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.
"I have taken everything they have to offer," said Luigi Fabiano, 76, of Santa Rosa. "When I first went there after my stroke in '97, I couldn't even stand up in the water, I'd fall over. I had no support on my left side."
"They taught me to survive," he said.
Last week, Fabiano was one of 11 students in the Analy Village lab room on the western edge of the Santa Rosa Junior College campus working out and stretching with the help of an equal number of attendants.
Students lie atop padded tables while being stretched, practice fine motor skills by grasping at beans, spin on recumbent bikes and walk between parallel bars.
The college has been a part of Fabiano's daily routine for years. He employs an SRJC kinesiology student to help him through his workout and tutors other college students in English.
But he's not pursuing a degree or certificate, so he is not eligible to retake the physical education classes he says have been life-changing for him over the years.
The need for the adapted P.E. courses and the network of support they foster is apparent, but whether community colleges can continue to bear the cost of the needs of an aging local population that is increasingly reliant on rehabilitation-type services is not as clear, Wegman said.