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Handbook for Student Law for Higher Education Administrators, Third Edition

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James Ottavio Castagnera

The Handbook for Student Law for Higher Education Administrators, Third Edition is a practical tool, intended for administrators dealing with students in higher education, focusing principally on four-year institutions. Addressing the ever-evolving relationship between higher education and the law, the book will provide the academic administrator with the means to knowledgably and confidently navigate the many legal threats and challenges facing colleges today. Focused on the "hot" issues in higher education today, and using examples from real cases and scenarios from many institutions, the handbook provides sample policies, checklists, and advice that administrators can apply to a wide variety of situations, both preventatively and proactively. The Handbook for Student Law for Higher Education Administrators, Third Edition is a compendium of practical knowledge and guidance, useful to all administrators dealing with the legal minefield that is higher education.

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Chapter 8: Physical, Mental, and Learning Disabilities

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PHYSICAL, MENTAL, AND LEARNING DISABILITIES

Overview

In 2017 more students with documented disabilities are enrolled in higher education than ever before. Several explanations present themselves, and all contribute to the increase:

(1) Diagnosis of the more subtle forms of learning disabilities has come a long way in the past few decades. ADD, ADHD, and their kin are now recognized for what they are, that is, legitimate disabilities for which universities are well able to provide accommodations.

(2) Treatment of more severe mental disabilities, such as bipolar disorder and Tourette syndrome by means of therapy and medication has made it realistic for suffers from these disabilities to function in a university environment.

(3) The 2008 expansion of the definition of “disability” via the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments meant that physical and mental impairments previously denied ADA protection by the Supreme Court were brought under the act’s umbrella.

(4) The U.S. Department of Education, always eager to push the regulatory envelope to its limits (see my discussion of sexual assault investigations in the preceding chapter), has declared that students presenting a risk of harm to themselves can no longer be sent home from our campuses. ← 227 | 228 →

The net result is that the sheer numbers of students with disabilities on our campuses has grown exponentially. At my home institution, for example, of some 4,000 total students, no fewer than 500...

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