3.5.13 - Progressive Discipline

Last updated on March 30, 2023

POLICY:  Spoon River College generally requires the application of progressive discipline prior to the dismissal of the employment relationship with the exception of cases of serious misconduct or layoff.


This policy applies to all Spoon River College employees, with the exception of employees with individual contracts of employment.  In the event of a conflict between this Policy and the terms of a collective bargaining agreement, the terms of the collective bargaining agreement will control.  


Layoff:  Employment dismissal due to no fault of the employee but by reasons such as financial, reduction in workforce, educational program reduction or elimination, etc.

Progressive Discipline:  Progressive discipline is a procedure for dealing with employee conduct that does not meet expected standards by implementing increasingly formal efforts so he/ she has the opportunity to correct the problem.  The progressive discipline procedure is generally used where the situation is not deemed serious misconduct or as a result of layoff.  Progressive discipline may be initiated at any step.

Serious Misconduct:  Serious misconduct may include any action taken by an employee that is detrimental to the College.  In the case of serious misconduct, progressive discipline may not apply.  Refer to item 6 in the Details section below.  While it is not possible to list every type of conduct that is considered serious misconduct, examples include, but are not limited to:


  1. Performance Improvement Plan: In recognition of the fact that a problem may arise between an employee and his/her supervisor, the College has adopted a positive approach to solving issues. In order to implement a positive disciplinary process, formal discipline may be postponed until the parties involved have attempted to resolve the issue through documented discussion. A Performance Improvement Plan will be available in the Human Resources Office for this purpose.
  2. Verbal warning: Verbal discussion by the supervisor to the employee that specifically identifies the inappropriate behavior (facts and observations). Supervisors keep their own informal records of this event.
  1. Written Letter: A written letter from either the supervisor or the Human Resources Director to the employee when the matter has not been resolved through a Verbal Warning (copy to HR), or when the matter is considered sufficiently serious to begin the discipline process at this step. This letter will identify the date of any prior verbal warning and summarize the efforts toward resolution agreed to at that time.  If additional situations arise after a verbal warning, a written letter will be issued as soon as the additional matter is identified, and will contain relevant facts and circumstances as well as improvement expectations.
  1. Final Written Warning: A final written from either the supervisor or the Human Resources Director to the employee when the matter or matters have not been resolved through the verbal warning or written letter, or when the matter is considered sufficiently serious to begin the discipline process at this step. The letter will identify the problems, any prior efforts to resolve them; any new efforts designed for problem resolution, and will leave no doubt that failure to resolve the problems or any identification of additional problems may result in dismissal.
  1. Dismissal: A letter of dismissal issued by the Board of Trustees or President when the matters have not been resolved through prior steps; when an additional problem has been identified since the Final Written Warning letter was issued; or in the case of layoff or serious misconduct. A history of progressive discipline may be considered when in determining whether termination is warranted. The letter will summarize any prior efforts to resolve the problems and discuss other dismissal items of interest such as final pay, benefits, return of company property, etc.
  2. An immediate unpaid suspension or dismissal may result from serious misconduct offenses or actions. In addition, an employee may be suspended with or without pay pending investigation of potential discipline or termination.
  3. Members of a collective bargaining unit are entitled to have association representation during the discipline process per the appropriate section of the applicable collective bargaining unit agreement and as provided by law.