John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Oct. 1, 2012, 1:35pm

GALVESTON - A wheelchair-bound Galveston County woman has filed suit against a local community college for allegedly denying her admission into its nursing program because of her disability. 

Recent court documents filed Sept. 28 in the Galveston Division of the Southern District of Texas claim College of the Mainland in Texas City discriminated against Yolanda Smith for her inability to walk or stand and prevented her from pursuing a nursing degree.

The suit explains that a shooting in 1995 left Smith, 37, paralyzed, further stating the plaintiff began to attend COM in 2009 with her most recent semester having ended about three months ago.

Smith enrolled in a course in the school's nursing program called "Health Assessment" which "involved an assessment of the students' physical abilities and range of motions."

Part of the curriculum called for students to pair up to assess each other's physical abilities.

The plaintiff met with Gay Reeves, the department chair, supposedly after signing up to discuss what she could and could not do physically.

Reeves apparently told Smith that she "was wasting her time" being a nursing student to which the complainant refuted.

After asserting she deserved a chance to prove herself, Smith was reportedly told she would be among the Fall 2012 enrollees.

The original petition, however, shows Reeves's remarks were false as Smith's course mates received formal correspondence accepting them into the program while the plaintiff did not.

Smith was eventually notified of her application's rejection on grounds she supposedly refused accommodations offered by COM and that she admitted to Reeves, who is not a defendant, that "she cannot meet all of the physical expectations required for admission as described in the [defendant's] online pre-nursing orientation document."

Efforts to persuade the respondent to reconsider and let her into the program were unsuccessful, the suit points out.

A jury trial is requested.

Attorney Peter Costea of Houston is representing Smith.

Case No. 3:12-cv-287

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