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Grievance and Appeal Procedures

The School of Social Work faculty promulgates the following policies and procedures to protect students’ rights and provide them relief from unfair criticism and treatment. This protocol is established for application in the event that a student believes his/her academic rights have been violated. This includes grades, assignments, internship issues, and alleged violations of professional behavior.

  1. Conference with Faculty Member. Any student who believes a SSW faculty member has treated him or her unfairly with respect to a course for which the student was registered or required to be registered may complain of such alleged unfair treatment. Such a student shall set up a conference with the involved faculty member and present that faculty member a written statement that details the circumstances giving rise to the complaint. An effort should be made to resolve the matter with the faculty member.
  2. Appeal to Directors of Field Education. If the situation involves a matter that pertains to field instruction, the student may appeal to the director of the appropriate field program (Generalist Practice or Advanced Practice). A written statement that details the circumstances giving rise to the complaint and a narrative of the effort to resolve the situation with field education must be provided the Director prior to the meeting. If appropriate, the field faculty member will also provide the Director with a written description of her/his view of the situation including efforts to resolve the issue. If the situation is not resolved to the student’s satisfaction within 30 days, he/she may appeal to the Associate Dean for Baccalaureate or Graduate Studies.
  3. Appeal to Associate Dean of the program (Baccalaureate or Masters). If the situation is not resolved to the student’s satisfaction, the student may appeal to the Associate Dean of the program that is the focus of the concern (BSW or MSW). A written statement that details the circumstances giving rise to the complaint and a narrative of the effort to resolve the situation with the faculty member must be provided the Associate Dean prior to the meeting. The faculty member will also provide the Associate Dean with a written description of her/his view of the situation including efforts to resolve the issue. If the faculty member involved in the complaint is an Associate Dean, the student may appeal directly to the Dean of the School. If the faculty member involved is the Dean, the student may appeal directly to the Provost of the University.
  4. Appeal to the Dean of the School. If the situation is not resolved to the student’s satisfaction within 30 days, or if the student is not satisfied with the findings of the Academic and Professional Development Committee, he/she may appeal to the Dean of the School (or to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs if the complaint is against the Dean). The student must provide the Dean with a written statement that details the circumstances giving rise to the complaint and a narrative of efforts to resolve the conflict at the faculty, Associate Dean or director level. The faculty member and Associate Dean or director will also provide the chair (or dean) with a written description of their views of the situation, including efforts to resolve the issue.
  5. Appeal to School of Social Work Academic Appeals Committee (SWAAC). The Dean may (a) attempt to resolve the complaint her/himself without referring it to the School Academic Appeals Committee (SWAAC), or (b) refer it directly to the committee. If the situation is not resolved to the student’s satisfaction with the Dean, he/she may appeal to the SWAAC. The function of this committee is to hear student complaints of alleged unfair treatment by members of faculty. This includes grades, assignments, internship issues, and alleged violations of professional behavior. When a complaint is referred to the SWAAC, the Dean of the School shall appoint a committee composed of three faculty members who have not previously been involved in the process and, with the student’s written permission, two students. The appealing student can choose not to have students on the committee. The Dean shall also appoint one of the faculty members to serve as chair of the committee.

    The SWAAC shall have access to all previously submitted written material and any additional material any of the parties involved wish to submit. The chair of the committee shall arrange a meeting of the committee and the parties involved and attempt to arbitrate the matter. The meeting shall be informal and confidential and conducted for the purpose of resolving the matter to the agreement of both parties. The student may ask to have another student accompany her/him to the meeting, but that student shall not speak during the meeting. The committee may collect any other data they deem essential to making a decision in the matter. Within 30 days of the time the matter was referred to the School of Social Work Dean, the SWAAC will render a decision. The decision will be in writing and copies distributed to all parties involved in the process.

  6. Appeal to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs or the President. If the complaint is not satisfactorily resolved by the Dean of the school, then the student shall have the right to appeal such matter to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, who after review may refer such matter to the University academic appeals committee.
  7. Appeal to the University Academic Appeals Committee. The function of the University Academic Appeals Committee is to hear student complaints of alleged unfair treatment by members of the faculty.

    The committee shall receive complaints only by referral from the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and shall not otherwise receive or hear complaints.

  8. Composition and Appointment of the Committee. The Academic Appeals Committee is appointed by the president of the university and consists of eleven members-nine faculty members and two students.
  9. Hearing Before an Academic Appeals Committee Hearing Panel. At this point in the process, the chair of the academic appeals committee shall select a hearing panel consisting of five members — three faculty members and two students — from members of the larger committee to hear the complaint. The hearings panel shall arrange a conference between the parties involved and attempt to arbitrate the matter. At least three members of the panel (two faculty members and one student) shall participate in any meeting with the parties involved. The meeting shall be informal and private and conducted for the purpose of resolving the matter to the agreement of both parties.
  10. Appeals Committee Recommendation. If such a resolution agreeable to both parties is not reached, then the hearing panel shall make a recommendation concerning the disposition of the appeal to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Academic and Professional Development Evaluation Process: Decisions Related to Continuation/Discontinuation in the Social Work Program

In order to continue in their academic program, students must meet the academic and professional standards of the Program. Professional standards are incorporated into the Program as an academic matter. Compliance with both academic and professional standards is subject to review in accordance with this evaluation process.

In order to identify and engage students in need of support in meeting academic and professional standards, the School has established the Academic and Professional Development (APD) Committee. The Chair of the Student Development Committee (SDC) serves as Chair of the ad hoc APD Committee. The committee consists of the SDC Chair, the student’s advisor, and one other faculty member appointed by the SDC Chair. If the SDC Chair holds a potential adjudicative role in the appeals process, the Dean of the School of Social Work will appoint another member of the SDC to serve as chair. If the advisor holds a potential adjudicative role in the appeals process, the SDC Chair will appoint an interim advisor for the duration of the process. After the matter is resolved, the SDC Chair will reassign the student to his/her previous advisor.

The functions of APD are to:
  1. Facilitate student development in thinking critically, acting ethically and practicing effectively within the established standards of social work practice;
  2. Protect potential clients and agencies from sub-standard and unethical practice;
  3. Evaluate students requiring support to meet academic and professional standards;
  4. Develop supportive strategies for achieving academic and/or professional standards whenever possible; and
  5. Recommend to the Associate Dean for Baccalaureate Studies or Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and/or Dean of the School of Social Work decisions regarding continuation in or termination from the Program.

The APD does not assume a classroom or field faculty member’s responsibility for critical evaluation and decision making in assigning grades.

When problems occur that may be serious enough to necessitate judgments regarding continuation or termination from the Social Work Program, a referral may be made to the APD. Criteria used to identify these problems include:

  1. Failure to meet or maintain academic grade point requirements as established by the University and the School of Social Work.
  2. Behavior in violation of standards of social work practice established by social work values, the NASW Code of Ethics, the Texas Board of Social Worker Examiners Code of Ethics, and the Student Code of Conduct of the School of Social Work.
  3. Academic cheating, lying, or plagiarism, including falsifying process recording or any other form of client documentation.
  4. Indication of an inability to effectively apply the knowledge, ability, and skills of the profession.
  5. Indication of an inability to develop the appropriate knowledge and interpersonal skills necessary for effective social work practice.
  6. Indications of an inability to meet the criteria for social work licensure in the State of Texas.

The APD may request assessments by professionals outside the program as deemed necessary. Students are also subject to Baylor University’s Honor Code, academic and discipline policies, as outlined in the Baylor University Student Handbook, and the general degree requirements found in this catalog or Baylor University Undergraduate Catalog. Participation in the APD process does not abridge the student’s rights to use the University appeals process.

Academic and Professional Development Committee Procedures

The following procedures are to be followed in making referrals to APD and by all parties involved in the APD process:

  1. Referrals to the APD can be made only by the appropriate Associate Dean (Associate Dean for Baccalaureate Studies, and Associate Dean for Graduate Studies) or the Director of Field Education (BSW or MSW programs). In unusual situations, referrals may be made by the Dean of the School of Social Work following the procedures set out for the Associate Dean.
  2. When a faculty member(s) identifies an issue that threatens the student’s progress in the program, she or he will submit a letter to the appropriate associate dean and the student, detailing the concern(s), the steps taken to date, and, if possible, suggesting potential remedies. An Associate Dean may make a referral to the APD without a referral from a faculty member.
  3. The Associate Dean may take action to resolve the issue or at any point refer the situation to the APD. To refer to the APD, the Associate Dean will submit a letter to the Chair of the SDC, with a copy to the student and to the Dean of the School of Social Work detailing the concern(s) and any action she or he has taken on the situation. This letter should make clear the specific issue(s) the Associate Dean wishes the APD to address, steps already taken, and possible remedies as he or she sees them. The original letter from the faculty member and any additional documentation should be included with this letter.
  4. Within two weeks of receiving the referral, the Chair of the Student Development Committee will appoint members to the APD and call a meeting of the committee. At that time the committee will hear the faculty member(s), the student, and anyone else they deem necessary. The committee may meet as many times as necessary, but a final decision should be made in two weeks or less from the date of the first meeting. The committee may request an extension of this time, up to 15 days, from the Dean of the School of Social Work. The Dean of the School of Social Work will assign appropriate staffing to the committee.
  5. The APD will use its professional judgment to determine an appropriate course of action. This action may include: (A) a developmental plan with input from the student, the faculty member(s), and other appropriate persons to resolve the issues within a specific time limit; (B) a referral to any other university committee for resolution; (C) a recommendation to the Dean of the School that the student be terminated from the program. A copy of the APD’s decision will be sent to the student, the associate dean, the Dean of the School of Social Work, and placed in the student’s School of Social Work file.
  6. If the APD establishes a developmental plan, it shall include the consequences of failure to follow the plan. The Associate Dean is responsible for monitoring the plan, but may delegate this responsibility to the advisor or some other faculty member. When the terms of the plan have been met, the Associate Dean will notify the Chair of the Student Development Committee, the Dean of the School of Social Work, and place documentation in the student’s folder. If the terms of the plan are not met, the Associate Dean and/or the Dean of the School is responsible for imposing the agreed upon consequences.
  7. The student may appeal the decision of the APD following the School of Social Work Grievance and Appeal Procedures, beginning with step number 4 – Appeal to the Dean of the School.