Brown University reached an agreement with the Department of Justice (DOJ) after federal agencies found the institution would not allow students who had taken medical leave for mental health reasons to return to school despite medical approval.
The settlement between Brown, the DOJ, and the Rhode Island District Attorney’s Office follows allegations that the school violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by disregarding students who were ready to return to school allowed on campus.
The agreement states that the investigation was triggered by a complaint about Brown’s policies and procedures between Fall 2012 and Spring 2017 regarding “the readmission of students who wish to return from medical leave for psychological reasons.”
“These students qualified for return to Brown, and each of the student treatment providers reported to Brown that the students were ready to resume their studies and participate in campus life,” the DOJ said in a statement announcing the settlement .
However, despite their recovery, the department found that Brown turned down these students’ applications. The DOJ stated that based on its findings, the university violated Title III of the ADA, which requires institutions such as colleges and universities to offer people with disabilities “an equal opportunity to participate in its programs and services.”
This also includes students with mental health problems.
The ADA also requires these schools to change their policies for disabled students “if necessary”.
The school “categorically denies that it has ever violated Title III of the ADA in handling readmission applications,” the settlement said, adding that it “is no or partial admission of any liability on the part of Brown.”
As part of the settlement, Brown will have to pay more than $ 680,000 to compensate the “aggrieved students”, revise their policies to reflect compliance with Title III of the ADA, and train staff and faculty on this section of the law.
“Students with disabilities deserve access to equal opportunities to ensure they can achieve their educational goals,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen ClarkeKristen ClarkeNew Jersey Agrees to State Supervision of Treatment of Women Prisoners DOJ Starts Investigation of Phoenix Police Department of Justice suing Georgia over electoral law MORE with the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ said in the statement.
“The Justice Department is committed to ensuring that colleges and universities do not exclude students because of their disability or because they have taken the time to get the treatment they need to thrive,” added Clarke to college and university students with mental disabilities all over our country. “
The news of the recent settlement comes after a lawsuit was filed last week alleging Brown failed to comply with the law in handling complaints of sexual misconduct.
The lawsuit was brought by four plaintiffs – Chloe Burns, Taja Hirata-Epstein, Katiana Soenen, and Carter Woodruff – who alleged the university had retaliated against those who made their complaints public or protested their response to sexual misconduct.
The Hill reached out to U.S. Assistant Attorney Amy Romero for more information.