Justice Division Reaches Settlement with Brown College to Guarantee Equal Entry for College students with Psychological Well being Disabilities | OPA

The Department of Justice and the Rhode Island District Attorney’s Office today announced a settlement agreement with Brown University to ensure that students with mental disabilities have equal access to educational programs.

The agreement resolves the department’s findings that Brown University violated Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by not allowing students who had been on medical leave for psychological reasons to return to school despite being ready were to return to campus life.

The settlement agreement protects the right of students with mental disabilities to equal access to Brown’s educational programs. The agreement also ensures that Brown will make appropriate changes to its policy for students with mental disabilities who wish to return from a medical vacation.

Title III of the ADA requires that public housing such as colleges and universities offer people with disabilities, including intellectual disabilities, equal opportunities to participate in their programs and services. The ADA also requires colleges and universities to make appropriate changes to their policies for students with disabilities as necessary.

The department’s investigation found that between the fall of 2012 and spring of 2017, dozens of undergraduate students were denied readmission to Brown after taking psychiatric hiatus. 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. However, the department found that Brown denied the students’ readmission requests, which deprived those students of the opportunity to participate in and benefit from Brown’s educational programs.

Based on the agreement announced today, Brown will:

  • Revise its undergraduate vacation policies and practices to align with Title III of the ADA;
  • Provide training on Title III of the ADA to all faculties and staff responsible for evaluating or making decisions about claims for or return from leave of absence; and
  • pay $ 684,000 to compensate the aggrieved students.

“Students with disabilities deserve access to equal opportunities to ensure they can achieve their educational goals,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department is committed to ensuring that colleges and universities do not marginalize students because of their disabilities or because they have taken the time to get the treatment they need to be successful:” We will continue to fight to ensure that students with mental health problems Disabilities in our country guarantee equal access to colleges and universities. “

“Universities play a critical role in delivering the ADA’s promise of equal opportunities for people with disabilities,” said Acting US Attorney Richard Myrus for the Rhode Island District. “Rather than placing additional barriers on students returning to campus from a medical vacation, universities need to adequately accommodate students treating their mental disabilities. I would like to thank Brown University for their cooperation during our investigation and their willingness to both address the issues identified and to compensate the students who were wrongly denied readmission. The guidelines, which Brown has agreed to implement, should serve as a timely reminder for other colleges and universities to ensure that their sick leave guidelines do not discriminate against students with mental disabilities. “

This matter was handled jointly by Assistant US Attorney Amy Romero of the US District Attorney’s Office and the Department of Disability Rights of the Department of Civil Rights of the Department. July 26, 2021 marks the 31st anniversary of ADA. The Ministry of Justice plays a central role in promoting the national goal of equal opportunities, full participation, independent living and economic self-sufficiency for people with disabilities. More information about the Civil Rights Department can be found at http://www.justice.gov/crt. For more information about ADA, please call the Department’s ADA toll-free information line at 800-514-0301 (TDD 800-514-0383) or visit www.ada.gov. ADA complaints can be filed online at http://www.ada.gov/complaint. For more information about the US Attorney’s civil rights programs, please visit http://www.justice.gov/usao-ri.

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