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Complaint Procedures and Policies

This page contains the policies and procedures for communicating concerns or complaints.

Consistent with our mission, Drake Law School welcomes your opinions and feedback about our policies, programs and services in order to make changes that contribute to your success, development, and goal attainment. We are also committed to ensuring that students have access to appropriate procedures for articulating concerns and registering appeals. This page is designed to provide information about and access to these resources. Please note that this is not an additional appeal stage. 

A student with a complaint—a concern that a policy or procedure of the Law School or University has been incorrectly or unfairly applied in his/her particular case, or a formal charge against a person’s behavior—has recourse through complaint procedures.

In most instances, complaints can be resolved through an informal procedure. A student who begins with an informal process may at any time file a formal complaint using the appropriate procedure for a complaint of that kind, as explained further below. In general, formal complaints are distinguished from informal complaints by being made in writing; following a specified procedure for filing, investigation and resolution; and the possibility of appeal.

Informal Complaint Procedures

A variety of complaints can be addressed through informal procedures. Find information about different kinds of complaints and the person to be contacted below.

Grades

Students are encouraged to review their exams or papers and discuss them with faculty members. Final course grades can only be changed under two circumstances, inadvertent mistakes and grading misconduct, and both ultimately require use of formal procedures.

No grade change shall be based on substantive reconsideration or reassessment of the quality of a student’s work, nor shall any grade change be based on an error on the student’s part.

Inadvertent mistakes are mistakes of an administrative, clerical, or procedural nature, such as the mathematical miscalculation of a point total, or the incorrect transcription of a grade. Students who believe that an inadvertent mistake has occured must first discuss the matter with the relevant faculty member, or the associate dean of the law school. The formal procedure for correcting an inadvertent mistake must be initiated by the faculty member or administrator. 

Grading misconduct is defined as: a. Intentionally violating anonymous grading in a course for which grading is anonymous; or b. Assigning a grade to a particular student on some basis other than the student’s performance in the course, including but not limited to assigning a grade to a particular student on the basis of intentional race, gender, or other discrimination. Students who believe that grading misconduct has occurred may wish to consult with the associate dean of the law school prior to filing such a formal complaint, however, students must keep in mind that the formal procedure requires written notice within one week of the date that the student learns or acquires a reason to believe that grading misconduct has occured. A grade determined to be the result of grading misconduct will be changed to “credit,” with a letter to the student explaining that this grade was the result of grading misconduct

Other law students

As appropriate, law students are encouraged to resolve issues with another law student by discussing the matter between themselves. If a student considers the issue to require the attention or assistance of an administrator, the student can bring the complaint to the attention of the associate dean of the law school

Law school administrators

As appropriate, law students are encouraged to resolve issues with a member of the administration by discussing the matter with the individual in question. If a student believes the issue requires the attention or assistance of a higher-level administrator and the complaint concerns the assistant dean for student services, the student can bring the complaint to the attention of the associate dean of the law school; if the complaint concerns the associate dean of the law school, the student can bring the complaint to the attention of the dean of the law school; if the complaint concerns the dean of the law school, the student can bring the complaint to the attention of the university provost.

Law school faculty

As appropriate, law students are encouraged to resolve issues with a faculty member by discussing the matter with the faculty member in question. If a student believes the issue requires the attention or assistance of an administrator, the student can bring the complaint to the attention of the associate dean of the law school

Law school staff

As appropriate, law students are encouraged to resolve issues with a staff member by discussing the matter with the staff member in question. If a student believes the issue to require the attention or assistance of an administrator, the student can bring the complaint to the attention of the associate dean of the law school

Law school facilities and physical plant

Complaints about Law School facilities and physical plant or other non-curricular matters should be brought to the attention of the law school's assistant dean for student services.

Other

As appropriate, law students are encouraged to resolve other complaints with the party or parties involved. If a student believes the issue to require the attention or assistance of an administrator, the student can bring the complaint to the attention of the assistant dean for student services. Complaints involving non-law school members of the university community can also follow the Drake University Student Complaints and Appeal Resources and Procedures.

 

Formal Complaints

Procedures and policies for formal complaints are found below.

Grading errors

Inadvertent mistake

Inadvertent mistakes may only be corrected with the approval of the Curriculum Committee upon a written request by a member of the faculty or administration explaining the error.           

Grading misconduct 

A student may appeal a grade only on the basis of grading misconduct, which is defined as 1) Intentionally violating anonymous grading in a course for which grading is anonymous; or 2) Assigning a grade to a particular student on some basis other than the student’s performance in the course, including but not limited to assigning a grade to a particular student on the basis of intentional race, gender, or other.

If a student believes that grading misconduct has occurred, the student must submit a written claim (paper or email) to both the faculty member and the associate dean of the law school which specificially states the misconduct claimed. The claim must be provided within 7 business days of the date the students learns of or acquires a reason to believe that grading misconduct has occurred. 

The associate dean will schedule an initial meeting with the student to discuss the claim within 10 business days of submission of the claim, or as soon as reasonably possible under the circumstances. If the student fails to state a claim that would be sufficient to establish grading misconduct, the associate dean shall dismiss the claim, notify the student and faculty member, and the grade shall not be subject to further law school review.

The faculty member shall have an opportunity to respond to the claim. 

If the student has satisfied the claim requirements above, and the matter is not dismissed or otherwise resolved through the process provided above, the student may file a formal appeal of the grade with the associate dean within 14 business days of the student’s meeting with the associate dean. The formal grade appeal shall be in writing, shall state with specificity the alleged grading misconduct, and shall provide any supporting evidence. The student shall provide a copy of the written appeal to the associate dean and to the faculty member.

Within 20 business days of the filing of the appeal, the associate dean shall make a determination of whether the student has demonstrated that probable cause to believe that grading misconduct has occurred. In the event of a determination by the associate dean that there exists no probable cause to believe that grading misconduct has occurred, the grade shall not be subject to further law school review. If the associate dean determines that such probable exists, the associate dean shall refer the appeal to an ad hoc committee designated by the associate dean. The ad hoc committee shall consist of any three tenured faculty members who are not the subject of the appeal.

The ad hoc committee shall make a determination of whether grading misconduct has occurred and report its findings and recommendations in writing to the dean, with copies to the student and faculty member, within three weeks of the ad hoc committee’s appointment. The committee shall set the proceduresfor the review, and inform the student and faculty member of these procedures. The faculty member shall have a right to submit a written or oral statement and the right to be present when the student presents evidence in support of the appeal. The burden of proof shall be on the student to establish by clear and convincing evidence that the alleged grading misconduct in fact occurred. No discovery of information or records is permitted, nor can any person be compelled to participate in a hearing.  

Within a reasonable time following submission to the dean of the ad hoc committee’s report, the dean shall sustain or deny the appeal. In the event of a determination by the dean that grading misconduct has not occurred, the grade shall not be subject to further law school review. If the dean sustains the student’s appeal, the student shall receive credit only for the class, and the grade resulting from the misconduct shall be deleted from the student’s permanent record. A letter from the dean explaining that the grade was found to have resulted from grading misconduct shall be placed in the student’s permanent file and shall be accessible to potential employers. A copy of the dean’s letter of explanation shall be provided to the student and to the faculty member. A record of findings of grading misconduct shall be preserved by the dean’s office.

Violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Complaints alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act are governed by University policy and procedures

Violation of the Drake Law School Code of Student Conduct

Drake Law Students are prohibited from engaging in unprofessional conduct as defined in sections A and B of the Drake Law School Code of Student Conduct. Complaints alleging a violation of the Drake University Code of Student Conduct should be made to the associate dean of the law school, and can be made either orally or in writing. Upon receipt of such a complaint, the Associate Dean will initiate an investigation and proceed with the procedures outlined in the Code.

 

Violation of the Drake University Code of Student Conduct

The conduct of Drake Law students is governed by both the Drake Law School Code of Student Conduct and the Drake University Code of Student Conduct. The Law School Code and the University Code may cover the same action(s). If a law student engages in action(s) that would constitute a violation of only the Law School Code or only the Drake University Code, a complaint must be filed under the procedures set out in the violated Code. Complaints under the Drake University Code of Student Conduct should be made to the dean of students for Drake University, and must be made in writing. Upon receipt of such a complaint under the Drake University Code of Student Conduct, the Dean of Students will initiate an investigation and proceed with the procedures outlined in the Code. A complaint alleging a violation of the Drake University Code of Student Conduct should be made to the associate dean of the law school. Upon receipt of such a complaint under the Law School Code of Conduct, the Associate Dean will initiate an investigation and proceed with the procedures outlined in the Code.

If the action(s) in question would constitute a violation of both the Law School Code and the University Code, a complaint maybe filed under the procedure set out in either or both. Regardless of which code a complaint is filed under, a complaint alleging action(s) that would constitute a violation of both the Law School Code and the University Code, may be processed only under procedures set forth in the Law School Code, the University Code, or both.

Harassment and Title IX

Complaints alleging sexual harassment or harassment based on race, color, national origin, creed, religion, age, disability, sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation may be made under both the Drake University Code of Student Conduct and the Drake Law School Code of Student Conduct. A complaint of harassment by a Drake University employee should be handled by the Drake University Code of Student Conduct, and should be filed with the Director of Human Resources. Complaints of harassment by other members of the law school community should proceed under the Drake Law School Code of Conduct. Under the Drake Law Code of Conduct, these complaints should be made to the Associate Dean of the Law School, unless the complaint pertains to either the Associate Dean (whereby the report should be made to the Dean) or the Dean (whereby the complaint should be made to the Provost of Drake University).

Title IX Issues

The University also has specific Title IX resources available for concerns of sexual harassment, sexual assault, or dating violence. The Title IX webpage identifies support resources, options for reporting or filing a complaint, and policies and procedures in place to address concerns. The Title IX Coordinator can be reached directly at titleix@drake.edu.

Non-compliance with the American Bar Association's Standards for Approval of Law Schools

An American Bar Association (ABA) accredited law school must adhere to the ABA Standards for Approval of Law Schools. A student who believes that there is a significant problem that implicates Drake Law School’s compliance with these Standards can make a complaint using the Student Accreditation Standard Complaint Procedure. Some such complaints may also be covered by Law School or University procedure. If another more specific Law School or University complaint procedure also governs a particular non-compliance complaint, a student is not precluded from using both procedures, but the consideration of the non-compliance complaint may, at the dean’s discretion, be stayed pending resolution of the matter under the relevant specific procedures.

Procedure

1. Submission to dean:
a. must be made in writing to the dean of the law school
b. must include the name and contact information of the complainant and identify the complainant as a student of the law school
c. must specify by number the accreditation standard(s) it is alleged the law school is not in compliance with
d. must specify with particularity the facts relied upon to support the allegation

2. Action upon complaint
Upon receiving a Student Accreditation Standard Complaint, the dean shall have 30 calendar days in which to respond to the complainant in writing. Such response may be: 
a. notice to the complainant that investigation of the allegations of the complaint is currently being handled under another Law School or University procedure, and that investigation/consideration of this non-compliance complaint is stayed pending resolution under the other procedure,
b. notice to the complainant that an investigation of the allegations of the complaint has been initiated, together with a date by which it is expected a final substantive response will be made;
c. a preliminary substantive response to the allegations of the complaint, together with a date by which it is expected a final substantive response will be made; or
d. a final substantive response to the allegations of the complaint.

3. Appeal
Upon receiving a final substantive response to a Student Accreditation Standard Complaint, the complainant may appeal the matter to the provost of the University.
a. Such appeal must be taken within 14 calendar days of the dean’s final substantive response.
b. Such appeal must be in writing, must include the name and contact information of the complainant, must identify by number the accreditation standard or standards as to which it is alleged the Law School is not in compliance, must specify with particularity both the facts relied upon to support the allegation and the ways in which the final substantive response of the dean is in error.
c. A copy of the appeal shall be given to the dean at the same time it is given the provost.
d. The provost shall have 30 calendar days in which to make a substantive response to the complainant, copies of which shall be supplied the complainant and the dean, at which point the process shall be complete. 

 
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