The Catholic University of America

 Procedure for Requesting Additional Exceptions to the Absentee/Tardiness Requirements


Based on documentation provided by the student from a qualified professional, the Office of Disability Services will verify that the student's disability may cause the student to miss classes.  Students who present documentation after absences occur are only eligible for retroactive accommodations at the discretion of the faculty member. The student should meet with the instructor at the beginning of the semester to present the letter to professors and to discuss how absences may affect the completion of coursework should the student need to use this accommodation.


When a disability-related absence occurs, the following procedures should be followed- The student should notify professors and Disability Support Services within 48 hours of absence. When the accommodation is questioned, the professor, student, and Disability coordinator should discuss whether the disability related absence accommodation is reasonable.  Disability Support Services reserves the right to request documentation of the disability-related absence from a qualified professional.


In cases where absences will affect the ability of the student to demonstrate skills required to successfully pass the course, the student may want to consult with the instructor in regard to a withdrawal from the courses.


In determining whether or not this accommodation can be provided the decision should be based on the following considerations:

  • Is the absence truly related to the disability? Routine medical appointments, transportation difficulties, work-related activities, etc., are not reasons to warrant the disability-related absence accommodation because they are not disability related.
  • Will the absences cause the student to miss essential components of the class? (For example, missing group work in an oral communication class.)
  • Can the activities missed by the student be made up? (For example, making up a missed nursing rotation may cause an administrative burden.)

How do I determine the number of absences to allow a student with a disability in my class?


A student with a disability, who is registered with DSS will have a letter from DSS indicating what accommodations are appropriate.  If it says to allow occasional exceptions to the absentee/tardiness policy, then this is an appropriate accommodation for the student.


The student is required to notify the faculty member as soon as possible.  We also encourage them to let DSS know as well as a back-up.


Each faculty member makes the determination as to how many absences in general are acceptable in order to pass the class.  For a student with a disability, we must also look at:


  • What are the essential elements of the course?
  • How many absences would fundamentally alter the student’s ability to experience; or ability to participate in; or to contribute to and demonstrate learning from the class?


Attendance will generally be an essential function and, where attendance is essential, the student can be treated the same as others -- even if the student needs additional absences for disability related reasons.


However, the number of absences allowed can vary based on the subject of the course and how it is being taught.  For instance, it may well make sense to have a very limited number of excusable absences for a 10 person advanced seminar, but there may be more flexibility in a 300 person lecture hall introductory course.  In other words, what is essential -- how many absences are excusable -- must be tailored to the specific situation.


In order to determine the 'fundamental' nature/importance of attendance to the course, here are some things to consider:


  • On a daily basis, do the students receive information they need in order to learn material presented on following days?
  • Does learning occur on a daily, or near daily, basis between student and student?
  • Will the absence from class of any student dilute the academic impact on other students?
  • Do students prepare/participate in topical or other learning experiences every class period that are considered essential but which are not likely to be repeated AND for which they are responsible during exams
  • Is there a statement on the syllabus indicating the impact on grading of additional absences?


If a situation like this arises, we recommend that the faculty member contact DSS to talk through the situation.