation, and academic or progress disqualification.
Students with complaints, grievances, and personal concerns about Santa Monica College or any of its policies are encouraged to discuss them with the College Ombudsperson. The Ombudsperson provides support and encouragement to students, and attempts to present options and solutions. Complaints are handled with complete confidentiality on a case-by-case basis. Students with complaints about a grade should be aware that they must file a formal appeal (Petition for Review of Grade) by October 30 for Spring semester grades, November 30 for Summer session grades, April 30 for Fall semester grades, and May 30 for Winter session grades.
For further information, visit the Ombudsperson website, send e-mail to ombuds@smc.edu, or call (310) 434-3986. The office of the Ombudsperson is located in Room 124 of the Letters and Science building. Office hours are posted on the door and available on the Ombudsperson’s webpage. If the times are inconvenient, a special appointment can be arranged by leaving a voicemail message or sending e-mail to the Ombudsperson.
Santa Monica College students and faculty can turn to the Office of Student Judicial Affairs for due process in having problems solved, working out agreements, refuting false allegations, and resolving disputes fairly. The College Disciplinarian, counselors, and administrative support take a positive, comprehensive, and proactive approach to resolving problems, and provide a place for students and faculty to go for information and training in the areas of student conduct, academic honesty, behavior/anger management, and conflict resolution.
It is crucial for students to feel that their concerns are being addressed in a timely manner, before those concerns become disciplinary problems. It is just as crucial for members of the faculty to feel that they have support in dealing with extremely challenging and often disruptive students. The Office of Student Judicial Affairs works to strike a balance between the College’s community standards and individual behavior. When appropriate, the Office of Student Judicial Affairs provides referrals to other programs on the SMC campus.
The Office of Student Judicial Affairs interviews all parties named in police and referral reports. The College Disciplinarian—who has initial authority to suspend students for violations of the Student Conduct Code—conducts interviews, reviews all interview notes and information available, and makes final decisions regarding the outcome of disciplinary cases.
To find out more about the services and resources the Office of Student Judicial Affairs provides, see our website at www.smc.edu/disciplinarian or call (310) 434-4220.
Matriculation Complaints
Students may file formal written complaints about the matriculation process with the Vice President, Enrollment Development. The complaints will remain on file for at least three years after they have been resolved and are subject to review by the Chancellor’s Office as part of the statewide evaluation required under California Code of Regulations Title 5 §55512.
Grade Appeals
A student who wishes to appeal a grade must file a formal Petition for Review of Grade no later than October 30 for Spring semester grades, November 30 for Summer session grades, April 30 for Fall semester grades, and May 30 for Winter session grades.  Before filing a formal grade appeal petition, a student should first discuss his or her situation with the College Ombudsperson. The Ombudsperson acts as a source of information, assistance, and referral, and encourages informal conciliation between students and instructors. The student assumes the burden of proof. Instructors are expected to cooperate with the Ombudsperson.
After discussing a grade appeal with the College Ombudsperson, if there is no informal resolution satisfactory to the student and the student wishes to continue the appeal, the Ombudsperson will outline the procedure to be followed.
To schedule an appointment with the Ombudsperson, please send email to ombuds@smc.edu or call (310) 434-3986.
Appeal of Academic & Progress Disqualification
Students who wish to be reinstated at Santa Monica College after being disqualified from attending the College because of substandard academic performance or unsatisfactory progress may make an appointment in the Transfer/Counseling Center to discuss their situation with a counselor, review the mitigating circumstances that may have led to their disqualification, determine whether reinstatement at SMC is possible, and find out about the steps they must take to be reinstated. For details on reinstatement procedures, see the Academic & Progress Probation & Disqualification Policies section of the catalog. To make an appointment to meet with a counselor, visit the Transfer/Counseling Center or call (310) 434-4210.
Academic Conduct Appeals
A Santa Monica College student who has been accused of violating the SMC Honor Code has the right to appeal the action taken by the faculty member through the appeal procedures established by the College. Once notified of the alleged violation, the accused student has ten (10) business days to appeal the action to the Honor Council.
The student will be provided the opportunity for a conference with the campus Ombudsperson (or designee) in an effort to resolve the issue informally. The Ombudsperson (or designee) may confer with the faculty member, and if necessary, the department chair (or designee). If no resolution is reached after an informal conference, the student may proceed with a formal appeal to the Honor Council. The petition (and any supportive documentation) must be filed with the Office of Student Judicial Affairs (or designee). All instances of alleged SMC Honor Code violations are subject to review by the SMC Honor Council (SMC AR 4412). For details on the procedure for disputing a grade—for alleged instructor mistake, bad faith, fraud, or incompetence—see “Grade Appeals Committee” (SMC AR 4313), which is posted online at http://www.smc.edu/ACG/Documents/Board_Policy_Manual/BP_4000_Student_Services.pdf  (click on the “Section 4000—Student Services” link). Please note: The Grade Appeals Committee does not handle appeals pertaining to accusations of academic dishonesty. These cases can go through the Santa Monica College Honor Board hearings process.
Disciplinary Hearings & Appeals
Before any disciplinary probation, removal from extracurricular activities or programs, or suspension is imposed on a student, the student has the right to pursue the Hearing and Appeal Process, unless an immediate suspension is required to protect lives or property, or to insure the maintenance of order pending a hearing. The Hearing and Appeal Process is described in detail in the “Rules for Student Conduct” (SMC AR 4410), posted online at
www.smc.edu/Policies/Policies/AdminRegulations.htm (click on "Section 4000-Student Services" link).
Program Removal Appeals
Due process procedures exist to assist faculty and departments in removing a student from a program in which the student is unable to profit and/or a program in which the student’s behavior is determined to be unsafe. In general, the overall process for determining whether a student meets the specific standards of a particular program may include up to three levels of intervention: the instructor level, the program or department level, and the College level (joint administration-faculty committee).
Any student who wishes to appeal dismissal from a program may file the appeal with the Chair of the Program Standards Appeals Committee. The student will be able to present his or her case within ten (10) school days of filing. The committee hearings will be closed to the public.

Honor Council Hearing Board

In order to uphold the academic integrity of Santa Monica College and to ensure students' rights to due process, instructors and students may petition a hearing to adjudicate a case of alleged academic dishonesty (Code of Academic Conduct) or Honor Code violation. The request must be made through the Office of Student Judicial Affairs. The hearing proceedures can be found on the Honor Council website - Honor Council Hearing Board Procedures.

This information can also be found in the SMC Online Catalog 2014-2015.