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CAMPUS LEGAL ADVISOR
An overview of the key topics faced by campus administrators with citations
to noteworthy cases, statutes, regulations, and additional sources.
Review rulings involving dismissing students with disabilities
Educational institutions must follow clear policies and procedures that are compliant with federal dis-
ability laws when dismissing students with disabilities. Consider recent rulings from the courts and the
Office for Civil Rights about dismissing students with disabilities.
• A 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 difficul-
ties 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
• 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 dem-
onstrated 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, depres-
sion, and a sleep disorder who was enrolled at the University of Florida’s
College of Veterinary Medicine claimed to OCR that the university dis-
missed 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). ■
• A student dismissed for
poor behavior must show a
connection between a dis-
ability and his behavior to be
successful with a disability-
• To be considered a quali-
fied individual with a disability,
an individual must demonstrate
a substantial limitation in one
or more major life activities.
• Extensive efforts to ac-
commodate a student are likely
to satisfy a court.
• Offering a voluntary reso-
lution to OCR can result in the
end of an investigation. ■