NachtLaw sued Notre Dame Prep, a private Catholic parochial school, on behalf of a learning disabled girl who was denied admission to its high school. The parents brought forth strong evidence that the denial was based on the girl’s disability, including the statement, “”Bettina doesn’t fit our school profile. With a learning disability, she should attend [a school] where they take [students with] autism and [other] learning disabilities.” The school responded by asserting that Michigan’s Persons With Disabilities Civil Rights Act does not apply to them, and that they have a First Amendment right of “ecclesiastical privilege” that forbids the court from inquiring into a student admission matter – even if there is no evidence that ecclesiastical issues were considered by the school, as was the case here.
While the trial judge ruled that the case may go forward, the Michigan Court of Appeals reversed and dismissed the claim. However, the Michigan Supreme Court has agreed to hear oral argument on the constitutional issues, and to consider whether to further accept the appeal and possibly reinstate the girl’s claim.
An article about the case, including a copy of the Supreme Court’s order, was recently published in the Detroit News:
Attorney Nicholas Roumel represents the learning disabled student and her family. The case is Winkler v. Marist Fathers of Detroit.