Profs won't give incompletes to my disabled friend

<p>It's weird that, as someone with a history of mental health problems, I don't know about this, but somehow it never came up, so I don't really have much advice to give her.</p>

<p>She has a well-documented history of mental health problems because she has bipolar, and it's affected her life very much. This semester, she had to be hospitalized for two weeks and then attend a day program for a while after. Two of her profs won't give her incompletes -- they're just going to fail her. I suspect they do not take mental illness seriously, but then it's not like I can really know. Somehow I doubt they'd refuse to give incompletes to someone with a clearly physical illness.</p>

<p>Is there anything she can do about this? It seems quite wrong to punish someone for being disabled/ill. She had A's in all her classes before she had the episode that landed her in the hospital.</p>

<p>I didn't think incompletes were up to the professor. I thought it usually was a dean's decision. Take a look at the school's website and see what the procedure is. It seems very surprising that she couldn't get a medical incomplete with a note from her doctor.</p>

<p>At many schools, its not the professor who determines the need for incompletes but the dean of students/ the student's advisor/ etc. The class syllabus (or some part of the school's website) will probably have information about the correct person to contact if a student needs to miss an exam due to illness. I would suggest contacting this "correct person" to ask about the policy/ procedure to get an incomplete.</p>

<p>At our school, it is up to each individual professor which, frankly, angers me. If you happen to have a miserable ass of a professor, you're screwed. The dean has just sort of been throwing his hands in the air and shrugging and telling her to talk to her professors more. Frankly, I want to give him a piece of my mind. Unlike, say, a broken leg, which is an injury even the highest order of horrible behavior from administration cannot make worse, someone who is mentally/emotionally fragile could be devastated by being failed in two classes for something that truly wasn't anything she wanted or tried to do.</p>

<p>Is there a disability services office for her to go to?</p>

<p>Where I teach the professor of the class is the one who generally decides if an incomplete is given.</p>

<p>Does her university have an ombudsperson? Where I teach if a student has a significant health or family emergency issue they can work with this office. The office will send a notice to the teachers to let them know what is going on. This does not mean that the teacher is required to excuse the absences, missed/ late assignments, or give an incomplete grade, but at that point generally the teacher does need to allow the student to withdraw from the class. </p>

<p>Is this an issue with one class or all of her classes? I have had students take a medical withdraw from all classes for the semester. Something like this generally would have to be approved by a higher up office (like the dean) at the university.</p>

<p>As is mentioned above. The school should have information on the website on policies for dealing with issues like this. </p>

<p>Your friend should use all the university resources available. I am not saying this is the case with your friend at all... BUT some students will use illness (of any kind) as an excuse for not completing class requirements. This is why professors often will require communication from a disability services office or the ombudsperson to verify the validity of student absences. </p>

<p>All the best you for friend!</p>

<p>Milkweed, there is, but I'm not sure it would be fast enough. She has to get the incompletes all settled fairly quickly, basically within the next week. I'm honestly completely infuriated at how she's being treated. She is so sweet and fragile and can't advocate for herself at the moment.</p>

<p>KatMT, amazingly, our school does not have any readily available info on this. I am feeling like I have to actually nag school employees to figure anything out. Their pages about various disability acts and so forth are bare bones and don't say anything useful.</p>

<p>I would definitely recommend that she go to the disability office.</p>

<p>Does your school have health services? If so, someone there should know something about how to get a medical incomplete.</p>

<p>And then there is her psychiatrist who may know how to facilitate this by writing a letter to the dean.</p>

<p>Good ideas. Thank you. It just asounds me that our health services (which are quite good) are so far removed from our administration. It's really odd (to me).</p>

<p>I decide when I give an incomplete, but I'm pretty sure I could be overridden. Before you get yourself too wound up, however, you need to consider that as a friend, you may not be getting a complete picture. What do the class syllabuses say about absences? Did your friend miss so much that he or she cannot make it up in the time allowed? At my school, a student has a very limited amount of time to make up all work before the grade becomes an F. Was the student advised by the professor to drop? Are you sure that someone who missed a significant amount of class for another reason would have been given the incomplete by the same professor? Mostly, sticklers for attendance are going to be sticklers under any circumstance.</p>

<p>Bpdgirl if you want to PM me the name of your school I am happy to see what I can find. You are right, often information is not as readily available to find as it could be. I am pretty good at digging through college websites quickly, and may be able to find some information that is deeper down on the "website flow chart."</p>

<p>That being said -- having the whole story is important... as ordinarylives says below. My hope is that most professors want to work with their students and the administration to accommodate when possible. </p>

<p>At most universities a professor does not need to excuse the absences, accept the work late, and grant an incomplete if a student is ill, has a family emergency, or is otherwise incapacitated. Usually when I get emails from the ombudsperson, I am given the option to contact the student and let them know that they should withdraw from the class if I feel there is no way for them to make -up the missed class time and I will not accept the work late.</p>

<p>ordinarylives, I do see what you're saying, but I (and I realize this is just my opinion) don't think a mental illness flare-up, in which you most definitely cannot expect someone to be completely on top of things, is in any way a legitimate reason to fail someone. It's failing someone for something that wasn't under their control in any way. Sure, "Life isn't fair." But people who purposely make it less fair are doing wrong. I'm sure you wouldn't fail someone who ended up in a coma for three weeks because of a kidney infection. (Or would you?) Being a stickler for attendance, and counting such a situation as being at all relevant to that, makes it seem as though you think the person could have thought better of what they were doing and changed it. That simply isn't the case. And if you don't think they could have controlled it - if you are aware that it was not their fault - then still being an attendance stickler seems like following the letter of the law instead of the spirit, to an unflattering degree.</p>

<p>KatMT: About to PM you.</p>

<p>Oh, also -- I realize there are two (or more) sides to every story, but my friend ended up at the same hospital I was at in the past, and it was pretty easy to see what was going on with her based on her descriptions of the therapists'/counselors' comments, suggestions, and so forth. It all sounded 100% accurate and in character, basically exactly like what they'd say in her situation, so I suppose that made it seem more realistic.</p>

<p>BDPGirl, you're making a lot of assumptions about what those professors think.</p>

<p>ordinarylives, you're right. I am. I am pretty biased and emotional about this. I do need to take a step back and not be so judgmental.</p>

<p>My first question was why she didn't take a medical leave. It's probably too late, but hopefully she will be able to go home for however long it takes to gain stability before she returns. I hope you both find a solution to salvage her semester.</p>

<p>Well, mental illness isn't like your leg being broken; it's YOU being broken. It's not surprising to me that she wouldn't have been cognitively able to realize she needed to take a medical leave. The opposite would be more surprising. (I'm not trying to make it sound like you don't know about mental illness or something. Just expressing how non-there you can be when you're sick.)</p>

<p>Incompletes are not about whether a student could have controlled his/her absence or performance. They are given when a student faces a last-minute unexpected disruption to an otherwise successfully navigated semester, and there is a reasonable expectation that the student can complete the work within a certain amount of time after the end of the semester. At most colleges, incompletes default to Fs after a certain time. </p>

<p>If your friend was keeping up until recently and needs an imcomplete, it's likely she'll get one. If, however, she has been struggling for a while and there is not a good chance that she'll be able to make up the work in a reasonable amount of time (i.e. a month or so), then a medical withdrawal is the best thing for her to pursue. She will probably have to do this for all of her classes, though, and she will not get credit, although she will not have Fs on her transcripts either.</p>

<p>What you need to realize is that the professors can't give passing grades to students who don't perform, regardless of the reason. If a student cannot do the work or attend class at a certain minimum standard, even if it's for valid and real issues, then the student can't be in school and will have to become stabilized one way or the other before returning. It's not that professors don't care, but there comes a time where you either get the work done or you don't, and it doesn't matter why. That's how life works. I don't know what else professors can be expected to do.</p>

<p>NJSue, thank you for explaining. I didn't realize an incomplete was a passing grade (I guess I'm pretty ignorant). I thought it was just like no grade at all. I will tell her what you said.</p>