The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that all colleges provide accommodations to students with disabilities. Disability Support Services (DSS), located in the Office of Academic Development, coordinates and assures that students with disabilities receive the appropriate accommodations for their classes. DSS makes the determination if a student’s disability warrants an attendance accommodation. This accommodation is examined on an individual, case-by-case (course by course) basis. Documentation from a qualified professional must provide evidence to support the request and be submitted to DSS.
Policy on Exceptions to Attendance Policies Due to a Chronic Medical Condition
Students with a chronic illness may experience unexpected flares and possibly extended absences. Students in this circumstance may request accommodations to the attendance policy in their specific courses. Such requests should be made at least two weeks prior to when the semester begins in order for modification agreements and alternative plans to made. Accommodations are not provided retroactively. These accommodations apply only to individuals with documented disabilities/chronic illnesses; for example, a student who misses class because of the flu is not considered disabled and cannot ask for these accommodations.
Arcadia’s undergraduate policy states that “Arcadia University students accept the responsibility for attending scheduled meetings of their classes and completing their assignments on time.” It is left to faculty up to determine the attendance policy for their courses.
While students are expected to attend regularly scheduled classes, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) requires that requests for modification to attendance policies due to disability related absences be considered on a case-by-case basis. Arcadia University will make every effort to reasonable accommodations student’s disability related needs. However, the university is not required to waive essential academic requirements regardless of the nature of the student’s disability. Some classes rely on presence and participation more heavily than others. In some classes, leniency with absences may be more difficult to offer as an accommodation (for example: language courses, labs, internships and courses requiring field work).
Faculty are asked to consider the following questions in order to determine whether leniency in attendance policy would fundamentally alter the essential requirements of the course.
- Is there a departmental policy on absences? If so, what is it?
- What are classroom practices and policies regarding attendance? What does the course description and syllabus say about attendance?
- Is the class attendance policy consistently applied?
- Is attendance or participation factored in as part of the final grade?
- To what extent is there classroom interaction between the instructor and students? To what extent is there classroom interaction among students? Is there group work during class time?
- Does the fundamental nature of the course rely on student participation as a method of learning? What is the impact of the student’s absences on the educational experience of other students in the class?
- Are assignments used as class content when they are due? (e.g. problem sets reviewed as the first lecture on that content)
It is important for students to remember that even if they are excused, absences may have a negative impact on the student’s academic performance since the student will not have the full benefit of the class experience (class discussion, ability to ask questions, etc.).
- Facilitate the interactive process between student and faculty member to negotiate the attendance modification.
- Communicating with faculty member to establish the parameters of the attendance agreement.
- Renegotiate agreement if needed.
- Determining the essential requirements of the course.
- Establishing parameters of the accommodation to the attendance policy in consultation with DSS.
- Address any questions or concerns regarding the attendance agreement with DSS. Students are expected to adhere to the attendance agreement established among the student, faculty, and DSS.
- Accommodations addressing absences are to be used with caution. Students will be held to the Honor System, in that students will use this accommodation only in cases of flare ups and unexpected/prolonged illnesses.
- Students are responsible for meeting all course requirements.
- Students are responsible for obtaining any missed information from classes.
- Students are responsible for informing the instructor in advance or in a timely manner of the reasons for their absence.