Academic or Personal Dispute Policy

If a student has an academic or personal dispute with a Starr King core or adjunct faculty member, the student may seek resolution of the dispute, following the steps outlined below.

An academic dispute is defined as a dispute in which a student objects to a decision by a course instructor relating to the evaluation of a student’s work, and the completion of a student’s assignments or fulfillment of academic expectations.    Academic disputes can occur in relationship to:

  • a final written evaluation of a student’s work in a course
  • a Pass/fail decision,
  • an Incomplete decision,
  • a decision re: amount of credit to be awarded for a write
  • a decision on a letter-grade for a course (if a letter grade had been requested)

A personal dispute is defined as a dispute in which a student objects to the way they have been addressed or talked to by a SKSM faculty member in the contest of their studies at the school.

Step One: Direct Address

Communicate directly, and in a timely manner, with the faculty member (in person, in writing, by e-mail or by phone). State your disagreement, concern or objection and state the resolution you feel would be appropriate. The faculty member will be responsible to respond in a timely manner (in person, in writing, by e-mail or by phone) and may agree or disagree with you, may accept or reject your proposed resolution, or may propose an alternative resolution that would be acceptable. You must respond to the faculty member in a timely manner, to indicate whether you will accept and abide by their response, or whether you will pursue resolution by proceeding to step two.

Step Two: Consultation

Meet with your advisor (by phone, e-mail exchange, or in person) and seek their counsel and advice. Your advisor will accompany you in reflecting on how and why the dispute arose,  what issues are at stake, what learning may be involved for you, and what next steps might be best. Your advisor, at their discretion, may consult with the dean of the faculty, and the core or adjunct faculty member with whom you have the dispute, and may enlist their assistance in working out a resolution or good way forward for you. If consultation does not result in resolution or good way forward, you may proceed to step three.

Step Three: Formal Appeal to the Dean of the Faculty

You may formally appeal a faculty member’s decision to the dean of the faculty, if steps one and two have been followed but no satisfactory resolution achieved. A formal appeal should be presented to the Dean of the Faculty in writing, stating your objection to the faculty member’s decision and your reasons for the objection, with any supporting materials you wish to provide.

A copy of the formal appeal will be given to the faculty member by the dean of the faculty. The faculty member will have up to 30 days (during the contract year) to provide a written statement expressing the reason for the decision, and providing any supporting materials the faculty member wishes to provide.  If your appeal is received during a period when the faculty member is on sabbatical, on vacation, or on a break between contract periods, the dean of the faculty will determine an appropriate deadline for the faculty member’s written statement to be received, and will keep you informed of the expected timeline for the dean of the faculty’s decision.

The dean of the faculty will read your written appeal and the faculty member’s statement in response.  The dean of the faculty may choose to interview, individually, you and the faculty member. If interviews are conducted, you and the faculty member each have the right to invite another person to be present as a fair witness. After considering the written materials and the results of the interviews (if held), the dean of the faculty will render a judgment. The judgment will do one of the following things:

  • Uphold the faculty member’s decision,
  • Set-aside the faculty member’s decision and determine a new decision,
  • Direct either the student or the faculty member or both to take an action or actions that will resolve the matter to the satisfaction of the Dean of the Faculty.

The dean of the faculty will communicate a decision in writing to both the faculty member and the student. The dean of the faculty will also inform your advisor, the dean of students, and registrar (as appropriate). If either the faculty member or you are not satisfied with the dean’s adjudication of the academic dispute, a formal appeal to the President can be made.

If the Dean of Faculty is the person you have a dispute with, please address your appeal to the President, following the process described above.

Step Four: Formal Appeal to the President

A formal appeal to the president may be initiated by a written communication to the President from the student or faculty member making the appeal. The one making the appeal will state in writing their reasons for objecting to the Dean’s judgment. The Dean will have 30 days to prepare a written response to the objections.  The President may interview the Dean and the person making the appeal, with a fair witness present at the interviews at the request of the interviewee. The President may review all the previous written materials related to the formal appeal to the Dean, and may ask for any additional information or interviews that the President feels would be useful in adjudicating the matter.          The President will prepare a written judgment that will do one of the following things:

  • Uphold the Dean of Faculty’s decision,
  • Set-aside the Dean of Faculty’s decision and determine a new decision,
  • Direct either the Dean of Faculty or the appellant to take an action or actions to resolve the matter to the satisfaction of the Pre

The President’s decision will be communicated in writing to the Dean of Faculty, the faculty member, the student, the advisor, and the registrar (as appropriate). The President will be the final adjudicator of academic disputes.