By Cleve Bryan, David Madden
MOORESTOWN, N.J. (CBS) – State officials say Chesterbrook Academy in Moorestown, New Jersey showed a little girl with special needs the door because they didn’t want to change her diapers anymore.
A discrimination lawsuit filed this week by the NJ Division on Civil Rights says a three-year-old with down syndrome was moved against her parent’s wishes from a classroom with diaper changing services to one without.
New Jersey Attorney General Chris Perrino says the suit contends officials at the school violated the Americans with Disabilities Act:
“The school imposed a requirement which we allege was a quote-unquote ‘corporate policy’ to require this three-year-old disabled child to be toilet trained by a particular deadline.”
The suit says despite a doctor’s note saying the girl likely couldn’t be fully potty trained until age five – in March 2015 the child was given a week to go potty or get out, and was then expelled.
“Under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination daycare centers are required to provide reasonable accommodations,” says Mary Ciccone, managing attorney for Disability Rights New Jersey.
She isn’t involved with this case, but says it’s a pretty clear violation of New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination that applies to public and private daycare centers. She says diaper changing is certainly a reasonable accommodation.
“A daycare center that serves children from infant to five years old – they’re changing diapers, it’s not something that they don’t do,” explains Ciccone.
Nobel Learning Communities, which operates Chesterbrook and about 180 other private schools, gave a statement saying, “Due to pending litigation, we are unable to address the details of this specific case; however, our schools are dedicated to serving the needs of a diverse student population, including many with disabilities.”
The child was expelled from Chesterbrook in April and is now attending another pre-school along with a sibling.
“This kind of discrimination destroys families and it impedes education and we just will not tolerate it,” Perrino said.
The child and her family’s names are protected in the lawsuit which was filed in Burlington County Superior Court.