MILTON, Mass. (AP/CBS) — A blind student sued her Massachusetts college, claiming the school violated her rights by separating her from her service dog and failing to accommodate her needs.
Isabella Scott, who is legally blind, said her teachers insisted that having her service dog in lab classes at Curry College, in Milton, was a violation of federal health and safety standards.
Scott filed the lawsuit Tuesday, which claims the school violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
While separated from her dog, O’Hara, during lab classes, Scott said she was unaware that the animal was apparently kept in a closet where buckets of animal organs in formaldehyde were stored.
“She is not a pet,” Isabella Scott told WBZ. “She is considered trained medical equipment. It is the same as somebody needing a wheelchair.”
There’s no reason Scott should be separated from her dog because the lab classrooms aren’t sterile, said Anthony Brady, Scott’s attorney. He added that if all the students were required to put on sterile suits, the situation would be different.
“Here we are 30 years from the signing of the American Disabilities Act, and people with disabilities are still having to fight for their rights,” said June Scott, Isabella’s mother.
Isabella says the lawsuit is about more than just her and O’Hara. “This is for those who may have had something happen to them in the past and may have been too scared to speak up,” she said.
Scott also claims drivers without handicapped placards were allowed to park in designated spaces on campus and that some teachers refused to include her in certain class activities. She said some teachers wouldn’t send her handouts she could read and then accused her of being unprepared.
Statement from Michelle Adams O’Regan, a spokeswoman for Curry College:
“Curry College has an extremely strong and continuing commitment to ensuring an accessible, equitable and inclusive learning and living environment for all students with disabilities. We have a faculty who are deeply invested in working with individual students in a way that supports their academic and personal development and recognizes their unique strengths, and we provide accommodations that promote growth and self-advocacy in a community that honors and appreciates difference. Any allegations of mistreatment of a support animal on our campus are unfounded and inaccurate; in both policy and in fact, Curry College is committed to partnering collaboratively with students requiring the important service and emotional support these animals provide.”
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)