College student with Asperger’s syndrome sues after being expelled for disrupting class

Michelle Keahey, East Texas Bureau Apr. 1, 2013, 2:50pm

TYLER -- Without denying he disrupted a class in violation of the school’s code of conduct, a University of Texas at Tyler student has filed a lawsuit claiming the college expelled him in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act due to his Asperger’s syndrome. 

Steven Kirshbaum filed suit against University of Texas at Tyler on March 28 in the Eastern District of Texas, Tyler Division.

Kirshbaum was a student at UT Tyler from 2009 to 2011. According to the lawsuit, the teachers and staff at the University believed that Kirshbaum suffered from Asperger’s syndrome.

In January 2011, a teacher complained that Kirshbaum disrupted a class in violation of the school's Code of Conduct. A disciplinary hearing was conducted and Kirshbaum was ordered to write an apology letter and attend counseling.

Kirshbaum claims he wrote the letter and tried to schedule counseling, but alleges his attempts to send emails and going to the campus in person were refused. Weeks before his expected graduation, Kirshbaum was expelled for not attending the counseling session, the suit states.

The defendant is accused of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by discriminating against Kirshbaum by expelling him, not allowing him to enroll and not allowing him to receive his degree.

UT Tyler is also accused of violating Kirshbaum’s liberty interest by denying due process and by breaching the contract it had with the plaintiff.

The plaintiff is asking an order prohibiting UT Tyler from disseminating adverse information about plaintiff and for an award of damages for mental anguish, emotional distress, interest, expenses, costs and attorney’s fees.

Kirshbaum is represented by Frank Hill of Hill Gilstrap P.C. in Arlington. A jury trial is requested.

U.S. District Judge Leonard E. Davis is assigned to the case.

Case No. 6:13-cv-00298

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