Student Complaint Policy

General Statement

This policy provides the guidelines for students to follow, in the event they disagree with the actions of the private career college, known as the Greater Toronto Airports Authority operated as the Fire and Emergency Services Training Institute (FESTI).

Disagreements between a student and an employee of the college are normally resolved informally between the individuals involved or with the intervention of another college employee. Occasionally, this informal process is not effective and the student finds the need to access to a formal process by which the disagreement can be resolved in a fair and unbiased manner. The Student Complaint Policy provides a formal mechanism for hearing grievances and dispute resolution within FESTI.

Students should be aware that in all stages of the complaint process, if they choose, may have a person present with them during the proceedings. It should be also noted that students also have the right for the person present during proceedings, to make an oral submission on their behalf at any point in the proceedings. 

As a private career college (FESTI) is required to maintain a record of every student complaint made at the campus where the complaint originated, for a period of at least three years from the date of the decision relating to the complaint. This record shall include the following;

  1. a copy of the complaint; and
  2. a copy of any submission filed with respect to the complaint; and
  3. a copy of the complaint decision;

Students should be aware that in the event they are not satisfied with the private career college’s (FESTI’s) resolution of their complaint in accordance with this policy, they have the right to refer the matter to the Superintendent. Upon referring their complaint to the Superintendent, the student must include in their application a copy of the record referred to above.

Definitions

•    Grievance: A complaint lodged with the expectation for resolution.

•    Appeal: To formally challenge a disciplinary or academic action.

•    Disciplinary Action: Action(s) taken by the college to discipline students who do not comply with college policies, regulations or procedures.

•    Balance of Probabilities: A standard of proof based upon the premise that the decision rendered will be in favor of the party that presents the position that has the greater probability of being true.

•    Student: An individual who has been admitted to a college program and paid registration fees and is currently attending classes.

•    Decision Maker: An employee of the college.

•     Supervisor: The term supervisor refers to a department head, Chief Instructor, Deputy Chief.

Guidelines

It is expected that most student concerns will be resolved informally by approaching the decision      maker(s).  Students needing assistance with grievances or appeals may request help from the FESTI Standards Officer.  The Standards Officer is available to offer guidance to all participants in the Student Grievance/Complaint process, including students, decision makers and their supervisors. The Standards Officer is responsible for the coordination and orientation of the Student Grievance/Complaint Panel and to ensure that the process for grievance and appeal is adhered to.

In the event the Standards Officer is unavailable, an alternate will be determined. A student who is appealing a disciplinary action shall not be subject to that disciplinary action until the appeal decision is final. However, if the Standards Officer and Dean/Manager deem that the student’s presence will compromise the learning environment and/or constitutes a safety concern, interim disciplinary action may be taken.  Timelines for an appeal may be adjusted by the mutual consent of the student and the employee.

Where the grievance or appeal involves several students, they may invite a person(s) to be present at any meeting or hearing in the student Grievance/Complaint process. Strict propriety and confidentiality shall be observed regarding information received and discussions that take place. In most cases, more information must be brought forward in order for the appeal to continue to the next level.

Formal Grievance and Appeal Procedures

Level One

The student(s) will provide a written and dated Student Grievance/Complaint Appeal Form to the employee or designate within 4 working days of the decision being rendered. The decision maker will meet with the student within one working day of receiving the form from the student, and the decision maker will complete the bottom half of the Student Grievance/Complaint Appeal Form, upholding or revising the original decision, with reason(s) and return a copy to the student within one working day of meeting with the student.

Level Two

If the issue is not resolved to the student’s satisfaction, a further appeal to the Division Chief, Standards and Administration, must be made within two working days as stated in the form. The student will update the Student Grievance/Complaint Appeal Form and deliver to the Division Chief, Standards and Administration outlining the basis for the appeal and the resolution sought. The Division Chief, Standards and Administration will meet with the student within two working days following receipt of the form. A student support person/and or the decision maker may be asked to join the meeting. The Division Chief, Standards and Administration will provide a written decision, with reason(s), within one working day of meeting the student.

Level Three

If the student wishes to appeal the matter further, the student will meet with the Standards Officers for guidance within three working days as specified by the Division Chief, Standards and Administration in the completed form. Should the appeal go forth, the student will also prepare a report to be provided to the Student Grievance/Complaint and Appeal Panel.

The Standards Officer will advise the student of the date, time and place of the hearing by the Student Grievance/Complaint and Appeal Panel. The hearing will be convened no later than four working days after the student meets with the Standards Officer. All information pertinent to the case will be packaged and distributed to appeal participants.  A decision will be rendered in writing to the student by the Chair of the Panel within one working day of the hearing.

Grievance/Complaint and Appeal Panel

The panel will be composed of seven individuals – three students, two faculty, Deputy Fire Chief and Fire Chief.

Conduct of Student Grievance/Complaint and Appeal Panel:

If any member of the panel is in a conflict of interest relative to a specific appeal, the member will disqualify himself/herself from hearing that appeal. The student has the right to challenge the bias of any member before the appeal procedure begins. In any cases of conflict of interest, or personal involvement in the situation, the replacement member(s) may be appointed by the Fire Chief (Chair).

The Deputy Fire Chief (Vice Chair) will act in place of the Chairperson in their absence. A quorum will be two students, two faculty, and the chair and a simple majority of votes will prevail for voting purposes. The chair person is non-voting unless called upon to break a tie. Panel members shall observe strict propriety and confidentiality regarding information received and discussions that take place.

The student appeal policy is an internal review process of the college and legal counsel is not allowed to attend meetings that are part of this process. The standard of proof applied to decisions made by the Student Appeal Panel will be a balance of probabilities (see Definitions). The official record will contain the final decision of the Student Appeal Panel as well as the completed Student Appeal forms. The official record of student appeal decisions will be maintained by the Standards Officer for a period of three years from the date the decision is communicated. Members of the panel are prohibited from consulting or meeting with the student or employee/supervisors prior to the meeting.