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SMC|Student Services|Ombudsperson|Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

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Do I need an appointment to see the ombudsperson?

         No appointment is necessary, but the hours that the ombudsperson is available are limited.  You may call (310) 434-3986 and leave a message for the ombudsperson.  The ombudsperson will return your call.  Please note that if your telephone blocks calls, you must remove the block or the ombudsperson will be unable to return your call.  

What happens when I see the ombudsperson?

        You will be asked to write your complaint, briefly indicating the nature of your problem.  You will also be asked to consider what sort of resolution of your problem that you want.  It is especially helpful if your complaint is specific and one that can be addressed either by the ombudsperson or by someone else.  You will be able to discuss your complaint with the ombudsperson.  The visit is informal and confidential, except as required by law.  


My professor gave me the wrong grade.  What can I do?

  • Talk to your professor, if possible, asking how your grade was calculated. 
  • Talk to the department chair. 
  • Talk to the ombudsperson, to discover your options.
  • If all else fails, consider filing a grade appeal.  
  • Be sure to meet all deadlines. 
  • Be sure to keep all materials pertaining to the class.  

Is it possible to change a grade?

        Changing a grade is not a trivial matter. If a professor has made a mistake in grading, the professor is usually very willing to correct the mistake.  If you believe there has been a mistake, make an appointment with the professor to ask him or her to explain the basis for the grade.  The ombudsperson may be able to assist you in this process, but you should try to talk first with the professor.  You may also talk to the department chair.  

        If no mistake has been made, the grade stands.  The college has a process for contesting a grade, which may be changed only if the professor has made a mistake, acted in bad faith, fraudulently, or incompetently. The student must prove that there has been a mistake, bad faith, fraud, or incompetence.  There is a deadline for filing a grade appeal.  

The ombudsperson can explain the grade appeal process, but has no power to change the grade.  The ombudsperson assists in the informal process of determining grade calculations and informally resolving communication difficulties between student and professor.

What is the deadline for filing a grade appeal?

There is a deadline after grades are posted for filing a grade appeal.  After that, it is too late.  Please meet with the faculty member, if possible, and meet with the Ombudsperson in time to meet the following deadlines:

For Fall classes,  the deadline is April 30 of the following year.
For Winter session classes, the deadline is May 30 of the same year.
For Spring classes, the deadline is October 30 of the same year.  
For Summer classes, the deadline is November 30 of the same year.  

You must see the ombudsperson before filing the formal grade appeal.  Call (310) 434-3986 to make an appointment.  

How long does the grade appeal process take?  

The grade appeal process may take several weeks or several months, depending on the time of year.  

What is the grade appeal process?

The grade appeal process may be informal or formal.  The student meets with the professor to determine that the grade is actually the grade that was earned.  If there is a dispute, then the student meets with the ombudsperson, in an attempt to resolve the dispute informally.  The formal process involves filing a Petition for Review of Grade.  The petition is obtained from the Dean of Enrollment Services, after the student has met with the professor and the ombudsperson.

The student should write a clear, concise, and accurate statement explaining the reasons that the grade is inappropriate.  

The grade appeal must be consistent with the Education Code 76224(a):

When grades are given for any course of instruction taught in the public schools, the grade given to each pupil shall be the grade determined by the teacher of the course and the determination of the pupil's grade by the teacher, in the absence of a mistake, fraud, bad faith, or incompetence, shall be final.

The student's statement and the Petition for the Review of Grade are returned to the Dean, Enrollment Services, for filing.  The student has 90 days following the date of the initial grade report within which to file the petition.  Dates for Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer courses are April 30, May 30, October 30, and November 30, respectively.

The statement and petition are sent to the Instructor, Department Chair, Dean of Instruction, and back to the Dean, Enrollment Services.  Finally, an administrator convenes and chairs the Grade Appeals Committee.  The committee consists of three students, three faculty members, and the administrator.  The committee usually meets in the spring and fall semesters.  At the appointed time, the student and professor each present the case before the committee at a hearing that takes about an hour.  The committee then deliberates, and makes a recommendation to the Superintendent/President, whose decision is final.  The Superintendent/President notifies all parties of the result.

Who makes the final grade decision?

The Superintendent/President makes the final decision, usually following the recommendation of the Grade Appeals Committee.  

 

This page updated 4/02/07.