Suit alleges LIT violated ADA

April Bamberg Aug. 26, 2014, 9:50am

A former student of the Lamar Institute of Technology says the school and several of its employees violated the Americans with Disability Act and treated him in such a way that forced him to withdraw from his courses.

Russel Campbell filed a lawsuit Aug. 1 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas Beaumont Division against Lamar Institute of Technology, Rebecca Cole, Vivian Jefferson, Betty Reynard and Gwen Walden. 

According to the complaint, Campbell was a student at LIT beginning in the fall of 2012, three years after an injury left him with cognitive difficulties that affect how he comprehends new information.

In the summer of 2012, Campbell went to LIT's Special Populations Coordinator, defendant Cole, with documentation from his doctor that explained his disability and reasonable accommodations allowed under the ADA. He claims the coordinator acted as if she were in a hurry and never read his paperwork.

That fall, Campbell worked with another instructor to determine his best study methods and useful accommodations, the suit states. That instructor, Stephanie Lanoue, wrote a letter about those accommodations.

When Campbell took that letter to defendant Cole, she allegedly refused to read it and said the instructors were wrong to work with him and that she would not make the accommodations outlined by Lanoue.

Allegedly, Cole told him if she were to make those accommodations for him, she would have to do that for everyone, according to the filing.

Defendant Jefferson allegedly told the plaintiff that Section 504 did not apply to him and was illegal because it would give an advantage over other students. He was told Section 504 only applied to K-12 students, according to the suit.

Campbell claims he approached defendant Walden about these accommodations in June 2013 and was allegedly told what he was requesting was above and beyond the law. However, Walden said that if Campbell's doctor provided documentation to verify Lanoue's letter, there would be no problem in accommodating him, according to the suit.

That fall, Campbell missed six days of classes and a test in each of his classes. He produced the letter that Walden requested and they made an appointment for a makeup test.

The day he thought he was taking the exam, Campbell claims he was blindsided by defendant Walden and other instructors who now told him they could not accommodate him. He says the meeting was illegal because no upper-level supervisors were present and no minutes were produced.

Court papers say defendant Jefferson told the plaintiff he had no other choice but to withdraw from his degree program. He withdrew under protest, due to stress caused by continual and intentional discrimination by the defendants, the filing states.

The defendants violated Title II of the ADA by failing to provide reasonable acommodations due to his disability, despite support from a doctor's documentation and teacher recommendations.

They imposed burdensome documentation requirements on the plaintiff and still refused his request once he provided the documentation, according to the suit.

The plaintiff seeks compensatory damages for intentional discrimination against him, an injunction against the defendants directing the Lamar Institute of Technology to provide reasonable accommodations as recommended by physicians or appropriate persons, training for faculty and staff regarding selecting reasonable accommodations and that students are given reasonable accommodations that cannot be denied at the discretion of individual instructors.

He asks for attorney's fees and other costs and is being represented by Missouri City attorney Laurence Watts of Watts & Company Lawyers Ltd.

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas Beaumont Division case number 1:14-CV-399

This is a report on a civil lawsuit filed at the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas Beaumont Division. The details in this report come from an original complaint filed by a plaintiff. Please note that a complaint represents an accusation by a private individual, not the government. It is not an indication of guilt, and it represents only one side of the story.

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