Procedures and Policies
Student Access Office (formerly Disability Services) Grievance and Appeal Procedures
The purpose of grievance and appeal procedures is to attempt to resolve all types of grievances in a timely manner. It is to the student's advantage to keep communication open with faculty, staff, and peers, thus avoiding the necessity for grievance or appeals. In the event that a student believes that a grievance is directly related to that student's disability, the student should contact the Student Access Office. The Director of the Student Access Office will support and assist in the process.
If the problem has not been resolved through usual channels, then a formal written grievance may be filed. The following procedures will be followed for grievances or appeals related specifically to services for students with disabilities provided by the Student Access Office as required under the American with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Students should address the grievance to the Director of the Student Access Office.
- The grievance should contain the name and address of the person/s filing it, and a brief description of the alleged violation of the regulations. It should be filed with the Director of the Student Access Office within 30 workdays from the date of the alleged grievance.
- An investigation conducted by the Director shall follow the filing of a grievance. The investigation shall be informal, but thorough, and it should afford all interested persons and their representatives, if any, an opportunity to submit evidence relevant to the grievance.
- Following the grievance investigation, at least three members of the Student Access Committee (formerly the Disability Committee) will convene a special meeting to meet with the complainant and, at a separate time, the other party or parties involved for review of the incident. The committee will make recommendations to the Director.
- A written determination as to the validity of the grievance and a description of the resolution, if any, shall be issued by the Director and forwarded to the complainant no later than 15 workdays after the filing.
- The Director shall maintain the files and records relating to grievances for a period of three years.
- If a grievance is against the Director of the Student Access Office, the above procedures are to be followed with the exception that the grievance will be made to the Dean of Students.
- The complainant can request a reconsideration of the case in instances of dissatisfaction with the resolution. The request for reconsideration should be made to the ADA compliance officer (the Dean of Students) within 10 workdays of the resolution of the complaint.
- The right of a person to a prompt and equitable resolution of the complaint filed hereunder shall not be impaired by nor shall the use of this procedure be a prerequisite to the pursuit of other remedies.
- These rules shall be construed to protect the substantive rights of interested persons, to meet appropriate due process standards, and to assure that the university complies with the ADA.
Although the student is encouraged to attempt to resolve a grievance within the campus process, s/he has the right to file any complaint directly to the Office for Civil Rights at any time. The Statute of Limitations for filing a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights is 180 days from the time the incident occurred, or within 60 days after the Avila University investigation. Forms may be obtained from the ADA compliance officer or the Student Access Office.
Course Substitution Policy for Students With Disabilities
Course requirements for degrees granted by Avila University are designed to provide a comprehensive education in general liberal arts and in the student's major field of study. In awarding a degree, Avila University is recognizing the satisfactory completion of a set of courses it deems representative of the academic standards it upholds. In addition, all admitted students are regarded as “otherwise qualified” to participate in any program of academic study with or without reasonable accommodations. Therefore, students with disabilities are not excused from degree requirements.
However, in some limited circumstances, substitution of a course requirement may be determined to be a reasonable and appropriate accommodation for a student with a properly documented disability. An accommodation of this nature is considered only when it has been confirmed that the student's disability makes completion of the requirement impossible. Such confirmation can only be made after the student has attempted, but has been unsuccessful, at completing the course with all other appropriate accommodations in place. Consideration of a course substitution is done on a case-by-case basis.
Gaining approval for a course substitution may be a lengthy process. Therefore, it is recommended that the student initiate the request early in his or her academic career. In most cases, it will be necessary for the student to have declared a major before the request can be considered. This will allow a determination to be made as to whether or not the requested course substitution represents a fundamental alteration in the chosen field of study. The University retains the right to revoke a substitution in the event that the student changes majors and the substituted course is found to be essential to the newly declared major field of study as determined by the School/College. A determination of any course substitution will require communication between the Director of the Student Access Office, the student’s Advisor, Department Faculty, the Dean of the School/College and the Vice President for Academic Affairs.
The final decision regarding a course substitution will rest with the Vice President for Academic Affairs.
At the time of request, a student with a disability who would like to request a course substitution as a reasonable accommodation will submit the following to the Director of the Student Access Office:
- Appropriate written documentation verifying a disability that substantially limits the skills required for the successful completion of the required course. Please refer to the University documentation guidelines for information as to what constitutes appropriate written documentation (available from the Director of the Student Access Office).
- A completed Exception to Academic Requirements and/or Policies listed in the Avila University Catalog form (available in the Office of Registration and Student Records).
- A written personal statement describing difficulties the student has encountered in past attempts to perform successfully within the subject area. In this statement, the student should explain how the disability has impacted these attempts.
- A completed Authorization to Release Information form to document written permission for the Director of the Student Access Office to share relevant disability related information with appropriate faculty, staff, and administrative members of the University as part of the decision-making process. The Authorization to Release Information form may be obtained from the Director of the Student Access Office.
The student may also solicit documentation from the faculty person, who taught the course in question; if the student believes it will strengthen his or her case. Comments may include the faculty member's observations about the student's efforts in the course, whether or not the student made use of the faculty member's office hours, whether or not the student attended tutoring sessions or study group sessions, and any accommodations that may have been utilized.
The Director of the Student Access Office will forward the above information to the Vice President for Academic Affairs. The Vice President for Academic Affairs will convene a meeting consisting of the Director of the Student Access Office, a representative from the Disability Committee, a member of the faculty representing the discipline, the Dean of the School/College or his/her designee and the Vice President for Academic Affairs or his/her designee. The convened committee will make a recommendation to the Vice President for Academic Affairs. The Vice President for Academic Affairs will make the final decision. The Office of Academic Affairs will notify the student in writing of the final decision.
Service and Emotional Support Animals
Policies and Procedures
Service and Emotional Support Animals
The purpose of this policies and procedures statement is to outline standards of behavior for the use of service and emotional support animals at Avila University and for students, faculty, staff, and campus visitors in the proximity of such animals. It is the intention of Avila University to meet the needs of students with disabilities in an atmosphere designed to develop their potential by providing services and programs in a supportive environment.
Please also see: Document Discussing ADA Requirements regarding Service Animals
Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people with visual impairments, alerting people with hearing impairments, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with posttraumatic stress disorder during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Beginning on March 15, 2011, only dogs are recognized as service animals under Titles II and III of the ADA. However, in some cases, a miniature horse may be considered a service animal. The U.S. Department of Justice’s revised ADA regulations have a new, separate provision about miniature horses that have been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. (Miniature horses generally range in height from 24 inches to 34 inches measured to the shoulders and generally weigh between 70 and 100 pounds.) Entities covered by the ADA must modify their policies to permit miniature horses where reasonable. The regulations set out four assessment factors to assist entities in determining whether miniature horses can be accommodated in their facility. The assessment factors are (1) whether the miniature horse is housebroken; (2) whether the miniature horse is under the handler’s control; (3) whether the facility can accommodate the miniature horse’s type, size, and weight; and (4) whether the miniature horse’s presence will not compromise legitimate safety requirements necessary for safe operation of the facility.
WHERE SERVICE ANIMALS ARE ALLOWED
Please also see: "Service Animals Allowed" Document from the State of Missouri, Governor's Council on Disability
Under the ADA, State and local governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations that serve the public generally must allow service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of the facility where the public is normally allowed to go. For example, in a hospital it would be inappropriate to exclude a service animal from areas such as patient rooms, clinics, cafeterias, or examination rooms. However, it may be appropriate to exclude a service animal from operating rooms or burn units where the animal’s presence may compromise a sterile environment. At Avila University, service animals are allowed in all areas that are open to the public or to students. Please see the next section for a possible exclusion due to potential safety issues in science laboratories.
SERVICE ANIMALS IN UNIVERSITY RESEARCH LABS
Science laboratories can create environments that can be unsafe for a service animal or can compromise a sterile environment needed to conduct research. In biological laboratories, a needs assessment must be completed for the assessment of service dogs in low-risk or high-risk environments. Service animals are generally not permitted in laboratories utilizing high-risk biological materials. Additionally, service animals are not allowed in any chemistry or physics laboratories utilizing high-risk chemical or radioactive materials.
In a science laboratory environment, only service dogs will be assessed for approval. Miniature horses are not allowed in university laboratories.
Students, faculty, or staff that require the use of a service dog in a laboratory are required to contact the Student Access Office to document the need and recommendations. The Student Access Office will assist with the completion of the assessment for the science laboratory. Service dog access can be restricted if the presence of the dog can interfere with the outcomes of the experiments or if substances may be hazardous to a dog. Access should not be denied without consultation between the student, lab faculty member, and the Student Access Office.
Service dogs assessed and approved for the university laboratory environment will not be allowed into the laboratory without appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). Service animals entering laboratories must be protected to prevent exposure to hazardous chemicals, broken glass or other hazards that might be present in the laboratory environment. Any required PPE shall be worn by the dog and purchased by the handler and may include any or all of the following:
- Disposable or reusable boots to cover the feet. One example is a commercially available product, Pawz Rubber Dog Boots.
- Disposable lab coats (such as a Maytex lab coat).
- Disposable plastic-backed, absorbent lab papers or pet pads for the dog to lie on during lab to protect it from hazardous materials that might be on the floor. Dog beds or fabric pads are not appropriate for use in the lab.
If appropriate PPE is not brought to the lab, the service dog will not be permitted into the laboratory.
Students may wish to visit the lab in advance of the class to familiarize themselves and their dog with the layout of the lab, as well as the smells and sounds of the lab. Alternatives to positioning the service dog in the lab next to the individual must be discussed with the handler first. This could include:
- Placing the dog behind a removable gate or in a pen in an adjacent room or area away from identified hazards.
- If a location next to the handler is required, a location at the end of the bench or in a corner away from other students, personnel, and/or hazardous materials may be considered.
Behavior of Service Animals
Under the ADA, service animals must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered unless these devices interfere with the service animal’s work or the individual’s disability prevents use of these devices. In such cases, the individual must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls.
A service animal may be excluded from campus when that animal’s behavior poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others or if the animal’s behavior is out of the control of the handler. Infractions will be addressed on an individualized basis. Consequences may include, but are not limited to, muzzling a barking animal, refresher training for the animal and its handler, or exclusion of the animal from the university.
Statement of Liability
The owner of a service animal is liable for any damages caused by the animal. Owners must keep service animals restrained or otherwise under their control (as described above) while in use or be subject to civil liability for any damages. Although it is not a requirement, it is preferred that service animals be identifiable by their restraint method or other identifier.
Service Animal Etiquette
- The animal must not be allowed to sniff people, food, or the belongings of others.
- The animal must not initiate contact with others without the handler’s permission.
- The animal must not display disruptive behaviors such as barking, whining, growling, or rubbing against people unless it was trained to alert the partner or handler in this manner.
- The animal must not block an aisle or passageway when stationary.
- The animal must be trained not to be attracted to food that is nearby.
Public Etiquette for Interaction with a Service Animal
- Do not touch, pet, talk to, or otherwise distract a service animal.
- Do not offer food or water to a service animal.
- Do not deliberately startle a service animal.
- Do not separate or attempt to separate a service animal from its handler.
- Do not hesitate to offer assistance by asking if you believe assistance may be needed.
Designated animal relief areas on campus are identified on the map below. It is the responsibility of the handler to clean up and dispose of all solid waste from animals brought to campus in outdoor trash receptacles.
In the case of an emergency, emergency and public safety personnel should be aware that there is a service dog on the premises. Therefore, at the beginning of each semester when a service animal will be accompanying a student, the student is strongly encouraged to give the Student Access Office permission to notify Public Safety and first responders in the building(s) where the student will have classes. Public Safety and first responders will be notified when an employee who has a service animal is hired. Students and employees are advised that in an emergency, every effort will be made to keep the service animal with its handler, but it may be necessary to leave the dog behind in certain disaster situations.
It is common for persons to have a disability that precipitates an allergic reaction to animals. Persons with conflicting respiratory, allergic, or medical complaints are to be directed to make that complaint at the Student Access Office if common sense arrangements are not satisfactory. The person making the complaint must show medical documentation to support such a complaint. To the extent possible, action will be taken to consider the needs of both the complainant and the handler to resolve the problems as efficiently and expeditiously as possible. Complaints will be handled case by case.
According to ADA requirements, allergies and fear of dogs are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people using service animals. When a person who is allergic to dog dander and a person who uses a service animal must spend time in the same room or facility, for example, in a school classroom or at a homeless shelter, they both should be accommodated by assigning them, if possible, to different locations within the room or different rooms in the facility.
EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMALS
An emotional support animal (ESA) is a companion animal that provides therapeutic benefit to an individual with a mental health or psychiatric disability. An individual seeking approval for an ESA accommodation must have a verifiable disability (the reason cannot just be a need for companionship) and documentation supporting the need for the animal in conjunction with the identified disability. Although ESAs often provide therapeutic benefits to their handlers, they do not need to be individually trained or certified to perform any disability-related task. While dogs are the most common type of ESA, other animals may also serve as ESAs.
Where Emotional Support Animals are Allowed
ESAs at Avila University are restricted to the assigned residence hall unit (if living on campus) of the individual except to the extent the individual takes the animal outside for natural relief. When taking the animal outside of the residence hall unit, the animal must be in a carrier or otherwise controlled by a leash, harness, or tether. ESAs are not permitted in any university facilities other than the residence hall unit in which the handler is assigned or to the area approved by the Avila Student Access Office for students or Human Resources for employees.
Requirements and Responsibilities of ESA Handlers
A resident with an approved ESA must abide by current city, county and state ordinances, laws, and/or regulations pertaining to the licensing, vaccination, and other requirements of animal ownership applicable to the resident’s ESA. It is the resident’s responsibility to know and understand all applicable ordinances, laws, and regulations in addition to university policies applicable to their ESA. The university routinely requests documentation of compliance with such ordinances, laws and/or regulations, which includes presentation of vaccination certificate(s), registration or licensing documentation, and general descriptive information regarding the animal.
An ESA must be properly housed and restrained or otherwise under the control of the resident handler at all times. Resident handlers must be mindful of their ESA’s interaction with other university housing occupants (e.g., controlling the ESA to avoid excessive sniffing, jumping or other unwanted contact with roommates or other individuals). No resident handler may permit an ESA to roam loosely or run at large on university property. If an ESA is found running at large, the ESA is subject to capture, confinement, and removal from university housing or university property. The resident handler is responsible for ensuring that the ESA is contained, as appropriate, when the resident is not present in the housing unit.
The resident is required to ensure their ESA is well cared for at all times. ESAs cannot be left overnight in university housing or in the care of an individual other than the resident handler. If the resident handler will be absent from assigned university housing overnight or for an extended period, the ESA must accompany the resident off campus. Evidence of mistreatment, abuse, neglect, extended absence, or abandonment may result in the immediate removal of an ESA and/or other consequences to the resident responsible for the care of the ESA. The resident handler is solely responsible for providing care and food for the ESA. University dining center policies prohibit the removal of food or food scraps from dining facilities for the purpose of feeding ESAs. University personnel shall not be required to provide care or food for an ESA. University personnel are not responsible for removing an ESA during an emergency evacuation for events such as fires, tornado warnings, or any related emergency drills. In the case of an evacuation, emergency responders will determine whether to remove an unattended ESA and may not be held responsible for the care of, damage to, or loss of an ESA.
The resident handler must take reasonable steps to avoid property damage caused by an ESA. The resident handler is required to clean up after and properly dispose of all solid waste created by an ESA in a safe and sanitary manner. To the extent that the ESA can be housebroken, the ESA must use designated animal relief areas (as defined herein). The resident will be charged for any and all damages to university property caused by the ESA or additional cleaning of university property required due to the ESA (beyond reasonable wear and tear) to the same extent that other residents are charged for similar cleaning activities not related to an ESA accommodation. The owner of an ESA is liable for any damages caused by the animal. Owners must keep ESAs restrained or otherwise under their control (as described above) while in use or be subject to civil liability for any damages. Although it is not a requirement, it is preferred that ESAs be identifiable by their restraint method or other identifier.
ESAs are allowed in university housing only as long as the ESA is necessary in conjunction with the resident’s disability. The resident must notify the Student Access Office if an ESA is no longer needed or is no longer occupying university housing with the resident. To replace a previously approved ESA with another animal, the resident must follow the same process used to receive initial ESA approval from the Student Access Office.
ESA approvals represent an accommodation granted through the Student Access Office for students or through Human Resources for faculty and staff. ESAs are restricted to the areas identified as part of their approved accommodations from one of these offices. Students who wish to bring their ESA to campus must apply for accommodation through the Avila Student Access Office. Per Federal guidelines, individuals must provide documentation and/or a letter of recommendation (written within the last year on the licensed medical/mental health professional’s letterhead) that contains the following important data points informing the university that they:
- Are a current patient of the licensed medical/mental health professional who has written the letter
- Are under the treatment of the aforementioned licensed medical/mental health provider for a specifically identified mental or emotional disability that is outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5)
- Are receiving care for an emotional disability that substantially limits one or more major life activity
- Have received a recommendation for an ESA as an important part of their mental health treatment
To receive e-mail notifications when new ADA information is available, visit the ADA Website’s home page and click the link near the top of the middle column.
ADA Information Line
800-514-0301 (Voice) and 800-514-0383 (TTY)
24 hours a day to order publications by mail.
M-W, F 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., Th 12:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. (Eastern Time) to speak with an ADA Specialist. All calls are confidential.
CONCERNS OR QUESTIONS
Persons who have concerns or questions regarding their rights regarding service animals or emotional support animals may contact DSO@Avila.edu or call 816-501-3666. Student grievance forms are also available in the Hodes Center or online at https://www.avila.edu/sudent-services/disability-service-1/disability-services-information-forms.
Crime of impersonating a person with a disability for the purpose of receiving certain accommodations, penalty, civil liability.
Missouri Law 209.204. Any person who knowingly impersonates a person with a disability for the purpose of receiving the accommodations regarding service dogs under the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. Section 12101, et seq., is guilty of a class C misdemeanor and shall also be civilly liable for the amount of any actual damages resulting from such impersonation. Any second or subsequent violation of this section is a class B misdemeanor. For purposes of this section, "impersonates a person with a disability," means a representation by word or action as a person with a disability or a representation of a dog by word or action as a service dog.
Additional information on Missouri laws for Service Animals, please see:
"Service Animals Allowed" Document from the State of Missouri, Governor's Council on Disability