The ADA and Academic Timelines in the School of Medicine
Excerpts from the September 23, 2015 Presentation by Legal Counsel to the CSP
Section 504 and the ADA protect “otherwise qualified” individuals with disabilities.
- Otherwise qualified: “with respect to postsecondary and vocational education services, a disabled person who meets the academic and technical standards requisite to admission or participation in the University’s education program.” 34 CFR 104.3(l)(3)
- Disability: a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual; construed broadly in protection of the individual.
- Major life activities include, among other things, learning, thinking, concentrating
A public university shall furnish appropriate auxiliary aids and services where necessary to afford an individual with a disability an equal opportunity to participate in, and enjoy the benefits of, a service, program, or activity conducted by a public entity.
- Examples include: interpreters, readers, technology access, taped text
The use of methods for evaluating the academic achievement of students with disabilities that will ensure results represent the student's performance in the course, rather than the student's impaired sensory, manual, or speaking skills (except where such skills are the factors that the test purports to measure).
The University is NOT required to: Take any action that would result in a fundamental alternation in the nature of an academic program.
- Not required to waive academic requirements that the recipient can demonstrate are essential to the instruction being pursued by such student or to any directly related licensing requirement.
FOR ALL – Must be an individualized assessment, arrived at through an “interactive process"
- Consider actual functional limitations, avoid generalizations based on diagnoses
- Defer to the judgment of the student’s health provider, do not diagnose
- There is no obligation to accommodate without medical documentation
- Students preference may be taken into account
The courts generally defer to the judgment of academic institutions in determining whether an individual is otherwise qualified and/or whether a requested accommodation is a fundamental alteration of the academic program.
- Courts support requirements to complete academic milestones within time period
- Courts support requirements to perform tasks necessary to be licensed in the profession even if the student is not going into a field of the profession where those particular tasks will need to be performed (i.e. surgery)
Example: Zukle v. Regents of Univ. of California, 166 F.3d 1041 (9th Cir. 1999)
University's dismissal of learning disabled student from medical school program did not amount to discrimination under Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or Rehabilitation Act; accommodations requested by student such as permitting student to begin one clerkship before finishing another, reducing amount of required clinical time, and placing student on decelerated schedule, were not reasonable because they would require substantial modification of school's program and would have lowered school's academic standards.