Grievance Procedures for Students with Disabilities

Rutgers Commitment and Policy Statement

Rutgers is dedicated to the philosophy that all individuals with disabilities are assured equal opportunity, access and participation in the University’s courses, programs, activities, services and facilities.  We recognize that diverse abilities are a source of strength, empowerment, and enrichment for the entire university community and we are committed to the elimination of physical, instructional, and attitudinal barriers by promoting awareness and understanding throughout the university community. Rutgers University is committed to providing equal educational access for individuals with disabilities in accordance with applicable federal and state laws and in accordance with University's Policies including Policy 60.1.8:  Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action PolicyPolicy 60.1.12:  Policy Prohibiting Discrimination and Harassment; and Policy 70.1.5 World Wide Web Accessibility Policy.

At each Rutgers University campus (Camden, Newark, New Brunswick and Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences (RBHS) there is an Office of Disability Services (ODS)that provides reasonable academic adjustments, accommodations and services for students with disabilities.  For information about the contacts and offices of disability services for each Rutgers campus, please visit the visit the ODS web site for information on how to apply and obtain academic adjustments, accommodations and services.

Applicability

Rutgers University has adopted this grievance procedure for students with disabilities, enrolled at Rutgers University, as the means to provide for prompt and equitable resolution of grievances alleging any action related to the following types of concerns or issues within a Rutgers course, program or activity:

  1. Complaints that a student has been denied requested academic adjustments, accommodations, services or modifications related to Rutgers courses.
     
  2. A student’s allegation of the inaccessibility of a Rutgers course, program, service, activity, facility, parking, or transportation.  
     
  3. Complaints that an accommodation previously granted to a student has not been implemented.

These procedures do not apply to other types of complaints of alleged discrimination or harassment based on a student’s disability, which are addressed by other University offices. If a student believes that they have been discriminated or harassed because of their disability by a Rutgers employee or third party, the student should contact the Office of Equal Opportunity (OEE) and should not utilize this grievance process.  For further information on the process of contacting OEE, please visit the OEE web site.  If a student believes that they have been discriminated against or harassed because of their disability by a Rutgers student, the student should contact the Office of Student Conduct on their campus.  If a student is unsure which process applies to their particular situation, a student can follow the procedures in Section V and the appropriate University personnel will be assigned to their case and make contact with the student.

Overview of the Grievance Procedures

Rutgers has adopted this grievance procedure for students with disabilities, enrolled at Rutgers, as the means to provide for prompt and equitable resolution of grievances for the reasons listed in Section II. Students also have the option of pursuing the University’s Informal Resolution Process. It is encouraged that a complainant reports an incident immediately when it occurs or as soon as possible thereafter. Grievances should be submitted no later than sixty (60) days of the date the person filing the complaint becomes aware of the alleged action.  Reports filed after 60 days will still be accepted. However, it may be more difficult for the University to investigate and provide a remedy or resolution to a complaint the longer time passes from the incident.

If a student opts to pursue the Informal Resolution Process they may later elect to pursue the University’s Grievance Procedure, including after the informal resolution process has already been initiated or if not satisfied with the resolution of the informal resolution process. However, if the student accepts the proposed resolution as part of the Informal Resolution Process, the matter may not be reopened through the University’s Grievance Procedure.

Although students are encouraged to attempt to resolve complaints pertaining to disabilities by using the University’s Informal Resolution Process or Grievance Procedures, they have the right to file a complaint directly with the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR), Enforcement Office, 32 Old Slip, 26th Floor, New York, NY 10005-2500 or the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General, Division of Civil Rights.

Who Can File a Grievance

Any student with a disability enrolled at Rutgers University can utilize these Disability Grievance Procedures for the reasons mentioned in Section II.

Within these procedures, the student who files a grievance within these procedures will be referred to as the Complainant and the individual (s) who the student has filed the grievance about will be considered the Respondent.

Note:

When the Complainant is someone other than the victim of the alleged conduct, the victim also will be deemed the Complainant for purposes of the rights and options available under these grievance procedures.

How to File a Grievance:

The following information is required for any grievance to move forward regardless of the means filed:

  1. The name, current mailing address, phone number (where you can be reached during normal business hours) and email address of the person initiating the grievance.
     
  2. A full description of the alleged act(s) in sufficient enough detail to enable the individual investigating to understand what occurred, when it occurred, and the basis for the alleged complaint.
     
  3. A summary of the steps the complainant has already taken in attempt to resolve the problem.  This would include the names of persons involved; contact information of those involved (if available); and the departments or offices inside and outside of the University already contacted.
     
  4. A statement of the requested resolution (What would the complainant like to see happen to resolve this matter).
     
  5. Any supporting documentation, including any correspondence related to the matter.

The grievance process may be initiated through any of the following preferred means: 

                    ADA/504 Coordinator
                    1 Liberty Plaza, 335 George St. Suite 1250
                    New Brunswick, NJ 08901 

If you submit in this manner, please include the required information listed above in "How to File a Grievance."

  • Email:  You may email the completed Grievance Form for Students with Disabilities or your own signed letter to radr@echo.rutgers.edu.

If you submit in this manner, please include the required information listed above "How to File a Grievance."

Note: Other forms of filing will be considered upon request such as a face-to-face or other means of verbal communication.  In order to do so, please contact the ADA/504 Compliance Officer by email: radr@echo.rutgers.edu or phone: 848-445-4499 to request a non-written filing and an appointment.

Complaint Procedures

A.Initial Assessment

Upon receipt of the grievance, the University’s ADA/504 Compliance Officer will assign the matter to the appropriate University personnel who will act as the investigator.  As an initial matter, all grievances shall be reviewed by the investigator to determine whether they contain all required information as listed above.  If further information is required to clarify the grievance before an investigation can begin, the complainant will be contacted.  The complainant has 10 calendar days to respond to the request for additional information.   Such time may be extended for a reasonable amount of time at the discretion of the investigator.

The investigator will dismiss a grievance without further investigation if it is determined that the grievance:

  • is unclear or incomplete to the extent that there is insufficient information on which to commence an investigation, and the complainant did not provide the requested clarifying information within 10 calendar days of the request;
  • does not fall under the jurisdiction of these procedures in which case, the complainant will be referred to the appropriate process or office and all necessary information will be forwarded as necessary;
  • the allegations raised by the complaint have already been resolved by the University;

If the grievance is dismissed following the initial assessment, the complainant will be notified in writing within 10 calendar days of this determination.

B.Investigations

If it is determined following the initial assessment that the grievance will move forward, an investigator will open the grievance investigation. Opening an investigation in no way implies that Rutgers has made a determination with regard to the merits of the complaint. The investigator will collect and analyze relevant evidence from the complainant, the respondent, and other sources as appropriate. During the investigation, the investigator is a neutral fact-finder. The investigation will be thorough, affording all interested persons an opportunity to submit evidence relevant to the grievance. Investigations of grievances will be adequate, reliable and impartial and prompt. The investigations will include interviewing relevant witnesses and documentary evidence offered by both parties.

The investigator will advise the Complainant and the Respondent of the following:
 

  • Both parties have a right to an impartial investigation;
  • Both parties have a right to produce relevant documents, witnesses, and other materials that they would like included in the investigation;
  • Both parties may have an advisor of their choice present to provide advice and support during the investigative process.  The advisor may not intervene in the interview or address the investigator directly.   
  • Both parties are free to consult with or retain an attorney of their choice and may elect to designate their attorney as their advisor.  However, like all advisors, the attorney may not intervene or disrupt the proceedings.

At no time during the investigation would a person bringing forth a grievance be required to meet or address the respondent(s) directly. However, if both parties agree to a meeting that will assist in resolving this matter, there may be instances where this would prove helpful to resolving the matter.

C. Conclusions of the Investigation and Determinations:

At the conclusion of the investigation, both parties will have a final opportunity to meet with the investigator prior to the issuing of a determination. 

If the investigator determines by a preponderance of evidence that there is insufficient evidence to support a conclusion that a violation of University policy has occurred, the grievance is documented and closed. The investigator will prepare a written report of the conclusions of the investigation and provide this to both parties.

If the investigator determines by a preponderance of evidence that a violation of University policy has occurred, the investigator will prepare a written report that will include recommendations for steps to be taken to stop the behavior, prevent recurrence of the violation and for prevention of retaliation. The report will be provided to the University ADA/504 Compliance Officer who will share with the appropriate University Administrator with the authority to impose appropriate remedies, if necessary, in accordance with applicable policies and procedures. The University will impose remedies intended to correct the effects on the complainant or others and to prevent the recurrence of any prohibited acts.

The investigator’s final determination will be in writing and will be provided to both complainant and respondent. In the case of the complainant, the letter of determination will include information regarding the availability of appropriate on-going remedies, if any.  Copies of the report with related files are maintained by the ADA/504 Officer.

Requests that No Action Be Taken

If a complainant requests that neither informal nor formal processes be initiated, the investigator in consultation with the ADA/504 Officer will consider the request.  The ADA/504 Officer or their designee will make the final determination as to whether to initiate a formal investigation.  However, if the facts indicate that a University policy violation has occurred, the University may be obligated to investigate the situation further, even if the complainant asks that the matter be closed. The ADA/504 Officer will notify promptly the individual making the request not to initiate the complaint process whether the University will be able to honor this request or will investigate.

Confidentiality Statement

The confidentiality of information disclosed during the course of investigations will be respected to the extent feasible and practical. However, the University has a duty to respond to allegations of discrimination (including sexual harassment) and therefore cannot guarantee absolute confidentiality once allegations are disclosed to University officials. The University will reveal information about grievances filed under these procedures and related investigations, as well as their outcomes, only to those who need to know the information in order to carry out their duties and responsibilities and/or individuals believed to have knowledge or information about the conduct alleged.  Students with questions about who may receive such information should contact the ADA/504 Compliance Officer.

Parties with a need to know may include witnesses or University officials who need to be informed of the grievance in order to cooperate with an investigation or to implement resolution. These parties will be advised that they should keep the information confidential in the best interests of all parties.

Appeals

If the complainant or respondent disagrees with the determination given by the investigator, he/she may seek an appeal for reconsideration of the determination by the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs.

The three permissible grounds for appeal are:

  • Unsupported conclusion:  The determination reached by the investigator is not supported by the facts. 
  • Procedural Error:  The investigation was conducted unfairly and not in conformance with the procedures set forth in this Process.  The error committed must be determined to have substantially impacted the fairness of the process.
  • New Information:  There is new information available that was not at the time of the investigation and that is sufficient to alter the original decision.

Disagreement or general dissatisfaction with the determination is not, by itself, grounds for appeal.

The appealing student or respondent must submit the appeal in writing within 30 days after receiving the investigator’s determination.  The Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs or their designee shall review the appellant’s letter, all pertinent records, and documentation, and may solicit written clarification on any issues raised on appeal from the investigator or the appellant. The Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs or their designee will not substitute his or her judgment for the decision of the original investigator.  The Senior Vice President or designee will send a written decision to the parties, and if appropriate to the division administrator whose authority will be needed to carry out the decision, within thirty (30) days of the appealing party’s request unless there are extenuating circumstances. If extenuating circumstances cause a delay, the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs will notify the appellant in writing of the delay along with an anticipated time frame for review and issuance of the written decision. The decision of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs on the appeal is final.

Retaliation

It is a violation of Rutgers policy and Federal regulations to retaliate against anyone who files a grievance or cooperates in the investigation of a grievance. Coercion or intimidation of, threats toward, or interference with anyone because he or she exercised or enjoyed Section 504 and/or ADA rights, or helped or encouraged someone else to do so, is also prohibited.

The University prohibits retaliation against individuals who, in good faith, assert their rights to bring a grievance under these grievance procedures. Retaliation is an offense separate from the original complaint of discrimination, and will be considered independently from the merits of the underlying complaint. Complainants who believe they have been subjected to retaliation because they filed a grievance under the procedures or requested a reasonable accommodation should report the conduct to the ADA/504 Compliance Officer or the Office of Employment Equity.

Records

The ADA/Section 504 Coordinator for each Rutgers location and the ADA-504 Compliance Officer shall maintain the files and records of all complaints for which he/she is responsible under this grievance procedure.