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About CUACCESSIBILITY SERVICES AT CORNERSTONE UNIVERSITY

Accessibility Services at Cornerstone University

Citing the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Fair Housing Act, Cornerstone University is committed to ensuring all students have full access to their coursework by providing reasonable academic and housing accommodations to qualified students with a documented disability. Please see the dropdowns below for additional information on Accessibility Services at Cornerstone.

Personnel

Accessibility Services Staff

Mario Adkins, Director of Academic Success | 504 Administrative Officer
Email: mario.adkins@cornerstone.edu
Phone: 616.222.1596

Julie Skinner, Coordinator of Accessibility Services and Academic Success
Email: julie.skinner@cornerstone.edu
Phone: 616.222.1596

Landon Wittmer, Assistive Technologist & Tutor Coordinator
Email: landon.wittmer@cornerstone.edu
Phone: 616.222.1596

Application Process for Disability-Related Accommodations

To establish eligibility for disability-related accommodations and services, students must complete our Accessibility Services application and provide recent and detailed documentation of disability/disabilities. Students are encouraged to apply as early as possible, as the review and approval process may take 2-4 weeks to complete. Incoming freshmen are encouraged to submit their application and documentation in the semester preceding their enrollment as a Cornerstone University student. The steps for registering with the Center for Academic Success to receive academic, dietary or residential accommodations are:

  1. Complete and submit the Accessibility Services Application.
    • For Academic Accommodation requests, the university strongly recommends fully completing the web application 4-6 weeks prior to the start of the upcoming semester.
    • For Residential, Dietary and Allergy Accommodation requests, you should complete your application by the due date listed below:
      • Fall Semester Due Date: May 15
      • Spring Semester Due Date: December 1
  2. During the application, students will be prompted to upload medical documentation that verifies disability/disabilities and helps determine academic accommodations. The Guidelines for Documentation resource may be helpful to the student, family and his or her health provider to determine specific documentation requirements.
  3. When the application and documentation are submitted, the student’s file will be reviewed by the 504 Administrative Officer. After this initial review, additional documentation might be requested if the nexus between disability and accommodation request does not connect, or if documentation is vague and/or unclear.
  4. When the application and documentation have been reviewed and determined to be complete, the 504 Administrative Officer will complete an internal rubric, which translates to an Individualized Student Accommodation Plan (ISAP). An ISAP is a summary of all approved reasonable accommodations a student has access to.
  5. The student will be notified of approval for accommodations via email, and will meet with the 504 Administrative Officer to finalize the ISAP.
  6. Students will be provided with Verification Letters (paper or electronic) to present to each faculty member of their courses. Note that the Center for Academic Success does not contact faculty members; it is a student’s responsibility to meet with the faculty member to present the verification form and discuss individual needs with the faculty member.

Additional Information

  • At the start of each new semester, students must request a new set of Verification Letters to provide to faculty members in their new courses. Students will be emailed a reminder to pick up new Verification Letters at the Center for Academic Success.
  • The ISAP is effective for the entire time that a student is enrolled at Cornerstone University.
  • The Center for Academic Success and the 504 Administrative Officer reserves the right to amend an ISAP as needed to foster equal access to academic programs.
  • The ISAP may be reviewed for potential changes at any time; students may request an ISAP review at the Center for Academic Success with the 504 Administrative Officer.
  • Use of accommodations are completely at the discretion of the student.

Academic Accommodations

Cornerstone University provides a holistic array of academic accommodations based on the nexus between a student’s verified disability and submitted documentation. The university’s 504 Administrative Officer will work with the student to develop an Individualized Student Accommodation Plan that outlines the specific academic accommodations using Accessibility Services application information, any initial meetings with applicants, and medical documentation. To reiterate, academic accommodations are only approved to a student based on the nexus between verified disability/disabilities and submitted documentation, not simply personal request. Examples of academic accommodations include, but are not limited to:

  • Alternate Location for Exam/Quizzes (Center for Academic Success).
  • Extended Time for Exam/Quizzes (time and a half)
  • Books in Alternative Format
  • Note Taking Assistance (as requested and available)
  • Advanced Copies of Professor’s PPTs and Notes/Outlines (as available)
  • Class Lecture Audio Recording (as needed)
  • Assignment Extensions (per policy)
  • Adapted Physical Activity Course

Each semester, students will be emailed on retrieving Verification Letters (physical or electronic copy) which they can then share with each professor. The university encourages students to schedule an appointment with each professor in the first week of classes to discuss their individual needs and set a tone of student-professor collaboration as it relates to the students approved academic accommodations. However, the decision of whether to utilize accommodations in any given course is the sole decision of the student, and Center for Academic Success staff cannot contact professors on a student’s behalf. Note that each Verification Letter articulates the student’s specific accommodations but does not include information about a student’s specific disability diagnoses or other confidential information. It is up to each student how much detailed information they want to disclose to their professor.

Residential Accommodations

Dietary Accommodations

Applicants with conditions that require dietary adjustments may apply for dining hall accommodations. The Cornerstone University food service team maintains a designated space free from common food allergens and prepares daily options for dairy-free, nut-free, and gluten-free dietary needs. Requests for adjustments to typical meal plans must be accompanied by medical documentation from a licensed professional such as an allergist, dietitian or nutritionist, on official office letterhead of organization.

Residence Hall Accommodations

Based on disability/disabilities and related documentation, students may benefit from residential accommodations to gain full access to the residential aspects of college living. Students making residential accommodation requests are encouraged to apply as early as possible. Applications received after the recommended dates will still be processed, but implementation will depend on the administrative feasibility of the request. Accessibility Services applications for residential accommodations should be completed by the specified dates below:

  • Fall Semester: May 15
  • Spring Semester: December 1

Emotional Support Animals (ESA)

An emotional support animal (ESA) is an animal that serves as an integrated part of a student’s holistic treatment plan as prescribed by a mental health medical professional. To acquire an ESA, students must complete the Accessibility Services Application. After completion, Center for Academic Success staff will email applicant our Emotional Support Animal Request Form. Please complete the forms by the following dates:

  • Fall Semester: May 15
  • Spring Semester: December 1

Guidelines for Documentation

Differences Between High School and College / University Accommodations

Grievance Policy

Faculty and staff members at Cornerstone University participate in ongoing training to be equipped to work diligently to support all students in developing themselves academically and vocationally. If any student believes that he or she has been subjected to discrimination based on his or her disability or denied ISAP accommodations to which they are legally entitled, they are entitled to file a grievance as outlined in this CU Accessibility Services Grievance Policy.
The Director of Academic Success and 504 Administrative Officer is available to assist any student who experiences challenges or issues related to disability-related accommodation access needs.

Accessibility Services Grievance Policy

The mission of the Cornerstone University Accessibility Services is to partner with students to provide equal access to a quality university education in a community where Christ is preeminent and learning is viewed as a natural response to His work in our lives. The Accessibility Services staff also strives to be a valuable and informed resource to students, families and the campus community by promoting accommodations, access, education and inclusion of all people.

Any Cornerstone University student, employee or third party who believes that he or she has been subjected to discrimination on the basis of disability or has been denied academic adjustments and auxiliary aids and services required by law shall have the right to invoke this Grievance Process. In general, this Grievance Process is designated to address the following types of concerns:

  1. Disagreements or denials regarding requested services, accommodations or modifications to University practices or requirements.
  2. Alleged inaccessibility of a University program or activity.
  3. Alleged harassment or discrimination on the basis of a disability.
  4. Any other alleged violations of the ADA and/or Section 504.

This Grievance Process, however, is not intended and shall not supersede other University policies and procedures for which separate University policies and procedures exist, including, for example, grade appeals and appeals for re-admittance following disciplinary academic probation or suspension. Individuals are encouraged to consult with the Director of Academic Success or their respective designees regarding the most appropriate University policy or procedure to address a particular concern. Finally, please note that the Accessibility Services Grievance Process does not apply to complaints from applicants for employment or applications for admission to Cornerstone University.

Procedure Timeframes

Regardless of the specific grievance procedure invoked, all grievances should be filed in written form within 60 days of the specific event or action precipitating the student’s complaint(s). As an initial matter, all grievances shall be reviewed by the Director of Academic Success to determine whether they are submitted within a timely manner and/or whether they contain all required information, including a clear statement of all grounds for the grievance. To facilitate a clear and prompt resolution, a grievance, once initiated, shall not be expanded beyond the issues presented in the student’s initial complaint. The University reserves the right to redirect a grievance to the proper grievance procedure or to any other appropriate campus review procedure.

Designation of Responsible Employee

Consistent with federal law, Cornerstone University has designated representatives to coordinate its efforts to comply with and carry out its responsibilities, including any investigation of any complaint communicated alleging its noncompliance. The name, office address and telephone number of these employee(s) are indicated below:

  • Director of Academic Success, Verna Miller Hall —Phone: 616.222.1508
  • Coordinator of Learning Support Operations, Verna Miller Hall—Phone: 616.222.1595 

Availability of the Informal Grievance Process

When a dispute first arises regarding alleged disability-related discrimination, there are several university and non-university resources that a person may access for support and consultation regarding the area of disagreement. A person may desire to attempt first to resolve the issue directly with the individual faculty member, administrator or staff member(s) involved. A person may also choose to address his or her complaint informally by meeting with the Director of Academic Success, or his or her designee. However, a person is not required to file an informal grievance as a precursor to filing of a formal grievance process, and he or she has the right to move directly to a formal grievance procedure as detailed below. A person should also be aware that the Office of Civil Rights can be a resource for pursuing both informal and formal grievances, and that a complaint may be filed with the OCR at any time, irrespective of grievance status.

Formal Grievance Process for the Denial of Disability-Related Accommodations and Services (Denoted “Grievance Process” in This Document)

  1. Any student, employee or third party shall have the right to file a formal grievance and invoke the formal Grievance Process described herein. A formal grievance should be prepared by the grievant and submitted to the Director of Academic Success, who will review any claim of discrimination based on disability and access. This provision includes, but is not limited to, a person’s right to file a grievance related to concerns about the implementation of appropriate academic adjustments and auxiliary aids; access to physical campus buildings and outdoor areas; access to educational and co-curricular experiences and activities on campus; and wrongful denial of certification of a disability by the University. A complaint may be filed with the OCR at any time, irrespective of the grievance status in the University Grievance Process.
  2. To initiate the formal University Grievance Process, the grievant shall fully complete a Request for Review of Disability-Related Access and Services Form (“Review Request”) and forward it to the Director of Academic Success within 60 days following the date of the alleged discrimination. A student may obtain a copy of the Review Request form from the Center for Academic Success in Verna Miller Hall, and it is also available on the University website. The student’s completed Review Request must clearly state:
  • (a) The basis and rationale for the review;
  • (b) The specific facts and/or policies supporting the students position;
  • (c) Identification of any witnesses and/or evidence that the grievant wishes to present;
  • (d) The remedy and resolution desired by the student; and
  • (e) All other information required on the form.

A timely Review Request will not be considered filed unless it includes all of the required information. The grievant is solely responsible to supply all required information in the Review Request. Upon receiving a timely Review Request, the Director of Academic Success shall send a written acknowledgment of receipt to the grievant.

  1. The Director of Academic Success shall assess the Review Request and review all information necessary to render a written determination. If requested, the grievant shall supply any additional information and/or documents as requested by the Director of Academic Success. The grievant may also request a meeting to present any witnesses and/or evidence to support the complaint. The Director or designee will issue a written Accessibility Services Letter of Determination on the grievant’s Review Request within 30 days after receiving the grievant’s completed Review Request, or as soon as possible thereafter. Furthermore, the Director shall provide the grievant with a copy of the Accessibility Services Letter of Determination and take any steps necessary to implement his or her decision, including, but not limited to, providing a copy of the Accessibility Services Letter of Determination to appropriate University faculty members and officials.
  2. Within ten (10) calendar days following receipt of the Director’s written Accessibility Services Letter of Determination, if the grievant disagrees with the determination, the grievant may seek a review with the Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management (APEM), to which the Director of Academic Success reports to. The grievant shall submit a written letter requesting a review of the Accessibility Services Letter of Determination to the APEM, with a copy sent to the Director of Academic Success, setting forth:
  • (a) The name, address, e-mail address and phone number of the grievant;
  • (b) The specific facts and grounds which form the basis for the grievant’s appeal, including the specific basis of the grievant’s disagreement with the Director of Academic Success’ Letter of Determination; and
  • (c) All other information which the grievant reasonably believes is relevant to the appeal.

A timely request for review of the Accessibility Services Letter of Determination will not be considered to have been filed unless the grievant’s letter of appeal includes all of the required information. Upon receiving the grievant’s letter requesting a review by the APEM, the Director of Academic Success shall forward a copy of the original Review Request Form, the Accessibility Services Letter of Determination and all other records or documents forming the basis of the Director’s determination to the APEM.

  1. Upon receiving a timely letter seeking a review of the Accessibility Services Letter of Determination, the APEM shall send the grievant a written acknowledgment of receipt.
  2. The APEM, or designee, shall review the grievant’s letter, the original Review Request Form, the Accessibility Services Letter of Determination, as well as any additional records or documents forwarded by the Director of Academic Success. The APEM, at his or her sole discretion, may also gather additional information necessary to the consideration of the grievant’s appeal, including, but not limited to, interviewing individuals, including the grievant, who may possess relevant information. If requested, the grievant shall supply any additional information and/or documents as requested by the APEM. The APEM shall complete his or her review within 30 calendar days or as soon as possible thereafter.
  1. After completing his or her review, the APEM shall send a written Letter of Determination to the grievant to explain his or her decision. Further, the APEM shall take any steps necessary to implement his or her decision, including, but not limited to, providing a copy of the Accessibility Services Letter of Determination to appropriate University officials. The APEM’s Letter of Determination shall constitute the final decision of the Accessibility Services office in response to the grievant’s complaint (“AS Final Grievance Response”).
  2. Within ten (10) calendar days following the receipt of the AS Final Grievance Response, if the grievant disagrees with the APEM’s response, the grievant may submit a written appeal to the Provost, with a copy to the APEM and the Director of Academic Success. The grievant’s letter of appeal shall be in writing and must including the following information:
  • (a) The name, address, e-mail address and phone number of the grievant;
  • (b) The specific facts and grounds which form the basis for the grievant’s appeal, including the specific basis of the grievant’s disagreement with the AS Final Grievance Response; and
  • (c) All other information the grievant reasonably believes is relevant to the appeal.

A timely appeal of the AS Final Grievance Response will not be considered to have been filed unless the grievant’s letter of appeal includes all of the required information. Upon receiving the grievant’s letter of appeal, the APEM shall forward a copy of the original Review Request Form, the AS Letter of Determination, the Accessibility Services Final Grievance Response and all other records or documents forming the basis of the Final Grievance Response to the Vice President for Enrollment Management and Marketing (VPEM).

  1. Upon receiving a timely appeal, the VPEM shall send the grievant a written acknowledgment of receipt of appeal.
  2. The VPEM or designee shall review the entire written record, including the grievant’s letter of appeal, the Review Request Form, the AS Letter of Determination, the Final Grievance Response and any additional records or documents forwarded by the APEM. The VPEM, at his or her sole discretion, may also gather additional information necessary to the consideration of the grievant’s appeal, including, but not limited to, interviewing individuals, including the grievant, who may possess relevant information. If requested, the grievant shall supply any additional information and/or documents as requested by the VPEM or designee. The VPEM or designee will issue a written Letter of Determination on the grievant’s appeal within 60 calendar days after receiving it, or as soon as possible thereafter. The VPEM shall provide the grievant with a copy of the Letter of Determination and take any steps necessary to implement the decision, including, but not limited to, providing a copy of the Letter of Determination to appropriate University officials.
  3. The decision of the VPEM or designee shall be final and no additional University appeals shall be available.
  4. During the Grievance Process, the grievant will be entitled to receive the academic accommodations/services offered, if any, by the University. Retaliation is prohibited against any person who files a complaint of discrimination based on disability, as well as those who participate in an investigation as witnesses, or those who oppose a discriminatory employment or education practice or policy. The University recognizes the importance of the grievant’s concerns being addressed promptly so that his or her participation in University activities and experiences is not affected.

Time Periods

For purposes of calculating all time periods set forth in this Grievance Process, official University holidays and breaks set forth in the University’s academic calendar (such as Thanksgiving break, Christmas break and spring break) or dates the University officially closes (such as for inclement weather) shall be excluded in determining the time period for taking any required action. Moreover, the day of the act or event from which the designated period of time begins to run shall not be included. The last day of any time period provided in the Grievance Process shall be included, unless it is a Saturday or Sunday, and in such an event, the next business day shall be counted in the time period.

Right to Review Records

A grievant shall have the right to review all records maintained in the grievance file or relied upon by any decision-maker, unless any such review is prohibited by Federal or state law. Upon a grievant’s request, the University shall establish a mutually acceptable time and location for the grievant to review the requested records.

No Retaliation

Retaliation against any person who files a complaint of discrimination, participates in an investigation (such as being a witness) or opposes a discriminatory employment or education practice or policy is prohibited by University policy and federal and state law.

Self Representation

A grievant exercising his or her right to invoke this Grievance Process is free to consult with others but shall be expected to represent himself or herself directly in the Grievance Process.

Appeal by Administrator

An administrator who disagrees with a determination made by a decision-maker in a formal grievance process is permitted to appeal the decision by notifying the appropriate University official of the basis of the appeal consistent with the procedures outlined in this policy.

Urgent or Unusual Matters

Depending upon the specific circumstances and the urgency of any issue(s) raised by a student in his or her grievance, the University reserves the right (but shall not be required) to modify its procedures or conduct an expedited review.

OCR Complaint

Although students are encouraged to attempt to resolve complaints pertaining to disabilities by utilizing this Accessibility Services Grievance Process, they have the right to file a complaint directly with the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) (Cleveland Enforcement Office):

U.S. Department of Education
Office for Civil Rights
600 Superior Avenue, East, Suite 750
Cleveland, OH 44144
Phone: 216.522.4970

Effective Date

Updated May 31, 2023. This Grievance Policy is effective May 31, 2013, following a final approval by the OCR. The University reserves the right to amend its Grievance Process.

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