Board of Trustees Policy
Subject: Services for Students with Disabilities and Grievance Procedure In Accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act
Date: April 15, 2013
Supersedes: April 2009
Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) welcomes qualified students with disabilities and endorses the principles of nondiscrimination and reasonable accommodation as described in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (504), the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act of 2009 (ADAA). The College's policies and procedures for serving and accommodating students with disabilities are designed to ensure equal opportunity to participate in its educational programs, services, and activities. This policy provides guidance to reasonably accommodate students with disabilities without compromising academic standards and requirements. It also establishes grievance procedures to report a violation.
The College prohibits discrimination against a person on the basis of disability or who has a history or record of such impairment or is regarded as having such impairment as well as persons who are associated with a disabled person. Students are required to utilize this policy to request reasonable accommodations.
The College has a Disability Services Center. This office handles reasonable accommodation requests and works with faculty and qualified students to ensure the implementation of these requests.
The College has a Section 504 Coordinator who handles appeals of reasonable accommodation decisions and allegations of discrimination on account of disability. The Section 504 Coordinator is the Director of Equity and Diversity Initiatives and may be reached in the Human Resources Offices in College Hall on the Central Campus, at 215-619-7383.
Eligibility for Services and Accommodations
To be eligible for services and reasonable accommodations, a student must meet the following criteria:
- Be a person with a disability as defined by 504/ADA
A person with a disability is someone who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities (for example, walking, seeing, hearing, thinking, concentrating, and learning). A substantial limitation exists if the manner, duration, or condition under which the activity is performed is significantly limited compared to most people. With respect to post-secondary education, a qualified person with a disability is one who, with or without accommodation, meets the standards for admission to or participation in an educational program, service, or activity. (Adapted from Subpart E: The Impact of Section 504 on Postsecondary Education, Association of Higher Education and Disability.)
- Submits appropriate documentation of a disability that supports the need for services
and accommodations (see documentation requirements) to:
Director of Services for Students with Disabilities, Central Campus Disability Services Center, College Hall 131, (215) 641-6575 (215), (215) 619-7183 FAX; or
Coordinator of Services for Students with Disabilities, West Campus Student Success Center (room 147), (610) 718-1853 Voice, (610) 718-1837 FAX.
- Contact the Director or Coordinator to request accommodations in a timely manner. Information about accessing services and accommodations will be included in all appropriate publications and communications to students and faculty, including the College’s catalog and web site, student and faculty handbooks, and admissions and welcome back letters. The College will make every effort to implement reasonable accommodations whenever they are requested. However, accommodations will not be implemented retroactively.
Reasonable accommodations are provided on a case-by-case basis for otherwise qualified students who disclose a disability that causes significant functional limitations in a college setting. The accommodations may vary from class to class depending upon course content and format. The accommodations are intended to compensate for the effects of a disability and provide the student with an equal opportunity to participate. Accommodations are intended to be effective and reasonable; they do not guarantee success. The College is not required to make an accommodation that substantially alters essential elements of a course or program. The Director or Coordinator determines appropriate accommodations in conjunction with the student and other College professionals, as appropriate, based on the following considerations:
- Current substantial functional limitations caused by the condition in a college setting, as indicated by the documentation
- Student’s description of need
- Course and program requirements
Classroom accommodations may include the following: tape recorder or note-taker; assistive computer technology or adaptive equipment; sign language interpreters; alternative formats for print.
Testing accommodations may include the following: extended-time; distraction-reduced room; readers; scribes; computers and assistive technology; spell checkers; calculators when appropriate.
Course substitutions must be approved by the Division Dean.
A prior history of accommodations does not mean that the College will provide similar accommodations. Consideration of a student’s current functioning is essential in evaluating eligibility for accommodations.
The College may require documentation to confirm the existence of a disabling condition; to identify current deficits that cause limitations, preferably in a college setting; and to relate the current impact of the condition to the requested accommodations. Documentation must be on letterhead stationery, indicate the date of the most recent evaluations, and include the signature, title, and credentials of the evaluators or professionals who prepared the documentation.
Students have the responsibility of providing documentation at their own expense. The College may request additional documentation if the information provided is incomplete to make a determination or if the documentation does not support the accommodation(s) requested. The documentation will be used along with the student’s description of need and educational history to determine eligibility for reasonable accommodations. Types of documentation may include psychological, neuropsychological, or psycho-educational evaluations; Individual Educational Plans; 504 plans; Summaries of Performance (SOP); and letters from qualified medical and mental health professionals.
Complete guidelines for disability documentation are available on the College’s web site and from the Central Campus Disability Services Center and the West Campus Student Success Center.
Disclosure and Confidentiality
Student disclosure of a disability is voluntary. All students with disabilities who seek an accommodation have the responsibility to identify themselves to the responsible College office. Identification may take place at admissions or at any time during the student's course of study. The College considers disability-related information as confidential material, and it will not become a part of a student’s academic record at the College. This information will be kept as confidential as practical while the accommodations are being considered and thereafter. Faculty should refrain from discussing a student's issues regarding disabilities and accommodations for them in the presence of other students, or to faculty or staff not directly involved in the accommodation process. This information will be released under the following conditions.
- if required by law
- with the student’s written consent
- on a need-to-know basis
Appealing Accommodations Decisions
If a student’s request for an accommodation is denied by the Director of Services for Students with Disabilities, the following appeal procedure should be followed:
- Within five (5) business days of the denial, the student must submit an Accommodations Appeals Form to the Director of Equity and Diversity Initiatives/Section 504 Coordinator, Office of Human Resources, College Hall 141, (215) 619-7383.
- The Director of Equity and Diversity Initiatives/Section 504 Coordinator will respond to the appeal within three (3) business days with a decision. If the Director is not available to respond in a timely manner, the Vice President for Student Affairs will make a decision on the student’s appeal within three (3) business days.
If a professor denies an accommodation that has been approved by the Director of Services for Students with Disabilities, the following appeal procedure should be followed:
- The student should contact the Director or the Coordinator of Services for Students with Disabilities at West Campus within three (3) business days.
- The Director or Coordinator will contact the professor within three (3) business days to arrange for the accommodation or to identify a reasonable alternative that provides equal access and the opportunity to succeed.
- If the Director or Coordinator cannot resolve the dispute, the student must submit an Accommodations Appeal Form within five (5) business days to the Director of Equity and Diversity Initiatives, who will investigate the matter in accordance with the College’s Non-Discrimination Policies and respond with a decision within three (3) business days. If the Director of Equity and Diversity Initiatives is not available to respond in a timely manner, the Vice President for Student Affairs will make a decision on the student’s appeal within three (3) business days.
Complaints of Discrimination Based Upon a Disability
Complaints of disability discrimination can be filed with the Director of Equity and Diversity Initiatives at the College/Section 504 Coordinator at the Office of Human Resources, College Hall 141, or by calling 215-619-7383.
Employee, Faculty and Student Responsibilities
Each employee, faculty member, administrator and student of the College is personally responsible for ensuring that s/he does not engage in conduct that violates this policy. Each employee, faculty member, administrator and student is responsible for cooperating in any investigation of alleged harassment, discrimination or retaliation if requested to do so by the person conducting the investigation.
Anyone who believes that s/he, or any other member of the College community, to be a victim of disability discrimination, harassment or retaliation prohibited by this policy, whether by a supervisor, a co-worker, faculty member, student, vendor, contractor or any other person with whom s/he comes in contact at the College, in the course of any educational program or activity at the College, should report the incident directly to the Director of Equity and Diversity Initiatives at the College /Section 504 Coordinator (at 215-619-7383). Any person who receives a complaint of disability discrimination, harassment or retaliation from an employee or student, or who otherwise knows or has reason to believe that an employee or student has been subjected to disability discrimination, harassment or retaliation, is expected to report the incident promptly to the Director of Equity and Diversity Initiatives at the College/Section 504 Coordinator.
The Director of Equity and Diversity Initiatives at the College/Section 504 Coordinator will conduct a prompt and appropriate investigation into any allegation of disability discrimination, harassment or retaliation, so as to enable a prompt and equitable response under all circumstances and in a fair and expeditious manner. The investigation will be completed within 15 days of receipt of the complaint unless the timeframe must be extended for good cause by the Director of Equity and Diversity Initiatives at the College/Section 504 Coordinator. The Director of Equity and Diversity Initiatives at the College/Section 504 Coordinator will allow the parties to present witnesses and other evidence during the investigation.
Upon completion of the investigation, any case of disability discrimination, harassment or retaliation, will be referred to the appropriate administrative division’s Vice-President for further prompt and equitable proceedings consistent with the College’s relevant workplace conduct policies, the College’s Collective Bargaining agreements, or the College’s Student Code of Conduct.
Anyone who knowingly makes a false accusation of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation will be subject to appropriate sanctions which may include, but are not limited to, written warning, demotion, transfer, suspension, dismissal, expulsion or termination.
In the event that the investigation reveals that disability discrimination, harassment, retaliation or other inappropriate or unprofessional conduct (even if not unlawful) has occurred, further action will be taken, including disciplinary action, such as but not limited to reprimand, change in work assignment, loss of privileges, mandatory training or suspension, and/or immediate termination. If it is determined that inappropriate conduct has occurred, the College will act promptly to eliminate the offending conduct, and where appropriate the College also will impose disciplinary action. The College will take steps to prevent the recurrence of any disability discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation by taking the appropriate action, which may depending upon the circumstances, include disciplinary action, reprimand, change in work assignment, loss of privilege, mandatory training or suspension, and/or immediate termination.
All actions taken to investigate and resolve complaints through this procedure shall be conducted with as much privacy, discretion and confidentiality as possible without compromising the thoroughness and fairness of the investigation. All persons involved are to treat the situation with respect. To conduct a thorough investigation, the investigator(s) may discuss the complaint with witnesses and those persons involved in or affected by the complaint, and those persons necessary to assist in the investigation or to implement appropriate disciplinary actions.
Upon completion of the investigation, the individual(s) who made the complaint and the individual(s) against whom the complaint was made will be advised of the results of the investigation in writing and, where a remedy is determined to be appropriate, to inform the parties of the steps that will be taken to remedy the situation.
Either the Complainant or Respondent may file an appeal of any decision concerning the resolution of the Director of Equity and Diversity Initiatives/Section 504 Coordinator. An appeal by either party must be made, in writing to the office of Services for Students with Disabilities within 15 days of receipt of the notice of resolution of the matter. The written appeal must state, in detail, the reason(s) for the appeal and shall address one or more of the following:
- If the appeal alleges that the findings of the investigator included relevant factual errors or omitted relevant facts, the appeal shall specify each factual error and/or details of each relevant fact that was omitted from the investigation.
- If the appeal alleges substantive procedural errors, the person appealing shall identify each instance of said substantive procedural error.
- If the appeal alleges relevant or substantive issues or questions concerning interpretation of College policy, the person appealing shall state, in detail, the issues or questions supporting this allegation.
- If the appeal alleges that new information or evidence exists, the appeal shall specify the reason why this information was not available or not provided to the Investigator during the course of the investigation, including the reason why the information could not have been provided on a timely basis.
- If the appeal alleges either that action or inaction of the supervisor in response to the findings of the investigation will not prevent future violations of this policy, the person appealing will specify, in detail, the reason(s) and basis for this allegation.
No disciplinary or other action based upon the original complaint findings shall be taken against the alleged offender during the appeals process, although temporary, interim measures may remain in place. The appeal process will be conducted in an impartial manner by an impartial decision-maker.
If proceedings are held by the Judicial Hearing Board in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct and a decision is rendered, an appeal from that decision must be submitted in accordance with the procedures set forth in the Student Code of Conduct.
No Retaliation for Filing a Complaint of Harassment or Unlawful Discrimination
Retaliation against any individual for making a complaint of disability discrimination or harassment, or for assisting in the investigation of such a complaint is a violation of this policy and will not be tolerated. Any acts of retaliation will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action, such as but not limited to reprimand, change in work assignment, loss of privileges, mandatory training or suspension and/or immediate termination.
College Investigators of Complaints of Discrimination Based on Disabilities
In addition to Director of Equity and Diversity Initiatives/ Section 504 Coordinator, the following investigators are designated as those persons who are charged with coordinating the College’s implementation of this policy, and investigating complaints of disability discrimination, harassment, or retaliation for the College. They may be contacted to initiate an investigation under the policy or to answer questions regarding this policy. The College also reserves the right to retain an outside investigator(s) to investigate complaints regarding violations of this policy.
- Vice President, Academic Affairs
- Vice President, Student Affairs
- Executive Director of Human Resources
The Complainant or the Respondent might allege that the investigator has a substantial conflict of interest that might impair his/her ability to conduct a fair and impartial investigation of the allegations. In that event, details supporting the alleged conflict of interest must be submitted, in writing, to the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities within 5 days of receiving notice of the identity of the investigator. A determination will be made about the existence of a conflict of interest and, if such a conflict is found to exist, an alternative investigator will be appointed as expeditiously as possible. In the event that a request is made and an alternate investigator must be appointed, any specific time line provided for in the complaint procedure shall be suspended pending the determination and/or appointment.
State and Federal Agencies
In addition to the above, employees who believe that they may have been subjected to disability discrimination, harassment or retaliation, may file a formal complaint with government agencies set forth below. Students may file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education. Using the College’s complaint process does not prohibit an employee or student from filing a complaint with these agencies.
United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”)
801 Market Street, Suite 1300
Philadelphia, PA 19107-3127
Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (“PHRC”)
Philadelphia Regional Office
110 North 8th Street, Suite 501
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 560-3599 TTY users only
U.S. Department of Education
Office of Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Education
The Wanamaker Building
100 Penn Square East, Suite 515
Philadelphia, PA 19107-3323
Telephone: (215) 656-8541
Facsimile: (215) 656-8605
This policy is available in alternate format upon request.