The Disability Resource Center does not have a role in determining course attendance policies. Because attendance may be an integral part of the teaching process, attendance policies are set by faculty at the department or individual level as stated in each course syllabus.
In some cases, attendance is a fundamental component in the course objectives (i.e., participation in a group project or oral presentations in a speech class). In other cases, faculty may determine that a student can master the course content despite absences.
The U.S. Dept. of Education's Office of Civil Rights has given the following guidelines for determining if and when attendance is essential to a course:
- Are the classroom interactions between the instructor and the students, and amongst the students themselves, integral to the course objectives?
- Does classroom participation make up a significant component of the learning process?
- Does the functional nature of the course rely on student participation as an essential method of learning?
- To what degree does a student's failure to attend constitute a significant loss to the educational process of that student and others in the course?
- What does the syllabus and classroom policies and practices dictate regarding attendance?
- Can the activities missed by a student be made up (i.e. making up a lab or clinical assignment may not be possible) weighing the administrative burden?
Case-by-case situations should be considered on an individual basis. To assist faculty with this process, when a DRC student requests attendance flexibility, the DRC will provide written verification of the student's disability based on the current documentation on file and address the legitimacy of the absences. The DRC will also determine if the absence is related to the disability, based on the written supporting documentation provided by the student to the DRC, from an appropriate professional. The DRC student is encouraged, when it is possible, to communicate with the instructor and make appropriate arrangements directly. The DRC staff will act as a faculty liaison when requested by the DRC student.
Routine medical appointments, transportation difficulties, meetings with outside agencies, etc., do not warrant a recommendation from the DRC regarding absences as they are not directly related to the disability.
Flexibility options regarding attendance that faculty may approve, depending on the course in question, may include but are not limited to:
- If the syllabus indicates a certain number of absences would result in a lower grade, to not penalize the student.
- If the policy is to not allow make-up of missed exams or assignments, the student may be allowed to make-up an exam or turn in missed work in a reasonable time frame (to be determined by the instructor) without penalty.
- Allowing the student to complete extra credit assignments to make up assignments missed in class.
- Other arrangements as determined by the individual faculty member.
In cases when absences will affect the ability of the DRC student to demonstrate the skills required to successfully pass a course, the DRC student has the same options available to all students to file for a refund exception through the Admissions and Records Office or withdraw from the course as determined by College-wide procedures and drop dates.
Office of Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Education
915 Second Ave., Room 3310
Seattle, WA 98174-1099
Voice Telephone: 206-220-7900