Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Richmond, KY USA
To those with school difficulties, Inspiration
First of let me say, I can relate all too well with you, but want you to hear my story. I recently fulfilled my dreams of becoming a paramedic despite everything my school did to prevent my becoming one. Three years ago, I entered a large state school which was one of the premier training facilities for EMS, Fire, and Police in the region. During the middle of my sophomore year, I experienced difficulties with seizures, and that was when I experienced difficulties with my school. I was able to attend all classes, and was at the top of all of my classes with at least a 90% average in each, well above the 70% minimum required to keep going. I experienced seizures on average twice a week, and my school had the policy that every time I had a seizure, EMS was to be called. Okay, fine with me, I knew most of the local EMS guys, and we came to the agreement I didn't need to be transported, so I frequently refused transport to the hospital. EMS, myself, and my neuro were okay with this agreement, as was my resident assistant in my dorm. Once my housing director became aware of this, she inisisted I be transported each time (anytime someone is transported to hospital from school, dean of students is notified). Well, after being notified several times over the course of a few weeks, I recieved a letter stating that I needed to have a meeting with the dean of students and housing director, and that if I did not show up, then I would be "excused" from school. During the meeting, I was told that if the seizures did not subside, I would be considered a liability to the school and asked to leave. I was told to provide documentation from my neuro regarding my medication (we were in the process of changing meds, thus the trouble) and EXACTLY how long it would take for them to be controlled. Plus, I had to provide documentation weekly that I was having my levels checked and that things were satisfactory. I had previously drove and had my car registered with the university, but was not driving during this time due to safety. The campus police were instructed to report my seizures to the DMV, and to stop and run my license if they saw me by my car. I was stopped sometimes even when WALKING to have my license checked. The school also informed me that I was no longer allowed to attend with classes I was not enrolled in (I was an assistant in the EMT classes). I was also prevented from registering in further EMS classes until my sz were controlled. This prevented me from continuing my education, and ultimately affected my job. I was working for an EMS service in another county, and due to the loss of my driver's license, my EMS license was restricted despite the fact that I never drove the ambulance (mutual agreement with employer). With the restricted license I was unable to work, and unable to pursue a paramedic class anywhere else either. I was screwed. It was after this that I contacted the university's disabilities coordinator, who contacted the attorney over judicial affairs. They informed the school that they were exceeding what was considered safety and welfare of the students and were actually harrassing me, grounds for a lawsuit. After the change of medication was complete, my doctor had the restriction lifted from my license, allowing my to resume working. The university continued threatening me, so I made the difficult decision to leave the school. Because of their unfair treatment to myself and others which had seizures (I discovered they had done this to nearly twenty other students in the last two years), I went to the local media, and brought negative publicity to the school, condeming its actions publicly. However, I must say, my profs were excellent, and supported me throughout my fight, and assisted me in continuing my education elsewhere with great references and have made themselves available to help me if I have needed it, even though I am not enrolled in the school any longer. I was fortunate. However, my best advice to you, is involve the disabilities person at your school, judicial affiars lawyer (every school's got one) and have them present at any meeting with you and the school, plus show them any correspondence you have with them. Keep records of EVERYTHING ! Involve the media if you can, even if you just get a newspaper or radio station or tv asking questions, it will scare the school. For a college, nothing is worse than bad publicity. They will do amazing things to protect their image. Even if you choose not to stay there, it will improve things for future students, because you are probably not the first, and will not be the last. Despite the fact it is a private college, they do still have to abide by the ADA. That applies to everywhere public or private. Do not back down just because they say they are private. Inform them you are contacting a lawyer to confirm your rights to equal educational opportunities. That should get things moving. Keep your chin up. I know it can be hard, but consider this a learning experience. If you work hard, you can achieve even what you may think is impossible. I know I did. God bless you and good luck.
Loving life and living every day to the fullest.