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Student Claims School Violated ADA By Keeping Her Out Of Graduation
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 29, 2004

LAFAYETTE, LOUISIANA--The Louisiana office of the American Civil Liberties Union is suing the Vermillion Parish School Board, claiming the district discriminated against a former student with disabilities by not letting her participate in graduation ceremonies.

The case was filed Wednesday on behalf of Courtney Soirez, who has a low back condition called spondylolysis. The condition, caused by stress fractures in the bones of the spinal column, can be painful.

As a senior at Erath High School last year, Soirez missed one of two mandatory practice sessions for the May 2003 commencement, because she overslept after taking medication for her disability. School officials refused to allow her to go through the graduation ceremonies, even though she had a doctor's excuse for missing the practice, she claimed in the suit.

By keeping Soirez from participating in the graduation, the district violated her rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the suit alleged.

"This person has gone to school for 12 years and missed one practice. It's like getting the graduation death penalty," said Louisiana ACLU director Joe Cook.

The suit seeks unspecified monetary damages from the school board and the high school principal.

"I just find this was a draconian sanction. It's a callous and cold disregard for the rights of students," Cook said. "It's more of this zero tolerance nonsense."

Both the school and Soirez refused to comment on the case when asked by reporters.


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