Dartmouth College Disability Accommodation Appeal Policy

Policy ID

033-0007

Effective Date

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Division

Office of the Provost

Office of Primary Responsibility

Office of Institutional Diversity & Equity (IDE)

Summary of Policy

This policy articulates Dartmouth College's ("Dartmouth's") commitment to a campus community that is free from discrimination, discriminatory harassment, or retaliation based on a disability. It is specifically responsive to an appeal of any action, inaction, or decision made by Dartmouth with respect to granting or failing to grant a reasonable accommodation for a disability that has been documented through one of the Dartmouth's accommodation offices, including implementation of an accommodation (e.g., the appropriateness of the accommodation provided or the timeliness of the receipt of the accommodation).

Reason for Policy

This policy defines the process whereby any student, faculty, staff, applicant for admission or employment, visitor, or guest who believes they were not granted a reasonable accommodation after concluding the interactive process can file an appeal for a review of the accommodation decision.

Affected Parties

All Groups

Policy Statement

Person with Primary Responsibility

Americans with Disabilities Act/Section 504 Coordinator

Affected Parties

All students, faculty, staff, applicants for admission or employment, visitors, or guests of Dartmouth.

Policy Statement

Dartmouth is committed to providing equal opportunities for students, faculty, staff, and visitors with disabilities to access and participate in academic, social, cultural, and recreational programs at Dartmouth. This commitment is grounded not only in disability law, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the ADA, but also in Dartmouth's commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging for all members of the academic community. Please refer to Dartmouth's nondiscrimination statement

It is the policy of Dartmouth that discrimination on the basis of disability is prohibited. No otherwise qualified individual with a disability shall be denied access to or participation in any program, service, activity, or employment opportunity offered by Dartmouth.

In addition, retaliation is prohibited against any person for exercising a right under federal or state disability laws, or for assisting or supporting another in exercising such a right.

This policy for disability-related appeals arising from the accommodation process supplants the (a) Student Grievance Policy applicable to students enrolled in the College and Dartmouth's graduate and professional schools; and (b) the Equal Opportunity Grievance Procedures for Employees of Dartmouth. Any questions about the applicability of this policy will be decided by Dartmouth's ADA/504 Coordinator (ADAC).

Amendment or Revocation 

This policy may be revoked or amended by Dartmouth, in whole or in part, from time to time, via the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity, which is authorized to make revocations or amendments on behalf of Dartmouth, in consultation with the Senior Vice President / Senior Diversity Officer, the Provost, and the Executive Vice President. Any such revocation or amendment shall become effective upon adoption by IDE, or as of such other time as IDE shall specify and will be reflected in the current version of the policy posted within Dartmouth's ITC knowledge base policy archive. Questions or disputes regarding the application, interpretation or implementation of this policy shall be resolved by IDE; the decision of such office on the matter shall be binding on Dartmouth and all individuals subject to this policy.

Exclusions & Exceptions

Allegations of disability-related discrimination unrelated to the accommodation process are addressed through the Equal Opportunity Complaint process in the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity (IDE).

Definitions

Accommodation (or "accommodation"). A reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to the tasks, environment, or to the way things are usually done that enable individuals with disabilities to have an equal opportunity to participate in an academic program or a job.

ADA. The Americans with Disabilities Act (1990), as amended, is a federal law that protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination in any program or activity in which they are qualified to participate. 

Appealing Party. An individual or individuals with standing to file an appeal regarding any action, inaction, or decision made by Dartmouth with respect to granting or failing to grant a reasonable accommodation for a disability.

Campus Disability Authority. A Campus Disability Authority has authority to verify disability status and determine accommodations for individuals with disabilities. A list of Campus Disability Authorities is available on Dartmouth's Accessibility website.

Confidentiality. Access to disability-related information may be restricted under the ADA and protected by FERPA. Certain disability-related information is shared on a need-to-know basis with individuals participating in the Interactive Process (as defined below) to determine accommodations. Confidential disability-related information includes written and verbal information from any source regarding the condition or disability of a student, employee, applicant for admission or employment, visitor, or guest. The fact that such an individual has an accommodation is also Confidential. All disability information is kept by the appropriate Campus Disability Authority who is responsible for accommodation decisions. 

Disability (or "disability"). Solely for the purpose of this policy, disability means, with respect to an individual: 

  1. A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such an individual; or
  2. A record of having such an impairment.

Discrimination (or "discrimination"). Conduct that adversely affects an aspect of an individual's employment, education, or participation in an institution's activities or programs, or has the effect of denying equal privileges or treatment to an individual on the basis of that individual's protected status as defined in this policy.

FERPA. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 is a federal law that, in general, protects a student's education records, a student's right to seek to have the records amended, and a student's right to have control over the disclosure of personally identifiable information from the education records. 

Interactive Process. An informal, problem-solving process between a Campus Disability Authority and an individual with a disability to identify the functional limitations resulting from the disability, the nature of the issue that is generating the request, and the potential accommodation that may be effective in addressing the issue. The process may also include but is not limited to the faculty or instructional staff (for academic accommodations), a faculty or staff member's supervisor, and/or Human Resources.

Respondent. The individual or individuals who are identified by the Appealing Party as having allegedly engaged in discriminatory behavior against the Appealing Party.

Section 504. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a federal law that states in part:

No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States, as defined in section 705(20) of this title, shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. 

Procedure

Interactive Process

Dartmouth encourages an efficient and informal resolution of concerns through the Interactive Process in the case of an appeal. In many instances, an informal process can more quickly resolve a disability-related accommodation concern. The resolution, if reached, will be documented in writing and will include both the underlying disagreement and the terms of the agreed-upon resolution. However, if an individual is not satisfied with these efforts or wishes to file a formal appeal without seeking an informal resolution, they may do so.  

STUDENTS: Students who have disability-related appeals associated with their status as a student (not a student-employee1) may initially attempt to resolve matters by contacting the appropriate Campus Disability Authority to discuss the nature of the concern, factors to consider as part of the Interactive Process, and whether an Interactive Process with the individual or program that denied the accommodation can be engaged. Additionally, before conducting a formal appeal process, the ADAC may refer a student concern back to the Campus Disability Authority if the Interactive Process has not been fully engaged.  Students who have been denied an accommodation by the applicable Campus Disability Authority may contact the ADAC directly. 

EMPLOYEES (FACULTY,2 STAFF AND STUDENT WORKERS): Employees who have disability-related appeals associated with their status as faculty, staff or student worker should initially attempt to resolve matters by contacting the Employment Accommodations Coordinator in the Office of IDE or the appropriate Dean of Faculty Affairs, supervisory authorities (e.g., Deans, Associate Deans, Human Resources or other supervisors) and other campus units, as appropriate, to recommend a resolution. An Interactive Process can be engaged when there are concerns about the accommodation decisions or provision of the recommended accommodation(s). Before conducting a formal appeal process, the ADAC may refer an employee member's concern back to the Employment Accommodations Coordinator of IDE if the Interactive Process has not been fully engaged.

VISITORS/GUESTS: The program or event sponsor will consult with the Employment Accommodations Coordinator in IDE, and other campus resources as appropriate to the issue, to determine whether the concern can be resolved through means other than a formal appeal process.

Disability Accommodations Appeal Process 

The formal appeal procedure is designed to provide a prompt and fair resolution of the appeal of any action, inaction, or decision made by Dartmouth with respect to granting or failing to grant a reasonable accommodation for a disability. A formal appeal by a student, faculty or staff member, visitor, or guest, hereafter referred to as "Appealing Party," must be filed with the ADAC within thirty (30) calendar days after the date of the alleged violation.

To initiate the formal appeal process, the Appealing Party must submit the following:

  1. Appealing Party's name, address, email address, and phone number
  2. A concise statement of the issue to be reviewed
  3. A summary of all facts related to the issues raised
  4. A description of efforts made to resolve the issue informally, if any, including any other internal Dartmouth appeals or complaint processes concerning the same set of facts
  5. A description of the result that the Appealing Party is seeking

The Appealing Party should submit the complaint in writing (mail or email) to the: 

ADA/504 Coordinator, Office of Institutional Diversity & Equity
Dartmouth College, Parkhurst 006 (garden level), HB 6018, 
Hanover, NH 03755
ADA.Institutional.Diversity.and.Equity@dartmouth.edu

The complaint must be signed; electronic signatures are acceptable.
  
The ADAC may decline to accept an appeal for formal review if insufficient information is provided to support a basis for the appeal or may delay the review pending the outcome of other processes the Appealing Party has invoked. In such cases, the Appealing Party will be notified in writing of this determination.

Appeal Review

The Appealing Party and the Respondent, whether an individual, office, or department, will be notified in writing that a formal appeal has been accepted for review within ten (10) business days following the receipt of the written appeal. The ADAC will investigate the allegation in a fair, impartial, and timely manner, generally concluding within sixty (60) calendar days following the notification to both parties. Upon completion of the review, the ADAC will prepare and transmit to the Appealing Party and the Respondent(s) a final report containing a summary of the review, written findings, and a disposition. 

During the course of the review, the ADAC may talk with the Appealing Party, involved parties, relevant offices involved in the accommodation process, relevant academic or administrative offices (including but not limited to the Office of Human Resources, the appropriate Campus Disability Authority, faculty, department chairs, and deans), and any other party the ADAC deems relevant to the review. There may be instances when the ADAC will engage with, or designate, independent fact-finders outside of Dartmouth to conduct formal investigations.

NOTE: Filing a disability accommodation appeal does not preclude the initiation or continuation of a performance improvement plan or other employment processes relevant to an employee's work performance, nor does it prohibit any separate conduct review and resolution process that might be otherwise available in a school/program (e.g., an Office of Community Standards & Accountability process).

Appeal Outcome

Upon gathering the required documentation and information, the ADAC will make a determination regarding the appeal within sixty (60) calendar days after the initiation of the ADAC's review. If the sixty (60)-calendar day deadline cannot be met, the ADAC will inform the Appealing Party, the unit, and other relevant parties of an alternative time limit, not to exceed an additional thirty (30) calendar days. The ADAC shall provide written notification of the decision to the Appealing Party, the unit that originally denied the reasonable accommodation, and other relevant parties within fifteen (15) calendar days following the completion of the ADAC's review. The date of the issuance of the written notification shall be known as the "determination date." 

The appeal outcome is the final internal appeal process for accommodation denials for all parties. 

Expectations During the Appeal Process

  • Initial Review: Upon receipt of an appeal, the ADAC will first determine if the appeal falls within the scope of this policy. If it does not, then the ADAC will inform the individual in writing of this determination and, if appropriate, refer the individual to alternate complaint avenues.
  • Interviews: The Appealing Party may request that an advisor or support person accompany them to interviews during the appeal process. Advisors may not address the ADAC or external investigator (if applicable) or pose questions. Only currently enrolled Dartmouth students, or Dartmouth faculty or staff, may serve as advisors. No person acting as legal counsel may participate as an advisor or support person.
  • Accommodations: The ADAC will make appropriate arrangements, upon request, to ensure that persons with disabilities are provided with reasonable accommodations during the appeal process (including participation in the appeal process). Existing accommodations typically remain in place during the appeal process; provisional accommodations may also be put into place by the ADAC during the appeal process pending the conclusion of the appeal process.
  • Confidentiality: All persons involved in the appeal process will be advised of the importance of Confidentiality as it pertains to the information discussed and the privacy of the Appealing Party. For example, it is permissible under FERPA for the ADAC to share relevant details of the appeal and outcome with certain stakeholders on a need-to-know basis for the purpose of fact-finding and efforts to resolve the appeal.
  • Cooperation: All participants are expected to cooperate and provide thorough and truthful information throughout the appeal process.
  • Timelines: Although Dartmouth will make reasonable efforts to comply with the timelines set forth in this document, circumstances such as school breaks, participant unavailability, or other good cause may justify an extension of time. In such circumstances, all parties will be notified of the extension and the anticipated duration of the extension.
  • Prohibition Against Retaliation: Dartmouth prohibits retaliation against any person who requests accommodations, files an appeal alleging disability accommodation discrimination, or participates in the disability accommodation appeal process. 
  • Records: The ADAC will maintain the files and records of Dartmouth relating to the disability accommodation appeal process.

 

1Students who have been denied an Accommodation in their status as a student-employee (including as a teaching, research, or project assistant) follow the appeals procedures for staff. 

2Solely for the purpose of this policy, "faculty" includes adjunct and visiting faculty, clinicians, and research or health scientists who are not employed by Dartmouth but have Dartmouth faculty appointments for the purpose of teaching and/or research at Dartmouth.

Last Revised

Friday, September 10, 2021