Policies & Procedures
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- Academic Accommodations Procedure
- Academic Adjustments Policy
- Attendance Policy
- Course Substitution Policy
- Grievance Policy and Procedure
- Reduced Course Load Policy
- Student Procedure for Arranging Test Accommodations
- Testing Policy and Procedure
An appropriate academic adjustment is an accommodation necessary to ensure complete access to and full participation in the educational process for students with disabilities. An institution must make reasonable accommodations in order to provide the student with a disability an equal opportunity to participate in the institution’s courses, programs, and activities. This does not include such services as personal care, special academic advisement, workshops, support groups or tutoring. In order to arrange for academic accommodations on the basis of disability, students must follow the subsequent procedure.
- Self-Disclosure : It is the student’s responsibility to initiate contact with the office of Disability Resource Center and to request accommodations and services in a timely manner.
- Documentation : The student must present comprehensive documentation of a disability from a physician, psychologist, and/or learning specialist as appropriate for that disability. Documentation must provide a diagnosis and explanation for how the condition may manifest itself in an academic setting. Empirical data, when appropriate, should be provided. Recommendations for academic accommodations may be included in the documentation. Specific guidelines for each disability condition are available. It is the student’s obligation to provide documentation of a disability in order to establish eligibility for support services and any reasonable and appropriate accommodations.
- Meet your Counselor : The student must make an appointment with his or her assigned DRC counselor. Together, the documentation will be carefully reviewed, needs will be assessed, and appropriate accommodations will be determined. In order to receive approval from Disability Resource Center, the accommodations requested must match the academic needs described in the documentation. Accommodations cannot alter the fundamental nature of the course.
- Notify Faculty : The assigned counselor will prepare accommodation request forms for all instructors. The student must sign a release form in order for the presence of a disability to be disclosed to faculty. It is the student’s responsibility to present the accommodation request form to his/her instructors and negotiate the best way for accommodations to be provided. Students must pick up accommodation forms from DRC at the beginning of each semester.
- Follow Through : As courses change and the student’s understanding of his/her learning process increases, accommodations may need to be adjusted. Therefore, students should keep in touch with their assigned counselors to share successes and brainstorm ways to improve their academic performance.
What is the Mission of Disability Resource Center?
The mission of Disability Resource Center is to unite the Montclair State University community in an effort to provide students with disabilities the excellence and equity in education to which they are legally entitled. We promote the full and active participation of individuals with disabilities in all aspects of post-secondary education while advocating and facilitating equal educational opportunities. This can be accomplished through appropriate support services, curricula, instruction, and policy. The ultimate goal of these services is to enable students to succeed academically, improve retention, and provide students with the opportunity to acquire the tools needed to live successful lives in the future.
What Laws Provide Protection to Students with Disabilities?
Two major pieces of legislation protect the rights of people with disabilities: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Section 504 protects the civil rights of qualified individuals with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 is a civil rights guarantee for persons with disabilities in the US. It provides people with disabilities protection from discrimination on the basis of disability.
Who is Protected by Law?
Section 504 states that: "No otherwise qualified person with a disability in the US shall, solely by reason of disability, be denied the benefits of, be excluded from participation in, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance." Under Section 504, a person with a disability includes any person who has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities; has a record of such an impairment; or is regarded as having such an impairment. To be a "qualified" person with a disability, a person must meet the academic and technical standards required for admission or participation in a post-secondary institution’s programs and activities.
According to the ADA , a person with a disability is anyone with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, including tasks such as walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, and learning. The ADA mandates that reasonable modifications in policies, practices, and procedures must be made as necessary to avoid discrimination on the basis of disability. The ADA upholds and extends the standards for compliance set forth in Section 504.
What Types of Disabilities Are Covered?
Learning disabilities - Chronic illnesses, such as epilepsy, diabetes, and cancer - Psychological disabilities - Blindness or visual impairments - Deafness or hearing impairments - Mobility impairments - Spinal cord injury - Traumatic brain injury - Other conditions meeting the definition of disability
What is the Impact of these Laws on Post-Secondary Education?
Section 504 and the ADA mean that colleges and universities receiving federal financial assistance must not discriminate in the recruitment, admission, or treatment of students. Students with documented disabilities may request modifications, accommodations, or auxiliary aids that will enable them to participate in and benefit from all post-secondary educational programs and activities. Institutions must make such changes, when appropriate, to ensure the academic program is accessible to the greatest extent possible by all students with disabilities.
What are Modifications and Accommodations?
Requested modifications or accommodations must be considered "reasonable" and "appropriate" for an individual’s disability. An institution must make reasonable accommodations in order to provide a student with a disability an equal opportunity to participate in the institution’s courses, programs, and activities. Appropriate and reasonable accommodations are made on a case-by-case basis, as they are determined specifically on an individual’s functional impairments and provided in order to lessen the discriminatory effects of a disability.
Examples of academic adjustments include:
- Extended test time
- Testing in a distraction-reduced environment
- Use of a reader or scribe
- Use of a calculator, spell checker, computer, or other auxiliary aid
- Use of a tape recorder or note-taker during lectures
- Preferential seating in a classroom
- Sign language interpreters
- Textbooks on CD
Accommodating students with disabilities is not only the legal responsibility of Montclair State University, but also an ethical responsibility. All requested accommodations are determined to be reasonable and appropriate by staff with professional credentials. Such modifications enable qualified students with disabilities to not only have equal access to the full range of programs and activities offered to all Montclair State students, but also allow the entire campus community to benefit by this added diversity.
The Disability Resource Center (DRC) does not determine class attendance policies. Since attendance may or may not be fundamental to course objectives, attendance policies are set by faculty. Attendance may be essential to the learning process; for example, students may be required to interact with other students or participate in group projects. In other cases, faculty may determine that students can still master the material despite some or many absences. Attendance requirements should be clearly stated on course syllabi, so students with chronic medical conditions can make appropriate choices.
Similarly, faculty also determines policies on makeup work and missed quizzes or exams.
In a legal decision by The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) in 1996, attendance policies and classroom participation were addressed. OCR noted that it accords significant deference to a college’s determination that attendance is essential in a particular course. Several factors were presented that OCR would consider in a given challenge to determine that attendance is essential:
- Is there classroom interaction between instructor and students and among students?
- Do student contributions constitute a significant component of learning?
- Does the fundamental nature of the course rely upon student participation as essential to the learning method?
- To what degree does a student’s failure to attend constitute a significant loss to the educational experience?
- Is there a course syllabus and description?
- Does the syllabus contain the classroom policies and practices regarding attendance?
- What is the method by which the final grade is calculated?
The DRC will provide students whose disability may adversely affect attendance with an accommodation form requesting flexibility in attendance. The purpose of this form is not to excuse the student, but to verify the legitimacy of the absences.
Recognizing that the nature and severity of a documented specific learning disability may preclude learning in certain areas even with reasonable accommodations, the University may permit the substitution of specific courses as an accommodation. Each case must be carefully considered on an individual basis before a decision can be made.
Procedure for Requesting a Course Substitution
The following procedure must be followed if a student with a documented disability is seeking modification of the University’s general education requirements.
- The petition process should begin as soon as there is strong objective evidence that the student will be unable to fulfill the requirement.
- The student must provide the Director of Disability Resource Center with current, relevant, and comprehensive documentation and assessment data from certified professionals. Detailed guidelines for documentation are available through DRC. This documentation must substantiate a severe disability and provide compelling evidence of its impact upon the student in the area of concern.
- A complete case history is required to document the student’s history of problems with learning in the area for which he/she is seeking the substitution.
- The student must sign a waiver of confidentiality to allow the DRC Director to share pertinent information with the appropriate faculty.
- A substitution will be considered in relation to the educational goals that the requirement seeks to fulfill. The substitution of a specific course cannot constitute a fundamental alteration in the nature of the degree requirements and the specific course cannot be required for professional certification.
- The decision will be made jointly by the DRC Director and the relevant chairperson.
- The substituted course(es) may not be used to satisfy any other General Education Requirement.
Students can submit a report of an internal grievance against a member of the University community by following the instruction/forms provided: Click Here.
Students whose disabilities may warrant the adjustment of carrying less than a full-time course load per semester may request a reduced course load as an accommodation.
Students should submit a request for a reduced course load to their assigned counselor in the office of Disability Resource Center at the time of registration. Students must provide appropriate documentation regarding their disability and its current impact. The counselor and the Director will review the request in terms of the impact of the disability and the demands of the student’s current or proposed course schedule.
If the request is denied, the student may appeal the decision through the grievance procedure. If the request is approved, the potential consequences of the reduced course load on progress toward graduation, financial aid, billing, etc. will be explained to the student by the assigned counselor. The counselor will indicate the approved reduced course load and explain that this credit load will be considered as the student’s minimum credit load for full-time status for the semester in question, and that he/she cannot drop below this without placing his/her full-time status in jeopardy. The student and the Director will sign the Reduced Course Load Approval Form. Copies will be sent to the Registrar, Financial Aid, Bursar, the student’s academic advisor, the Dean of Students, and Residence Life if applicable.
At the agreed upon credit load, the student will be considered as full-time and entitled to all of the services, benefits, rights and privileges of full-time status.
The Disability Resource Center will provide alternative exam arrangements for students whose disabilities necessitate this accommodation, and whose professors are unable to accommodate them due to restrictions of time and space. In order to take your test at DRC, you must follow these guidelines.
- No later than three (3) working days before the exam date, you must notify DRC that you will be using their service. The proper notice assures the smooth delivery of accommodations by permitting DRC to use its resources wisely. Verbal notice over the telephone or in person works just fine. DRC encourages the scheduling of exams with ample advance notice – three days is just the minimum!
- You must complete an Alternative Exam Request Form. After you fill in requested information, you must present the form to your instructor to complete and sign. It is your responsibility to get this form filled out and returned to our office at least three days before the date of the exam.
- Make sure the instructor delivers the exam to DRC. Delivery can be made by the instructor, the student, fax or e-mail. Campus mail is not recommended, and DRC will not pick up exams.
- On the date and time of the exam, you must come to the DRC office. All belongings (backpacks, books, purses, cell phones, etc.) must be left with DRC staff until you have completed your exam.
- Tests will be proctored or periodically monitored. This is to ensure the integrity of the exam is upheld in accordance with MSU’s Academic Dishonesty Policy.
The preceding procedure must be followed for each test you take at DRC. These guidelines must be adhered to in order for the DRC to effectively provide testing accommodations.
Protection of Equal Educational Opportunity
Students with disabilities may be entitled to alternative testing arrangements to provide an equal opportunity to demonstrate their mastery of course material. Valid measurement of learning is an essential component of the educational process. The impact of some disabilities can affect the accuracy of classroom evaluation measures and, consequently, some students cannot be fairly evaluated without appropriate accommodations. These modifications should not change the examination content through which the attainment of course objectives is measured, but may alter non-related procedures through which a student demonstrates his or her mastery of the objectives.
Protection of Academic Standards
Modifications to procedures must not reduce academic standards, nor may they compromise fairness by giving any student a competitive edge. Rather, they should serve to eliminate a competitive disadvantage caused by incompatibility between a testing method or environment and an individual’s specific disability.
Types of Exam Modifications
- Testing in a distraction-reduced environment
- Extended testing time of 1 ½ times, in most cases (certain disabilities may require additional testing time)
- Provision of readers, scribes, or sign language interpreters
- Provision of assistive technologies, such as computers, calculators, or a CCTV
- Provision of alternative formats, such as large print or Braille
- Other reasonable accommodations
Security of Examination Materials and Administration
The security of exam materials used in proctoring tests is of critical importance to DRC staff. Instructors whose exams will be administered at the DRC are responsible for selecting the procedures through which exam materials are delivered to and returned from the DRC. Upon receipt of exam materials, the DRC assumes responsibility for maintaining them in a secure manner prior to and during test administration. DRC test administration procedures are intended to discourage and detect academic misconduct. Prior to entering a testing room, students must leave all belongings (backpacks, books, etc.) with DRC staff, and students are periodically monitored to prevent academic dishonesty. In the event that more than one student must take an exam in the same room, a member of the DRC staff will proctor for the entirety of the exam.
Responsibilities of Students and Faculty Using DRC for Testing Arrangements
Students and faculty using the DRC for the delivery of exam accommodations are responsible for following designated procedures. Students are responsible for arranging test accommodations. The process begins with a meeting with DRC staff to determine appropriate accommodations. The assigned DRC counselor will provide the student with an Accommodation Request Form, which validates the need for specific accommodations. The student must present this form to instructors and request accommodations in a timely manner. After a request for accommodation is made, instructors and students should fully discuss and agree upon which test accommodations are needed. Instructors may provide the requested accommodations independently or, if unable to do so, may use the DRC for the provision of testing accommodations. If the DRC administers the test, students and instructors must submit an Alternative Exam Request Form at least three working days before the test.
Alternative Exam Request Forms
Disability Resource Center will provide alternative exam arrangements for students whose disabilities necessitate this accommodation, and whose professors are unable to accommodate them due to restrictions of time and space. It is the student’s responsibility to get this form filled out and returned to our office at least three days before the date of the exam.
Instructors are responsible for secure and timely submission of exam materials via the method of their choice; however, campus mail is not recommended. Faculty who decide to send tests with the student who will be taking them are strongly encouraged to seal materials in an envelope and sign and indicate the date and time the test is being released. Note also that the Disability Resource Center will not pick up exams.