Prohibition of Discrimination or Harassment of Students on the Basis of Disability
The Austin Community College District (“ACC” or “the College”) seeks to maintain an educational environment free from any form of discrimination or harassment including but not limited to discrimination or harassment on the basis of disability in accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008(ADAAA).
ACC prohibits discrimination or harassment of all forms, including but not limited to behavior such as physical, verbal, or nonverbal misconduct based on a student’s disability that is so severe, persistent, or pervasive that the misconduct:
- Affects a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from an educational program or activity, or creates an intimidating, threatening, hostile, or offensive educational environment;
- Has the purpose or effect of substantially or unreasonably interfering with the student’s academic performance; or
- Otherwise adversely affects the student’s educational opportunities.
Nonacademic and extracurricular services shall be provided in a manner as is necessary to afford students with disabilities an equal opportunity for participation in such services and activities.
The College shall exercise reasonable care to prevent and promptly correct discriminating or harassing behavior and shall develop preventative or corrective measures to address these behaviors.
ACC also prohibits retaliation against anyone for reporting discriminating or harassing behavior or for participating in discrimination or harassment investigations or lawsuits.
Notice of Student Rights and Complaint Process
Any student with a qualifying disability who believes he or she has been the object of discrimination or harassment on the basis of such disability has the right to file a complaint with the Director, Compliance Office.
Students may also file a complaint with the United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights by using the online complaint form at the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights website at www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr or by calling (800) 421-3481.
ACC’s procedure for processing such complaints is outlined in the College Catalog.
This is the College’s grievance procedure as mandated under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, which provides that no otherwise qualified individual with a disability shall, solely by reason of his or her disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. ACC prohibits discrimination against or harassment of qualified students with disabilities on the basis of disability in connection with all academic, educational, extra-curricular, and other programs of the College, whether they take place in the facilities of the College, at a class or training program sponsored by the College at another location, or elsewhere.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended provides that no otherwise qualified individual with a disability shall, solely by reason of his or her disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. The ADAAA contains a similar requirement that no governmental entity may discriminate against or permit discrimination against an otherwise qualified individual on the basis of the person’s disability. Harassment is considered under these laws to be a form of discrimination.
ACC prohibits discrimination against or harassment of qualified students with disabilities on the basis of disability in connection with all academic, educational, extra-curricular, and other programs of the College, whether they take place in the facilities of the College, at a class or training program sponsored by the College at another location, or elsewhere. This policy applies whether the alleged harasser is an ACC employee, a fellow student, a visitor to the College, or a vendor of the College.
This policy applies whether the alleged harasser is an ACC employee, a fellow student, a visitor to the College, or a vendor of the College.
This Complaint resolution procedure applies to all complaints by students1 with qualifying disabilities who believe they have been the object of discrimination or harassment on the basis of such disability.
The College’s Office of Compliance is responsible for reviewing and responding to student complaints related to discrimination on the basis of disability. All complaints of alleged disability harassment or discrimination against students will be promptly investigated under the oversight of the Director, Compliance Office, in the College’s Office of Compliance. ACC prohibits retaliation against anyone for reporting discriminating or harassing behavior or for participating in discrimination or harassment investigations or lawsuits.
Investigation Process & Resolution
Every student and every person against whom a complaint is made is entitled to due process. Therefore, the college’s investigation will include interviews with all relevant persons including the complainant2, the alleged harasser, and other potential witnesses. The results of the investigation will determine the appropriate course of action. ACC will take steps to prevent recurrence of any harassment and to correct its discriminatory effects on the complainant and others, if appropriate.
Disability Discrimination/Harassment Complaint Procedures
- The student shall make the complaint to the Director, Compliance Office:
Written complaints must be brought within 180 calendar days of the last incident of discrimination or harassment. A complaint may be submitted to the Director, Compliance Office, in writing, and should include dates, times, places, witnesses, and specifics of what was said and done. The complaint may also include proposed resolutions acceptable to the student.
The student shall also be informed of his or her right to file a complaint with the United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights.
- The Director, Compliance Office, shall coordinate with the appropriate supervisor or Dean, and review the complaint.
- If the situation cannot be resolved through informal means, an investigator will be appointed. An investigator will not be assigned if the complaint does not allege any action prohibited by Section 504 or Title III of the ADA. Such complaints will be dismissed from this complaint process and administratively addressed through informal measures. If more information is needed in order to assess the complaint, the Director, Compliance Office, will notify the complainant.
- All complaints will be promptly reviewed and responded to in accordance with the procedures outlined in this policy. Based upon an initial assessment of the allegations by the Director, Compliance Office, and the appropriate supervisor or Dean, when applicable, pre-investigation measures may be temporarily taken to ensure the safety and peace of mind of the student. Such measures may include, without limitation, placing the person against whom the complaint was made on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation or separating the student and the person against whom the complaint has been made. All complaints will be confidential to the extent permitted by law, and will be revealed only on a “need to know” basis (i.e. access to the information is necessary to the investigation and/or the safety of the accused and the accuser or required by law).
- Upon assignment of an investigator by the Director, Compliance Office, the investigator will review the written material submitted by the student and meet with the student in a private area to discuss the complaint as soon as possible but not later than ten (10) College business3 days after the complaint has been received. The investigator will also meet with any witnesses and secure a witness statement from each witness. The investigator may consult with the appropriate supervisor or Dean to identify alternative methods for resolving the complaint.
- The investigator will meet with all persons with information relevant to the complaint. If the complaint is filed against an individual, the person(s) against whom the complaint was filed should be given at least three (3) College business days to review the complaint and any relevant supporting documents and to prepare a written response to the complaint prior to meeting with the investigator. At the meeting, the investigator should provide the person against whom the complaint was filed an opportunity to respond verbally to the complaint. The person(s) may also respond to the complaint in writing, and may identify additional witnesses the investigator should interview. The investigator will determine from this meeting whether additional witness interviews are warranted and if any additional information needs to be gathered or considered.
- After meeting with the person(s) against whom the complaint was filed, if any, gathering any additional information or witness statements, and concluding the investigation, the investigator will make a recommendation, in writing, to the Director, Compliance Office, and the appropriate supervisor or Dean. The recommendation will set forth the following: complaint, persons interviewed, documents reviewed, findings, conclusions, and recommendations. The investigation of the complaint should be concluded within sixty (60) College business days of the receipt of the complaint.
- If additional time is needed, the investigator shall notify the complainant and respondent. In any event, the investigation is considered “open” until the written final action document is issued.
- The supervisor or Dean, in consultation with the Director, Compliance Office, will determine the final action to be taken in response to the complaint. The Director, Compliance Office, will notify both the complainant and the respondent of the outcome of the investigation, consistent with FERPA.
Appeals are not heard in person; instead appeals are resolved through submission of written documents.
A request for appeal must be submitted in writing within five (5) College business days from the date on the letter notifying the respondent of the finding. In cases where the respondent is an employee, a panel of three (3) administrators, appointed by the Executive Vice President, Finance & Administration, will consider the appeal. In cases where the respondent is a student, a panel of three (3) administrators, appointed by the Provost/Executive Vice President, Academic Affairs, will hear the appeal. For purposes of the appellate panel, ACC administrator is defined as Executive Director, Dean, Executive Dean, Associate Vice President, or Vice President.
Appeals shall be granted only on one or more of the following grounds:
- If there was a specified procedural error (or errors) in the interpretation of the College regulations that were so substantial as to effectively deny the party appealing a fair investigation or resolution process;
- If new and significant evidence has become available which could not have been discovered by a properly diligent person during the original investigation; or
- If the final action(s) is/are disproportionate to the offense for which the respondent was found responsible.
Disagreement with the outcome of the investigation does not in and of itself constitute grounds for appeal.
Failure to appeal within the allotted time will render the decision final. The appeal will be based upon the written complaint and documentation contained in the investigative record. The Appeal Panel will issue recommendations to the Executive Vice President for review and approval. The Executive Vice President will render a decision. Members of the Appeal Panel and the Executive Vice President may consult with the case investigator regarding fact-based questions about the content of the investigation if necessary based on the nature of the appeal. The appeal should be resolved within ten (10) College business days of the date the appeal was filed. The decision is final and is not appealable any further within ACC. Decisions regarding employee terminations will be made in accordance with requisite Board Policy and Administrative Rules.
1 Dual credit students are subject to this Policy. For purposes of this Policy a student is someone who is currently enrolled, or is not currently enrolled but is registered for classes in the future, was previously enrolled and is able to enroll in the future, or withdraws any time after notification of the allegation. Students who also serve in the capacity of an employee of the College will be subject to the procedures determined by the Director, Compliance Office, to be most appropriate.
2 In the case of dual credit or early college high school students, a Third Party may serve as the complainant when reporting on behalf of minor students.
3 College business days are Monday through Friday, except when the College is closed on dates noted in the Academic Calendar for holidays and breaks, or due to weather related closure if closed for a full business day.