Vol. 18, Iss. 7
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Martin was assigned a grade of “unsatisfactory”
in ﬁve courses at the end of the fall term.
In December, the university granted Martin medi-
cal leave for the remainder of the academic year.
Martin re-entered medical school in the fall of
2014 to again attempt the ﬁrst-year curriculum.
At the end of that academic year, Martin received
an “unsatisfactory” grade in ﬁve courses.
In June 2015, the student progress committee
convened a hearing to consider Martin’s dismissal
for unsatisfactory academic performance. At that
time, he allegedly complained for the ﬁrst time about
being placed in a room by himself to take the 2013
test, claiming that he was distracted by the people
who regularly checked on him.
After Martin was dismissed from the program, he
ﬁled a suit claiming SIU failed to properly accom-
modate his disability.
The university ﬁled a motion for summary judgment.
The district judge said the record showed no student
with a record of academic performance similar to Martin’s
had ever been permitted to remain in the program. He
also noted Martin had been granted his only requested
accommodation of extended time on tests in his two
attempts to complete the ﬁrst year of medical school.
With respect to the 2013 exam, the judge said there
was usually no liability if the disabled person at the
time didn’t request a particular accommodation, or
didn’t provide sufﬁcient information to determine
what might be reasonable.
She granted summary judgment in favor of SIU. ■
DISABILITY — DISMISSAL
Lack of consideration of appeals
leads to voluntary agreement
Case name: Letter to: SUNY Binghamton, No.
02-16-2193 (OCR 10/06/16).
Ruling: The State University of New York — Bing-
hamton University entered into a resolution agree-
ment to resolve an allegation that the institution
discriminated or, alternatively, retaliated, for denying
her academic appeals.
What it means: When institutions deny academic
appeals, they should be prepared to explain how
those decisions were made.
Summary: A student enrolled at the State Univer-
sity of New York — Binghamton University alleged the
university discriminated on the basis of her disability
when her ﬁeld placement at a mental health clinic
was terminated, resulting in her dismissal from the
Master’s of Social Work Program. She also alleged
her appeals were wrongly denied. According to her,
the institution retaliated when she was banned from
the university’s downtown center and faced student
conduct charges as a result of her self-advocacy.
The Ofﬁce for Civil Rights found she never registered
with the Services for Students with Disabilities Ofﬁce.
She disclosed her status as a recovering alcoholic to a
ﬁeld instructor, and claimed the instructor’s knowledge
of her condition negatively affected perceptions of her.
While the student engaged in protected activ-
ity when she complained to campus staff that she
believed she had been terminated from a placement
because of her disability, OCR found legitimate
reasons for her dismissal. The placement had been
terminated over “unprofessional behavior,” but
instead of giving her a failing course, the institution
gave her an “incomplete” and allowed her to go into
a different placement to give her a chance to com-
plete the course. However, a ﬁeld supervisor at the
new placement complained about her “inability to
respect authority, accept feedback, and the implica-
tions this had for work with clients.” A ﬁeld liaison
met with her to discuss the concerns and granted
her an eight-week extension to address the issues.
Her dismissal resulted from a failing grade, despite
numerous efforts on the part of the institution and
second placement agency to remedy concerns.
In regard to her claim that the institution dis-
criminated or, alternatively, retaliated, for denying
her academic appeals, OCR found that the university
denied her appeals, or declined to review them, and
upheld her failing grade in the course. The institu-
tion entered into a voluntary resolution agreement to
resolve this claim. Regarding her allegation that being
banned from the university downtown center and ﬁling
student conduct charges constituted retaliation, OCR
found that an investigation by the student conduct
ofﬁce, which included numerous witness interviews,
concluded the student had engaged in “verbally
aggressive and physically intimidating behavior” with
professors, staff, and students. Despite that, it didn’t
ﬁle conduct charges because the complainant was no
longer an enrolled student by the conclusion of the
investigation. Since OCR determined the institution
had not subjected the student to a materially adverse
action, there was insufﬁcient evidence to establish a
prima facie case of retaliation. ■
DISABILITY — ACCESSIBILITY
Site posed accessibility concerns,
Case name: Letter to: Baker College of Flint, No.
15-16-2174 (OCR 09/01/16).