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Involuntary Withdrawal

1.0 Scope

The Involuntary Withdrawal Policy outlines the criteria and procedures for when and how a student may be involuntarily withdrawn from the College for demonstrating behavior that poses a direct threat to the health or safety of any member of the college community or others, or that substantially disrupts the learning environment and orderly operation of the College. 

1.1 Relationship to Student Code of Conduct Procedures

The Involuntary Withdrawal Policy is not intended to be disciplinary in nature. When a student demonstrates conduct that violates the Student Code of Conduct or other College policies, that conduct will be addressed through the appropriate disciplinary process.  There may be situations in which both this policy and the Student Code of Conduct and/or other College policies apply.

2.0 Policy Statement

Northern Virginia Community College places a high priority on providing a safe and supportive learning environment that contributes to student success. A student may be withdrawn involuntarily from NOVA if the College determines, in accordance with the procedures listed below, that the student:

  1. Demonstrates behavior that poses a direct threat to any member of the College community or others; or 
  2. Demonstrates behavior that is a substantial disruption to the normal education processes and the orderly operation of the College.

The policy will be applied in a nondiscriminatory manner, and decisions will be based on information about the student’s conduct, actions and statements, not on knowledge or belief that the student has a disability, or psychological or mental health condition.

Involuntary withdrawal will only be considered as a last resort. Involuntary withdrawal should not be implemented when disciplinary, academic, or other administrative responses are available and the student’s circumstances can best be addressed through those responses. When possible, efforts should be made to achieve a voluntary withdrawal with conditions for readmission before initiating the involuntary withdrawal process.

3.0 Definitions

Direct Threat: Behavior which poses significant risk to the health or safety of any member of the College community or others

Significant Risk: Behavior which has a high probability (not just a slightly increased, speculative, or remote risk) of substantial harm, given information concerning the behavior that is available at the time of consideration.

Substantial Disruption: Behavior which continually and considerably interferes with other students’ participation in academic, work, extracurricular, or other college-related activities, or that impedes the orderly operation of College activities.

4.0 Procedures

4.1 Report

Any member of the NOVA community, guest, or visitor may submit a report about a student for demonstrating behavior that threatens the health or safety of any member of the college community or others, or that unreasonably disrupts the learning environment.  Reports may be submitted at NOVACares.

4.2 Referral

When a report suggests that a student may pose a direct threat, the Threat Assessment Team (TAT) will conduct an assessment and make a recommendation to refer the matter to either the Case Manager or the Dean of Students. When the report involves substantial disruption without direct threat, the Dean of Students will manage the process, but may consult with the Case Manager as appropriate.

The Dean of Students or Case Manager will meet with the student to:

  1. review available information concerning the behavior and/or incidents which have caused concern, 
  2. provide the student an opportunity to explain his/her behavior, and 
  3. discuss options available to the student, including counseling, voluntary withdrawal and evaluation for involuntary withdrawal. 

4.3 Evaluation

If the student is unwilling to withdraw voluntarily from the College, and the Dean of Students continues to have reasonable cause to believe the student meets one or more of the criteria for involuntary withdrawal, he/she may request that the student be evaluated by an appropriate health care professional or other appropriate professional.

The evaluation must be initiated by the student within five business days after notification to the student.  Prior to the evaluation, the student will be asked to sign a written release authorizing the exchange of relevant information among the health professional(s) (or other professional) and the College. Upon completion of the evaluation, copies of the evaluation report will be provided to the NOVA Cares Case Manager or designee and to the student.  

The evaluation shall include a determination of the nature, duration and severity of the risk posed by the student to the health or safety of himself/herself or others, the probability that a potentially threatening incident will actually occur, and whether reasonable modifications of policies, practices or procedures will sufficiently mitigate the risk.  

The Case Manager will review this information with the Threat Assessment Team and/or the Dean of Students. The College shall make an individualized and objective assessment of the student’s ability to participate safely in the College’s program, based on the best available objective evidence.

If the student is unwilling to submit to an evaluation, the College will make its assessment based on the available information.

4.4 Meeting with the Dean of Students

The Dean of Students will meet with the student in order to review the results of the professional evaluation, allow the student to present any relevant information, and determine whether involuntary withdrawal should be initiated. The student may be accompanied by an adviser of their choice. The advisor’s role is not to represent the student. The advisor may not speak for the student.

Before initiating involuntary withdrawal, every effort will be made to encourage the student to withdraw voluntarily. The meeting may result in one of the following outcomes: 

  1. If the evaluation results in a determination that the student’s continued attendance presents no significant risk to the health or safety of any member of the College community, or to the educational processes and orderly operations of the College, no further action shall be taken to withdraw the student from the College. 
  2. If the evaluation results in a determination that the continued attendance of the student presents a significant risk of direct threat to the health or safety of any member of the College community,  or substantial disruption to the educational processes and orderly operations of the College, the student may be involuntarily withdrawn from the College. 
  3. The student may agree to withdraw voluntarily from the College. Conditions for re-enrollment may apply.

The student will be informed in writing within five business days of the outcome, of his/right to appeal the determination of involuntary withdrawal, and of any conditions necessary for re-enrollment.

4.5 Appeal

The student may appeal the determination of involuntary withdrawal to the Associate Vice President for Student Services. The appeal must be in writing and must be submitted within five business days of receiving the determination. The only grounds for appeal are:

  1. A procedural error occurred that significantly impacted the outcome 
  2. To consider new evidence, unavailable during the original assessment, that could substantially impact the outcome.  A summary of this new evidence and its potential impact must be included.

The Associate Vice President will issue a decision within five business days. That decision is final.

4.6 Effect of Involuntary Withdrawal

Students who have been involuntarily withdrawn from the College are not permitted to be present on College property or participate in College events without the permission of the Dean of Students.  

A student who is involuntarily withdrawn after the census date will be given a grade of W for all currently-enrolled courses.  Standard College polices regarding tuition refunds and financial aid will apply.

4.7 Interim Action

The College may take interim action to remove a student from the College pending a decision on whether to initiate involuntary withdrawal, if such action is deemed necessary for the safety of the College community. Interim action may be deemed necessary when there is imminent danger of serious physical harm to any member of the College community or others. 

When possible, alternative arrangements will be made for the student to continue to meet academic requirements during an interim removal. 

4.8 Re-Enrollment

A student who has satisfied the conditions for re-enrollment outlined at the time of his or her voluntary or involuntary withdrawal will be considered for readmission to the College.

Re-enrollment conditions will be individually tailored so as to be appropriate to each student but will always be premised on the notion that the student no longer poses a direct threat to the health or safety of any member of the College community, and/or no longer demonstrates behavior that is substantially disruptive to the normal educational processes and orderly operation of the College. Specific conditions for readmission might include:

  1. Appropriate documentation indicating that the student no longer demonstrates the behavior which led to the involuntary withdrawal;
  2. A treatment plan from a health professional or other appropriate care provider and/or verification from the provider that the student is complying with a treatment plan (or has been satisfactorily complying with a treatment plan for a designated length of time).

Students wishing to re-enroll must call or email to schedule a meeting with the Dean of Students at least six weeks before their desired return to discuss the student's compliance with, and appropriate documentation of, the designated conditions for readmission. All determinations as to whether the conditions for re-enrollment have been satisfied will be made by the Dean of Students. These determinations are final.

Because conduct that gives rise to an involuntary withdrawal under this Policy might also result in sanctions in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct, it is possible that a student who has met the designated conditions for re-enrollment following an involuntary withdrawal might still not be eligible for re-enrollment at the College.

5.0 References

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