Mandatory Leaves of Absence and Returns
Claremont McKenna College is committed to the health, well-being, and safety of all students and members of the Claremont Colleges community. We know that at times some students may experience circumstances or health needs that substantially affect their capacity to function successfully or safely while enrolled at the College. A leave of absence permits a student to take time away from the College and their studies, so that they may give their full attention to remedying the issues that led to the need for the leave of absence. Students often return from leaves of absence better positioned to achieve their educational goals. When a leave of absence is recommended, the student and the Dean of Students Office will discuss the range of leave options, and provide the student the opportunity to take a Voluntary Leave of Absence (medical or general), prior to pursuing an individual assessment for a potential Mandatory Leave of Absence.
In some instances, when a student chooses not to avail themselves of the Voluntary Leave of Absence options, the College may pursue an individual assessment for a Mandatory Leave of Absence under the circumstances, and per the process, described below. When necessary and appropriate, the College may notify a student’s parent, guardian, emergency contact, or other individual.
Individual Assessment for a Mandatory Leave of Absence
In consultation with the Student of Concern Committee and other relevant parties (e.g., medical professionals, law enforcement, other College officials, student’s family, peers, etc.), the Vice President for Student Affairs (VPSA), Dean of Students (DOS), or other staff person as designated by the VPSA, may place any CMC student on a Mandatory Leave of Absence in any of the following circumstances when a student:
- poses a significant risk to their own health or safety, or to others’ health or safety;
- fails to, or is unable to, carry out significant self-care responsibilities;
- substantially disrupts the activities of the College community, including others’ abilities to participate fully in the College’s educational, living, or employment opportunities; or
- exhibits behavior that prevents them or others from safely or effectively participating in the College’s academic programs or the residential life of the College.
The above assessments will be made on an individual basis using objective criteria including the nature and severity of risk and impact, the duration of observed behaviors, and the probability of harm. The assessment will not be based on speculation, stereotypes, or generalizations about individuals with disabilities. Additionally, the VPSA, DOS or other designee will consider possible mitigations for a Mandatory Leave of Absence, including the student’s willingness to take a Voluntary Leave of Absence (medical or general), reasonable academic or other accommodations, and modifications to College policies, practices, and procedures. Following the procedures set forth in this policy, if warranted, a student with a mental health disability may be placed on Mandatory Leave of Absence for reasons related to that disability.
Emergency Interim Mandatory Leave of Absence
In exigent circumstances, when there is sufficient concern for the student’s health and safety, or others’ health and safety, the VPSA, DOS, or Designee may implement an Emergency Interim Mandatory Leave of Absence. A student placed on an Emergency Interim Mandatory Leave must vacate campus in the timeframe stated by the VPSA, DOS, or Designee, and may not participate in any College related or affiliated activities on- or off-campus, nor be present on campus for any reason without the express permission of the DOS.
In this circumstance, the student will be provided with written notice and an opportunity to be discuss the Emergency Interim Mandatory Leave of Absence decisions. In addition, whenever possible, the student will be afforded an in-person meeting, or a communication via phone/electronic means. If a student is unable to, or refuses to, participate in a meeting, or provide information about the situation, the decision about an Emergency Interim Mandatory Leave of Absence will be based on the best available evidence. Once an Emergency Interim Mandatory Leave is issued, the VPSA, DOS, or Designee it is not appealable. The VPSA, DOS, or Designee will expediently activate the Mandatory Leave of Absence review process to reach a final determination based on the assessment process outlined below.
Mandatory Leave of Absence Individual Assessment Process
Students whose circumstances warrant review under the Mandatory Leave of Absence Policy will be apprised in writing of the College’s concerns, including the nature of the concerns, the duration, the severity of the perceived risk or disruption, and the likelihood that the concerns will continue into the future. Such notice will also include the contact information for a CMC support person, an administrator who is familiar with the policy and can serve as a neutral resource to answer any questions throughout the process. It is incumbent upon the student to utilize this support person as they desire.
The VPSA, DOS or Designee will schedule an in-person, electronic (i.e. skype or Zoom), or phone meeting with the student to conduct an assessment. At the discretion of the VPSA, DOS or Designee, other relevant medical professionals or College officials may be asked to participate. The student may be asked to complete a medical release consent form, providing College personnel permission to speak to the student’s treatment providers regarding issues related to the consideration of the Mandatory Leave of Absence.
If the student is unable or unwilling to participate in the meeting, they have an opportunity to provide a written response to the concerns within three days of receipt of the written notification of the grounds for the review. If they choose, the student is also permitted to submit a written response within the three days following the occurrence of the individual’s assessment meeting. If the student refuses to participate in a meeting, or provide information, within the timeframe set by the VPSA, DOS or Designee, the process will move forward and the decision about a Mandatory Leave of Absence will be based on the evaluation of the available information.
The VPSA, DOS or Designee will consult with Student of Concern Committee, (which includes a representative of the Office of Accessibility Services) and other parties as appropriate, prior to making the decision regarding issuance of a Mandatory Leave of Absence. These parties may include:
- Other DOS staff
- Student Health Services (SHS)
- Monsour Counseling and Psychological Services (MCAPS)
- The student’s treatment providers (with consent)
- Public Safety, Campus Safety, and outside law enforcement
- Staff with expertise in mental health disabilities
- Legal Counsel
- Others as appropriate and necessary
The VPSA, DOS or Designee will carefully consider all available information available, including the student’s response to the concerns, and information provided by the student’s treatment providers, including their professional opinions about the student’s capacity to function safely at the College with or without reasonable accommodations. The College will request that the student provide permission for their treatment professionals to engage in a consultation process with the College, sharing their input and recommendations. If the student does not consent to that communication, the VPSA, DOS, or Designee will use the information available to make decisions. The College may also consult other qualified medical personnel as appropriate based on the presenting issues. If the College desires additional professional opinions from objective and independent providers, the student may be requested to participate in further evaluation at the College’s expense. If the student does not participate in this additional evaluation, the decision regarding a Mandatory Leave of Absence will be based on available information.
If a Mandatory Leave of Absence is Imposed
If, after careful individualized consideration, the VPSA, DOS, or Designee decides to place a student on a Mandatory Leave of Absence, the student will be notified by letter (Notification Letter) to include the effective dates of the Mandatory Leave, any conditions to be met prior to returning to enrollment, the date and time that the student must vacate college housing and campus property. The Notification Letter will also include information about a student’s access to reasonable accommodations upon their return. The College may notify a student’s parent, guardian, emergency contact, or other individual, consistent with federal, local, and state, regulations.
A student placed on a Mandatory Leave of Absence may not participate in any College related or affiliated activities on- or off-campus and may not be present on campus for any reason without the express permission of the DOS.
If the leave occurs prior to the last day to drop courses without record, no courses in progress will appear on the student’s official transcript. If the leave occurs after the last day to drop, the student’s transcript will show grades of “W” for each course in progress at the time. If appropriate, the student may instead request incomplete grades in one or more courses from the Academic Standards Committee (ASC).
Consistent with CMC’s policy regarding coursework during a leave of absence, a student may transfer up to two units of pre-approved coursework back to CMC for each regular semester away. Please see the Leave of Absence, Withdrawal, and Re-Enrollment section of the Course Catalog for more information regarding this policy, and for information about refund eligibility should a student leave the College before the end of an academic term.
Students are responsible for understanding the implications of a Mandatory Leave of Absence for housing, financial aid, health insurance, and progress toward the degree. International students should be aware that a Mandatory Leave of Absence will likely affect their visa status, and they should consult with the International Student advisor for more information.
In cases where a Mandatory Leave of Absence is not imposed, but the College remains concerned about possible violations of the CMC Student Code of Conduct, Residential Life Housing Contract, or laws, the DOS may proceed with the student conduct process, or in consultation with the student, impose a behavioral contract to address those concerns. Failure to adhere to the terms of that agreement could result in a reactivation of the Mandatory Leave of Absence process or activation of the Student Conduct Process.
Appeal of a Mandatory Leave of Absence Determination
A student placed on a Mandatory Leave of Absence may appeal the decision, in writing, to the Chief Civil Rights Officer or Designee within 5 business days of the date of the Notification Letter. The appeal letter must explain the reason(s) why the student feels the decision is not appropriate. The Chief Civil Rights Officer (or Designee) will review the student’s appeal and may a) uphold, b) reverse, or c) modify the decision. Before deciding the appeal, the Chief Civil Rights Officer (or Designee) can consult with the VPSA, DOS, or Designee, speak with the student, or consult with anyone that they determine is reasonable to make the best-informed decision. The Chief Civil Rights Officer (or Designee) will communicate the decision in writing to the student within three business days of receiving the appeal. The appeal decision is final. No other grievance or appeal process exists.
Return from Mandatory Leave of Absence
Students who anticipate returning to CMC from a Mandatory Leave of Absence must notify the Registrar and the Dean of Students of their intent by March 15th for the following fall semester and by October 15th for the following spring semester. This allows students to participate in pre-registration and to request on-campus housing. Requests to return received after these dates will be granted on a case-by-case basis. Please note that on-campus housing is not always available to returning students. Re-enrolling students must also confer with Student Accounts and Financial Aid during their Leave of Absence, to be fully aware of paperwork deadlines and financial obligations.
Return from the Mandatory Leave of Absence will require: (1) individualized, professional assessment and documentation that the student is healthy and safe to return to the College and campus community with or without reasonable accommodations; (2) evidence that the student has addressed the presenting issues which led to the Mandatory Leave of Absence, (3) and completed and complied with all College requirements set forth in the Notification Letter. Students placed on Mandatory Leave of Absence for a medical condition, including mental health concerns, must submit the Provider Return from Medical Leave of Absence Form and any other required supporting documentation, showing completion of any conditions imposed when the leave was implemented.
The status of the student’s mental or physical health, and their ability to resume full time participation in campus academic and residential life without negatively impacting others’ abilities to fully and successfully participate in their College experience, is central to the determination whether the student will be approved to return. Successful follow-through on recommendations made in the Notification Letter weigh heavily in the consideration of the student’s request to return. Careful consideration will be given to the opinions and recommendations of the student’s physician or mental health professional, if available.
At a minimum, the documentation must verify the following:
- a recommendation for readmission and supporting documentation from the student’s treating physician(s), psychiatrist(s) and/or licensed counselors (as applicable) that the student is able to participate fully and effectively in the academic and residential life of the College (with or without reasonable accommodation);
- information regarding the need, if any, for continuing treatment and follow-up care;
- evidence that the student has complied with the treatment recommendations that were made at the time of, and during, the Mandatory Leave;
- the student’s agreement to engage in continuing treatment and follow-up care, if applicable; and
- authorization for disclosure by, and between, any person providing documentation in support of the request, any member of the Student Health Services (for medical leaves), Monsour Counseling Services (for mental health or substance-related leaves), and the Dean of Students Office.
Students may also submit other information in support of their request including, for example, information on how the student dealt with the circumstances that led to a leave, and why the student feels it is the appropriate time to return to CMC.
The College may require the student to submit to an independent medical evaluation performed by a health care provider selected by the College (at the College’s expense) or that the student provide additional information necessary to determine whether the student should be readmitted at that time. The VPSA, Dean of Students, or Designee may ask for a personal interview with the student or seek input from others who had significant interaction with the student while on leave (i.e. family, employers). The VPSA, Dean of Students, or Designee determines both whether to approve the student’s return and whether the student must adhere to any ongoing terms or conditions throughout the semester. The student will receive written notification of those conditions.
Approved to Return to Campus from Mandatory Leave of Absence
If approved, to facilitate the transition back to campus, students returning from a Mandatory Leave of Absence must participate in a re-entry meeting with the VPSA, Dean of Students, or Designee, and with members of the Student Health Services or Counseling Center staff, as appropriate.
Denied to Return to Campus from Mandatory Leave of Absence
If a student’s request for return from a Mandatory Leave of Absence is denied, the decision may be appealed in writing to the Chief Civil Rights Officer (or Designee) within 10 business days from the date of denial decision. An appeal must include a detailed rationale for reconsideration including any supporting evidence.
The Chief Civil Rights Officer (or Designee) will review the appeal and may a) uphold, b) reverse, or c) modify the decision and notify the student within three business days from the date of receipt of the appeal. Before deciding the appeal, the Chief Civil Rights Officer can meet with the student or can consult with anyone reasonable in order to review the appeal. The decision will be communicated to the student in writing and is final. No other grievance or appeal process exists.
CMC will maintain the confidentiality of all information regarding the Mandatory Leave of Absence in accordance with federal and state law.
Note: This policy is not used in lieu of disciplinary actions to address violations of Claremont McKenna College rules, regulations, and policies. Any student who has engaged in behavior that may violate rules, regulations, and policies will be subject to the conduct process as well. A student may therefore be required to participate in a conduct hearing process coincident with a mandatory leave of absence process. These are separate processes. A student’s status upon return from leave will be consistent with their status before leave.