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Changes to the 504 Direct Threat Standard for Suicidal Students

December 12, 2013

Changes to the 504 Direct Threat Standard for Suicidal Students

An Online Webinar Co-hosted by NCHERM and NaBITA

 Monday, February 13th, 2012

Noon-1:30pm ET

Presented by Brett A. Sokolow, J.D., W. Scott Lewis, J.D. and Saundra K. Schuster, J.D.


Live webinar = $249 for non-members, $225 for NaBITA members

Recording Download (anytime) = $249

Live participation plus Recording Access (anytime) = $375 for non-members, $349 for NaBITA members

Unlimited Listeners at Your Site

No Need to Leave the Comfort of Your Office

Listen by Phone or VOIP

Watch the Slides Online

Register Here.

Read More About the Topic Below.


Public and private colleges are subject to oversight by the courts and OCR for disability-related discrimination.  Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act lays out direct threat criteria that define for colleges and universities when and how we can separate students who have disability-based protections.  This webinar addresses the requirements and contours of that issue as it impacts on BIT and student conduct, given the ADA regulatory changes that occurred in March of 2011, which have drastically limited the applicability of the direct threat standard in harm to self situations.

This webinar explores the legal and best practice implications of the Section 504 Direct Threat standard, and key decisions from OCR involving Spring Arbor University, Mt. Holyoke College and St. Joseph’s College (NY).  It will also address the philosophical implications of separating versus retaining students who have acute mental health and or disability conditions.

In this webinar, we will explore the direct threat standard, what it means, where it came from, how to meet it, and how it is enforced.  We will discuss the due process protections of Section 504, and how they depart from the conduct protections afforded by public and private universities.  We will address the impact of recent OCR decisions on voluntary and involuntary withdrawal and conditions for return, and implications the new regulations may have on interim suspension pending medical clearance.

Should an involuntary withdrawal be a conduct mechanism, or should it be independent?  Who administers it?  What does otherwise qualified mean?  How do we determine the nature, duration and probability of a threat?  Does 504 address threats to self differently than threats to others, and how?  These questions and those of the audience will be addressed.


  • Audience members will understand the legal foundation of the direct threat standard
  • Audience members will learn which paths to separation are more fraught with the potential for legal liability than others
  • Audience members will explore how disability can be in play without administrator’s awareness
  • Audience members will acquire insight into how OCR enforces ADA and 504, and what an investigation is like.
  • Audience members will better understand how to adjust current practices, policies and procedures to comply with new mandates.


W. Scott Lewis, J.D. is a partner with the National Center for Higher Education Risk Management and Associate General Counsel for Saint Mary’s College in Indiana. He recently served as the Assistant Vice Provost at the University of South Carolina. Scott brings over fifteen years of experience as a student affairs administrator, faculty member, and consultant in higher education. He is a frequent keynote and plenary speaker, nationally recognized for his work on behavioral intervention for students in crisis and distress. He is noted as well for his work in the area of classroom management and dealing with disruptive students. He presents regularly throughout the country, assisting colleges and universities with legal, judicial, and risk management issues, as well as policy development and implementation. He serves as an author and editor in a number of areas including legal issues in higher education, campus safety and student development, campus conduct board training, and other higher education issues. He is a member of NASPA, ACPA, CAI, SCCPA, and serves on the Board of Directors for ASCA as its Past-President. He did his undergraduate work in Psychology and his graduate work in Higher Education Administration at Texas A&M University and received his Law degree and mediation training from the University of Houston.

Saundra K. Schuster, J.D. is a partner with the National Center for Higher Education Risk Management. She was formerly General Counsel for Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio, and Senior Assistant Attorney General for the State of Ohio in the Higher Education Section. Saunie is a recognized expert in preventive law for education, notably in the fields of Sexual Misconduct, First Amendment, Risk Management, Student Discipline, Campus Conduct, Intellectual Property and Employment Issues. Prior to practicing law, Saunie served as the Associate Dean of Students at The Ohio State University. Saunie has more than twenty-five years of experience in college administration and teaching. She frequently presents nationally on legal issues in higher education. Saunie holds Masters degrees in counseling and higher education administration from Miami University, completed her coursework for her Ph.D. at Ohio State University, and was awarded her juris doctorate degree from the Moritz College of Law, The Ohio State University. She is the current president of the National Behavioral Intervention Team Association (www.nabita.org).

Brett A. Sokolow, J.D. is a higher education attorney who specializes in high-risk campus health and safety issues. He is the founder and managing partner of the National Center for Higher Education Risk Management.  NCHERM is legal counsel to 30 colleges and universities.  Sokolow also serves as Executive Director of the membership associations NaBITA (www.nabita.org) and ATIXA (www.atixa.org).  Sokolow is recognized as a national leader on campus safety and violence prevention, response and remediation. Sokolow frequently serves as an expert witness on school liability, security, sexual assault and harassment cases, and he has authored twelve books and more than 50 articles on campus safety, liability, student conduct, violence prevention and sexual assault. He has consulted with more than 2,200 college campuses. He has provided strategic prevention programs to students at more than 2,000 college and university campuses on sexual misconduct and alcohol. He has authored the conduct codes of more than seventy colleges and universities. The NCHERM Model Sexual Misconduct policy serves as the basis for policies at hundreds of colleges and universities across the country. NCHERM has trained the members of more than 700 conduct hearing boards at colleges and universities in North America, and more than 600 behavioral intervention and threat assessment teams. Sokolow is a Directorate Body member of the ACPA Commission on Student Conduct and Legal Issues. He is a graduate of the College of William and Mary and the Villanova University School of Law.


Register here to attend the webinar. Specific connection instructions will be provided via email a few days in advance of the webinar.

Enhanced NaBITA members, please contact Samantha Dutill at samantha@nabita.org if you would like to attend this webinar as one of your two free annual webinar registrations.


The logistics of a webinar are easy. You will need a phone and a connection to the Internet. You’ll be able to follow along visually with our slides and hear the presenters speaking simultaneously. With a speakerphone, unlimited participation is possible on you end. And, this event will feature live Q&A with the presenters.  Specific connection instructions will be provided via email a few days in advance of the webinar.


12:00 PM – 1:30 PM (Eastern Daylight Time)
11:00 AM – 12:30 PM (Central Daylight Time)
10:00 AM -11:30 AM (Mountain Daylight Time)
9:00 AM – 10:30 AM (Pacific Daylight Time)


Questions about hosting should be directed to Samantha Dutill, NaBITA Associate Executive Director at 610.993.0229 or samantha@nabita.org. To pay by cheque or purchase order, please email Samantha.

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