Lawsuit alleges University discriminated against student with Down syndrome
HOUSTON - The father of a Texas Southern University student with Down syndrome is suing the school for undertaking "actions which have worked to limit (the latter's) participation in the institution's educational programs and/or activities."
In a lawsuit filed Sept. 23 in the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas, Alvin Roy alleges that TSU violated his son Ezra's civil rights because of his disability.
Joining the university as co-defendants are Provost Dr. Sunny Ohia, former art department chairwoman Dr. Sandra Trotty, English professor Dr. Alexis Brooks de Vita and Dr. Danielle Taylor, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Behavioral Science.
Ezra Roy is an art major who enrolled in September 2012, and because of his disability is required to have someone act as a reader and scribe, a role assigned to his father and legal guardian by the state, the suit states.
Alvin Roy claims that although Ezra has 92 hours and a 3.55 grade point average, the defendants allegedly viewed the young man as "mentally retarded" and incapable of performing the coursework.
The most recent incident in which Ezra Roy was allegedly mistreated, according to the original petition, was in the Spring 2013 semester when Dr. Brooks de Vita "engaged in persistent and harassing" conduct.
The professor told Alvin Roy that his son "did not belong in the Honors College and that he should not be in her class," the suit says. In addition, the plaintiff alleges de Vita disciplined Ezra Roy without due process, the suit says.
Dr. de Vita claims Alvin Roy threatened her.
A jury trial is requested.
Attorney Anthony P. Griffin of A Griffin Lawyers in Galveston is representing the claimants.
Case No. 4:13-CV-2804