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Excused Absence

What Does Excused Absence Mean?

Attendance is an important component of student success.  However, there are students with disabilities or chronic health/medical conditions who, on a case-by-case basis, may have a need for some flexibility in attendance requirements. Some disabilities are episodic in nature with unpredictable or cyclical acute episodes, and as a result, the disability may occasionally impact the student’s ability to attend class, complete an assignment, or take an exam at the scheduled time.  In cases such as these, Excused Absence may be considered an appropriate accommodation. These students remain responsible for meeting all competencies and demonstrating acceptable knowledge of the course material, but may need to reschedule exams, submit assignments after the usual due dates, and/or classroom attendance policies may need to be modified.

Federal law (Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act) requires colleges and universities to consider reasonable modification of attendance policies if required to accommodate a student’s disability. Disability Resource Center (DRC) has developed the Excused Absence Policy to address this issue.

In making this determination, two questions must be answered:

  1. Does the student have a documented disability that directly affects his or her ability to attend class on a regular basis? Disability Resource Center will make this determination based upon a review of documentation from the student’s healthcare provider, which is then verified in the Faculty Notification of Accommodation Letter that student sends via AIM (DRC student portal)/email to their faculty.
  2. Is attendance an essential part of the class? Would modification of attendance policies result in a fundamental alteration of the curriculum? Faculty make this determination in consultation with the Disability Resource Center and follows the Fundamental Alteration Process.

The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has provided the following guidelines to determine if attendance is an essential part of a class:

  • Is there classroom interactions(s) between the faculty and students, and among students?
  • Do student contributions constitute a significant component of the learning process?
  • Does the fundamental nature of the course rely on student participation as an essential method for learning and assessment?
  • To what degree does a student’s absence constitute a significant loss to the educational experience of other students in the class?
  • What is classroom policy regarding attendance?

Timing of Request

Student may request the accommodation at any time during the term.  However, the accommodation does not apply to any absences or late/missed work prior to the student’s request, approval and the receipt of the Faculty Notification of Accommodation letter.

Procedure for Students to Request Excused Absence:

  1. Student initiates notification of this accommodation in the Faculty Notification of Accommodation letter in AIM (DRC student portal).
  2. Faculty receives Faculty Notification of Accommodation letter via email listing this accommodation as well as any other accommodations for the student.
  3. The student will contact the faculty member via email, phone or in person, or use this Excused Absence agreement form (depending on preference by the student) to determine the following (Note – Access Specialists are encouraged to be cc’ed on communications and available to participate in meetings as requested):
  • How will student notify faculty member of disability-related absence?
  • What is the procedure for turning in homework/assignments/projects due the day of a disability-related absence?
  • What is the procedure for making up a missed quiz, examination, or in-class graded assignment, etc. given on the day of a disability-related absence.

Students are encouraged to review course syllabi in advance and/or discuss with faculty and access specialist options for courses in which attendance is an essential component of the class. 

Important Considerations:

  • Faculty should never ask a student what their disability is or why they are missing class.  If you have questions or concerns please contact a DRC Access Specialist
  • At no time is the student required to present the Faculty with medical documentation verifying their disability related need for this accommodation. While Cal Poly’s general policy on excused absences encourages this practice for acute illnesses (e.g., colds, flu, sinusitis), the DRC has received documentation that support periodic disability-related absences.
  • This accommodation is not a blanket reason to miss class.
  • Absences that are not related to the effects of a disability and are not included in this accommodation should be addressed according to the course syllabus attendance/absence policy.
  • If absences become so excessive that the student is unable to successfully complete the course, please discuss with the student and include the DRC Access Specialist.
  • Students who miss class under the Excused Absence policy are responsible for learning the course content missed during an absence.  While students are welcome to contact faculty with questions about the missed content, faculty are not obligated to re-teach material missed during an absence.
  • There may be courses and/or components of a class in which attendance is considered an essential part of the course as outlined on the OCR guidelines listed above.  In these courses/components Excused Absence may be deemed unreasonable.  In these cases please follow fundamental alteration process.
  • If faculty has concerns regarding this accommodation and class activities (i.e. labs, internships, etc.) please contact DRC Access Specialist to discuss the concerns. 

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Location: Bldg 124 (Student Services, across from Spanos Stadium)
Phone: 805-756-1395
Fax: 805-756-5451
Email: drc@calpoly.edu

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