Student with disability:discrimination at college-what can we do?

Asked 11 months ago - Cherry Hill, NJ

My daughter is registered with the disability office at her college but two of her professor's last year refused to grant her the accommodations she needs. In addition, the professor showed bias and even lost her work. Due to both of these factors, she is going to receive an F in the course. The school will not provide any options for removing the F, replacing the grade, or anything else. They want her to prove, in writing, that the professor wouldn't meet the accommodations and file a grade grievance. I think this is unfair to put the burden of proof on her, when she was discriminated against. if she wants to repeat the course, they want her to go back into this professor's classroom. That's ridiculous. What can we do? Actually, two of her professors last year granted accommodations.

Additional information

I'm sorry, I'm very upset about this. Two of her professors denied accommodations but she was able to complete one of the courses successfully anyway.

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Jonathan Seth Corchnoy

    Contributor Level 15

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . Although generally I agree with Ms. McCall, I disagree as to how to address the situation where professors refuse "reasonable" accommodations, particularly if your daughter is going to school in NJ. NJ, unlike most other states, has a very powerful anti-discrimination statute: The Law Against Discrimination (LAD). That law requires more of a college than even the ADA and Section 504 federal statutes require of colleges. Also, the supporting case law for the LAD is far more settled than law concerning 504 and the ADA even though they have been around for many years. Depending on the federal Circuit Court jurisdiction the college is in, the law requirements may be interpreted differently.

    Nevertheless, proof is always a problem. If the request and denial is not in writing, then it is hard to prove that the request was made (other than your daughter says she made it). The law would certainly place the burden on your daughter to prove this. Undoubtedly, the college's enrollment contract speaks to an internal grievance process that you must go through before any attempt at litigation (to which the college's local state law may infer that such is her only litigation avenue, e.g. as per binding common law arbitration as interpreted in PA or NJ).

  2. Jason David Roth

    Pro

    Contributor Level 14

    Answered . I guess the real question is were the accommodations requested reasonable. Contact an attorney in your area who practices education / discrimination law immediately.

    This office does not represent you. This email does not form any attorney / client relationship. In order to form... more
  3. Christine C McCall

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . The concept of reasonable accommodation can be very challenging to implement for both the school and the claimant. It is not the privilege or the burden of the person claiming the right to reasonable accommodation to dictate the specific form or manner of that accommodation. There must be a dialogue and a meeting of the minds between the school and the student. If a professor does not believe that an requested accommodation is reasonable, most universities and colleges will not require that accommodation be allowed by the professor because the professor has the right to teach in the manner that the professor chooses based on academic freedom. Many professors are very alert to the fact that '"reasonable accommodations" must not be implemented so as to affect the competitive opportunities of other students. The bottom line is that issues of reasonable accommodation require long and well-documented collaboration with the school. A lawsuit should be a last resort as the opposition from a university will ordinarily be very skilled and well-funded. Your daughter's better option is to continue to work with the school to identify and refine the specific accommodations that she requires and to find ways to succeed notwithstanding her disabilities.

    No legal advice here. READ THIS BEFORE you contact me! My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended... more

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