WVNCC | West Virginia Northern Community College



WVNCC | West Virginia Northern Community College

 

Laws, Policies, and Procedures

Reporting, Student Complaints and the College Judicial Process

Hearing Procedure

Sanctions

Awareness Programs

Rights of Those Involved

Links to Rules and Laws

 

Student Complaints and the College Judicial Process

Complainants are encouraged to file a complaint promptly, and it is expected that complaints will be filed by current students. To file a complaint and initiate the College’s discipline process for an alleged violation of this policy, contact a College administrator and her/she will explain the complaint procedures. Students with a protective order, restraining order, no contact order or similar order issued by a criminal, civil or tribal court should bring a copy of that document to the Campus Security Liaison Officer in Wheeling, the Campus Dean in Weirton or New Martinsville or their designee for review and evaluation of an individualized plan based on the review.

The College promptly investigates all complaints of alleged violations of the College’s Interpersonal Violence Rule. While there is no deadline for filing a complaint, in order for a hearing to occur, the Respondent must be enrolled at the College at the time the complaint is made and throughout the hearing process. The College will, however, investigate all complaints made by students who are no longer enrolled at the College. The investigation of such complaints may or may not take the form of a hearing as described below. The Judicial Board will use a preponderance of the evidence standard to determine responsibility.

The following Complaint Resolution procedures apply to complaints of alleged violations of the Interpersonal Violence Rule where the Complainant is a student. Please consult with Human Resources and the Disciplinary Action Rule for the procedures for cases in which the Complainant is an employee or a student employee.

The Complainant and the Respondent may invite a support person to accompany them through all parts of the College complaint resolution procedure.

Offenses of interpersonal violence can result in a final determination of disciplinary action and the College may impose a maximum sanction of expulsion for the actions of sexual assault, acquaintance sexual assault or other forcible or non-forcible sex offenses for the first offense or any subsequent offenses. The College may impose the following disciplinary actions after a final determination regarding sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking. These sanctions will be in addition to criminal or civil penalties imposed by federal or state courts.

1. Disciplinary Warning

2. Disciplinary Probation

3. Disciplinary Suspension

4. Disciplinary Expulsion

Please see the Student Code of Conduct for the explanation of the disciplinary sanctions.

 

Confidentiality

The College treats all information shared about a reported incident of interpersonal violence, including information shared during an investigation and the discipline process as confidential. This means information gathered through an investigation and this discipline process will only be shared with others on a need-to-know basis. Those who participate in an investigation and/or the discipline process should respect the confidentiality of the process and any information shared throughout. The College respects the privacy of those reporting prohibited conduct and will endeavor to respect requests for confidentiality to the extent permissible by law.

However, the College has certain legal obligations to address this conduct and to prevent its recurrence and, as a result, cannot guarantee confidentiality to a complainant in all cases.

All College staff and faculty affiliated with the College are required by law to report incidences of sexual assault, domestic violence, relationship violence and stalking to the Title IX Coordinator, Peggy Carmichael

 

Federal Timely Warning Obligations

Complainants of interpersonal violence should be aware that the College’s administrators must issue timely warnings to the College community for incidents reported to them that pose a substantial threat of bodily harm or danger to members of the campus community. No such warning will identify a complainant or contain information that could do so unless permitted by the complainant.

 

Full Disclosure

The College promptly investigates all complaints of alleged violations of the College’s Interpersonal Violence Rule. Students and employees are expected to cooperate fully and truthfully with any investigation and/or the discipline process. The College may use a Title IX assessment or investigation and/or disciplinary action, as appropriate to the situation.

 

Investigation Process

The College will conduct procedures that provide a prompt, fair and impartial investigation and resolution. Upon receipt of information about an alleged incident of interpersonal violence, the College has the obligation to investigate and may pursue disciplinary action regardless of whether the Complainant files a complaint. This investigation will be conducted by individuals who receive training annually on issues related to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking and will be coordinated by the Title IX Coordinator, Peggy Carmichael, who is available by telephone at 304-214-8901, email at pcarmichael@wvncc.edu, or in person at 1704 Market Street, Wheeling, WV, 26003, Wheeling campus, B&O building, Room 125, Human Resources Office. An investigation may begin prior to the receipt of a formal complaint, or it may occur if a formal complaint is not made. The College may also include a disciplinary process related to an event following the College’s Student Code of Conduct policy (available in the Student Handbook), including the steps listed below. The students and employees are expected to cooperate fully and truthfully with any investigation and/or the discipline process.

 

Protection from Retaliation

The College does not tolerate retaliation or discrimination against any person and/or persons who brings forward a complaint, who cooperates in the investigation of a complaint, or who participates in the discipline process for an alleged violation of the Interpersonal Violence Rule. Anyone who believes he/she has been retaliated against as a result of his/her involvement with an investigation and/or discipline process for an alleged violation of the Interpersonal Violence Rule should immediately report the alleged retaliation to the Title IX Coordinator, Peggy Carmichael, who is available by telephone at 304-214-8901, email at pcarmichael@wvncc.edu, or in person at 1704 Market Street, Wheeling, WV, 26003, Wheeling campus, B&O building, Room 125, Human Resources Office. An independent investigation will be conducted, and appropriate disciplinary action will be taken.

 

Dishonest or Frivolous Complaints

If a complainant is found to have been intentionally or maliciously dishonest, reckless, or frivolous in making the allegations, the complainant shall be subject to appropriate disciplinary action.

 

Investigation related to student disciplinary action

The College will conduct procedures that provide a prompt, fair and impartial investigation and resolution. A disciplinary hearing is conducted by a Judicial Board which is trained annually and the process is administered by College officials who are trained annually on issues related to domestic violence, dating, violence, sexual assault and stalking, as well as how to conduct a hearing process and that protects complainant’s safety and promotes accountability.

A. The Complainant will be asked to submit a written statement of the incident.

B. The Respondent must submit a written response to the complaint within a reasonable time frame, as determined by the hearing process.

C. The College through its investigative process will review all information and seek out related information as applicable.

 

Next Steps for student disciplinary hearing process

A. The hearing coordinator may instruct both the Complainant and the Respondent to refrain from contact with each other outside of the hearing process until the investigation and the hearing process are completed. This “no contact” instruction will include prohibiting indirect contact via phone, electronic means, or through other people. Failure to comply with these instructions will result in disciplinary action by the College.

B. The Executive Safety Committee or designee will determine whether the Respondent may be a danger to the community. If it is determined that the Respondent may be a danger to the community, appropriate action will be taken until the investigation and discipline process are completed including Interim Suspension of the student.

C. The hearing coordinator will ask the Complainant and the Respondent for the names, phone numbers, and mailing and e-mail addresses of their adviser and witnesses, if applicable.

D. All witnesses are asked provide a written statement containing the information they have about the alleged incident to the hearing process. The hearing process will establish a deadline for the submission of witness statements and other evidence.

E. The hearing coordinator will distribute copies of all statements and any other evidence, including any Security or local police investigative reports, to the Judicial Board, the Complainant, and the Respondent before the hearing.

F. If a statement or evidence is introduced after the deadline but before the hearing, the hearing process will determine whether it is relevant and whether its belated introduction is for good reason. The hearing process may admit the statement or evidence and, if necessary, may reschedule the hearing to allow both parties and the Judicial Board time to review the new information.

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Hearing Procedure

A. The hearing coordinator will include reasonable efforts to schedule the hearing in a timely manner. The hearing coordinator will be part of the entire hearing process but is a non-voting part of the hearing process.

B. The hearing coordinator will include every reasonable effort to secure a space for the hearing that is appropriate, private, and provides sufficient places for the parties to confer and the witnesses to wait.

C. The hearing shall be closed to all but the hearing coordinator, the Judicial Board, the Complainant, the Respondent, the advisers of both the Complainant and Respondent, and the witnesses (during their respective interviews).

D. All speakers must be recognized by the hearing process prior to their speaking. No interruptions will be tolerated.

E. Both the Complainant (or Designee but not both) and the Respondent (or Designee but not both) may ask questions about all information shared during the hearing. The Judicial Board Chair will determine whether a question is relevant. The Judicial Board Chair’s decision on such matters is final.

F. If a new statement or evidence is introduced at the hearing, the Judicial Board Chair will determine whether it is relevant and whether its introduction at the hearing is for good reason. The Judicial Board Chair may admit the new statement or evidence and, if necessary, may grant a recess or reschedule the hearing to allow both parties and the Judicial Board time to review the new information.

G. Brief breaks will be taken at the request of either party or the Judicial Board. The Judicial Board Chair will determine the reasonableness of requests for breaks.

H. Hearing Outline: Generally, hearings will follow the order of business listed below. Variations may occur depending on the circumstances of an individual case.

            1. The Judicial Board Chair makes introductions.

            2. The Judicial Board Chair explains the hearing process.

            3. The Complainant may make an opening statement in addition to his or her written statement.

            4. The Respondent may make an opening statement in addition to his or her written statement.

            5. The Complainant answers questions from the Judicial Board and the Respondent.

            6. The Respondent answers questions from the Judicial Board and the Complainant.

            7. The witnesses provide their statements and answer questions from the Judicial Board, the                                         Complainant, and the Respondent, one at a time.

            8. The Judicial Board may pose further questions to the Complainant and the Respondent.

            9. The Complainant may make a final statement.

            10.The Respondent may make a final statement.

            11.The Judicial Board Chair dismisses all participants.

 

Deliberation and Decision Making

Upon completion of the hearing, the Judicial Board will deliberate in private to determine if any violation(s) of the policy occurred and what the specific violation is. The Judicial Board will use a preponderance of the evidence standard to determine responsibility. If it is not possible for the Judicial Board to make a decision the same day as the hearing, the panel will reconvene as soon as possible and shall meet until a decision is reached.

The Judicial Board will base its decision on the hearing, participants’ written statements, the investigative report, and information shared during the hearing. The Judicial Board will determine whether the Respondent is:

Not Responsible: The Respondent will be found not responsible when the Judicial Board determines that it is more likely than not that the alleged behavior did not occur and/or the alleged behavior occurred but was not in violation of College policy.

            OR

Responsible: The Respondent will be found responsible when the Judicial Board determines that it is more likely than not that the alleged behavior did occur and that the behavior was in violation of College policy.

 

Notification of Decision

If the Respondent is found not responsible from the hearing decision, a letter will be sent to both the Respondent and the Complainant.

If the Respondent is found responsible, the Judicial Board will determine sanctions; the Judicial Board may include the Respondent’s prior conduct history, if any. A letter will be sent to both the Respondent and the Complainant.

Copies of the hearing decision letter may be sent to others as needed depending on the nature of any sanctions.

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Sanctions

Note: The College may impose an Interim Suspension or interim measures based on the health or safety of members of the College community during the investigation and through the hearing process until a final decision is completed.

If the Respondent is found responsible for violating the Interpersonal Violence Rule, the Judicial Board may impose one or more of the following sanctions as indicated for the specific violation. If more than one type of violation of the Interpersonal Violence Rule occurred, the Respondent will be sanctioned accordingly:

For a finding of Interpersonal Violence Rule:

In addition to the above sanctions, the Judicial Board reserves the right to invoke additional requirements.

 

Appeal

A. Both the Respondent and the Complainant may appeal the Judicial Board’s decision. An appeal must be made in writing within five business days of receipt of the Judicial Board’s decision letter.

B. Upon receipt of an appeal, an Appeals Committee will be selected to review the appeal from within the original Hearing Committee.

C. Both the Complainant and the Respondent will be notified if either party submits an appeal and may themselves submit a written response for the Appeals Committee to consider. The hearing process will determine an appropriate deadline by which a response must be submitted in order for it to be considered by the Appeals Committee.

D. An appeal may be made on one or more of the following grounds only:

  1. There was a process or procedural error made that was significant to the outcome of the hearing as it affects the student appealing.
  2. New information, not available or known to the student appealing at the time of the hearing, has arisen, which, when considered, may materially alter the outcome. Note: Information that the appealing student chose not to present at the time of the hearing is not considered new information.
  3. The sanctions were not appropriate for the specific policy violation for which the Respondent was found responsible

E. An appeal is not a new hearing, and the Appeals Committee (a subset of the original Hearing Committee) will meet alone.

F. The Appeals Committee will consider the merits of the appeal based only on the written appeal request, the hearing recording and the written record of the case, and the Respondent’s prior conduct history (if the appeal is based on the appropriateness of the sanction) in making its decision. Based on these materials, the Appeals Committee will:

  1. reject the appeal if the committee finds that the grounds for an appeal are unsubstantiated; or
  2. reject the appeal if the committee finds that any procedural errors were minor in nature and would not have altered the outcome of the hearing or the sanctions imposed; or
  3. modify the sanction(s) if they are found to be inappropriate; or
  4. return the case to the Judicial Board for further deliberation if new information, as defined above, has arisen (In such cases the original Judicial Board will be reconvened as soon as possible. If a member of the original panel is no longer available, the hearing process will select a new member from the Judicial Board; or
  5. remand the case to a different Judicial Board for a new hearing when a substantial procedural error is determined to have occurred and has unfairly influenced the original hearing.

G. Once the Appeals Committee has made its decision, the Respondent, the Complainant, and the Judicial             Board will be notified of its decision in writing.

H. The Appeals Committee’s decision is final, and there are no further appeals permitted by either party.

 

Record of Process

A.  An audio recording will be made of the hearing for the use of the Judicial Board and the Appeals Committee.

B.  The audio recording and copies of all statements, evidence, and letters associated with the hearing will be maintained by the Vice President of Student Services in a case file in accordance with the College’s record retention policy for a period of seven years after the conclusion of the case.

C.  The hearing decision letter and the appeal decision letter, if applicable, will be kept in the student’s permanent record.

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Awareness Programs

All new students, newly hired employees and existing employees will be trained in primary prevention and awareness programs relating to sexual misconduct, domestic violence, stalking, dating violence, and related offenses.

At a minimum, that training will inform on the nature of prohibited conduct, the definitions of various prohibited behaviors, the definition of “consent” as applied by the institution, safe and positive options for bystander intervention in risky situations, means of recognizing signs of domestic violence and abusive behavior and ongoing prevention and awareness related issues.

In addition, that training will inform attendees of the relevant provisions of this rule for purpose of recognizing reporting instances of prohibited conduct.

The institution will provide ongoing training, programs, and preventions campaigns throughout the academic year. Programs and campaigns will include and are not limited to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, bystander intervention, consent, and other related interpersonal violence topics. Educational information will be made available regarding risk reduction and recognizing warning signs of abusive behavior and how to avoid potential attacks.

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Rights of Those Involved

Rights of the Complainant (the person making the complaint of an alleged violation)

Rights of the Respondent (the person charged with an alleged violation)

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Links to College Rules and Federal Laws

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