Defining 'Direct Threat' by Student With Mental Health Disability

November 1, 2011

The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights has released a letter finding Spring Arbor University to have violated the civil rights of a student with a mental health disability when it required him, after withdrawing voluntarily and in good academic standing, to meet certain conditions for readmission. OCR faulted the university for not determining that the student posed a "direct threat," which would have justified those conditions. A brief analysis of the case by the National Association of College and University Attorneys noted that OCR -- consistent with recent Justice Department interpretations but in a shift for OCR -- indicated that the threat would have to be against others, not to the student himself and others.


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