Two Page Summary

Summary of Eliza Schaaf’s University Experience
Eliza Schaaf is an accomplished and capable 20 year old woman with Down syndrome who has spent her public school years almost exclusively in the general education setting with typically developing peers. Following her graduation with a modified diploma from Ashland High School, she wanted to experience college like 92% of her graduating class and chose Southern Oregon University, in her home town, as her college of choice. This is a summary of her first University experience. 
– In August, Eliza enrolled as a non-admitted student at SOU and registered for 1 class, "Introduction to Ceramics" class to get her feet wet.
- Prior to class starting, Deb Evans, Eliza’s mom, agreed to serve as Eliza’s assistant, signing a personal assistant contract. After 1st two classes, Deb was asked not to speak with Eliza or other students in the class. She complied and Eliza was assisted by Professor and other students the 2nd week of classes.
– After 4 classes, family was called in and met with SOU administrators.  Concerns and successful supports used throughout Eliza’s schooling were discussed. Meeting ended with Eliza asked to switch to audit and SOU would look for an art major student to assist Eliza. Deb would serve as assistant until a student was found.
- 4 weeks and 9 classes later, (with 13 classes completed and only 5 left to go) Eliza received notice, via certified mail, that she had been withdrawn from the class.  The family was shocked. Eliza was successfully engaged in the class, working diligently and with joy and focus on her projects.  Deb was providing the accommodations needed – Eliza being shy and the class projects almost exclusively being independent in nature - this mainly included assisting with moving throughout the classroom, brainstorming ideas and conferring on execution. There was no indication from professor or students that Eliza was disruptive in anyway.   
- Nov 9 – 18 - Family disagreed with the findings, the insensitive handling with no prior communication and the outcome of the letter and endeavored for 10 days to engage SOU administration at all levels regarding their decision to deny Eliza the completion of this course. On Nov. 17, an informal grievance was submitted requesting Eliza be given an opportunity to finish her work, be allowed to complete the final 2 classes of the quarter (Nov 29 and Dec 1) with her class after which they would begin working with students, community members, SOU, elected officials, and other interested parties to explore ways to include individuals with intellectual disabilities at SOU in the future.  Letters from family, friends and community poured in vouching for Eliza’s character & advocating that Eliza be able to finish the remaining classes with her peers.
- Nov 16-18 - ASSOU Student Senate passed a resolution in full support of Eliza returning to class giving full backing of the student body. All 19 Intro to Ceramics classmates signed statements saying that Eliza was not a disruption and asking for her immediate return. Students held a protest over SOU Administration’s decision.
- Nov 19 - Dec 1 Eliza was given permission to complete glazing on her final project out of class. – first being allowed 1 hour and later being given as much time as it would take (5 hours). Nov 20th – Eliza received a certified letter from grievance officer, Laura O’Bryon – only concession was critique with Professor (classmates can be present) on Dec 8th which is one week following final class & critiques.  This resolution only served to remind Eliza again that she was NOT welcome in the class. Eliza was bitterly disappointed, frustrated, saddened & confused over WHY she is not being allowed to attend class with her friends. Petition signatures & press coverage continued to grow supporting Eliza’s desire to finish what she started. Family asked all to PLEASE advocate to: LET ELIZA FINISH HER FINAL 2 CLASSES WITH DIGNITY as a guest. This request
was denied. Eliza was not allowed to complete any of her last 5 classes.

- Dec 16 - Eliza filed a formal complaint with the University for discrimination.

- mid Jan. - Joe Holliday, Oregon University Systems (OUS) Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Success Initiatives, at the request of President Cullinan, came to SOU and conducted interviews with Eliza, Deb, Ron, one ceramics classmate and Professor Strangfeld.

- Feb 15 - Eliza received a written decision from SOU President Cullinan denying any discrimination. Report referenced Joe Holliday's findings and observations and comments from the ceramics Professor with no mention of art she produced or information provided from Eliza, her family or fellow students.

-  Feb 23- Mar 27 - Eliza made several attempts to meet with SOU or OUS administrators to resolve the issue without spending more tax payer dollars.  Rep. Buckley met with Joe Holliday and informed family that OUS would be unable to engage in conversation until Eliza formally disagreed with the President's decision.

- Mar & early Apr - 4 students from Chapman University hear of Eliza's story and come up to  film a documentary on Eliza. 

- Mar 28 - Eliza filed a formal appeal to the OUS Chancellor stating reasons that she disagreed with the President's decision and asked to meet to resolve and, if that didn't resolve or permission to meet wasn't granted, asked for a hearing to impartially present all sides of the issue.

- April - SOU Faculty Senate passes new non-admit policy (See New SOU Faculty Senate Approved Non-admit Policy)

- Apr 12 - Eliza received acknowledgement from OUS of her request.  The request for a meeting was denied and the request for a hearing was still being considered.

- May 6 - Having received no more communication from OUS as to whether the hearing would be granted, Eliza filed a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights asking that they investigate what transpired and determine if she was discriminated against based on her disability.

- May 9-13 - Eliza goes to LA and attends the screening of her documentary at the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts on May 12. The documentary, titled 'Hold My Hand,' was one of 6 produced by students in Chapman University's Community Visions class with generous funding provided by the Dhont Family Foundation and has been nominated for a Cecil Award.

- May 18th - SOU students organize and hold and Outdoor Inclusive Art Day to raise awareness and collect signatures in support of SOU creating an inclusive program for students with intellectual disabilities.  Eliza joined friends, made art, handed out WHERE'S ELIZA? wristbands and buttons and gathered more than 270 signatures. 

- June 1 - Informational night and Southern Oregon premiere of 16 minute documentary 'Hold My Hand' will be held at Ashland High School's Mountain Avenue Theater 6:00-8:00pm followed by a panel discussion and Q & A - ALL ARE WELCOME.

Complete Details of Eliza’s Story can be found at