(In this policy, the terms “complaint” and “grievance” shall have the same meaning.)
South Texas Transition to Teaching ACP encourages interns to discuss their concerns and complaints through open communication and conferences with our program staff. Complaints or concerns should be expressed as soon as possible to allow early resolution at the lowest possible administrative level.
If an informal conference regarding a complaint fails to reach the outcome requested by the candidate, the student can initiate the formal process as described below by filing a written complaint form in a timely manner.
Even after initiating the formal complaint process, a candidate is encouraged to seek informal resolution of his or her concerns by continuing open discussions with program staff. If those concerns are resolved a candidate may withdraw a formal complaint at any time.
GENERAL PROVISIONS FILING
Complaint forms and appeal notices may be filed by hand-delivery, email, fax, or U.S. mail. Hand-delivered filings shall be filed in a timely manner and received by the appropriate administrator or designee.
Email and/or fax filings shall also be filed in a timely manner if they are date and time marked on or before the deadline. The date/time stamp shown on either the email or fax will indicate the filing of the complaint and if it meets the timely requirement. Mail filings will use the date the complaint is postmarked by U.S. mail service for compliance with the deadline date and received by the appropriate program staff member or program administrator no more than three days after the deadline.
At Levels One and Two, “response” shall mean a written communication to the candidate from the appropriate EPP staff. Responses may be hand-delivered or sent by U.S. Mail or emailed to the candidate’s email or mailing address of record. Mailed responses shall be timely if they are postmarked by U.S. Mail on the deadline and received by the candidate no more than three days after the response deadline.
“Days” shall mean program business days. In calculating time lines under this policy, the day a document is filed is “day zero,” and all deadlines shall be determined by counting the following day as “day one.”
Complaints arising out of an event or a series of related events shall be addressed in one complaint. Candidates shall not bring separate or serial complaints arising from any event or series of events that have been or could have been addressed in a previous complaint.
When two or more complaints are sufficiently similar in nature and remedy sought to permit their resolution through one proceeding, the program may consolidate the complaints.
All time limits shall be strictly followed unless modified by mutual written consent.
If a complaint form or appeal notice is not timely filed, the complaint may be dismissed, on written notice to the candidate, at any point during the complaint process. The candidate may appeal the dismissal by seeking review in writing within ten business days, starting at the level at which the complaint was dismissed. Such appeal shall be limited to the issue of timeliness.
Each party shall pay its own costs incurred in the course of the complaint.
Complaints under this policy shall be submitted in writing on a form provided by the program. Copies of any documents that support the complaint should be attached to the complaint form. If the candidate has copies of these documents, he/she may present those documents at the Level One conference. After the Level One conference, no new documents may be submitted unless the candidate did not know the documents existed before the Level One conference. A complaint form that is incomplete in any material aspect may be dismissed, but it may be refiled with all the requested information if the refiling is within the designated time for filing a complaint.
As provided by law, a candidate shall be permitted to make an audio recording of a conference under this policy at which the substance of the candidate’s complaint is discussed. The candidate shall notify all attendees present that an audio recording is taking place.
Complaint forms must be filed:
1. Within 15 days of the date the candidate first knew, or with reasonable diligence should have known, of the decision or action giving rise to the complaint or grievance; and
2. The program manager shall hold a conference with the candidate within ten days after receipt of the written complaint.
The program manager shall have ten days following the conference to provide the candidate a written response.
If the candidate did not receive the relief requested at Level One or if the time for a response has expired, the candidate may appeal the decision to the program director.
The appeal notice must be filed in writing, on a form provided by the program, within ten days after receipt of a response or, if no response was received, within ten days of the response deadline at Level One. The program director or their designee shall inform the candidate of the date, time, and place of the meeting at which the complaint will be discussed. The program manager shall provide the program director with copies of the complaint form, the response at Level One, the appeal notice, and all written documentation previously submitted by candidate. The program director shall consider only those issues and documents presented at the preceding level and identified in the appeal notice.
The program director must provide written notice of the decision to the candidate.
The official TEA complaint process can be found at www.tea.texas.gov in the banner located at the bottom of the page and then select “Educator Preparation Programs”.
The complaint process allows for an applicant or a candidate in an educator preparation program to seek redress in areas where they feel that the program did not fulfill requirements for certification or for actions that the candidate feels are wrong. Educator preparation programs may also file a complaint about the actions of other programs when it involves a candidate transferring into a program.
Not all complaints fall under the authority of TEA. TEA has jurisdiction to investigate allegations of noncompliance regarding specific laws and rules, generally related to state and federal requirements. Complaints may address educator preparation program requirements listed in Texas Administrative Code (TAC) in Chapters 227, 228, 229, ethics (TAC 247), fingerprinting (TAC §§227,232) and certification (TAC §§230, 231, 232, 239, 241, 242)
All complaints filed with the TEA must be in writing. We do not accept complaints by phone or complaints that are submitted anonymously. A person or entity may file a written complaint with TEA by filling out the complaint form online or by mailing or faxing a hard copy to the address on the form. You may fax your submission to (512) 463-9008 or email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To adequately review and address a complaint, TEA needs specific details. We must be able to identify a clear violation of TAC and determine whether the agency has authority to act upon the allegation.
Complaints submissions should include the following:
- The reasons you believe the issues raised in your complaint are valid. You should also indicate how you believe that TEA can assist you with this matter. Remember that TEA cannot assist you in understanding your contractual arrangement with the educator preparation program, arranging for a refund, obtaining a higher grade or credit for training, or seeking reinstatement to an educator preparation program.
- Documentation to support your claim when possible. For example, if you refer in your complaint to an educator preparation program policy, include a copy of the policy with your complaint. Helpful documentation might include letters or e-mails exchanged between the parties.
Texas Education Agency staff will send confirmation of a complaint within 30 days of receiving the submission. Remember, information the public sends to TEA by email may not be secure. Do not email sensitive information to TEA. The agency will remove confidential or sensitive information when replying by email. TEA will maintain confidentiality of information to the extent the law allows.
TEXAS ADMINISTRATIVE CODE §228. 70