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Procedures for Filing a Disability Grievance

The university's Discrimination and Discriminatory Harassment Policy protects the rights of individuals with disabilities to be free from harassment and discrimination, and to be reasonably accommodated by the university. Students who feel that their rights under that policy have been violated may use these grievance procedures to file a complaint. Students may file a complaint with the university's Section 504/ADA compliance coordinator ("504 coordinator") who can be reached in person at Butler Pavilion 408, Washington, DC 20016-8148, by phone at 202-885-3328, or via e-mail at .

A. Purpose

The purpose of the grievance procedures is to provide corrective actions, as warranted. Actions may include reasonable accommodation or adjustments, measures to reverse the effects of discrimination, and/or measures to ensure proper ongoing accommodations. Discipline is generally not a remedy for a complaint but, where appropriate, it will be pursued against individuals who have violated university policy, including policies against discrimination. Because the purpose of this procedure is to provide corrective action, a complaint must be filed as soon as possible, but no later than one year, after the alleged discrimination, in order to give the university a meaningful opportunity to resolve the problem. A delay in filing a complaint may severely affect available remedies.

B. Filing a Complaint

1. A complaint must be submitted in writing and contain the name and address of the person filing the complaint ("complainant") and a description of the allegation(s) of discrimination. The complainant must set forth specific facts and circumstances and include any supporting documentation.

2. The 504 coordinator will accept the complaint, notify the subject of the complaint ("respondent"), and gather information and documentation from both parties. The respondent may submit a written statement which will become part of the record. The 504 coordinator is a neutral facilitator of this grievance process and will make no findings of fact. If appropriate, the 504 coordinator will facilitate a resolution. The 504 coordinator will advise both parties of the procedures under this process.

C. Resolution Procedures

1. Informal Mediation and Consultation

If appropriate and voluntarily entered into by all parties, a staff member of Mediation Services may conduct a meeting with the complainant and the respondent in an effort to reach a mutually acceptable agreement. The agreement or results from the meeting will be issued in writing and forwarded to the relevant parties.

2. Formal Grievance

If the complainant is not satisfied with the outcome of the informal resolution or prefers a formal procedure from the outset, the complainant may request the formal procedure. In such instances, the 504 coordinator will convene a Grievance Committee comprised of three professional staff or faculty members who will hear and decide upon the matter. Prior to the hearing, the 504 coordinator will collect information deemed relevant and provide copies of these materials to the complainant and respondent. Parties to a grievance will have an opportunity to state their case at the hearing; the committee will have the right to ask questions and make further inquiries, as necessary. After the committee completes the proceeding and makes findings, it will render a written decision and forward it to the relevant parties for implementation.

3. Advisors

At their own discretion, complainants and respondents may be advised by an American University student, faculty, or staff member. The role of advisors is limited to consultation and support. While advisors may be present at a proceeding, they may not address the Grievance Committee or question witnesses. Because the purpose of this proceeding is to provide a fair review of complaints filed by students with disabilities rather than a formal legal proceeding, participation of persons acting as legal counsel is not permitted.

4. Request for Accommodations

The 504 coordinator will provide complainants and respondents with reasonable accommodations to participate in an informal or formal grievance. Accommodations may include, but are not limited to, sign language interpreting services or information in alternative formats. A party may contact the 504 coordinator to request an accommodation for a disability to participate in the grievance process. The 504 coordinator will interact with a party and the appropriate university disability offices to review the request. Generally, a five business day advance notice of an accommodation is required to review reasonable accommodation requests. However, a response to an immediate need for accommodation will be considered to the fullest extent possible.

D. Appeal Procedures

The decision of the committee may be appealed on the following limited bases: (1) new information that significantly alters the findings of fact; (2) improper procedures in handling the formal grievance which are significant and resulted in an adverse finding; or (3) inappropriate remedy. Both the complainant and the respondent may appeal the decision of the committee to the appropriate vice president(s) or provost of the university who will render a final decision.

  • The appeal must be submitted in writing and specify the grounds for appeal. The appeal must be delivered to the 504 coordinator within seven (7) business days after the decision of the Grievance Committee.
  • The 504 coordinator will forward the grievance file including, without limitation, the committee's report and the appellant's appeal to the reviewing vice president(s) or provost. The reviewing vice president(s) or provost may affirm or modify the decision of the committee or may remand the case to the committee for further consideration. The committee will forward its recommendations to the vice president(s) or provost for a decision. Decisions rendered by the vice president(s) or provost are final.

E. Records

The grievance file will be maintained by Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution. All records are confidential, accessible only to individuals with a legitimate need to know.

F. Retaliation

Filing an informal or formal complaint of discrimination is a protected activity under the law. Retaliation against anyone who files a complaint, who supports or assists an individual in pursuing a complaint, or who participates in the resolution of a complaint is prohibited. Any retaliatory action may be the basis of another complaint under this policy and may subject the individual engaged in retaliation to discipline under the appropriate student, staff, or faculty disciplinary policies.

G. False or Frivolous Charges

This policy may not be used to bring false or frivolous charges. Those bringing such charges may be subject to disciplinary action.

H. Confidentiality

All reports or complaints of discrimination are confidential. Individuals with a legitimate need to know will be informed of the complaint in order for the university to conduct a meaningful review and for the purpose of determining whether the complaint is isolated, frequent, part of a pattern of practice, or pervasive.

The university reserves the right to amend this policy with or without notice.

This document is available in alternative formats upon request.

Notification Requirement

The university will issue periodic statements of the university's intent not to discriminate on the basis of disability. All university publications and advertisements will include the most current version of the Equal Opportunity Notice. Other forms of internal notification will be determined by the Disability Compliance Project Team or by the Section 504/ADA Compliance Coordinator.

Important Telephone Numbers

Section 504/
ADA Coordinator
408D Butler Pavilion

Academic Support & Access Center
Mary Graydon Center 243

Dean of Students Office
Butler 408

Washington College of Law Office of Student Services
4801 Massachusetts Ave, NW Washington, D.C. 20016

Public Safety
Public Safety Building