The N.C. Community Colleges Board passed a new rule Friday allowing community college officials on all 58 campuses to refuse admission to applicants they deem as potential threats to campus security.
But state disability rights groups are concerned the rule might violate federal law.
They say it is discriminatory because it does not discern between applicants who might pose a threat and those who have mental or physical disabilities that are not dangerous.
The rule will be implemented April 1 at the earliest, said Megen Hoenk, spokeswoman for the board. The process started in August 2010.
“It would allow boards of trustees to refuse admission to protect the health and safety of applicants and individuals,” Hoenk said.
Although Hoenk said the rule is not in response to any specific incident, its passing comes on the coattails of the Jan. 8 shooting in Arizona.
Policies related to mental health have been in the spotlight since Jared Loughner, who is being charged with attempt to assassinate Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, was found to be mentally unstable.
Hoenk said individual colleges will determine what they consider a significant imminent threat.
“This is not a process that colleges would take lightly,” Hoenk said.