Webinar 2: What to do if the evidence suggests that the student is only a threat to himself or herself
The recent lawsuit filed by a student against Princeton University and a number of administrators challenging his eviction from housing and withdrawal from classes following a suicide attempt raises questions regarding the obligations of postsecondary institutions when a student is guilty of taking action that places only himself at risk. A review of recent OCR rulings reveals the following key compliance imperatives:
1. If the evidence clearly reflects that the student is not a threat to the health or safety of others then it is inappropriate to label the student as a "direct threat"; take adverse action based on such a label and/or to condition the student's continued participation on reduction of the threat. (See Spring Arbor University, No. 15-10-2098 (OCR 2010)).
2. If the evidence is mixed or incomplete, it is acceptable to conduct an individualized assessment based upon the best available objective evidence and/or current medical knowledge to determine whether the student represents a direct threat to others. (See Case Western Reserve University, No. 15-11-2024 (OCR 2011) and Farmingdale State College, No. 02-10-2176 (OCR 2011)).
3. A student who exhibit conduct and behavior requiring staff, administrators, and others to actively monitor and intervene in order for him/her to safely and/or properly participate in the educational program can be judged to be disruptive and as a consequence the institution may determine that he/she is not "qualified". Under such circumstances, it is important that:
4. Any adverse action (e.g., withdrawal, suspension, etc.) taken must be legitimate and non-discriminatory. Institutions must be able to demonstrate that the student was:
a)provided clear notice of the policies, procedures and/or requirements in question;
b)treated the same as similarly situated nondisabled students; and
c)afforded the same level of due process as others subject to comparable adverse action.
See Farmingdale State College, No. 02-10-2176 (OCR 2011); University of Michigan, Dearborn, No. 15-10-2105 (OCR 2011); St. Louis Community College, No. 07112019 (OCR 2011).