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Dean's Leave of Absence

While Stanford University provides a wide range of services to support and address the mental and physical health of students, in some circumstances a student is unable to perform the basic academic and/or non-academic activities of student life, or the level of care required for a particular student exceeds the resources and staffing that a university can be expected to provide. Under such circumstances, a mandated or voluntary leave of absence may be necessary. Additionally, those students whose psychiatric, psychological or medical condition jeopardizes the life or safety of self or others, or whose actions significantly disrupt the activities of the University community may be placed on a mandatory leave. As an alternative to invoking this policy, the University may encourage and permit a student to take a voluntary leave (although restrictions or conditions of return may be imposed).

We understand the level of stress a student might undergo during this process.  As a result we've tried to provide information about the process including the entire written policy and all forms that one might need throughout the leave process and for returning to the University. 

Please take time to go through this website to familiarize yourself with the process.

I. Introduction

While Stanford University provides a wide range of services to support and address the mental and physical health of students, in some circumstances a student is unable to perform the basic academic and/or non-academic activities of student life, or the level of care required for a particular student exceeds the resources and staffing that a university can reasonably be expected to provide. Under such circumstances, a Dean’s Leave of Absence (DLOA) may be necessary. A Dean’s Leave of Absence may be invoked if a student’s conduct or behavior meets one or more criteria of the DLOA policy. The DLOA may be voluntary or mandatory, and in both cases, the student’s circumstances are reviewed by the Dean of Students.

II. Policy Overview

The Associate Vice Provost and Dean of Students (“Dean of Students”) may place a student on a Dean’s Leave of Absence following an individualized assessment of a student in which the University determines in the exercise of its judgment that a student reasonably meets one or more of the following criteria. The student:

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

III. Individualized Assessment by the Dean of Students and Written Decision

  1. Where appropriate and feasible, the Dean of Students or his/her designee will notify a student that a leave of absence under the DLOA policy is under review. In situations involving an imminent or ongoing threat to the Stanford 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. Either the Dean of Students or the Director of Vaden may require a mental or physical evaluation from a clinician designated by Stanford if the Dean or the Director of Vaden believes such an evaluation of a 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.
  2. If a student declines to take a Dean’s Leave of Absence voluntarily, the Dean of Students will convene an Advisory Committee of three to advise him/her on whether a mandatory DLOA should be invoked. The Dean of Students and the Committee may consider relevant documentation made available to them. They may also 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 could include:
    1. The student’s Residence Dean, or Deans of Graduate Life
    2. A representative from Vaden or CAPS
    3. Faculty members
    4. Academic advisers
    5. A representative from the Office of Accessible Education
    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 or in-person/telephonically before the Advisory Committee convened by the Dean of Students. 
  4. Although the Dean of Students will be advised by others, the decision to impose a leave is ultimately the Dean’s. The Dean of Students 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 Dean of Students may require conditions for the student’s continued enrollment at Stanford.
  5. Unless the letter from the Dean of Students states otherwise, the imposition of a mandatory leave under the DLOA 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 Dean of Students to reach a decision within 7 business days, provided the student responds timely to requests for information and (if appropriate) evaluation.

IV. Appeal to the Vice Provost

  1. A student placed on a mandatory Dean’s Leave of Absence has ten days from the receipt of the letter from the Dean of Students to file an appeal of the decision with the Vice Provost for Student Affairs. The appeal may relate to the leave decision itself and/or the conditions imposed to remain or to return. The Vice Provost’s review should be limited to:
    1. Were the proper facts and criteria brought to bear on the decision? Were improper or extraneous facts or criteria brought to bear 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 Vice Provost may:
    1. uphold the Dean’s decision without any modifications;
    2. Modify the Dean’s decision;
    3. Overturn the Dean’s decision; or
    4. Return the decision to the Dean for further review.

V. Association with the University While on Leave

Unless expressly permitted by the Vice Provost or Dean in writing, 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, including on-campus employment.

VI.  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 Dean’s letter has elapsed and the conditions for return have been satisfied.
  2. A student must make a written request to the Dean of Students to return. Except in extraordinary circumstances, the student will not be allowed to return until one full quarter has elapsed, or until the leave period in the Dean’s letter has elapsed, and the conditions are met.  For fall quarter, documentation should be provided in mid-July. The Dean may specify the amount of time required for the written notice in consultation with CAPS for spring and winter quarters.
  3. The Dean of Students may require further evaluation of the student to determine readiness to return. The Dean of Students may ask, confer or seek information from others to assist in making the determination.
  4. If the Dean of Students is not satisfied that the student is ready to return, the Dean will notify the student in writing of the decision, including the reason for the decision.
  5. A student not permitted to return may appeal the decision under section IV above.

VII.  This Policy’s Interaction with Other University Matters

  1. A Dean’s Leave of Absence is an administrative process; it is not a disciplinary process. It is possible that conduct leading to a leave under this policy may also be subject to review under the University’s disciplinary process through the Office of Community Standards. Nothing in this policy limits the authority of the Office of Community Standards.  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 enrollment 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 a Dean’s Leave of Absence was imposed. 
  3. As necessary, students should consult the Stanford Bulletin and other university offices’ publications for complete information regarding other University matters.

VIII. Transcripts

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

IX. Academic Considerations                       

When a student is placed on a Dean’s Leave of Absence after the beginning of the term, courses in which the student was enrolled after the drop deadline appear on the student’s transcript and show the symbol “W” (withdrew).  Students who receive all ‘W’s as the result of a DLOA may be subject to Academic Standing policies, although the Academic Standing Committee may take the leave into consideration.

X.  Confidentiality

The University recognizes the sensitive and confidential nature of considering a mandatory 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.