An overview of the key topics faced by campus administrators with citations to noteworthy cases, statutes, regulations, and additional sources.OverviewEducational institutions must follow clear policies and procedures that are compliant with federal disability laws when dismissing students with disabilities. Consider recent rulings from the courts and the Office for Civil Rights about dismissing students with disabilities.Key RulingsA student claimed the University of Arizona discriminated by terminating his contract from the Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques Center Program. Officials terminated him because of inappropriate behavior during a meeting, prior to his starting the program, that included making degrading comments and alluding to owning a gun. Because the complainant never asserted a disability‐related reason for his social difficulties or requested accommodations, OCR determined the school had a legitimate, nondiscriminatory, and nonpretextual reason for terminating him. Letter to: University of Arizona — Salt Program, No. 08‐14‐2257 (OCR 03/20/15).Prior to enrolling at the Mandl College of Allied Health in 2012, Ileen Cain told College President Mel Weiner that she had been diagnosed with post‐traumatic stress disorder. Later, Weiner sent a letter to Cain stating she was being terminated because there had been numerous complaints regarding her behavior. Cain filed a suit claiming the college and Weiner discriminated against her on the basis of her disability in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act by allowing fellow students to harass her. Because Cain had not demonstrated that the PTSD symptoms resulted in a limitation of a major life activity, the district judge dismissed the suit. Cain v. Mandl College of Allied Health, et al., No. 14 Civ. 1729 (S.D. N.Y. 06/22/17).Not long after Iris Chin enrolled in Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She was allowed to take a leave of absence and start her first year again in 2005. Rutgers also granted her multiple extensions for taking and passing the U.S. Medical Licensing Exam. After she failed a section twice, Rutgers dismissed her. Chin sued Rutgers, claiming violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The trial judge granted summary judgment in favor of Rutgers. The appellate court ruled that the trial judge was correct because the university had worked extensively during a period of nearly eight years to accommodate Chin. Chin v. Rutgers, et al., No. 16‐2737 (3d Cir. 06/22/17).A student with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, depression, and a sleep disorder who was enrolled at the University of Florida's College of Veterinary Medicine claimed to OCR that the university dismissed her on the basis of her disability and treated her differently when it unduly delayed issuing a decision to her dismissal appeal. Before OCR concluded its investigation, the university agreed to remove the dismissal from the student's transcript and official record, replace references to her dismissal with voluntary withdrawals or another nonpunitive form of leave, and extend an offer of readmission. Letter to: University of Florida, No. 04‐15‐2415 (OCR 04/20/16).What You Should KnowA student dismissed for poor behavior must show a connection between a disability and his behavior to be successful with a disability‐discrimination complaint.To be considered a qualified individual with a disability, an individual must demonstrate a substantial limitation in one or more major life activities.Extensive efforts to accommodate a student are likely to satisfy a court.Offering a voluntary resolution to OCR can result in the end of an investigation.
Campus Legal Advisor – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
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