The mother of a student at Texas Tech University who has autism is fighting for her child to be able to receive the same educational benefits as other students.
The Texas Tech student, who is not named in the lawsuit, is currently enrolled at the school.
He was diagnosed with autism in 2012 and received a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome in 2013.
According to a 2015 article by CNN affiliate KXAN in Austin, Texas, he has autism and learning disabilities, as well as depression, anxiety and social phobia.
The article notes that in 2012, the family filed a $2 million wrongful death lawsuit in a Texas federal court against the school district and the state of Texas.
The suit claims the school failed to provide proper accommodations for the student, including in his school environment, and that the district and state of Houston violated the student’s civil rights by failing to provide a safe and adequate educational environment for him.
“I think it’s important to be aware that autism affects so many kids and we have to be more vigilant about ensuring that we’re providing the right support and resources to help kids with disabilities,” Dr. Jessica Reitz, the school’s associate dean of student services and director of academic support, told KXan.
The lawsuit is asking for a court order to prevent the school from using the diagnosis as a reason to exclude the student from attending classes.
The suit seeks to have the school comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, as the school had to for decades.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2017 that the disability discrimination protections are unconstitutional because they are not based on an individualized assessment of disability.
In the lawsuit’s complaint, the parents allege that Texas Tech violated the rights of the student by not providing him a proper education.
“The district’s failure to provide appropriate accommodations to the student caused the student great emotional harm and financial harm,” the lawsuit states.
The parents also allege that the school violated the civil rights of autistic students, including students with learning disabilities and people with physical disabilities.
“Our goal is to have a child with autism be treated with the same respect and dignity as other children, regardless of whether they are disabled or not,” Dr Reitz said.
“This lawsuit is about putting our kids first,” Reitz added.
The parents, who live in Houston, said the lawsuit has been a long time coming and has been delayed by court battles with the school, the courts, the Texas Department of Public Safety, and the Texas Education Agency.
They have also been fighting for the right to use their child’s autism diagnosis as an advantage.
“It’s a very challenging situation and it’s been very stressful for us,” Reutts said.