The Catholic University of America

Disability Support Services Grievance Procedure

I. Introduction

The Office of Disability Support Services (DSS) has procedures for addressing a grievance when students do not agree with the academic accommodations that are offered by DSS, or when an instructor refuses to allow the academic accommodations offered by DSS. Before a formal grievance is submitted, DSS requests that students talk directly with DSS staff or faculty when there is a concern about classroom or testing accommodations. The procedures set forth in section II below provide information on how to proceed with a formal grievance.  Note, however, that while students are strongly encouraged to follow the steps in this grievance procedure, a student need not go through each step before making a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education. 

Note about Discrimination Complaints – If a student feels that he/she has been subject to discrimination based upon a disability, as described in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the student should report the matter to the CUA Equal Opportunity Officer (tel. 202-319-6594) per the University’s Non-Discrimination, Equal Opportunity and Title IX Compliance Policy.  Reports of discrimination are addressed by the Equal Opportunity Office rather than by DSS. However, a student may file a grievance with the DSS office and a discrimination complaint concurrently to address separate but related issues. 

II. Grievance Procedures

When students do not agree with the academic accommodations that are offered by DSS, or when an instructor refuses to allow the academic accommodations offered by DSS, the student is to attempt to resolve the issue directly with the person. The student must clearly articulate his/her concerns and the resolution that he/ she seeks. Recognizing that such concerns should be raised and settled promptly, students are asked to raise the issue as soon as possible, normally within 2 business days following the event. If the issue is resolved satisfactorily, the process ends. Every reasonable effort should be made to resolve such an issue at this level. If the it is not resolved, the student can file a formal grievance by calling tel. 202-319-5211 or emailing cua-dss@cua.edu to make an appointment to speak with the DSS Coordinator.

Step 1 

The DSS Coordinator will normally attempt to schedule an appointment to meet with the student within 2 business days of receiving the request. During the appointment the student will discuss concerns with the DSS Coordinator. In Step 1, the DSS Coordinator will attempt to resolve the issue by talking with the involved student, faculty and staff, in an effort to clarify and resolve the student grievance. Most situations are positively resolved through DSS support and mediation. The student and involved parties will be notified by the DSS Coordinator by email of findings or resolution normally within 5 business days after the student appointment. If the grievance is resolved satisfactorily in Step 1, the process ends. DSS will record the grievance and resolution in the student case file. Parties involved in the grievance will be notified of the outcome by email. 

NOTE:  If the student’s concern pertains to the DSS Coordinator or the DSS Director, the student will be directed to the DSS Director, the Vice President for Student Affairs or his/her designee, and the  process as set forth in Step 4 or 5, as applicable, will be followed.

Step 2 

If the student’s grievance is not resolved in Step 1, the student can proceed to Step 2 by calling tel. 202-319-5211 or emailing cua-dss@cua.edu to make an appointment to speak with the DSS Director.

The DSS Director will normally attempt to schedule an appointment with the student within 2 business days of the student requesting an appointment. The student and the DSS Director will attempt to resolve the grievance. The student must clearly verbalize his/her concerns regarding the grievance, and the resolution that he/ she seeks. If the grievance is resolved satisfactorily in Step 2, the process ends. DSS will record the grievance and resolution in the student case file. The student and involved parties will normally be notified by email of the findings or resolution within 5 business days after the student appointment.

Step 3

If a student’s grievance is not resolved in Step 2, the student may schedule a time to meet with the Vice President of Student Affairs or his/her designee by calling tel. 202-319-5619. The student and involved parties will be notified by email of the findings or resolution normally within 10 business days after the student appointment. 

Step 4

If the student’s grievance has not been resolved by the Vice President of Student Affairs or his/her designee in Step 3, the student may meet with the University’s Chief Ethic and Compliance Officer within the Office of the President (tel. 202 319-6170 CUA-COMPLIANCE@CUA.EDU).

Step 5

If the student’s grievance is not resolved at the University level, the student may choose to file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education. The Office of Civil Rights investigates timely complaints for which they have jurisdiction. www.hhs.gov/ocr/office/file/

Procedure updated June 29, 2016