Informal Procedures and the Informal Conciliatory Meeting

     No.  9-11      Rev.   Date 3-19-13

 

I. REFERENCE

PPM 9-20, Security at Weber State University Hearings

II. POLICY

A. Faculty Ombuds

Any faculty member of the Weber State community may bring a concern to the Faculty Ombuds.  Faculty are not required to use the Ombuds Office for informal resolution of conflict, and do so voluntarily.  The Weber State Faculty Ombuds is an impartial party whose primary role is to help faculty members resolve problems involving or affecting them.

The Faculty Ombuds operates according to the "Charter for Faculty Ombuds Office" approved by the Faculty Senate.  A copy of the charter is available at:  http://faculty.weber.edu/ombuds/

B. Initial Action Following Receipt of Complaint

On many occasions individuals or groups present informal complaints to responsible administrator(s) of the University. Responsible administrators, upon hearing such complaint(s), shall in their administrative positions determine whether the complaint merits further action or investigation. In order to obtain additional information concerning the complaint, the responsible administrator may take such actions as the following:

1. Discussion with the respondent to obtain additional information

2. Informal fact finding by the responsible administrator

3. The appointment of a task force (panel, investigative team)

C. Preliminary Investigation

Most matters are routinely handled between administrators, accusers and respondents. Occasionally, however, there is need for investigation of charges of failure of an individual to exercise reasonable care in compliance with standards of professional behavior (see PPMs 9-3 through 9-8). The purpose of the preliminary investigation discussed herein is to determine whether a complaint merits further action.

1. A preliminary investigation may result in immediate dismissal of the complaint, an administrative disposition or the filing of a formal charge.

2. Such preliminary investigations shall recognize the need for discretion and protection of the respondent's rights to due process and protection from unnecessary extension of the investigation.

3. However, when a respondent has allegedly committed a serious violation of the standards contained in PPMs 9-3 through 9-8 and this requires preliminary investigation to determine the merit of the alleged infraction, the president may order non-disclosure of the complaint to the respondent if the president determines that such non-disclosure is necessary to avoid interfering with the investigation. In all cases the preliminary investigation shall be limited to the shortest possible time necessary to obtain the facts required to determine the next appropriate step.

D. Informal Conciliatory Meeting

1. As soon as the responsible administrator has determined that sufficient information is available, a meeting shall be held with the respondent. The attendance of the administrative officer and the accuser are optional, but either or both should be in attendance if requested by anyone involved. An agreement or settlement at this level may preclude the filing of a formal charge. If a formal charge is not filed, the issue is deemed to be settled. The proceedings of this investigation may result in one of the following dispositions:

a. Dismissal of the complaint, if acceptable to both the respondent and the accuser.

b. Determination that the complaint is valid and a formulation of an administrative disposition which is acceptable to the responsible administrator, the respondent and the accuser. The administrative disposition shall be limited to those disciplinary actions contained in PPM 9-14, Disciplinary Actions, Section A.

c. Determination that the complaint warrants the filing of a formal charge.

2. Any records, material or information gathered in the preliminary investigation of the complaint shall be destroyed at the end of five years or otherwise maintained as provided in PPM 9-15, Reports and Records.

3. When the responsible administrator determines that there is reasonable cause to believe that a violation of University policy has occurred, an administrative disposition may be sought by all involved. The responsible administrator overseeing the case shall see that the provision of this administrative disposition is equitable and appropriate for the violation and reflects consideration of the relevant aspects of the incident(s) leading up to the meeting. If the conditions of the administrative disposition are acceptable to both the respondent and the accuser no further proceeding shall be necessary. If the administrative disposition results in a disciplinary action other than verbal censure, a written copy of the administrative disposition shall be signed by the respondent, accuser and responsible administrator. If no objection is raised by any of the parties within five working days of signing the disposition, it becomes final.

4. If the complaint is handled by administrative disposition (other than dismissal of the complaint), a written statement of the complaint, informal minutes or a descriptive account of the proceedings, and a statement of the action taken will be provided to the respondent and the accuser. These records shall be maintained in accordance with PPM 9-15, Reports and Records.

5. If the complaint is not dismissed or is not resolved by administrative disposition during the informal conciliatory meeting, the matter shall move forward to a formal hearing, if one of the parties files a formal charge.

6. In the event that no settlement is reached, the accuser may prepare the written charge consisting of a concise statement of the facts, conduct or circumstances reported to constitute failure to comply with the standards contained in this document and, within ten working days of the informal conciliatory meeting, deliver copies of the formal charge to the chair of the Faculty Board of Review. Failure to meet this deadline will result in dismissal of the complaint. Exceptions to this ten-day deadline may be made only upon showing good cause.

E. Respondent's and Accuser's Rights

1. In the informal conciliatory meeting, the respondent has the right to written notice of the complaint and to receive copies of material or documents gathered during investigation of the complaint. However, the responsible administrator, in consultation with University Counsel, may withhold confidential information (e.g., concerning the identity of witnesses and informants) throughout the duration of the informal procedures.

2. The respondent may request that the accuser attend the informal conciliatory meeting. Both the respondent and the accuser, as well as any other person legitimately involved, may request of the responsible administrator that the administrative officer attend the informal conciliatory meeting. The role of the administrative officer is to serve as a neutral observer endeavoring to insure that due process is afforded to all parties in the proceedings. Other parties may attend upon mutual agreement of the parties involved.

3. Both the respondent and the accuser have the right to representation. However, if either the respondent or the accuser invokes the right to have a representative present during the meeting, the informal conciliatory meeting may be omitted at the discretion of the responsible administrator and the process will shift to the formal hearing level if a formal charge is filed.

4. In the conduct of a preliminary investigation on the merits of the complaint, the responsible administrator shall exercise reasonable care to uphold the respondent's rights to due process. All investigations shall be conducted in a fair and reasonable manner in order to protect and/or minimize the damage to the respondent's or the institution's reputation.


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