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VOLUNTARY MEDICAL/PSYCHOLOGICAL LEAVE POLICY and POLICY ON INVOLUNTARY LEAVE FOR STUDENTS WHO POST A DIRECT THREAT OF HARM TO OTHERS

IntroductionEdit

The following policies and procedures are to be used to help transition a student to a safer environment more conducive to their needs when it becomes clear that remaining at the College/University is not in the best interest of the student or the College/University community. This policy also allows for a student to take a leave voluntarily when medical conditions or psychological distress make a leave in their best interest; its goal is to define the length of separation, outline the path to re-entry and ease the transition for the student’s return,and to optimize the opportunities for the student’s success when they return. Under certain conditions, if a student has not opted to take a leave voluntarily, the College/University may institute an involuntary leave under this policy.

Student-Initiated Voluntary Leave of AbsenceEdit

Students may initiate a leave or withdrawal from the College/University formedical or psychological reasons (Note: College/University may opt to broaden this policy to include leaves for any reason. Should that option be taken, the College/University may outline universal conditions for return that will optimize the student’s success upon return). At the discretion of the Dean of Students (or designee), and subject to the refund policies of the institution, arrangements may be made for partial or complete refund of tuition and/or fees. Incomplete grades or other academic accommodations may be made as well, subject to the academic policies of the College/University. Modifications to housing contracts may also be possible. The normal College/University procedures for leave or withdrawal will be followed, including any documentation requirements. If a student takes a voluntary leave, the leave documentation will specify the duration of the leave and options for extension. The student is permitted to return upon the end of the leave, subject only to any conditions or restrictions outlined and agreed to prior to the leave or withdrawal. Students taking a leave or withdrawal are under no obligation to accept these conditions, but, should they accept them, they are subject to them. Any conditions should be designed to ensure the success of the student upon return.

Students who elect to fully withdraw, rather than take a leave, are required to reapply for admission after the time specified by the Office of Enrollment Management, and will be treated as any other applicant for admission at that time.

College/University-Initiated Medical or Psychological LeaveEdit

If a student is behaving in a way that is threatening to others, the Dean of Students(or designee) or [Chair of the BIT]may initiate these procedures. Students who engage in threats to others and self-harm behaviors that cause a significant disruption to the community may also be subject to the Code of Student Conduct.

Standard for Involuntary Leave on the Basis of Threat of Harm to OthersEdit

Standard for Separating a Student on the Basis of Behaviors Resulting from a Condition of Disability

This section applies to all involuntary leaves from housing or from the College/University for any student who is at significant risk of harm to others as a result of a condition covered by disabilities law. When the potential for harm to others is present, involuntary leave actions must consider whether the endangering behavior results from a condition of disability. If so, the student will be protected by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Under this federal statute, an individual with a disability may only be separated on the basis of this disability when they are not otherwise qualified to participate in the education program of the institution. The objective of this section is to determine whether it is more likely than not that a student is a direct threat. When a student is a direct threat, they are not otherwise qualified under disabilities law, and may be placed on leave.

A direct threat exists when a student poses a significant risk to the health or safety of others. A significant risk constitutes a high probability of substantial harm. Significance will be determined by:

  • The duration of the risk;
  • The nature and severity of the potential harm;
  • The likelihood that the potential harm will occur; and
  • The imminence of the potential harm.

The College/University must determine whether reasonable accommodations to policies, practices or procedures will sufficiently mitigate the risk, unless those reasonable accommodations would cause undue hardship for the College/University.

Determining that a student is a direct threat requires an objective and individualized assessment and hearing. The assessment must be based on a reasonable medical judgment that relies on the most current medical knowledge and/or on the best available objective evidence. This standard also applies to the reinstatement of a student who has been placed on leave. They are entitled to return upon a showing they no longer pose a direct threat of harm to others. The College/University’s Behavioral Intervention and/or Threat Assessment Team will likely assist in this determination.

Status of Conduct Proceedings

If the student has been accused of a violation of the Code of Student Conduct, but it appears that the student is not capable of understanding the nature or inappropriateness of the action, this policy may be activated prior to issuance of a determination in the conduct process. Interim suspension for threat of harm to others will also likely be imposed.

If the student is placed on medical leave from the College/University, or another action is taken under these provisions following a finding that the student’s behavior was the result of a lack of capacity, such action terminates the pending conduct action. If the student is found not to be subject to medical leave, conduct proceedings may be reinstated

Referral for Assessment or EvaluationEdit

The appropriate official (or Behavioral Intervention Team) may refer or mandate a student for evaluation by a campus or independent licensed psychiatrist or psychologist (or licensed professional counselor, social worker, licensed clinical social worker, etc.) chosen by the College/University. Such evaluation may be appropriate if it is believed that the student may meet the criteria set forth in this policy or if a student subject to conduct proceedings provides notification that information concerning a mental health/behavioral condition or disorder will be introduced.

Students referred or mandated for evaluation will be so informed in writing with personal and/or certified delivery, and will be given a copy of these standards and procedures. The evaluation must be completed per the direction of the referral letter, unless the Dean of Students (or designee) grants an extension. A student who fails to complete the evaluation in accordance with these standards and procedures, and/or who fails to give permission for the results to be shared with appropriate administrators, will be referred for conduct action for “Failure to Comply” under the Code of Student Conduct.

College/University-Initiated Leave Hearing Procedures for Direct Threat of Harm to OthersEdit

Administrative Hearing Option

The Dean of Students (or designee) may invoke informal resolution procedures to determine the need for an involuntary leave without a formal hearing. This process is also known as an administrative hearing. In administrative hearings, medical and administrative evidence (e.g. BIT assessment) will be heard, and final determinations will be made by the Dean of Students (or designee). If the medical evaluation and/or administrative assessment (e.g. BIT assessment) support the need for a leave, the Dean of Student life will render a written decision within two business days, barring exigent circumstances, stating the rationale for his/her determination. The decision will be delivered to the student directly, electronically,and/or by regular and certified mail. If the determination is made that a leave is warranted, the notification will include information regarding how long the leave may endure, as well as specifying any conditions of reinstatement. If other actions are pending, the appropriate individuals will be notified and may proceed with their actions.

Formal Hearing Option

The student subject to an involuntary leave may request a formal hearing in lieu of the administrative hearing described above. If the medical evaluation and/or administrative assessment (e.g. BIT assessment) support the need for a leave, a hearing will be scheduled before the Dean of Students (or designee), and core members of the College/University administration. The student will be informed, in writing electronically and through regular and/or certified delivery, of the time, date and place of the hearing. The student will be given at least two business days to independently review the psychological or psychiatric evaluation prior to the hearing. The student will be notified of who is expected to present information at the hearing, and is expected to notify the Dean of Students (or designee) of any parties with relevant information whom the Dean should contact to request their appearance at the hearing as a witness. The student may, at the discretion of the Dean of Students (or designee), be assisted by an advisor in the hearing. An advisor is defined in this process as a current member of the faculty, staff or administration of the College/University. Law permits[1] a student to have an attorney present to attend/advise, but no advisor will be allowed to speak for or formally represent the student during a formal involuntary leave hearing.

The student and the student’s advisor may present information about the necessity of involuntary leave and the student will be given the opportunity to ask questions of others presenting information. The hearing should be conversational and non-adversarial; however the Dean of Students (or designee) will exercise active control over the proceeding, to include deciding who may present information. Formal rules of evidence will not apply. Anyone who disrupts the hearing may be excluded. There will be a single verbatim record, such as a tape recording, for all involuntary leave hearings. The record will be the property of the College/University and maintained according to the College/University’s record retention policy for such hearings.

A written decision will be rendered by the committee within two business days, barring exigent circumstances, stating the rationale for its determination. The decision will be delivered to the student in writing electronically and through regular and/or certified delivery. If the determination is made that a leave is warranted, the notification will include information regarding how long the leave may endure, as well as specifying any conditions of reinstatement. If other actions are pending, the appropriate individuals will be notified and may proceed with their actions.

Appeals Process

The determination of the involuntary leave hearing, administrative or formal, is subject to appeal to the Vice President for Student Affairs in accordance with the following process:

Students subject to involuntary leave may petition for a review of the determination within three (3) business days of issuance of the hearing committee’s written decision. All petitions must be in writing and delivered to the Vice President for Student Affairs (or designee). Reviews will only be considered for one or more of the following purposes:

  • To consider new information which was unavailable at the time of the original hearing and could be outcome determinative;
  • To assess whether a material deviation from written procedures impacted the fairness or outcome of the hearing;
  • To decide if an involuntary leave is disproportionate to the severity of the threat evidenced in the hearing;
  • To determine if the decision does not align with the information provided in the hearing or whether reasonable accommodations might mitigate the risk without a leave; or
  • To assess whether bias on the part of a hearing committee member deprived the process of impartiality.

Except as required to explain the basis of new information unavailable at the time of a hearing, review of a hearing will be limited to the verbatim record of the initial hearing and/or all supporting documents. The review and appeal decision of the Vice President for Student Affairs (or designee) is final.

Readmission Following an Involuntary LeaveEdit

A student who is seeking reinstatement to the College/University after an involuntary leave must receive clearance by providing the Dean of Students written evidence from a licensed medical or mental health professional that the student is no longer a direct threat to others and is otherwise qualified to participate in the College/University’s educational programs. Any other conditions outlined in accordance with this policy and/or any conduct sanctions must also be completed. A hearing, as outlined above, may be held to determine whether it is more likely than not that the student is no longer a direct threat.

FootnotesEdit

  1. Note: The legal requirement of allowing an attorney to be present depends on the jurisdiction