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Community Colleges May Bar 'Dangerous' Students

Advocates for people with mental health disabilities are crying foul over a rule proposed by the state board of community colleges to screen students who might be a threat.

The proposed rule has been under consideration since last fall. It would allow community colleges to deny admission to students who are deemed to be an 'articulable, imminent and significant threat.' The rule was approved by the state board Friday.

Megan Hoenk works for the state board of community colleges. She says the rule doesn't mandate anything.

"It would really be up to each individual college to determine what they deem an articulable and imminent threat. And they would need to supply documentation and rationale for that decision."

But denying college admission to people with mental health disabilities, violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, says Vicky Smith, who heads Disability Rights North Carolina.

"We're very concerned that people with certain disabilities will be denied admission on the basis of their disability because of unfounded fears and stereotypes. People with mental illness or certain intellectual or developmental disabilities. You ... like someone with Tourette's immediately comes to mind. They bark, they cuss, but they're not dangerous."

Smith says there's little guidance as to how colleges should proceed. She points out that colleges already have codes of conduct that allow for handling a student who's deemed to be a threat.

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