Concerns & Grievances

General Feedback

In the College of Education we welcome your feedback on any number of issues, from the condition of classrooms, to course offerings, to this website.  Your constructive comments help us to improve the student experience.  You can communicate to us in many ways, such as:

Formal Concerns & Grievances

The University of Washington and the College of Education has specific procedures in place to address most kinds of formal concerns and grievances. Below you will find information to help you understand some of those procedures. If you would like to discuss any of these procedures, or if you have a concern that is not listed here, please contact Martin Howell, the Assistant Dean for Academic & Student Affairs. You are also welcome to discuss concerns on an informal basis, but it is important to understand that in almost all cases we cannot take formal action without documentation and without following the procedures described below.

Concerns and grievances related to graduate student employment are in a separate category and should be addressed with supervisors, with Human Resources, or with the union representing graduate students.  This Student Employee Support Flowchart can help you identify useful resources.   

Grades or academic evaluation

A student who believes that the instructor erred in the assignment of a grade, or who believes a grade recording error or omission has occurred must pursue resolution no later than the end of the following quarter (not including summer quarter). The process involves up to two steps; first a discussion with the instructor, and second, failing resolution there, a written appeal within 10 days to the Dean or his/her designee. Learn more about grade changes and grade appeals »

Discriminatory or harassing behavior by a University employee

The University specifically prohibits discriminatory or harassing behavior against any member of the University community. Students who believe they have been discriminated against by an employee on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, citizenship, sex, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, or military status should refer to the procedures for Resolution of Complaints Against University Employees.

Misconduct by other students

Students who are aware of, or victims of, misconduct on the part of other students - both behavior misconduct and academic misconduct (plagiarism and cheating) - should contact the Office of Community Standards & Student Conduct. Such misconduct will be investigated according to procedures established in the UW Student Conduct Code.

Academic Grievances

College of Education grievance procedures are intended to provide a timely and equitable resolution of academic problems or complaints initiated by students enrolled in the College. Pertinent issues shall include, but are not limited to: faculty, Graduate School, College, or departmental policies affecting individual student academic prerogatives; procedural irregularities in stated grading practices (but not complaints restricted to individual grade changes); fair treatment; and similar issues.


1. Students must either initiate an informal request for conciliation or file a formal complaint within three months of the incident. Students are first encouraged to attempt, in good faith, to resolve any grievance with the member or members of the faculty or academic staff most directly concerned. All parties are urged to make a sincere effort to resolve the issue at this level.

The Office of the Ombudsman of the University of Washington has been established to assist in the protection of the rights of all members of the UW community. In order to facilitate early and informal resolution of grievances, the ombudsman will be available, at the request of any party concerned, to act as an impartial conciliator. The Office of the Ombudsman may be called upon to intervene at any stage of grievance procedures.

2. If negotiations at Step 1 are not successful in resolving the issue, the problem may be referred to the assistant dean for academic and student affairs. This step represents the effort of a third party to examine the situation with some degree of objectivity and attempt to resolve the issue in an informal way. If this attempt proves to be unsuccessful, the process should move on to Step 3.

* Students should note that the assistant dean may directly inform the dean of any complaints. The dean reserves the right to address the matter by administrative action, especially when the actions of a UW employee are involved. Administrative action can occur independently of any grievance procedures pursued by the student.

3. The assistant dean, at his/her own initiative, or upon petition by any of the parties involved, may appoint a three-person ad hoc committee to hear and review the matter. This committee shall advise the assistant dean, who shall then notify all relevant parties of his/her recommendation, including the outcome of the committee review and other grounds on which the recommendation was based. The assistant dean's recommendation must be completed within 10 school days of the conclusion of the committee review.

4. If Steps 1–3 do not resolve the grievance, students may request the Graduate School's assistance in an informal resolution.

5. If all efforts at informal resolution of the problem prove to be unsuccessful, the next step involves filing a formal written grievance complaint with the appropriate dean. For graduate students, that is the dean of the Graduate School, and the procedures to be followed are presented in the Graduate School Policy for Grievances.

6. Non-graduate students (i.e. undergraduates or graduate non-matriculated students) should follow the procedures outlined in the Non-Graduate Students section below.


Students are encouraged, but not required, to first attempt to resolve grievances with the faculty or staff member(s) most directly concerned. If a student attempts informal conciliation, he/she must initiate this process within three months of the incident by requesting one of the following persons to conciliate the grievance: director or chair of the unit, or the appropriate college dean. If discussion with the faculty or staff member(s) concerned, facilitated by the director or chair of the unit, or the appropriate college dean, does not resolve the grievance, the student may request the Graduate School's assistance in an informal resolution. In such a case, the dean of the Graduate School shall designate an associate dean as the informal conciliator for the Graduate School. The associate dean may either facilitate conciliation directly or involve the ombudsman. If the associate dean attempts informal conciliation directly, he/she may not be involved in a subsequent formal complaint. If the student is dissatisfied with the informal conciliation, he/she may file a formal complaint with the dean of the Graduate School within 10 days of the conclusion of the attempted informal process. The grievance will be referred to the Academic Grievance Committee, and a hearing process will be initiated. Complete information can be found in the Graduate School Policy for Grievances.


1. Upon receipt of the written complaint from the student, the dean of the College of Education (or his/her designee) shall refer the matter to an ad hoc committee, appointed by the dean, which shall consist of three tenured faculty members and two students. The chairperson of the committee shall be a faculty member appointed by the dean. It shall be the responsibility of the committee to provide the student a fair and impartial hearing regarding the filed grievance.

2. The dean of the College of Education (or his/her designee) shall notify all persons directly involved and provide each with a copy of the written complaint. The chairperson shall establish a time and place of the hearing to be held within 15 school days after the receipt of the formal grievance by the dean.

3. All parties may individually and personally present evidence and testimony necessary either to establish or to refute the alleged grievance. Only evidence presented at such a hearing shall be considered in determining the validity of the complaint.

4. All hearings must be conducted in closed session; however, by mutual agreement of the student and the concerned faculty or staff, the hearing may be opened to the public to the extent mutually agreed.

5. All documentation of the proceedings shall be kept on record. Such a summary shall be maintained for a period of five years in order to ensure adequate review, if requested.

6. Within 10 school days after the adjournment of the hearing, the committee shall present to the dean (or his/her designee), with copies to all parties involved, a report of the committee, including findings of fact, conclusions, and recommendations. The committee shall reach its findings and recommendations by a majority vote. Dissenting opinions may be presented with the majority report, if desired.

7. Within 10 school days after receipt of the committee report, the Dean (or his/her designee) shall issue a decision on the grievance. Such a decision and the reasons therefore, together with an enumeration of the actions to be taken, if any, shall be transmitted to all parties.

8. The decision of the dean (or his/her designee) shall become final at the close of 21 days after issuance. The student who originally filed the grievance, and any individual filed against, may before that time file a written statement requesting reconsideration of the findings by the University Disciplinary Committee and stating grounds for the request. In the event that such a request is filed, the decision of the dean shall be stayed.