Delay in Filing Petition


FILE: Report #355
DATE: April 15, 2011
PARTIES: C.K. (the Student) v. Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Woodsworth College

Hearing Date(s): March 10, 2011

Committee Members:
Professor Edward Morgan, Chair
Professor William Gough
James Park

Appearances:

For the Student Appellant:
C.K. (the Student)

For the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Woodsworth College:
Professor John W. Browne, Dean’s Designate, Faculty of Arts and Science
Cheryl Shook, Registrar, Woodsworth College

Faculty of Arts and Science, Woodsworth College – preliminary issue of timeliness – withdrawal from course – removal of grades from transcript – Certificate Program in Business – 90 day appeal period – appeal deadlines –confidentiality – twenty year delay – appeal period – policy on appeal periods – discovery of alleged error – extension of deadline – notification of student – appeal dismissed

Appeal of a decision of Woodsworth College to deny the Student withdrawal from two courses from a Certificate Program in Business. The appeal relates to the preliminary issue of the timeliness of the appeal. The Student was enrolled in the courses approximately twenty years prior to the appeal in the 1990-1991 academic year. Woodsworth took the position the 90 day appeal period for seeking such relief expired in November 1991 and that the matter could not be reopened. The Student stressed the need for confidentiality in the proceedings and was satisfied with the University’s policy of redacting names from publicly available copies of published academic appeals. The Committee found that Woodsworth’s view that the appeal period expired twenty years prior was too strict. The Committee held that, if a student had evidence there was a mistake in their transcript dating from 20 years ago and the error was only just recognized, the passage of time would not prevent the Committee from addressing the error. The Committee found, however, that the Student became aware of the problem twelve years after the courses ended in 2003. The Student acknowledged this fact. The Committee found that the Director of Professional and International Programs at Woodsworth gave the Student all the information needed to submit an appeal at that point. The Committee held that once an alleged error is discovered and a student is given a proper explanation of how to submit a formal appeal, the appeal deadline begins to run. The Committee further held that both Woodsworth and the University of Toronto at large are not open to appeals from every student for an indefinite period of time. The Committee explained that to do so would place too great a burden on the University of Toronto’s record keeping and appeal system. The Committee concluded that the appeal period expired 90 days after the explanatory conversation the Student had with the Director of Professional and International Programs at Woodsworth twelve years after the 1990-1992 academic year. The Committee found it was on the Student to bring the appeal within 90 days at that time, and could not wait four years later to do so. Appeal dismissed.



FILE: Report #340
DATE: January 29, 2010
PARTIES: Mr. M.S. (the Student) v. UTSC

Hearing Date(s): January 11, 2010

Committee Members:
Professor Emeritus Ralph Scane, Chair
Kenneth Davey
Min Hee Margaret Kim
Professor Ronald Kluger
Professor Elizabeth Smyth

Appearances:

For the Student Appellant:
M.S. (the Student)

For the University of Toronto at Scarborough:
Professor John Scherk

UTSC – application for leave to file a late appeal – request to write deferred examination – Terms of Reference – s. 3.1.6 of Terms of Reference –appeal four years after initial appeal – request for late withdrawal from entire program – appeal dismissed

Application for leave to file a late appeal. The appeal related to a substantive appeal from a decision approximately four years prior issued by the Subcommittee on Academic Appeals at UTSC. The Student filed a statement with respect to his intended appeal to the Academic Appeals Committee on November 24, 2008. The Committee noted the Terms of Reference which stated appeals must be made within 90 calendar days after the date of the decision. The Committee examined the issue of whether extraordinary circumstances existed which would justify an extension of time. The Student had previously petitioned and been permitted to defer Winter term examinations in 2004 to August, 2004. The Student did poorly in those examinations resulting in low sessional GPAs, affecting the Student’s cumulative GPA. The Student graduated in June, 2008 but found their overall results an impediment to hopes of entering a medical degree or postgraduate program. The Student regarded the 2004 decision to defer examinations rather than seek late withdrawal from the entire program as an error of inexperience compounded by extraordinary stress and worries about student loans. The basis of the Student’s original appeal related to the Student’s arrest and charge with a criminal offence. All charges against the Student were eventually dropped. The Student had always denied involvement with the crimes in question. The Student alleged that the effects of their confinement and arrest, medical problems, and the high degree of stress impeded his ability to function academically when he wrote the deferred examinations. The Subcommittee sympathized with the Student over the situation which it acknowledged the Student had no control, but found the circumstances did not justify granting the requested relief. The Student’s grounds for arguing he should be permitted to proceed with an appeal at a later date were that he discussed the possibility of a further appeal with an academic advisor at UTSC after the initial appeal. The Student also stated that he was too exhausted to fight the University’s decision after the initial appeal. In opposition, UTSC noted that if the substantive appeal were to be granted, the Student’s examination results would have had to be vacated and replaced by a prospective rewrite of the relevant examinations, leaving the Student short of the requisite credits for their degree. The Committee found that this issue was primarily a matter for a panel considering a substantive appeal, but nonetheless considered when determining the application for leave to file a late appeal. The Committee considered that the provision for an extension of time for appeals was intended to protect against situations where appeals were not filed due to mishap or inadvertence, where genuine intention to appeal was formed within the allowed time, or where some major event of illness or other situation prevented or impeded a student’s ability to appeal. The Committee found that these circumstances did not exist in the Student’s case. The Committee noted that the evidence that the Student was given misleading advice regarding his appeal was insufficient to grant the remedy he sought. Appeal dismissed.



FILE: Report #279
DATE: May 6, 2003
PARTIES: Mr. M.T. (the Appellant) v. the Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Hearing Date(s): April 7, 2003

Committee Members:
Assistant Dean Bonnie Goldberg, Chair
Professor Sherwin Desser
Professor Luigi Girolametto
Professor Gretchen Kerr
Mr. Chris Ramsaroop

Judicial Affairs Officer:
Mr. Paul Holmes

In Attendance:
Mr. M.T., the Appellant
Professor William Michelson, formerly Associate Dean, Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts and Science, University of Toronto

Faculty of Arts and Sciences – late withdrawal without academic penalty – appeal twelve years after receiving failing grade – illness – grade could unfairly restrict opportunity to pursue academic career or further academic study – not possible to accumulate sufficient documentary evidence as to how illness affected academic performance – insufficient medical evidence – medical documentation not created at time of petition – familiarity with University procedures – minority opinion that circumstances of medical condition prevented Student from seeking assistance at the time and that oral evidence substantiated claim of illness – appeal dismissed

Request for late withdrawal without academic penalty from one course. The Student failed the course. The Student undertook the appeal twelve years after receiving the failing grade. The Student claimed that his performance in the course was negatively affected by illness. The Student claimed that, given his subsequent academic achievement, the course grade could unfairly restrict his opportunity to pursue an academic career or further academic study. The Student requested that the Committee not require proof that his future career prospects could be negatively impacted by his failure in the course. The Committee found that only partial information about the Student’s performance in the course was available for review and thus it was not possible to accumulate sufficient documentary evidence as to how the Student’s performance in the course was affected by illness. The Committee found that the medical evidence presented as to the severity, nature, and impact of the Student’s illness was insufficient and that the medical documentation was not created at the time the petition was made. The Committee found that the Student had sought late withdrawal from other courses during the relevant period, and was thus familiar with the University’s procedures and could have addressed the impact of his illness on his academic performance at that time. The Committee observed that the Student was seeking relief for a perceived detrimental effect that could not be proved or disproved, but would, if granted, set a precedent of removing grades from transcripts, well past deadlines, well past reasonable time frames, and without sufficient supporting documentation. A minority of the Committee found that the circumstances of the Student’s medical condition prevented him from seeking assistance at the time the problems occurred and that the medical documentation, with the Student’s oral evidence, substantiated his claim of illness. Appeal dismissed.



FILE: Report #266
DATE: May 21, 2002
PARTIES: Ms. S.R., (the Student) v UTSC

Hearing Date(s): April 25, 2002

Committee Members:
Assistant Dean Jane Kidner, Acting Chairperson
Professor Clare Beghtol
Professor Philip Byer
Professor Luigi Girolametto
Ms. Geeta Yadav

Secretary:
Mr. Paul Holmes, Judicial Affairs Officer

In Attendance:
Ms. S.R., the Appellant (student)
Mr. Eliot Berlin, counsel for the Appellant
Professor Ian McDonald, Associate Dean, UTSC

UTSC – late withdrawal without academic penalty – alternative request for a notation placed on transcript – undiagnosed learning disability not known until after completion of course – post–facto request – aware of drop dates – no alternative options or assistance sought – remedy only sought for lowest mark of academic career – impossible to predict to what degree learning disability affected academic performance – notation allowed in similar circumstances – special consideration would have been afforded had learning disability been known – appeal allowed in part – appeal with respect to late withdrawal without academic penalty denied – appeal with respect to the request for a notation on transcript allowed – Student to have noted on or with transcript that the Student had an unidentified learning disability that could have entitled her to special accommodation for such tests and examinations, with respect to time allotted, location, and computer assistance provided

Request for late withdrawal without academic penalty from one course, or alternatively that a notation be placed on her transcript stating that she had an undiagnosed learning disability at the time she took the course. The Student received a grade of D+. The Student claimed that her standing in the course was the result of an undiagnosed learning disability which she did not become aware of until approximately two years after completing the course. The Committee found that there was no suggestion by the Student that she was unaware of the drop dates for the course nor evidence as to why she did not avail herself of the option, afforded to all students who were experiencing difficulty in the course, of taking a math reprise course in place of the course. The Student acknowledged that she did not seek any academic counseling. The Committee found that the Student was only seeking late withdrawal without academic penalty for the one course at issue, the lowest mark in her academic career, and not for all the courses taken prior to the diagnosis of her learning disability. The Committee considered the other courses the Student took in the relevant time period and the nature of her learning disability and found that it was impossible to predict the degree to which the Student’s learning disability had affected her academic performance. With respect to the Student’s request to have a notation on her transcript, the Committee considered a case in which such a notation was allowed in similar circumstances, and the fact that the Faculty would have been given special consideration to the Student had it been aware of her learning disability, and found that the request for the notation should be allowed. Appeal allowed in part. The appeal with respect to late withdrawal from the course was denied. The appeal with respect to the request for a notation on the transcript allowed. The Committee ordered that the Student have noted on or with her transcript that during the period covered by the transcript the Student had an unidentified learning disability that could have entitled her to special accommodation for such tests and examinations, with respect to time allotted, location, and computer assistance provided.