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Former student sues UO law school.

Byline: Jack Moran The Register-Guard

The University of Oregon's law school is being sued by a former student who alleges that UO officials wrongly denied him special accommodations for his learning disabilities and then branded him as a threat after he took to Facebook to grouse about the situation.

Ehvan Schectman filed suit last week in U.S. District Court in Eugene. He alleges that the law school and its assistant dean of student affairs, Nicole Commissiong, subjected him to discrimination and retaliation in violation of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. The suit also alleges federal Rehabilitation Act violations.

Schectman is seeking unspecified monetary damages, as well as court orders that would bar the law school from discriminating against students with learning disabilities.

University officials "are aware of Mr. Schectman's assertions and will address them through appropriate channels," UO spokesman Tobin Klinger said in response to a request for comment on the case. The UO has not yet filed a formal response to the lawsuit.

Schectman says the UO and two other colleges that he attended as an undergraduate student granted him an array of special accommodations in line with the opinion of a psychologist who in 2009 diagnosed Schectman with learning disabilities related to writing and math, according to the lawsuit.

Schectman was accepted into the UO law school in 2015, and school officials told him before the start of fall classes that he would receive the same accommodations as a law student, the suit asserts.

But before fall semester final exams began, Commissiong changed one of his accommodations - which had allowed him to use a computer with spell- and grammar-check programs for tests - because she said it would give him an "unfair advantage" over other students who were required to complete written exams by hand, the lawsuit alleges.

Instead, Commissiong allegedly allowed Schectman to use a manual typewriter for his finals, which he says did not address his learning disabilities.

Commissiong also agreed with one of Schectman's professors that tutoring services he had received during the semester should be curtailed, according to the suit.

While feeling "increasingly betrayed and depressed about the undeniable discrimination and retaliation he was facing," Schectman on Nov. 16, 2015, posted a Facebook message "in the 'slang' he typically uses when communicating with his similarly-aged friends online, intending to express his feelings of frustration, betrayal and anger and also a deep determination to fight for his legal rights," the suit says.

The message itself is not included in the lawsuit, so it's not known exactly what Schectman wrote.

According to the suit, Schectman realized "within an hour or so" after posting the message that he "really wasn't ready to discuss the circumstances and feelings that led to the post" and temporarily took down his Facebook page.

But before he did so, a law school employee who works in Commissiong's office found and downloaded the message, the suit asserts.

Two days later, UO officials imposed an immediate, temporary suspension against Schectman. In an email to Schectman, UO administrator Sandy Weintraub wrote that the message "was reasonably viewed as a threat to students and staff at the University of Oregon," according to the lawsuit.

The suspension was lifted days later after Schectman met with Weintraub and a psychologist, the suit says.

Schectman said the situation left him depressed and humiliated, and that he experienced "dread that he was being singled out for asserting his legal rights," according to the lawsuit.

Schectman felt that he had no choice but to withdraw from the law school after the semester ended and he had been "branded as a dangerous threat to the law school community," the suit says.

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Title Annotation:Federal Court; The man alleges that he was denied accommodation he was due under the Americans with Disabilities Act
Author:Jack Moran The Register-Guard
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jan 16, 2017
Previous Article:Letters.
Next Article:Marching to be heard.

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