The Catholic University of America

Appeal of Failing Grades (Procedures)

Archived 3/7/14

Procedures for Appeal of Failing Grades within the Schools

1. Each school of the university shall have a standing committee on failing grades made up of three faculty members and two students. If the school has both graduate and undergraduate components, one student shall be an undergraduate and the other shall be a graduate. The committee members shall be proposed by the dean of the school and approved by the faculty and the student representatives to the faculty meetings. One of the faculty members shall be appointed chairman by the dean of the school. Members appointed from the faculty shall serve for two years; student members shall serve one year. Members may be reappointed. Appointments to the committee shall be made as needed early in the academic year.

2. The following procedures are applicable in all schools for appeals. Such appeals will be considered when the student alleges that the grade was given for reasons based on nonacademic criteria.

3. A student wishing to challenge a failing final grade shall proceed in the following way:

a.   If the grade is received in a course, the student shall first discuss the matter with the professor. If the matter is not settled in this discussion, the student may then submit a written appeal, first to the chairperson of the department in which the course was offered and then, if necessary, to the dean of the school, or to the dean directly in schools having no departments. The chairman or dean will seek to settle the matter by discussion with the student and/or professor. The written appeal must be submitted to the chairman (or dean) no later than the middle of the term following that in which the failing grade was recorded in the Office of the Registrar.

b.   If the grade was received in other than coursework, the procedure to be followed is that outlined in section (a.) above, with the student submitting the initial appeal to the chairman (or to the dean in schools not having departments).

c.    If the matter is not settled through the procedures above, the student may submit his or her written appeal to the dean of the school concerned, requesting that the School Committee on Failing Grades consider the appeal. The dean shall then forward the appeal to the chairman of the committee. The chairman shall acknowledge receipt of the appeal to both the dean and the student, and shall inform both the professor(s) and student involved that they will be given an opportunity to be heard by the committee. A copy of these procedures and a list of the members of the School Committee shall be sent to the parties involved.


4. As a condition for processing the appeal, the applicant shall file with the School Committee a written statement that explains in a summary fashion the factual basis for the appeal. The basis as presented shall not be construed to limit subsequent expansion of the grounds for appeal by the submission of a supplementary written statement. A copy of the original appeal and statement and any subsequent supplementary written statement shall be forwarded to respondent(s), who shall be requested to respond in writing to the original appeal and statement, as well as any supplementary statement. Such response(s) shall not be construed to limit subsequent written expansion of the position of the respondent(s).

5. The written appeal shall set forth the names of any witnesses the petitioner requests be called by the School Committee. The written response shall set forth the names of witnesses the respondent(s) requests be called. Such written requests shall not be construed to prevent the designation of additional witnesses by the parties or limit the witnesses the committee may call.

6. All meetings of the School Committee shall be conducted by the chairman. The student and respondent(s) shall be invited to be present at meetings that are called by the chairman of the committee to obtain evidence or hear arguments. Such meetings shall be called with appropriate notice and shall be closed. All information given the committee shall be kept confidential. However, the student and respondent(s) may each bring one person from their school for consultation and advice when they are invited to meet with the committee. Legal counsel shall not be admitted to any of the meetings of the committee.

7. The School Committee shall consider all requests for suggested witnesses and invite those individuals the committee deems can appropriately contribute information relevant to the matter in question. Only those persons specifically invited by the committee may attend meetings. Moreover, any person asked to meet with the committee may request that he or she be heard without the presence of individuals other than the committee members. If the request is granted, charges or other pertinent information obtained at such a meeting must be communicated to all of the other parties concerned.

8. In the event that a member of the School Committee is unable to participate in an appeal or removes himself or herself from the deliberations, the chairperson shall immediately notify the dean, who will appoint another individual to the committee to serve temporarily for the period in which the current appeal is being considered.

9. The School Committee should at all times attempt to bring about an agreement between the student and the respondent(s) concerning the grade in question. If such an agreement is reached, the student shall withdraw his or her appeal in writing, the written withdrawal being submitted to the chairman of the committee. If no agreement is reached, then the committee shall decide either to support the appeal by granting appropriate relief or to reject the appeal. Suitable relief, especially in a failed course, ordinarily would involve changing a failure to a pass. In no case will the committee assign a letter grade. But other forms of relief (e.g., retaking a comprehensive or oral examination), especially in noncourse situations, should be available. A majority vote of the full membership of the committee is required for a decision. The decision shall be in writing and contain a summary of the reasons for the decision. This written report shall be retained by the committee. The student and the respondent(s) may read the written report, but no copies shall be furnished to anyone, except to the Senate Committee on Failing Grades, as described below.

10. The decision of the School Committee either to support or to reject the appeal (without the summary of reasons) shall be transmitted to the student and respondent(s) involved by certified return-receipt mail or by hand delivery. This notification shall include a statement that either the student or the respondent(s) may appeal the decision of the School Committee, in writing, to the Committee on Failing Grades of the Academic Senate within 30 calendar days from the receipt of the committee's decision. Such appeal must set forth with particularity the grounds relied upon.

11. If the decision of the committee is to support the appeal and change the grade to pass and no appeal is filed, the chairman of the School Committee shall notify the dean involved, the student's dean and chairman of the department, and the registrar, who shall make the appropriate change in the student's records. Credit earned in the course in which the grade is changed to pass will be counted toward the degree sought but will not be counted in calculating the student's GPA. If the grade for a comprehensive or oral examination is changed to pass, the examination shall satisfy the comprehensive examination or oral examination degree requirement for which it was given.


Procedures for Appeal of Failing Grades to the Academic Senate

1. The members and chairman of the Committee on Failing Grades of the Academic Senate shall be appointed by the committee on Committees and Rules of the Academic Senate. The committee shall consist of three faculty members and two students, one graduate and one undergraduate.

2. An appeal to the Senate Committee shall be made in writing to the chairman of that committee and mailed or delivered to the Office of the Academic Vice President. Such appeal must set forth with particularity the grounds relied upon.

3. Upon receiving an appeal, the chairman of the committee shall: (a) acknowledge receipt of the appeal to the sender, to the other party, and to the dean and chairman involved, and (b) request the report of the involved School Committee from its chairman. A copy of the appeal shall be sent to the other party and School Committee, both of whom shall respond in writing to the appeal. In the event the Senate Committee desires a further clarification of a party's response or position, the committee may request such to be furnished in writing.

4. After reviewing the foregoing, the Senate Committee shall decide by a majority vote of the full membership to uphold the original decision of the School Committee, to remand the matter for further proceedings, or in exceptional cases, to constitute itself as the committee to grant a new hearing in accordance with the procedures required of the School Committee.

5. The chairman of the committee shall forward to the Senate, in writing, the committee's decision. The chairman of the committee shall notify, by return-receipt mail, the parties involved of the committee's action and notify, if necessary, the appropriate university officials.


Procedures Issued by Academic Senate May 9th, 1985