CMC: Discrimination probe likely over in November
October 9, 2011
ASPEN – Colorado Mountain College officials say they expect to complete their investigation into a discrimination complaint against the school by mid-November.
“We are taking this matter very seriously and are conducting a thorough investigation of the student’s complaint, following our published college policies,” the school said in an email statement it released Friday. “Colorado Mountain College has a strong commitment to providing equal educational opportunities to all students. We have a long history, practice and philosophy of nondiscrimination. Last year alone our disabilities services coordinators supported nearly 400 students.”
The statement comes two weeks after Aspen resident Channing Seideman filed a formal complaint asking the school to place three faculty members on leave during an investigation into a recent incident.
Seideman, who has epilepsy, claims that certain CMC faculty members inappropriately handled a seizure she had during class. According to the complaint, Seideman had a seizure during an EMT class on Sept. 13, prompting CMC to email her that it is “reaching the decision point of the seizures becoming too distractive for the circumstance of learning – which is where the college is allowed to ask a student to drop.” The seizure was the second Seideman had in three semesters at CMC’s Aspen campus.
She is asking that instructor Bryce Halverson, disability services coordinator Anne Moll and her supervisor, assistant dean of student services Lisa Doak, be placed on leave while an investigation takes place; if a “discriminatory mentality is found to exist,” Seideman requests that the three faculty members, along with assistant vice president of student affairs Mark McCabe and Aspen campus vice president Joseph Maestas, be “terminated from their positions, and replaced with personnel who will advocate for students with disabilities.”
“We routinely work with students to find creative ways to accommodate their learning needs, including those students living with epilepsy,” stated the CMC response. “We deeply appreciate that epilepsy affects many lives, and we do our best to provide a safe, supportive and positive learning environment for all of our students.”
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Friday’s statement is the first public response from CMC to the formal complaint: “As you can appreciate, there are at least two sides to every story, but because of federal privacy laws we’re not able to share any additional information about this student,” said CMC spokeswoman Debbie Crawford.
CMC’s elected Aspen campus trustee Anne Freedman said her hands are similarly tied.
“I wish I could be more helpful, but the law doesn’t allow any official of CMC to comment on a student complaint. My hands are completely tied,” she wrote in an email. “I really would like to give you our defense, but I would be breaking the law if I do so.”
According to Crawford, a CMC designee will now establish a hearing process, including timelines. She did not offer specific details of that process.