A settlement has been reached last week between Rhode Island’s district attorney’s office and Brown University to ensure that students with mental health disabilities have equal access to educational programs.
Students were denied readmission to the school due to taking medical leave. Although students provided reasonable requirements for returning to Brown, each of the students’ doctors reported to Brown that the students were ready to resume their studies and participate in campus life.
According to Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), this is a clear violation of rights concerning individuals with mental health disabilities. The department’s investigation found that, between fall 2012 and spring 2017, dozens of undergraduate students were denied readmission to Brown after taking mental health-related medical leave.
The Aug. 10 settlement agreement protects the rights of students with mental health disabilities to have equal access to Brown’s educational programs. The agreement also ensures that Brown will make reasonable modifications to its policies for students with mental health disabilities seeking to return from medical leave. As another result of this agreement, the students were compensated $64,000. A revision will be made to the undergraduate leave policies and practices to be consistent with Title III of the ADA.
“The policies that Brown agreed to implement should serve as a timely reminder to other colleges and universities to ensure that their medical leave policies must not discriminate against students with mental health disabilities,” said U.S. Attorney, Richard Myrus, District of Rhode Island.
This new policy will educate staff and faculty on the reason(s) why students would be invited to take medical leave. The university will provide training on Title III of the ADA to all faculty and staff responsible for evaluating or making decisions about requests to take or return from leaves of absence.
According to Kristen Clarke, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, all students should have access to equal education. “Students with disabilities deserve access to equal opportunity to help ensure that they can achieve their educational goals.”