Student Support

Policies and Procedures


Policies and Procedures

Academic Adjustments for Students with Disabilities

In accordance with State and Federal law, academic rules, policies and practices at Santa Monica College may be modified, as necessary, to ensure that they do not discriminate, or have the effect of discriminating on the basis of handicap, against qualified handicapped applicants or students. The procedure for seeking an adjustment is as follows:

Process for Adjustment

  1. A student with a documented disability may seek an academic adjustment through a certificated staff at the Center for Students with Disabilities to initiate contact with the instructor(s).

  2. The instructor(s) may also discuss the request with the student and confer with the certificated staff at the Center for Students with Disabilities to determine an appropriate academic adjustment.

  3. If the student, instructor(s) and certificated staff at the Center for Students with Disabilities have made a reasonable effort to resolve the matter and are unable to agree on an appropriate academic adjustment within five working days, the matter may be referred to the ADA/504 Compliance Office or her/his designee.

  4. The ADA/504 Compliance Officer or her/his designee will gather appropriate information and determine a reasonable academic adjustment within two working days after having received written notification of a problem from a concerned party and will make an interim adjustment pending a final resolution.

Appeal Process

  1. If the student or the agents of the college do not concur regarding the requested academic adjustment, the matter will be forwarded to the Academic Accommodations Panel. The role of the Academic

    Accommodations Panel is to review the request for academic adjustment. Specifically, does the adjustment ensure access for the disabled for participation in the academic program and maintain the integrity of the course content?

  2. The Academic Accommodations Panel will include the following members:

    • A faculty member from the Disabled Student Programs and Services (DSPS)

    • The ADA/504 Compliance Officer

    • Two instructors from the academic area (one selected by the department chair and one selected by the instructor)

    • An advocate or information specialist of the student’s choice (non-voting)

    • An academic administrator who serves as the chair of the committee

  3. The student and the instructor will meet with the Academic Accommodations Panel and will have an opportunity to express their concerns.

  4. The Academic Accommodations Panel will meet no later than 10 working days after the interim adjustment has been made and will then render a written decision within five working days.

Classroom Assistance for Students with Disabilities

Any person attending a class must be officially enrolled, with the following exceptions.

A note-taker, classroom aide, sign language interpreter, real time captionist, or other assistant may be present in the classroom to assist a student who has been approved by DSPS for an academic adjustment.

Some students with disabilities employ personal attendant to manage a variety of tasks such as mobility and other personal needs. A personal attendant may accompany a qualified student with a disability to classes and other student activities, if a formal request has been approved by the SMC Disabled Student Programs and Services (DSPS). All such attendants must be registered with the DSPS. The DSPS will notify the instructor of the approval.

The attendant may provide all accommodations approved by DSPS on a case-by-case basis. The student is independently responsible for content on all evaluated course work. The personal attendant is bound by the Rules for Student Conduct. (AR 4410)

Suspension of Services Provided by Disabled Student Programs and Services (DSPS)

A qualified student with a disability may be denied services through DSPS in two ways:

  1. Lack of measurable progress, or

  2. Inappropriate use of services.

Reference: California Code of Regulations, Title 5, Section 56010(b)

Measurable Progress

A lack of measurable progress is defined as either:

  1. Failure to meet the academic standards outlined in AR 4342 Probation and Disqualification, standards established by the College, or

  2. No progress for two consecutive semesters with the goals outlined in the DSPS Student Educational Contract (SEC) when enrolled in special, non-credit courses.

Reference: California Code of Regulations, Title 5, Section 56010(a)

Inappropriate Use of Services

Inappropriate use of services is a failure to comply with the policies and procedures of service provision that a qualified student has been authorized to use. Failure to comply with the terms stated within each specific service provision area may result in suspension or termination of that specific service in the following ways:

  1. Only services that have been used inappropriately may be suspended or terminated during an enrolled term, and only for the duration of the term.

  2. The student shall be notified in writing prior to the suspension or the termination of said service. The student may file a written appeal addressed to the ADA Compliance Officer within 10 working days following the date of the notice. The ADA Compliance Officer or his/her designee will render the final decision within 10 working days and notify the student in writing of said decision.

  3. As with all requests for service, authorization of services in subsequent terms will follow the Academic Adjustments for Students with Disabilities (AR 4115).

Reference: Title 5, Section 56010

Adjustment of Graduation Requirements for Students with Disabilities

In cases in which an otherwise qualified student’s disability-related functional limitations may preclude him/her from successful completion of a course required for a degree or certificate, a course substitution may be considered.

If the student and the academic department mutually agree upon a course substitution, and the proposed course substitution meets the requirement of comparable concept mastery, the course substitution will be granted by the Vice President of Academic Affairs. If the academic department has denied a student’s request for course substitution and the student remains unable to complete a course, the student may appeal this decision by taking the following steps:.

Process for Course Substitution:

  1. The student will complete a written, formal request and submit this petition to a DSPS faculty member. This request may only be accepted by DSPS after the student has completed 45 applicable units. This request should be submitted prior to the student’s final semester to avoid last semester negotiations.

  2. A preliminary review of the student’s disability-related need for a course substitution will be made, taking into account the unique needs of each student. This review must be conducted by a team of appropriate professionals within DSPS, including the Coordinator of DSPS. Sufficient written documentation that the student meets all standardized criteria established by Title 5 and the Chancellor’s Office relevant to the student’s disability must be demonstrated to the DSPS office in order to proceed with a formal request. (Sections 56032-56044 of Subchapter 1 of Chapter 7 of Division 6 of Title 5)

  3. If the DSPS team determines that the above requirements are met, it will develop an educational plan with the student that addresses the student’s particular disability, immediate and future educational and career goals, and how this particular course substitution will affect any prerequisite, graduation or transfer requirements detailed by this educational plan. Within thirty (30) instructional days of receiving the formal request, DSPS and the student will present this plan in writing to an ad hoc committee consisting of the following individuals:

    • Academic Dean (Chair of the ad hoc committee)—appointed by the President or designee.

    • DSPS Coordinator or designee

    • Department Chair from the area in which the course to be substituted is offered

    • Two at-large faculty members:

      • Curriculum Committee Chair (or designee)

      • Faculty member not from the department from which the student seeks the substitution (appointed by the Academic Senate President)

    • ADA/Section 504 Compliance Officer (non-voting)

    A quorum shall be established when at minimum the Department Chair (or designee), the DSPS Coordinator (or designees), and one faculty member are present. Other, non-voting individuals may be present if requested by committee members. The petition will be evaluated on a case-by- case basis. Through the evaluation of the student's transcript and the proposed plan, it must be evident that the student is otherwise qualified and will meet all other graduation requirements (see AR 4350). Within twenty (20) days of the referral from DSPS, this committee will determine if the requested substitution constitutes a fundamental alteration of the educational program in which case necessary adjustments of the educational plan may be presented. The plan developed by the ad hoc committee becomes effective immediately and will be coordinated and implemented by DSPS. The Coordinator ofDSPS or his/her designee will ensure that the provisions of the plan are followed.

  4. If a course substitution (which may include a special project or independent study coursework) is recommended, a written contract between the ad hoc committee and student will be established.

    The relevant academic departmental representatives will recommend a substitution which will achieve student learning outcomes and objectives comparable to those of the course for which the work will be substituted. The committee, may at its discretion request/require any of the following:

    Completion of the substitute work within a specified period of time.

    If a project or independent work is assigned, the department chair and/or a departmental faculty member will be solely responsible for evaluating the student's work and communicate its evaluation results to committee members.

  5. Once the agreed upon project or independent work has been successfully completed, the ad hoc committee may at its discretion reconvene to certify its completion and forward its approval to the

    Vice President of Academic Affairs for final approval.

  6. It is the student's responsibility to consider the consequences of course substitution in transferring to another postsecondary institution. If the original course is required for transfer, it is the student's responsibility to contact the transfer institution for consideration of a disability-related adjustment.

  7. The district is not obligated to develop a substitute course. Academic requirements that are essential to a program or directly linked to licensing requirements will not be considered for substitution.


Title 5, Sections 56032-56044 Approved: 05102106

Full-Time Status for Students with Disabilities with Reduced Course Load

The purpose of this Administrative Regulation is to provide full-time status to qualified students with significant disabilities who, as a direct result of disability, are unable to carry a full course load and, consequently, would be unable to participate fully in the benefits and privileges afforded full-time students.

Under College policy, full-time status requires enrollment in no less than 12 units. While it is typically preferable for a student with a disability to be accommodated through methods such as academic advising, priority enrollment, and academic accommodations, it may be necessary for a student to request a reduced course load because of a more severe academic impact of a significant disability. Factors unrelated to the disability such as employment, curricular activities, family/personal obligations, inadequate academic preparation, failure to use appropriate academic accommodations, or poor class attendance cannot be the primary reason(s) for a student with a reduced course load to be considered a full-time student. Students who are approved for full-time status with reduced course loads should work closely with their academic advisers on a coursework plan, particularly with respect to university and college degree completion time limitations.

This policy will allow an eligible student to carry a reduced course load without forfeiting the benefits and privileges of full-time status. However, eligible students should follow up with auxiliary services such as federal financial aid, personal health insurance, and non-College sponsored scholarships as these and other services may be adversely affected by the reduction in semester hours. The College cannot require outside entities to abide by the College’s determination of a reduced course load/ full-time status designation. If a student who has been approved for a reduced course load further reduces his or her course load below the approved number of hours for full-time status, the student’s full-time status shall be revoked automatically and will no longer be in effect.


Requests for reduced course loads/full-time status should be submitted to the Coordinator, Disabled

Students Programs & Services (DSPS), or designee. The Coordinator, DSPS, or designee will grant or deny the request based on consideration of the factors set forth above. The reduced course load, if approved, is not permanent but must be re-evaluated each semester.