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Flexible Attendance Policy

What is Flexible Attendance?
If a student has a disability that may occasionally impact his/her ability to attend class and/or complete assignments and tests at the scheduled time, flexibility in attendance is considered an appropriate accommodation.


Spring 1996 semester
• Complainant stated that he was unable to attend the courses in a classroom setting due to his multiple chemical sensitivities
• Complainant requested that the College makes its Computer Applications and Office Systems course accessible to him by providing him with a home-tutor
• OCR found that the auxiliary aid (a home-tutor) which was requested by the student with the disability was not one that the college was required to provide
• However—the situation of a student whose disability precludes his/her attending class on campus raised the issue of the college’s duty with respect to auxiliary aids and academic adjustments

Legal Requirements

Section 504 [34 CFR:104.44] and College is required to provide services in the form of necessary academic adjustments and auxiliary aids, even though it is not providing such services to nondisabled students
• Colleges are not required to provide “attendants, individually prescribed devices, readers for personal use or study, or other devices or services of a personal nature” (34 CRF:104.44(d)(2); 28 CFR:35.135)
• College must make modifications to its academic requirements to ensure that such requirements do not discriminate or have the effect of discriminating, on the basis of disability, against a qualified disabled student [34 CFR:104.44 (a)]
Title II [28 CFR:35.160(b)(1)]
• Primary consideration is to be given to the preference of the student with the disability when it comes to selecting the manner in which communications will be made accessible

Flexible Attendance Process

Eligibility determination for flexible attendance
• Director of Student Accessibility and Disability Services meets with student to review disability documentation
• Assess the impact of disability on class attendance
• Review student responsibilities in utilizing the attendance policy
• Disability Services emails flexible attendance letters to course instructors
• Flexible attendance letter outlines responsibilities of course instructors, students, and Student Accessibility & Disability


Factors Justifying Flexibility in Class Attendance
• Frequency of symptoms –student experiences symptoms more often than a typical attendance policy in a syllabus
• Sudden changes in severity of symptoms –flare-up
• Unpredictable causes of exacerbation –symptoms change significantly based on factors beyond student’s control

Instructor Factors to Consider

To avoid discrimination on the basis of disability, instructors should use the following questions as a guide when determining why attendance is or is not an essential aspect of a course:
1. What does the syllabus say about attendance?
2. To what degree does a student’s failure to attend constitute a significant loss to the educational experience of other students in the class?
3. What policies exist for making up missed exams, pop quizzes? Turning in late work?

What does the Syllabus say about Attendance?

Instructor determines that absences from class will impact the students’ grades
• Instructor must communicate his/her attendance expectations to all students in the syllabus
• Students are eligible to be absent 20% more of the class sessions than students without this accommodation without negatively impacting their grade
• Example: If the student can only miss 3 classes without losing points, they are eligible to miss 0.6 more classes
Instructor determines the student would not satisfy the course requirements by missing 20% more sessions
• Instructor should advise the student of this need promptly-ideally at the time of receiving the accommodation letter from Disability Services
• Instructor should advise the student on what percentage of class sessions may be missed without negatively impacting the student’s grade

To what degree does a Student’s Failure to Attend Class Constitute a Significant Loss to the Educational Experience of other Students in the Class?

Use the following questions to answer the question above:
• Are students required to actively participate in the class discussions/activities?
• How is participation figured into the final grade?
• How are students expected to interact with each other?
• Is the material being learned in the class sequential? Does each week’s material build on the material learned in the previous week(s)?
• Are there other sections of the class that the student could attend to catch up on missed material?

How to Assess and Determine Effectiveness of Flexible Attendance

If attendance modification is determine inappropriate for any course, our office will work with the student and the instructor to determine alternatives
Evaluate effectiveness of attendance modification
• Are absences becoming excessive?
• Is the student missing essential material or hours (e.g. student teaching, clinical)?
• Determine alternatives – what options exist for students to complete course work?

What Policies Exist for Making up Missed Exams, Pop Quizzes? Turning in late work?

Use the following questions to answer the question above: 
• Can students turn in missed assignments via discussion boards or emails?
• Are tests to be taken at a specific time and place, or is there a window when the test can be taken?
• Is it possible for students to “work ahead” in this class?

Responsibilities of Students

Strongly encouraged to discuss the accommodation with each instructor at the start of the semester
Responsibility for fulfilling the essential requirements of the course include:
• Being punctual
• Knowing and understanding the specific policies in regards to attendance and make-up of any assignments, tests, etc. according to the course syllabus
• When you miss class, notify your instructor and the Director of Accessibility and Disability Services immediately
• Making up any missed assignments and/or examinations
• Meeting with the instructor to discuss whether or not it would be in the best interest of the student to withdraw from the course

Responsibilities of Student Accessibility and Disability Services

• Review documentation and approve this accommodation only when appropriate
• Indicate flexibility with class attendance on the student’s accommodation form to assist the student in initiating a conversation with each instructor
• Provide assistance for faculty in determining how to implement this accommodation in the class
• Provide support to student and faculty when questions or difficulties arise due to this accommodation