(CN) - Quinnipiac University agreed to pay a student more than $32,000 in damages and reimbursed tuition to settle claims it violated the ADA by removing her from class after she sought counseling for depression.
The settlement announced Monday includes $17,000 in damages, and $15,126 in tuition, and stems from government's contention the university forced the unidentified student into a mandatory medical leave of absence without first considering other options.
"Quinnipiac removed this student from the university at a very vulnerable time in her life, and saddled her with a large student loan payment," Deidre M. Daly, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut, said in a written statement.
"Instead of removing students from school, educational institutions must be equipped to manage and educate students who recognize, disclose and are treating their mental health disabilities," Daly continued.
Lynn Bushnell, vice president for public affairs for Quinnipiac University, was not pleased with the government's press release.
"The university is in full compliance with the requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act. In fact, our ADA standards exceed those of most academic institutions," Bushnell said. "Out of respect for the confidentiality of the student involved, we will not comment further on this case. We regret that a government agency did not show similar respect for the student and circulated this press release without ever contacting us."
But the U.S. Attorney's Office said spreading word of the settlement is a signal to other colleges and universities that they cannot apply blanket policies that result in unnecessary exclusion of students with disabilities if reasonable modifications would permit continued participation.