Faculty Senate hosts SSD discussion

Kelley Osborn, Director of Services for Students with Disabilities, addressed Faculty Senate concerns regarding disability accommodations at the Faculty Senate’s most recent meeting.

The Faculty Senate invited Osborn to the meeting to discuss concerns that some of the senate members have with the current SSD policies, which were voiced at their last meeting.

Osborn provided the Faculty Senate with insight about some of the key components of the accommodation process.

“The process of making accommodation decisions requires us to establish a nexus between the disability, functional limitations, the academic setting due to the disability and the accommodations that the student is requesting, or ones we might recommend to address the limitations,” Osborn said.

There is a method SSD uses to determine which accommodations may be beneficial for a student. However, some senate members believe there are times where unreasonable accommodations are asked for at the university level.

Osborn said there are a few students asking for accommodations that are reasonable for grades k-12, and the students need to be educated as to what is appropriate at a post-secondary level.

“We do have to educate some of our newer students as to parameters of post-secondary disability accommodations,” Osborn said.

When making accommodations, the SSD has to be mindful of the legal obligations which they have to abide by. According to Osborn, the SSD wants to help the students by providing various accommodations, and they assist faculty members by protecting them from legal issues.

“If I believe that the students’ rights are being violated, students being denied what I would consider to be a reasonable accommodation, I have a responsibility to advocate for that student, and to advise the faculty as well particularly if I have a concern that the faculty member may be opening him or herself and the institution to a legal liability,” Osborn said.

Students have a right to go to outside sources, such as the Office for Civil Rights, if they feel that they are not receiving reasonable accommodations. Some of the accommodation issues are resolved by the OCR. There are times where the faculty member’s opinion is not considered by OCR, however, according to Osborn.

“The track record for OCR is that they don’t simply accept the opinion of the faculty member or the dean,” Osborn said.

Osborn said he is willing to work with faculty members when there is a disagreement between what is and is not considered a reasonable accommodation.
Associate professor Jonathan Breazeale, Ph.D., is one of the members who wants to implement a policy regarding the faculty’s procedure when a disagreement occurs.

Breazeale asked Osborn if policy could be made to assist faculty members who disagree with certain accommodations. Osborn said he would potentially be receptive to a policy of the sort.

The Faculty Senate will discuss the possible implementation of new policy so faculty members will have a procedure to follow once a disagreement with accommodations occurs.

The next senate meeting is Feb 18 in LSC 304 at 3:30 p.m..

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