University of Wisconsin–Madison

Student Appeals

Informal Resolution

Students who have been denied an accommodation may choose to resolve matters informally with i) the person/entity alleged to have discriminated or violated a policy or procedure, ii) with the head of the department or office in which the alleged violation occurred, or iii) both. Students are encouraged to consult the McBurney Disability Resource Center to discuss the nature of the complaint, factors to consider, and whether the student, the McBurney Disability Resource Center, or both should pursue informal resolution.

Students who have complaints about alleged discrimination or policy/procedure violations by the McBurney Disability Resource Center are encouraged to discuss the matter with the McBurney Disability Resource Center Director, but this is not required. If the matter remains unresolved, either because a student remains dissatisfied or because the student chooses not to discuss the matter with the Director, the student should contact the Associate Dean of Students in the Division of Student Life, to whom the McBurney Disability Resource Center reports.

Formal Resolution

Students who wish to formally appeal a denial of accommodation decision made by an individual faculty member, an academic or administrative department, or the McBurney Disability Resource Center must follow the process described below:

  • Academic/Instructional Accommodation

    Internal to the Unit Making the Initial Denial Determination

    1st Level Appeal

    Students should follow the existing internal appeal or grievance process (whether specifically for ADA-related decisions or not), used by the department or unit in which the denial occurred. For example, the College of Letters and Sciences appeals process would be followed if a classroom accommodation request is denied by a faculty member in the College of Letters and Sciences. If no such internal process exists, see: External to the Unit Where No Internal Appeals Process Exists.

    Time limits, including the period during which an appeal must be filed and other procedural requirements, will follow whatever the process indicates. These should be communicated to the student filing the appeal at the outset.

    In the absence of set time limits, an appeal should be filed within 20 days of the denial and decided within 45 days, which should be communicated at the outset to the student filing the appeal. Additional resources available to assist in the review of the appeal may include the McBurney Disability Resource Center, the Office of Legal Affairs, the University Committee’s Committee on Disability Access and Accommodation (CAAI), and the appointed departmental or unit Access and Accommodation in Instruction Coordinator (AARC) where such an appointment exists.

    2nd Level Appeal

    If the initial denial has been upheld via the First Level appeal process, students may file a further appeal with the ADA Coordinator.

    Cathy Trueba
    ADA Coordinator
    Email:cathy.trueba@wisc.edu or ada_coordinator@wisc.edu
    Voice: (608) 265-3259; Relay calls accepted
    Office of Compliance
    361 Bascom Hall
    500 Lincoln Dr.
    Madison, WI 53706

    The standard for the ADA Coordinator review shall not be “de novo”; that is, the ADA Coordinator will not begin anew and review the complaint from the beginning. Rather, the ADA Coordinator shall review the record from the original denial and any previous appeals, in light of the stated bases for the appeal, in order to confirm:

    • whether the denial is supported by the record and was not arbitrary or capricious,
    • whether any procedural error or failure to consider known relevant facts occurred to the prejudice of the person making the request, and/or,
    • whether the denial is in compliance with the ADA.

    Any such appeal should be filed within 20 days of the upholding of a denial at Step 1., and a decision made within 45 days of filing the appeal.

    Appeals filed with the ADA Coordinator shall specifically state the reason(s) for the appeal:

    • the basis upon which the record does not support the denial, and/or
    • the procedural error which occurred, and/or
    • the known relevant facts that were not considered.

    In addition, the appeal must identify any other appeals, grievances or complaints that have been filed related to the same facts so that a determination can be made as to order of precedence.

    The ADA Coordinator may ask that the record be provided with a summary from both the person appealing and the unit denying the request, and may solicit additional information from or consult with those previously involved in the decision, including the person appealing, the overall unit head (dean, director, vice chancellor), and/or others as appropriate.

    Maximum possible confidentiality will be maintained and information will only be shared on a “need to know” basis, if it appears necessary in order to decide the appeal.


    External to the Unit Where No Internal Appeals Process Exists

    1st Level Appeal

    Students appealing a denial of an academic or instructional accommodation where there is no existing internal appeal or grievance process will have their appeal handled by the University Faculty Senate Committee on Disability Access and Accommodation (CAAI) or some subset of that committee. Additional resources available to assist in the review of the appeal may include the McBurney Disability Resource Center, the Office of Legal Affairs, and the appointed departmental or unit Access and Accommodation in Instruction Coordinator (AARC) where such an appointment exists. This committee shall establish appropriate procedures for handling these appeals and make them available to those seeking to appeal.

    2nd Level Appeal

    If the initial denial has been upheld via the First Level appeal process, students may file a further appeal with the ADA Coordinator.

    The standard for the ADA Coordinator review shall not be “de novo”; that is, the ADA Coordinator will not begin anew and review the complaint from the beginning. Rather, the ADA Coordinator shall review the record from the original denial and any previous appeals, in light of the stated bases for the appeal, in order to confirm:

    • whether the denial is supported by the record and was not arbitrary or capricious,
    • whether any procedural error or failure to consider known relevant facts occurred to the prejudice of the person making the request, and/or,
    • whether the denial is in compliance with the ADA.

    Any such appeal should be filed within 20 days of the upholding of a denial at Step 1., and a decision made within 45 days of filing the appeal.

    Appeals filed with the ADA Coordinator shall specifically state the reason(s) for the appeal:

    • the basis upon which the record does not support the denial, and/or
    • the procedural error which occurred, and/or
    • the known relevant facts that were not considered.

    In addition, the appeal must identify any other appeals, grievances or complaints that have been filed related to the same facts so that a determination can be made as to order of precedence.

    The ADA Coordinator may ask that the record be provided with a summary from both the person appealing and the unit denying the request, and may solicit additional information from or consult with those previously involved in the decision, including the person appealing, the overall unit head (dean, director, vice chancellor), and/or others as appropriate.

    Maximum possible confidentiality will be maintained and information will only be shared on a “need to know” basis, if it appears necessary in order to decide the appeal.

  • Non-Academic/Non-Instructional Accommodation (e.g., parking, housing, athletics)
    1st Level Appeal

    Students appealing a denial of non-academic/non-instructional accommodation will have their complaint reviewed by an ad hoc group composed of a designee of the department or unit that made the initial decision to deny the accommodation, but not the initial decision maker; a representative of the McBurney Disability Resource Center (where the McBurney Disability Resource Center was not the initial decision maker); and a representative of the Dean of Students Office. The Office of Legal Affairs will be available as a resource, and others may be consulted as deemed necessary.

    The time limits in this case should be 20 days to file the appeal and 45 days for a decision, which should be communicated at the outset to the person filing the appeal.

    2nd Level Appeal

    If the initial denial has been upheld via the First Level appeal process, students may file a further appeal with the ADA Coordinator.

    The standard for the ADA Coordinator review shall not be “de novo”; that is, the ADA Coordinator will not begin anew and review the complaint from the beginning. Rather, the ADA Coordinator shall review the record from the original denial and any previous appeals, in light of the stated bases for the appeal, in order to confirm:

    • whether the denial is supported by the record and was not arbitrary or capricious,
    • whether any procedural error or failure to consider known relevant facts occurred to the prejudice of the person making the request, and/or,
    • whether the denial is in compliance with the ADA.

    Any such appeal should be filed within 20 days of the upholding of a denial at Step 1., and a decision made within 45 days of filing the appeal.

    Appeals filed with the ADA Coordinator shall specifically state the reason(s) for the appeal:

    • the basis upon which the record does not support the denial, and/or
    • the procedural error which occurred, and/or
    • the known relevant facts that were not considered.

    In addition, the appeal must identify any other appeals, grievances or complaints that have been filed related to the same facts so that a determination can be made as to order of precedence.

    The ADA Coordinator may ask that the record be provided with a summary from both the person appealing and the unit denying the request, and may solicit additional information from or consult with those previously involved in the decision, including the person appealing, the overall unit head (dean, director, vice chancellor), and/or others as appropriate.

    Maximum possible confidentiality will be maintained and information will only be shared on a “need to know” basis, if it appears necessary in order to decide the appeal.

Complaint Procedures under Wis. Stats§ 36.12

If the Level 2, ADA Coordinator review upholds the denial, a § 36.12, Wis. Stats complaint may be filed with the Office of the Chancellor within 300 days of the denial. In dealing with such complaints, an expedited investigation/review will be undertaken to ensure that the process was fair and supported by the record. Section 36.12 complaints filed prior to the conclusion of a Level 2 appeal will not be processed because no institutional denial has yet occurred.

Nothing in this procedure should be construed to impede or prohibit a timely filing of an ADA or discrimination complaint with the appropriate external governmental agency or an internal complaint or grievance alleging discrimination, whether on the basis of disability or not, unrelated to the request for an accommodation.

Related Policies

Decision makers regarding academic/instructional accommodations at all levels, including appeals, shall conform to the above-referenced policy, particularly with reference to the provision of accommodations pending the conclusion of an appeal.

Questions? Contact:

Cathy Trueba
ADA Coordinator
Email: cathy.trueba@wisc.edu or ada_coordinator@wisc.edu
Voice: (608) 265-3259; Relay calls accepted
Office of Compliance
361 Bascom Hall
500 Lincoln Dr.
Madison, WI 53706

Promulgated by the ADA Coordinator December 21, 1994, in consultation with the McBurney Disability Resource Center, the Dean of Students Office, the Office of Affirmative Action and Compliance, and the Office of Administrative Legal Services. Revised February 20, 1995, April 11, 1997, February 12, 1999. Revised October 2016 in consultation with McBurney Disability Resource Center, the Dean of Students Office, the Office of Compliance, and the Office of Legal Affairs.