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Elizabeth offers guidance to Risk Managers on How to Say “No” to a Risk and empower decision-makers to communicate their educated and well-thought-out decision to stakeholders.

Risk & Insurance recently published Elizabeth’s views on managing compliance through a risk management structure.


ADA Case Law: U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirms Nova Southeastern University’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s complaint of discrimination for failure to state a claim.  This is a new case that continues to build on the topic of “otherwise qualified individual”. It’s good to know that case law continues to deepen on this important defense for our institutions.


The student, J.A.M. had experienced four periods of severe depression combined with extreme alcohol use resulting in hospitalization. The court held that “It is axiomatic that a medical student with alcohol problems would have to abstain from alcohol in order to complete his studies. Nova placed alcohol-related conditions on J.A.M. that were necessary to facilitate the successful completion of his coursework.” “J.A.M. alleged that his major depressive disorder constituted a mental disability. But J.A.M. did not allege that he was dismissed because of his mental disability. Rather, he alleged that he was dismissed because he breached his agreement to abstain from alcohol consumption. At best, Nova discriminated on the basis of J.A.M.’s alcohol-related behavioral misconduct, not his disability. As such, J.A.M. failed to allege that Nova discriminated against him on account of his disability and, therefore, failed to state a claim under Title III.” The court further stated, “Again, it is self-evident that J.A.M.’s requested accommodations—repeated medical leaves of absence for extended amounts of time, exam rescheduling, and excusal of misconduct—would fundamentally alter his course of study and the skills learned therein. Nova was under no obligation to provide accommodations that would fundamentally alter the nature of its osteopathic medicine program.”

J.A.M. v. Nova Southeastern University, Inc. (11th Cir., Apr. 6, 2016)

It is important and necessary that pre-K-12 private schools have a written policy on the criminal records checking process that all persons who have unsupervised contact with minors. Fortunately, Massachusetts has provided a model policy that you can use to develop your school’s policy. Please check your current policy against the suggested revisions just posted and update it as necessary to ensure compliance with the regulation. Please be sure to train your administrators on any changes that they need to know.


Updated SAFIS Model Policy for School Employers:

The Department of Criminal Justice Information Services (DCJIS) has recently revised the Statewide Applicant Fingerprint Identification Services (SAFIS) Model Criminal History Record Information (CHRI) Policy for Non-Criminal Justice Entities, which applies to all Massachusetts pre-K-12 public and private schools. As with the earlier version, each district’s governing body should fill in the appropriate information and adopt this updated policy to ensure compliance with Criminal History Record Information requirements.  Please remember that before the start of the 2016-2017 school year, Massachusetts schools must have completed Criminal History Record Information checks of their current employees who may have direct and unmonitored contact with children.


Elizabeth will be presenting at the URMIA National Conference, September 17 – 21, 2016 on managing an HEOA Consumer Information self-audit and why it’s an important risk issue.

  • URMIA Northeast Regional Conference April 28, 2016 – Elizabeth repeated her presentation on “Child Safety and Molestation Prevention — From Idea to Policy to Practice”.
  • URMIA Central Regional Conference March 9, 2016 – Elizabeth gave a presentation on “Child Safety and Molestation Prevention” based on work she had done for Smith College. Her talk stressed how to move from knowing what has to be done to getting it done.