New state policy on community college classes irks some SRJC students

  • Danielle Jolliff, who has cerebral palsy and epilepsy, exercises with a hand bike during Adaptive Physical Education at SRJC on Thursday, February 28, 2013. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

Danielle Jolliff hasn't had a seizure in eight years.

The 32-year-old Sebastopol resident was born with epilepsy and cerebral palsy and until her mid-20s, suffered grand mal seizures about once month, said her mom, Nicole Nunes.

Yet since ramping up their involvement in the Santa Rosa Junior College adapted physical education program — sometimes coming to swimming and weight classes five days a week — the seizures that plagued her daughter have stopped, Nunes said.

But beginning next semester, Jolliff, who attended Piner High School, no longer will be eligible to take most adapted P.E. classes because of a sweeping new statewide policy intended to give higher priority for enrollment and resources to students actively pursuing a degree or a transfer to a four-year university.

The policy, adopted in September and put in place across the 112-campus community college system, dramatically limits most students' ability to repeat classes — an element essential to adapted P.E. classes such as those Nunes has taken her daughter to for years.

"You can't get over these things in a semester. It doesn't work that way," Nunes said.

The new policy allows for some discretion, but the intent is clear that students must be taking classes in pursuit of an educational goal, said Patie Wegman, dean of the Disabled Students Programs & Services at Santa Rosa Junior College.

A student "can petition to repeat a special class but then they have to meet certain criteria," she said. "It cannot be that the goal is to complete that class."

In 2007-08, SRJC offered 17 adapted P.E. classes in each of the fall and spring semesters. In summer, 14 classes were offered. By 2009-10, summer school was eliminated, and this year, seven classes were offered in the fall and eight this semester.

The rules further limit availability by preventing students from repeating classes in most cases if they can't prove they are on track for a degree or a four-year school.

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