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The Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center (WWRC) uses an institutional appeals process for consumers to challenge decisions and actions about their services at WWRC. A consumer appeal is an action to request that
the institution reconsider an official decision with which the consumer
disagrees. This governance procedure
applies to Consumer Appeals only. A related governance procedure applies to management of a student grievance which is defined as an “official
complaint, informally or formally applied, if a student is dissatisfied with
the behavior or actions or the institution or its representatives”. Decisions and actions which are qualified (allowable) for an institutional appeal are listed in the next section.
The consumer does not have to utilize the WWRC institutional appeals process. Instead, the consumer may request an Informal Administrative Review (IAR), hearing, or mediation in accordance with Agency Policies. See definitions below.
If the consumer utilizes the WWRC institutional appeals process and disagrees with the final decision, the consumer has the right to request an IAR, hearing, or mediation. The IAR, hearing or mediation request must be made within 60 calendar days of the WWRC decision.
The consumer may also contact the Client Assistance Program (CAP) advocates and attorneys for information about consumer rights and assistance in resolving issues, and may apply for CAP representation during an appeal. CAP services are available at no cost to VR consumers (per 2001 Federal Regulation 34 CFR § 361.57) through the disAbility Law Center of Virginia.
An Informal Administrative Review (IAR) is an opportunity for the consumer, his/her representative, or his/her Rehabilitation Counselor to request intervention by the WWRC Deputy Director & Division Director, Facility Operations. The request, which may be verbal or written, must be submitted within sixty (60) calendar days of a decision through the institutional appeals process or from the decision, action or event that caused the issue. Within ten (10) business days after receiving the IAR request, the WWRC Deputy Director & Division Director, Facility Operations, or designee, shall render a written decision that includes: who requested the IAR and date, the issue addressed, the decision reached, the rationale (including any relevant laws, regulations, and WWRC policy and procedure), and (per 2014 Public Law 113-128, Section 413 (c) (2) and 2001 Federal Regulation 34 CFR § 361.57) the right to proceed directly to a hearing, apply to CAP for assistance, and request mediation. The deadline may be extended with client approval. The IAR decision shall become part of the VR case record.
Mediation is a voluntary process and both the consumer, or his/her representative, and the WWRC Deputy Director & Division Director, Facility Operations must agree to the mediation. If it is agreed to go to mediation, the WWRC Deputy Director & Division Director, Facility Operations, shall submit the completed RS-8 form to the DARS Appeals Coordinator. Refer to the mediation policies and procedures found in Chapter 15 of the DRS Policies and Procedures Manual.
A Hearing is conducted by an independent hearing officer who meets (per 2014 Public Law 113-128, Section 404 (16) and 2001 Federal Regulation 34 CFR § 361.57) federal qualification requirements. A request for a hearing is submitted to the DARS Appeals Coordinator by the consumer or his/her representative. The WWRC Deputy Director & Division Director, Facility Operations, or his designee, shall represent WWRC in an administrative hearing.
What Qualifies for an Appeal at the Institution Level?
Issues that qualify for a WWRC institutional appeal include:
Institution Level Appeal Process Protocols
WWRC consumer appeal and response business processes are defined by the type of "trigger" that initially qualifies the consumer complaint. WWRC appeal process protocols are described below and summarized in the accompanying flow charts. Before requesting an IAR, hearing, or mediation, the consumer may choose to utilize these processes.
Consumer Appeals shall be documented and tracked, from receipt to resolution, in an official WWRC Student Grievance and Appeals Management System file maintained on the network server for ease of retrieval by authorized parties. At least annually, data will be analyzed to determine any trends or patterns that may be used for continuous organizational growth and quality improvement. The WWRC Executive Team will review findings and recommendations on a scheduled basis, and actions taken will be documented in minutes of the meeting.
Trigger #1: WWRC Admissions Denial
When a consumer is denied admission to WWRC, the consumer may seek assistance from his/her DRS Rehabilitation Counselor and the Counselor's Manager to challenge the decision. The DRS Field Office Manager is expected to contact the WWRC Rehabilitation Counseling Manager to jointly review the denial decision and identify any additional documentation that may support reconsideration by the WWRC Admissions Committee.
Joint DRS/WWRC Manager Review Disposition Options:
If a joint written request is made, the WWRC Admissions Committee will reconsider the original decision based on the appeal justification, as supported by any additional documentation or information that was not included with the original WWRC application package. The WWRC Admissions Director, on behalf of the WWRC Admissions Committee, shall respond in writing to the appeal request within ten (10) business days following receipt of the written request.
If the consumer or manager disagrees with the WWRC Admissions Committee appeal decision, they have the right to request an IAR by the WWRC Deputy Director & Division Director, Facility Operations, or designee. In addition, the consumer may request a hearing or mediation. The written request for an IAR, hearing or mediation, must be made within 60 days of the denial.
Trigger #2: Unresolved Program/Service Complaint While an Active WWRC Consumer
WWRC consumers are encouraged to first discuss any program or service concerns with their assigned Rehabilitation Counselor. This may include decisions made by the assigned Rehabilitation Team, the outcome of a documented behavior issue and/or pattern, or other consumer dissatisfaction with services. The WWRC Rehabilitation Counselor may engage other members of the Rehabilitation Team with the consumer to clarify and attempt to resolve the issue.
If the complaint is still unresolved, the WWRC Rehabilitation Counseling Manager and Lead Rehabilitation Counselor will jointly staff the case with the consumer and the assigned WWRC Rehabilitation Counselor, providing a written decision, no later than five (5) business days after the staffing. Other staff members may be invited to participate, based on circumstances – for example, if the unresolved program/service complaint is in vocational training, the Division Director, Career and Workforce Development, may be invited. If the complaint relates to a dorm situation, the WWRC Dean of Students & Division Director, Residential Services, may be invited.
If the issue is still unresolved, the consumer has the right to request an IAR by the WWRC Deputy Director & Division Director, Facility Operations, or designee. In addition, the consumer may request a hearing or mediation. The written request for an IAR, hearing or mediation, must be made within 60 days of the Rehabilitation Counseling administrative staffing decision and must include the specific reason for the appeal.
Trigger #3: Disagreement with Decision for Program Suspension or Early Termination
To maintain residence and program enrollment at WWRC, consumers must be actively engaged and making satisfactory progress in their defined rehabilitation program (per program standards and expectations); maintain compliance with campus behavior standards and expectations; and demonstrate measurable and timely progress towards attainment of written rehabilitation goals as determined by their assigned Rehabilitation Team. A program suspension and/or early termination from the WWRC campus may occur if these expectations are not met or the consumer presents a threat or danger to self or others.
A WWRC consumer may appeal a program suspension or early termination. The request should be made in writing to the consumer's WWRC Rehabilitation Counselor, within five (5) business days of the decision, stating the reason for disagreement.
The WWRC Rehabilitation Counseling and WWRC Dean of Students & Division Director, Residential Services, are jointly responsible for reviewing these types of consumer appeals and making a decision based on the facts and evidence provided. The joint administrative review will be scheduled and conducted at a time convenient to everyone involved in the review, but no later than ten (10) business days from date of the written appeal request.
If the issue is still unresolved, the consumer has the right to request an IAR by the WWRC Deputy Director, or designee. In addition, the consumer may request a hearing or mediation. The written request for an IAR, hearing or mediation, must be made within 60 days of the Joint Administrative Review decision and must include the specific reason for the appeal.
Coordination with Federal VR Regulations and Applicable DARS Policies and Procedures
Per agency policies and in accordance with VR regulations, VR consumers have the right to proceed directly to a hearing, contact the disAbility Law Center for advocacy or legal representation, request mediation, and request an IAR. If a VR consumer is dissatisfied with WWRC services, programs, and/or decisions and exercises his/her rights to these services, WWRC institution level appeal processes no longer apply.
The WWRC Deputy Director is the Center's single point of contact for communication with the disAbility Law Center and/or coordination with the VR Appeals Coordinator, DARS Central Office Policy and Planning Division for consumer appeals involving WWRC. The WWRC Deputy Director & Division Director, Facility Operations, serves the same role and function as the DRS Regional Director in Agency Mediation and Hearing procedures for VR consumers appealing WWRC decisions.
Coordination with Accreditation Body Requirements
WWRC consumers fully enrolled in a vocational training program who are otherwise unable to resolve a complaint at the institutional level, have the right, under COE policies and standards, to contact the Council on Occupational Education, an independent postsecondary accreditation body.
Council on Occupational Education (COE)7840 Roswell Road Building 300, Suite 325Atlanta, GA 30350
WWRC consumers who receive Durable Medical Equipment (DME) at WWRC and are otherwise unable to resolve a complaint at the institutional level have the right to contact the Accreditation Commission for Health Care, Inc., under ACHC policies and standards.