45 CFR 2522.230 - Under what circumstances may an AmeriCorps participant be released from completing a term of service, and what are the consequences?
An AmeriCorps program may release a participant from completing a term of service for compelling personal circumstances, as determined by the program, or for cause.
(a) Release for compelling personal circumstances.
(1) An AmeriCorps program may release a participant upon a determination by the program, consistent with the criteria listed in paragraphs (a)(6) and (a)(7) of this section, that the participant is unable to complete the term of service because of compelling personal circumstances, if the participant has otherwise performed satisfactorily and has completed at least fifteen percent of the agreed term of service.
(2) A participant who is released for compelling personal circumstances and who completes at least 15 percent of the required term of service is eligible for a pro-rated education award.
(3) The program must document the basis for any determination that compelling personal circumstances prevent a participant from completing a term of service.
(4) Compelling personal circumstances include:
(i) Those that are beyond the participant's control, such as, but not limited to:
(A) A participant's disability or serious illness;
(B) Disability, serious illness, or death of a participant's family member if this makes completing a term unreasonably difficult or impossible; or
(C) Conditions attributable to the program or otherwise unforeseeable and beyond the participant's control, such as a natural disaster, a strike, relocation of a spouse, or the nonrenewal or premature closing of a project or program, that make completing a term unreasonably difficult or impossible;
(ii) Those that the Corporation, has for public policy reasons, determined as such, including:
(A) Military service obligations;
(B) Acceptance by a participant of an opportunity to make the transition from welfare to work; or
(C) Acceptance of an employment opportunity by a participant serving in a program that includes in its approved objectives the promotion of employment among its participants.
(5) Compelling personal circumstances do not include leaving a program:
(i) To enroll in school;
(ii) To obtain employment, other than in moving from welfare to work or in leaving a program that includes in its approved objectives the promotion of employment among its participants; or
(iii) Because of dissatisfaction with the program.
(6) As an alternative to releasing a participant, an AmeriCorps*State/National program may, after determining that compelling personal circumstances exist, suspend the participant's term of service for up to two years (or longer if approved by the Corporation based on extenuating circumstances) to allow the participant to complete service with the same or similar AmeriCorps program at a later time.
(b) Release for cause.
(1) A release for cause encompasses any circumstances other than compelling personal circumstances that warrant an individual's release from completing a term of service.
(2) AmeriCorps programs must release for cause any participant who is convicted of a felony or the sale or distribution of a controlled substance during a term of service.
(3) A participant who is released for cause may not receive any portion of the AmeriCorps education award or any other payment from the National Service Trust.
(4) An individual who is released for cause must disclose that fact in any subsequent applications to participate in an AmeriCorps program. Failure to do so disqualifies the individual for an education award, regardless of whether the individual completes a term of service.
(5) An AmeriCorps*State/National participant released for cause may contest the program's decision by filing a grievance. Pending the resolution of a grievance procedure filed by an individual to contest a determination by a program to release the individual for cause, the individual's service is considered to be suspended. For this type of grievance, a program may not - while the grievance is pending or as part of its resolution - provide a participant with federally-funded benefits (including payments from the National Service Trust) beyond those attributable to service actually performed, without the program receiving written approval from the Corporation.
(6) An individual's eligibility for a subsequent term of service in AmeriCorps will not be affected by release for cause from a prior term of service so long as the individual received a satisfactory end-of-term performance review as described in § 2522.220(c)(2) for the period served in the prior term.
(7) Except as provided in paragraph (e) of this section, a term of service from which an individual is released for cause counts as one of the terms of service described in § 2522.235 for which an individual may receive the benefits described in §§ 2522.240 through 2522.250.
(c) Suspended service.
(1) A program must suspend the service of an individual who faces an official charge of a violent felony (e.g., rape, homicide) or sale or distribution of a controlled substance.
(2) A program must suspend the service of an individual who is convicted of possession of a controlled substance.
(3) An individual may not receive a living allowance or other benefits, and may not accrue service hours, during a period of suspension under this provision.
(1) A program may reinstate an individual whose service was suspended under paragraph (c)(1) of this section if the individual is found not guilty or if the charge is dismissed.
(2) A program may reinstate an individual whose service was suspended under paragraph (c)(2) of this section only if the individual demonstrates the following:
(i) For an individual who has been convicted of a first offense of the possession of a controlled substance, the individual must have enrolled in a drug rehabilitation program;
(ii) For an individual who has been convicted for more than one offense of the possession of a controlled substance, the individual must have successfully completed a drug rehabilitation program.
(e) Release prior to serving 15 percent of a term of service. If a participant is released for reasons other than misconduct prior to completing 15 percent of a term of service, the term will not be considered one of the terms of service described in § 2522.220(b) for which an individual may receive the benefits described in §§ 2522.240 through 2522.250.