Grade Grievance Procedure
A. In the grading of coursework by their instructors, the students of the School of Law are entitled to a good faith evaluation of their actual course performance founded on an articulated standard. Grading, however, fundamentally falls within the professional judgment of the individual instructors for courses at the School of Law. As a result, the grade an instructor assigns to a student’s work is normally final. A grade may be changed only (a) by the instructor if a computational or recording error has been made, or (b) pursuant to this Grievance Procedure when it is determined that the grade was arbitrary or capricious.
B. If a student believes that a grade is arbitrary or capricious, he or she may challenge the grade only by initiating a grade grievance pursuant to the following procedure.
The student shall first contact the instructor for the course to consult about the instructor’s reasons for the assigned grade and to ensure that no computational or recording error has occurred. If an acceptable solution is not reached by this means, and the student wishes to pursue a grade grievance, the student must file a written or electronic complaint with the Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development of the School of Law within 45 days from the date the disputed grade is posted by the University Office of Student Records to the student’s online academic record (SURFS). If the instructor is not available for consultation within this deadline, the Associate Dean may extend the period for filing the grade grievance for an additional reasonable period or may waive the required consultation. The student must expressly request such an extension or waiver from the Associate Dean in writing or by electronic communication before the 45-day deadline expires to be granted an extension.
C. The complaint shall:
- demonstrate that the student has complied with, or the Associate Dean has waived, the consultation requirement;
- state facts that, if found to be true, would justify a finding that the grade was arbitrary or capricious; and
- propose a remedy that the student believes is appropriate for the claimed injury.
D. If the grade grievance satisfies the requirements of Part C above and is timely filed as provided in Part B above, the Associate Dean shall undertake an investigation to determine whether probable cause exists to believe that the grade was arbitrary or capricious. The Associate Dean shall inform the instructor of the grade grievance and provide a copy of the complaint to the instructor. The instructor may respond if he or she desires. Upon completion of the investigation, the Associate Dean shall prepare a report that includes the reasons for the determination on the issue of probable cause. The determination of the Associate Dean on the issue of probable cause is final. If, therefore, the Associate Dean determines that no such probable cause exists, there shall be no further proceedings on the grade grievance.
E. If the Associate Dean determines that probable cause exists to believe that the grade was arbitrary or capricious, the Associate Dean shall appoint a three-person ad hoc Committee of members of the Faculty Council to decide the matter. The Committee shall investigate the complaint and is empowered to establish the rules of procedure under which it will make its findings and determination of remedy. If the Committee finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the disputed grade was arbitrary or capricious, the Committee shall have the power to substitute a pass for the grade or take any other action it deems appropriate to remedy the injury to the student, including adjusting the grade for the course. The Committee’s decision on the complaint shall be in writing and shall include supporting reasons for its finding and the action taken. The decision of the Committee is final, subject to the right of appeal set forth in Part F below. The Committee shall complete its investigation and render its decision within 60 calendar days from the date on which the complaint was assigned to the Committee by the Associate Dean. At the request of the Committee, the Associate Dean may, for good reason, extend the time within which the Committee must report its decision. The Associate Dean shall promptly forward a copy of the Committee’s report to the student and the Dean of the School of Law.
The student or the involved instructor may appeal a decision by the Committee as provided in Part E above to the Dean of the School of Law in writing within ten working days of receipt of the decision by the Committee. The only basis for such an appeal shall be clear and convincing evidence of an error of substance or procedure by the Committee. The Dean shall render a binding, final decision on the grade grievance appeal, including as appropriate any remedy he or she deems justified, within twenty working days of receipt of the appeal.
G. Exclusivity of Procedure
These rules state the only grounds and procedures for challenging a grade received in a course at the University of Maryland School of Law. These rules implement and are consistent with University System of Maryland and University of Maryland Baltimore policies concerning grade appeals.
Approved, May 10, 2012