Medical Leave of Absence Policy

I. Introduction

The University of San Francisco provides a multitude of resources to assist with student success. However, students may have an illness, injury, or psychological condition that impairs their ability to function successfully or safely in their roles as students or community members and/or the level of care required exceeds the resources and staffing available at USF.  Under such circumstances, a medical leave of absence may be necessary.

Any student who experiences a psychiatric, psychological or medical condition that jeopardizes their own lives and/or safety or the lives and/or safety of others, or whose actions significantly disrupt the activities of the University community may be placed on an involuntary medical leave. As an alternative to invoking this policy, the University will encourage and permit a student to take a voluntary leave (although restrictions or conditions of return may be imposed). An involuntary leave will be invoked only after all other feasible options for treatment and intervention for the individual student have been pursued.

This policy is separate from the Student Code of Conduct. Actions taken under this policy do not prevent or exclude a student from being held responsible for possible violations of the Student Code of Conduct.

II. Voluntary Medical Leave of Absence

Registered students in good standing (academic and disciplinary) who wish to leave the University temporarily must file a Leave of Absence form with the Student Enrollment Services Office. Forms are available online at https://myusf.usfca.edu/registration/forms.

It is the student’s responsibility to contact their school/college, financial aid, and Student Housing and Residential Education (SHaRE) for additional information regarding a leave of absence before they file a Leave of Absence form with the Student Enrollment Services Office. The Office of the Dean of Students will be notified of all Leaves of Absences. Leaves of Absence are authorized case by case.

III. Involuntary Medical Leave of Absence

A. The Associate Vice Provost for Student Life (or designee) may place a student on involuntary leave of absence following a consultation with the appropriate mental and/or medical health professionals (i.e., Counseling and Psychological Services, Case Manager, etc.) and/or other staff as deemed necessary wherein it is determined that a student reasonably meets one or more of the following criteria. The student:

  1. presents a substantial risk of harm to self and/or others
  2. Is failing to carry out substantial self-care obligations;
  3. significantly disrupts the educational and/or other activities of the University community;
  4. is unable to participate meaningfully in educational activities; and/or
  5. requires a level of care from the University community that exceeds the resources and staffing that the University can be expected to provide for a student’s well-being.

The Associate Vice Provost for Student Life (or designee) will confer with a student’s parents, guardians, or emergency if deemed necessary to protect the student and/or others in the community. There will be full consideration for the student’s FERPA rights before making contact with the student’s parents, guardians or emergency contact.

B. Individualized Assessment by the Associate Vice Provost & Written Decision

  1. Where appropriate and feasible, the Associate Vice Provost for Student Life (or designee) will notify a student, in writing, that an involuntary leave under this policy is under review. In situations involving an imminent or ongoing threat to the student or USF community, it may be appropriate for the University to require the student to be away from the University while the individualized assessment and review are taking place. Students are expected to cooperate in the assessment. The University may require a mental or physical evaluation from an appropriately trained and certified clinician who is not associated with the University and who is not related to the student if the Associate Vice Provost (or designee) believes such an evaluation of the student will facilitate a more informed decision. Students are expected, if necessary, to sign a release of information to facilitate discussions between the University and the clinician conducting an evaluation. The clinician conducting the assessment will be required to complete the University’s Outside Assessment Form.
  2. The Associate Vice Provost for Student Life may consider relevant documentation made available to them and may confer with individuals who have relevant information about whether a leave of absence under this policy is appropriate for a particular student. Although each case will vary, conferring individuals may include:
    1. Dean or Associate Dean from the student’s school or college
    2. A representative from Counseling and Psychological Services
    3. Faculty members
    4. Academic advisers and/ or CASA Coach
    5. A representative from the Office of Student Disability Services
    6. Other health care providers
    7. Other members of the University community
  3. The student will have the opportunity to respond to the concerns in writing, in person or over the telephone to the Associate Vice Provost for Student Life.
  4. Although the Associate Vice Provost for Student Life may confer with others, the decision to impose a leave is ultimately the Associate Vice Provost’s. The Associate Vice Provost for Student Life must provide written notice of the decision to the student.
    1. If a leave is imposed, the written decision must address: 1) a time-frame when the student could be eligible to return; and 2) the conditions the student will need to satisfy to be eligible for return.
    2. If a leave is not imposed, the Associate Vice Provost for Student Life may require conditions for the student’s continued enrollment at USF. These conditions will be put in writing.
  5. Unless the letter from the Associate Vice Provost for Student Life states otherwise, the imposition of an involuntary leave under this policy is effective immediately.
  6. All reviews under this policy should be done in a reasonably timely manner. Where students have been asked to remain off campus while the review is underway, every effort will be made by the Associate Vice Provost for Student Life to reach a decision within 7 business days, provided the student responds timely to requests for information and evaluation.

C. Appeal Process

  1. A student placed on involuntary leave has three (3) business days from receipt of the letter from the Associate Vice Provost for Student Life to file an appeal of the decision with the University Appeals Board (UAB). The appeal may relate to the leave decision itself and/or the conditions imposed to remain or to return. The UAB’s review will be completed within five (5) business days and should be limited to:
    1. Were the proper facts and criteria used to make the decision? Were improper or extraneous facts or criteria used that substantially affected the decision to the detriment of the student?
    2. Were there any procedural irregularities that substantially affected the outcome of the matter to the detriment of the student?
    3. Given the proper facts, criteria and procedures, was the decision reasonable?
  2. The UAB may
    1. uphold the Associate Vice Provost’s decision without any modifications;
    2. Modify the Associate Vice Provost’s decision;
    3. Overturn the Associate Vice Provost’s decision; or
    4. Return the decision to the Associate Vice Provost for further review.
  3. The determination if a student will be removed from the University community while waiting for an appeal will occur on a case-by-case basis.

D. Association with the University while on Leave

Students on leave under this policy are not permitted to be present on campus and are not permitted to engage in any University-related activities, unless expressly permitted by the Vice Provost or Associate Vice Provost in writing.

E. Return to the University

  1. Except in extraordinary circumstances, a student will not be permitted to return to the University until the leave period specified in the Associate Vice Provost’s letter has elapsed and the conditions for return have been satisfied.
  2. A medical and/or mental health professional clinician’s recommendation does not guarantee a student’s right to return to the University. The Associate Vice Provost for Student Life will consider relevant documentation made available to them and may confer with individuals who have relevant information about whether a return to the University is appropriate at this time. Although each case will vary, conferring individuals may include:
    1. A representative from Counseling and Psychological Services
    2. A representative from the Office of Student Disability Services
    3. University’s Case Manager
    4. Other health care providers
    5. Other members of the University community
  3. A student must make a written request to the Associate Vice Provost for Student Life to return to the University at least 30 days prior to the start of the semester in which the student wishes to return. The request must include evidence that the conditions for return to the University have been satisfied (or will be satisfied by the start of the date of return). This may include the completion of the Outside Assessment Form by a licensed psychologist, psychiatrist, or physician.
  4. The Associate Vice Provost for Student Life may require further evaluation of the student to determine readiness to return. The Associate Vice Provost for Student Life may ask, confer or seek information from others to assist in making the determination.
  5. Student must agree to comply with all recommendations provided by the outside clinician.
  6. If the Associate Vice Provost for Student Life is not satisfied that the student is ready to return, the Associate Vice Provost will notify the student in writing of the decision, including the reason for the decision.
  7. A student not permitted to return may appeal the decision under section IV above.

F. This Policy’s Interaction with other University Matters

  1. An involuntary leave of absence is an administrative process; it is not a disciplinary process. It is possible that conduct leading to an involuntary leave under this policy may also be subject to review under the University’s disciplinary process through the Office of Student Conduct, Rights and Responsibilities. Nothing in this policy limits the authority of the Office of Student Conduct, Rights and Responsibilities.  Nothing in this policy limits the power of the President to take administrative action to ensure the safety of the community. Nothing in this Policy limits the University’s ability to place holds on students for reasons beyond the scope of this policy, including but not limited to outstanding financial obligations, failure to register, academic standing or disciplinary suspension.
  2. Nothing in this policy relieves a student of financial obligations to the University that were in place at the time an involuntary leave of absence was imposed. 
  3. As necessary, students should consult the USF Catalog, Fogcutter Student Handbook and other University offices’ publications for complete information regarding other University matters.
IV. Transcripts

Transcripts will not distinguish between a voluntary and involuntary leave of absence.

V. Academic Considerations                       

When a student is placed on voluntary or involuntary leave after the beginning of the semester, courses in which the student was enrolled after the drop deadline appear on the student’s transcript as a “W” (withdrew) or “I” (incomplete) as determined by the student’s Dean (or designee) in consultation with the Associate Vice Provost for Student Life. 

VI.  Confidentiality

The University recognizes the sensitive and confidential nature of considering a voluntary or involuntary leave. The University’s use and disclosure of such information will be guided by laws governing the privacy of student information, such as FERPA, and the limited exceptions for disclosure provided by law.

All records concerning both voluntary and involuntary leaves of absence are confidential and the official copy of such records shall be retained by the Dean or the Dean’s designee of the academic program, department, or school. Access to these records is limited by appropriate federal, state, and local law. Such records will be destroyed seven (7) years after the student’s graduation or separation from the University.