INVOLUNTARY LEAVE OF ABSENCE
Students may voluntarily withdraw from Suffolk University Law School at any time during matriculation at Suffolk University. In addition, students may request a Leave of Absence in accordance with Law School Rules and Regulations V. However, situations as described below may arise when the Law School determines on an individualized, case-by-case basis that a student may need to be involuntarily placed on a Leave of Absence from the Law School.
When a student demonstrates conduct that violates the Suffolk University Law School standard of Student Conduct (Law School Rules and Regulations XI) or other Suffolk University or Law School policies, that conduct will be addressed through the appropriate disciplinary processes. This Policy is not intended to be disciplinary in nature. Rather, this Policy outlines the criteria and procedures for when and how a student may be involuntarily placed on a Leave of Absence from the Law School for demonstrating behavior that creates a direct threat to the safety or health of members of the University community or that unreasonably disrupts the normal education processes and orderly operation of the University. There may be situations in which both this Policy and the Student Discipline Process and/or other Suffolk policies are applicable.
Criteria for an Involuntary Leave of Absence
A student may be involuntarily placed on a Leave of Absence from Suffolk University Law School if the Law School determines on an individualized, case-by-case basis, in accordance with the procedures listed below, that the student:
(a) Demonstrates behavior that is unreasonably disruptive to the normal education processes and orderly operation of the Law School or Suffolk University,
(b) Demonstrates behavior that endangers members of the Suffolk University community, or that creates a direct threat that the student may endanger members of the Suffolk University community.
Involuntary Leave of Absence Process
If it becomes evident (through observed behavior or by report(s) from faculty, staff, students or others) that a Leave of Absence from the Law School may be in the best interest of a student and the Law School and the student do not agree, then the following procedures will be engaged:
- The Dean of Students, or designee, will collect available information, such as information obtained from incident reports, conversations with students, faculty and staff, and the opinions of appropriate medical/clinical professionals if such information is available.
- If reasonably possible, the Dean of Students, or designee, will meet with the student, giving notice to the student of the meeting and providing an opportunity for the student to provide information in support of the student’s request that s/he not be placed on a leave of absence and/or to make suggestions for reasonable accommodation(s) short of an involuntary leave from the Law School.
- If, after the meeting, the student maintains that he/she would like to remain enrolled, the Dean of Students will request that the student sign an authorization permitting medical/clinical professionals who have treated the student to share information with the Dean of Students and other University officials. Failure by the student to sign the authorization will result in the involuntary withdrawal of the student from the University as the University will have insufficient information to render an individualized determination.
- The Dean of Students, or designee, will then convene an “Involuntary Leave of Absence Committee” comprised of the Dean of Students (or designee), one Law School Associate Dean and the Director of the Counseling Center (or designee). Additional Law School or University Administrators will be added to the committee if and when appropriate. The Committee will review collected information and information presented by the student. The committee will engage in a determination on an individualized, case-by-case basis, taking into consideration the nature, duration and severity of the risk and the likelihood, imminence and nature of potential harmful conduct, either to the University community.
- The Committee will render a decision and present that decision to the student in writing. Should the decision be to place the student on a Leave of Absence, appropriate conditions for return will be contained within the written notification.
- A student who is seeking to return to school after being placed on an Involuntary Leave of Absence must submit a written plan that identifies how the student will resume his/her status at the Law School. The plan must respond to the situation that gave rise to the need for the student’s involuntary Leave of Absence. The Law School may require that the student submit medical or psychological records indicating that the student has adequately addressed the condition that gave rise to the Involuntary Leave of Absence and/or indicates suggested conditions for re-enrollment such as regular counseling sessions or limited courseload.
- The Involuntary Leave of Absence Committee will review the student’s plan to determine on an individualized, case-by- case basis whether or not the student’s request to re-enroll at that time shall be granted or denied by taking into consideration all of the relevant factors and information presented. The decision of the Committee is final.
Definition of Notice
Under this policy, notice is deemed to be given if sent by e-mail to a student’s Suffolk University e-mail address.
The Law School reserves the right to place a student on an immediate interim leave of absence that will remain in effect until a final decision is made pursuant to the procedure, unless, before a final decision is made, the Law School determines that the reasons for imposing the interim leave of absence no longer exist.
Other Applicable Policies
Action under the this policy does not preclude the Law School from taking action under other applicable policies including, but not limited to, the Student Disciplinary Procedure, the Sexual Harassment Policy and the Law School’s Academic Standards.