Leave of Absence Policy

Alma College is committed to creating a learning environment where all students can reach their full potential and excel. When a student is in distress or crisis and/or exhibiting concerning behaviors, the college remains dedicated to supporting that student while also preserving the safety and security of the college community and ensuring proper functioning of the college.   

Voluntary Leave of Absence

Students may apply for a voluntary Leave of Absence for any reason. Examples of circumstances that could an approved Leave of Absence include but are not limited to 

  • Physical and/or mental health concerns 

  • Academic concerns 

  • Family needs 

  • Financial need 

  • Other circumstances that limit the student’s ability to fully participate in the educational opportunities at Alma College. 

Applications should include a letter describing their rationale in seeking a Leave of Absence and any supporting documents. Students may choose to include any supporting documents that they would like to be considered in the decision, and they also may choose to submit no supporting documents. Examples of supporting documents may include but are not limited to 

  • Documentation from medical professionals 

  • Documentation from mental health professionals 

  • Grade Reports/ Transcripts 

  • Letters from faculty, staff, and off campus professionals 

The Vice President for Student Life or their designee will review the student’s application, including supporting documents.  In making decisions under this policy, the Vice President for Student Life or designee will make an individualized assessment, which will include reviewing documentation provided by the student and consulting with other College representatives as appropriate and feasible under the circumstances. 

Review and Decision Process

To determine whether a leave of absence or another measure is appropriate, the Vice President for Student Life or designee will: 

  • Review documentation submitted by the student. 

  • Meet with the student to review the reasons why a leave of absence is being considered, and provide an opportunity for the student to respond to any questions and provide relevant information.   

  • Consult with other College staff/faculty, as may be appropriate and feasible, including representatives from the Student Life Office; Counseling, Health, and Wellness Center; faculty; and other individuals or departments.  

  • Seek, if appropriate and feasible, and when possible with the student’s consent, the cooperation and involvement of parents or guardians of the student. 

  • In an effort to gather the most current information about the student, the student may be asked to consent to a psychological and/or medical evaluation. The student may also be asked to provide relevant medical and/or psychological information from his/her health care provider. If a student declines to consent to release the requested medical/ psychological information this declination may be included along with all other available information in the decision whether to place the student on Leave.  

Upon a determination that a Leave is necessary, the Vice President for Student Life or designee will inform the student of the decision in writing. Upon receipt of the decision, the student must leave campus and begin their leave within one week. 

At all times, the College reserves the right to either place the student on an Involuntary Leave or impose administrative restrictions as a condition of remaining at the College. 

Involuntary Leave of Absence

In situations where a student demonstrates behavior that poses a threat to health or safety or is significantly disruptive to the College learning environment, the College, after making an individualized assessment and determining that it cannot accommodate the student’s needs without a fundamental alteration of College operations or undue burden on the College, may request or require the student to take a leave of absence, or may impose conditions or restrictions designed to address the health or safety threat or disruption. This policy outlines the general and individualized process that will be utilized when a student may require a leave of absence from the College or imposition of other conditions or restrictions.     

This policy is not intended to be disciplinary in nature but as a mechanism of student support and accommodation and community safety.  Situations may arise in which this Policy or other Alma College policies are applicable, and in such cases a Behavioral Intervention Team (BIT), chaired by the Vice President of Student Affairs, shall determine which policy or policies to invoke. 

The College will consider an Involuntary Leave of Absence or additional conditions when a student reasonably meets one or more of the following policy criteria: 

  • The student presents a substantial risk of harm to the safety, health, and wellbeing of themselves and/or the College community. 

  • The student’s behavior significantly disrupts the educational or other activities of the College community. 

  • The student is unable to participate meaningfully in educational activities. 

  • The student requires a level of care and accommodation from the College community that exceeds the resources and staffing that the College has available to provide for a student’s well-being. 

Involuntary Leave of Absence Procedures 

The BIT is responsible for determining whether a Leave of Absence or additional conditions are necessary.  In making decisions under this policy, BIT will make an individualized assessment, which will include reviewing available documentation and consulting with other College representatives as appropriate and feasible under the circumstances.  

Review and Decision Process

To determine whether a leave of absence or another measure is appropriate, the BIT will: 

  • Review available incident reports and documentation of the student’s behavior. 

  • Consult with other College staff/faculty, as may be appropriate and feasible, including representatives from the Student Life Office; Counseling, Health, and Wellness Center; faculty; and other individuals or departments.  

  • Review relevant medical documentation, as available. 

  • Seek, if appropriate and feasible, the cooperation and involvement of parents or guardians of the student. 

  • Meet with the student, if feasible, to review the reasons why a leave of absence is being considered, and provide an opportunity for the student to respond and provide relevant information.   

  • In an effort to gather the most current information about the student, the student may be asked to consent to a psychological and/or medical evaluation. The student may also be asked to provide relevant medical and/or psychological information from his/her health care provider. If a student declines to consent to release the requested medical/ psychological information this declination may be included along with all other available information in the decision whether to place the student on Leave.  

  • Utilize the information gathered to make an individualized assessment regarding the student’s behavior and needs and determine whether a leave of absence and/or any other administrative restrictions are necessary to address the health and safety concerns or ensure the proper functioning of College programs and services. 

Upon a determination that a leave or additional conditions are necessary, the BIT will inform the student and offer the opportunity to voluntarily take a leave or, if deemed appropriate by the College, agree to other administrative restrictions or conditions in order to remain at the College. Upon receipt of the decision, the student must leave campus within 48 hours. 

In the event that the student is incapable of responding on his or her own behalf, or if the student elects not to respond to inquiries or directives of the College, or refuses to agree to the leave or conditions, the College reserves the right to either place the student on an involuntary leave or impose administrative restrictions as a condition of remaining at the College. 

Temporary Measures 

If the College has a good faith belief that a threat to health or safety presents an immediate risk of harm, the BIT may implement immediate administrative measures such as a temporary involuntary leave of absence or restrictions on a student’s access to the campus (including housing, services, classes, activities and facilities) until the BIT is able to review the matter and make a determination as described above. 

Conditions of Leave and Return 

If the student is placed on a Leave of Absence, under this policy, conditions for a leave of absence and any conditions for return will be provided to the student in writing.  Any conditions for the leave and return will be individualized to the student and designed to help ensure that the health and safety or other concerns are resolved and that the student is qualified to return.  These conditions may include but are not limited to: 

  • Compliance with treatment plans 

  • Examination by independent or College health professionals 

  • Release of relevant medical records 

  • Interviews 

  • A personal statement 

  • A demonstrated ability to meet the College’s academic and conduct standards. 

Students may be asked to authorize his/her health care provider while they were on Leave to provide a “Certificate of Fitness to Return”. If a student declines to release this requested medical/psychological information, this declination may be included along with all other available information in the decision regarding whether to allow the student to return. 

Additionally, the BIT may undertake a review of the student’s behavior while on Leave, including, but not limited to, record of convictions, restraining orders, and interviews with individuals in a position to observe the student’s behavior. Only findings relevant to the Leave and the student’s request for re-enrollment will be considered. 

Grades, Transcripts, and Financial Services during Leaves of Absence 

The student may be granted grades of “I” (Incomplete) should the Registrar’s Office and faculty believe it appropriate.  Students will not receive academic penalties for Leaves of Absence or the imposition of additional conditions or restrictions. 

A transcript notation of “Withdrawn” or “Leave of Absence” may be noted on the student’s transcript. 

The student is subject to the same rules regarding financial aid and financial obligations (room, board, tuition, etc.) that apply in the case of a voluntary medical leave of absence. 

The student may not participate in programs or activities organized by the College until officially approved to re-enroll. 

Appeal Process

A student who has been placed on an Involuntary Leave of Absence from the College or been subject to other restrictions or conditions may appeal this decision.  The student must submit the appeal and the reason(s) why the appeal should be granted within two (2) business days of notice of the involuntary leave of absence or other measure. The student must submit the appeal and the reasons supporting the appeal to the BIT, who will forward the appeal to a designated appeals agent for review.  The appeals agent will review the appeal, and that review may include a review of relevant documentation and consultation with College officials and the student.  The decision on the appeal will be communicated to the student within ten (10) business days from the day the appeal was submitted, unless the circumstances require more time, in which case the student will be notified.  During the appeal period and process, the student will remain on Leave or subject to other imposed conditions.  If an appeal is denied, the decision is final and no further appeal is permitted.  

Privacy 

The College will maintain the privacy of all information regarding Leaves of Absence in accordance with federal, state and local law, and to the greatest extent consistent with the goal of processing such Leaves. All records concerning Leaves are private and will be shared on a need-to-know basis only. The official copy of such records shall be retained by the Vice President for Student Life. Access to these records is limited by appropriate federal, state and local law. 

The College reserves the right to notify a parent or guardian if deemed appropriate under the circumstances and as permitted by applicable federal, state, and local law. 

 

Last Updated 10/06/2017