Navigating MiraCosta's Complaints Process

In the course of academic life, a student, employee or visitor to MiraCosta College may disagree with the policies and actions of a college official, department or academic unit. Concerns are verbal and written expressions of dissatisfaction, issues and/or problems. Concerns should be addressed at the level where the incident occurred before escalating to the level of complaint.

In cases when concerns are not resolved by consultation among parties, the college provides individuals the right to initiate a complaint procedure, as described below.

Contact The Appropriate Office

Individuals are asked to contact the personnel most able to effectively address the concern. Before contacting an office, gather all necessary information regarding the concern, including written documentation, timeline of events, and the outcome or resolution being sought. Organize the contents of the concern to expedite the process. View more information on the steps to resolving an issue. Please consult the Quick Reference List to determine the appropriate department to address the concern.

Don't Go Straight To The Top

Second, resist the temptation to go “right to the top.” In order for staff at MiraCosta College to expeditiously address an issue or concern, please report the concern to the appropriate office. MiraCosta College seeks to quickly and fairly resolve concerns and has specific office personnel in place to appropriately respond to the complexities and technicalities involved with issues that arise. Accordingly, reporting a concern to the highest administrative level (such as the President’s office) may delay the response process.

Utilize The Chain Of Command

Third, utilize the chain of communication, or chain of command, to appeal an outcome. If the appropriate staff/ faculty member or office/unit charged with resolving the concern has not responded to the matter in a timely fashion or there is disagreement with the resolution of the issues or concern, obtain the contact information for that individual’s supervisor to escalate the matter.  Please note that the chain of communication is clearly defined and complainants should carefully adhere to the organizational structure and escalation process.

Self-Advocacy Is Preferred

Students who know how to self-advocate have an important skill that supports lifelong success. Furthermore, self- advocacy skills prepare students for their future beyond college. All individuals over the age of 18 are individually responsible for initiating and, when appropriate, escalating issues or concerns and it is up to the student to make the college aware of concerns and ask for an accommodation. Asking parents, family members or other individuals to escalate an issue, concern or question on the behalf of another is usually not recommended. If you need assistance with advocacy, then you need to satisfy FERPA requirements. This is because federal privacy laws known as FERPA make it virtually impossible for MiraCosta College faculty, staff and administrators to share information about a student's educational record unless the student is willing to issue a written release. Without a release, friends and family members may not have the information necessary to fully discuss the incident/situation, and college employees are not allowed to discuss any specifics regarding a student’s situation.

Concerns Aren't Always Resolved At The First Level

While it is ideal to have the concern addressed by staff and management in the department in which the incident occurred, that may not always be possible. In the event that common ground cannot be found, and only when all other options have been exhausted, contact the Vice President of Student Services (or designee) or complete the incident report form. The Vice President (or designee) can help ensure that the complainant’s voice and “story” is heard, formally documented and given due consideration. In some cases, the Vice President of Student Services (or designee) may redirect a complainant to another college official and/or help the complainant navigate the college’s policies, procedures and protocols to settle unresolved issues and concerns.  

Not Every Complaint Will Be Resolved In The Complainant's Favor

While MiraCosta College is committed to treating every individual with respect, courtesy, care and compassion, and displaying a commitment to what is right and just, there are times when the resolution requested is either not allowed by law or by policy, or the exception requested is too extreme to be reasonable or justifiable. The goal is to ensure that the facts are heard and to provide the most appropriate and reasonable resolution – one that balances the well-being and success of the individual with the overall integrity of our educational mission, values, principles and policies. If a mistake is made, a reasonable attempt to remedy it will be made. And if the complainant made a mistake, expectations for leniency and flexibility should be fair.