In some situations, a course substitution is a reasonable way to accommodate a student’s learning needs/capacities under the Americans with Disabilities Act; a course substitution may be granted if the course does not compromise the curricular integrity of a St. Mary’s education or the educational experience in a particular major.
Students who seek to substitute a required course (e.g., a course in international languages and cultures) will need to submit relevant documentation to the Office of Accessibility Services and complete an interview with a member of the Office of Accessibility Services.
Step 1: Submit Relevant Documentation
Students who request a course substitution as an academic accommodation need to submit documentation which establishes how their learning need/health condition precludes a particular kind of learning experience, even if reasonable, appropriate accommodations were to be provided in that setting. This documentation may include assessments/evaluations which demonstrate a severely functional limitation in the learning area, a past history of exclusion from a particular learning experience because of the nature of learning needs/capacities, and/or evidence of non-passing grades in courses with the required content, even with supports like tutoring and other academic accommodations.
Such documentation can be submitted as part of a student’s initial request for academic accommodations at SMCM, or as a supplemental request once they start at SMCM.
Step 2: Interview with the Office of Accessibility Services
Once the paperwork has been received and initially reviewed, the student will meet with a member of the Office of Student Support Services to discuss the request. At that meeting, the student may be asked about their past learning experiences in similar courses, the supports they have been offered previously, and why they believe the course requirement at SMCM is not reasonable, given their learning needs/capacities.
For courses in the Core Curriculum
In the meeting with Accessibility Services, the student should be prepared to propose substitution options for the the required course. The course options should align with the general content theme targeted by the course for which the substitution is requested. Students are encouraged to consult with their academic adviser as they prepare this list, as it could be appropriate to consider a course a student has already taken for the substitution.
For courses in a major/minor
If the student is requesting to substitute a required course that is in their major(s) or minor(s), the process varies slightly during the meeting with Accessibility Services. The student is not expected to propose alternative courses at this time; rather they need to be prepared to explain to Accessibility Services how the course in question fits in the major/minor and how this course does or does not link to other required courses in the major/minor. In other words, does the course in question serve as a pre-requisite to other courses in the program?
Issuing the Decision
A decision about the request will be made within ten (10) business days from the meeting with personnel in the Office of Accessibility Services. Our office will consult academic departments related to the request as part of this process.
Should the request be approved, the final decision will list which courses may be used to substitute for the course in question. The student’s adviser and the registrar will be notified accordingly to ensure that the degree audits are appropriately adjusted.
As is the case with all accommodation requests, students have the option to appeal the decision, if they do not agree with the final decision.