Archive for Thursday, September 6, 2012

Lawsuit claims KU medical school violated Americans With Disabilities Act

September 6, 2012


An applicant to the Kansas University School of Medicine has filed a lawsuit against the school alleging she was denied admission because of a disability, in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Emily McCulley, who has been diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy and uses a wheelchair, originally was admitted to the medical school on Sept. 30, 2011, according to the lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Kansas.

McCulley, Wichita, was set to begin classes in July. Once admitted, McCulley informed the school that “she could not perform some of the technical standards required of students without reasonable accommodation.”

McCulley met with school officials to discuss some of the tasks she would be required to perform in medical school, such as during clinical rotations. McCulley’s physician sent a letter to school officials stating that McCulley might have difficulty with some of the tasks required, such as conducting home visits without wheelchair accessibility or being able “to use enough physical force for chest compressions.”

In July, Steven Stites, chairman of the department of internal medicine, sent McCulley a letter “concluding that she could not meet the essential requirements of the School of Medicine’s education program with or without reasonable accommodation,” according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims that school officials never discussed with McCulley potential accommodations that might have enabled her to meet school requirements.

The lawsuit seeks $100,000 in damages. McCulley is represented by the Topeka law firm of Sloan, Eisenbarth, Glassman, McEntire & Jarboe.

No court dates have been scheduled yet in the case.

A spokeswoman for KU Medical Center declined comment.


Bailey Perkins 5 years, 5 months ago

After discussing this very topic in depth last year it became clear that KU is far behind other universities/schools when it comes to accommodating for students with disabilities.

When it comes to not hiring/admitting someone based on this is clearly unacceptable and uncalled for in every degree.

KU should have a better understanding on ways around this and should seek help in gaining more knowledge.

begin60 5 years, 5 months ago

I wish this courageous and talented person well. May she prevail!! Imagine all the prejudice someone who uses a wheelchair has to overcome to achieve academically at such a high level--and then to to be treated in such an undignified, inhumane, and illegal way by KU officials. Unfortunately, a few years ago I was a victim of similar treatment right here in Douglas County accompanied by despicable and brutal power abuse by the KU HR and the cops and DAs they have in their pockets. I was basically forced to shut up or be convicted of harassment, when it was obviously incompetent and dishonest KU people who were aggressing on and abusing me. I am not one to suffer fools gladly or to seek them out. Minding one's business is an important social skill to deploy with good judgment when meeting anyone with perceived physical limitations in public. Consider letting anyone who needs help ask for it instead of being a patronizing busybody.

When I talked to the regional ADA training center, I was told it sounds like KU, local residents, and the community in general need a lot of help and guidance in this area. This ADA office will provide training, but requires that it be requested. They won't impose it. KU is back in the dark ages. Had I not been made the aggressive butt of ignorance by the seemingly endless parade of street harassers and busybodies who populate Lawrence I likely would have been fine. Treating someone as if he/ she is disabled worsens issues, and imposes outer, social limitations everyone has the right to spared. Few are so needy they welcome strangers molesting them.

This is illegal in the first place. People who have been trained to excel intellectually and creatively normally don't care a fig if they cannot run a marathon. They don't need the aggressive indignity of having their perceived physical limitations remarked upon by every passing fool on the sidewalk. This treatment is disrespectful and illegally interferes with equal education and employment rights. Confidentiality stands at the heart of the ADA.

Jameson Watkins 5 years, 5 months ago

There's a lot of things disabled and handicapped people can and should be able to do, and the ADA is a fantastic vehicle to push those boundaries.

But...everyone needs to understand the limitations. A wheelchair-bound person can't get a job doing construction. A blind person can't be a surgeon. Unfortunately to do her clinical rotations to be a nationally certified physician she needs to be able to perform certain tasks which she simply can't do. It's out of the hands of the medical center.

I wish her well and hope she pursues a career in the health industry.

Jillian Andrews 5 years, 5 months ago

The ADA is a civil rights law the provides protections so people with disabilities aren't discriminated against or have recourse to fight back if they are discriminated against. However, the student must be able to perform the work (as a student or as an employee) with or without reasonable accommodation. If she can't, then it's not discrimination. The ADA does not give carte blanche rights for any person with a disability to do whatever they "want" to do. As was noted previously, there are no blind pilots. Some jobs require physical demands, and while all options should be looked at and accommodations made where possible, there may indeed be times when it is not possible for someone with a disability to perform a certain job.

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