NEW ORLEANS, LA. — Mt. Carmel Academy, a Catholic girls’ school in New Orleans, is facing a disability discrimination lawsuit from one of its alumnus.
Attorney Chris Edmunds is representing the family. He says his client, a 13-year-old girl with cerebral palsy, was turned away by the school because of her disability.
“They told her in so many words not to apply, because she uses a wheelchair, and that they don’t want to have a student in a wheelchair,” said Edmunds.
The child’s mother scheduled her daughter to attend an open house earlier this year. She let the school know her daughter is in a wheelchair and might need special accommodations. Then, she received a voicemail from the school’s president, Sister Camille Anne Campbell.
“We do not have the capabilities of accepting your child. I do think our academic program would be substantially difficult for her,” said Campbell in the voicemail.
However, Edmunds provided us with a copy of the child’s recent grades, where she received mostly A’s and B’s.
He says the family is devastated.
“My client’s mother is a graduate of Mt. Carmel, so you can only imagine how you would feel if they said no sorry, we don’t want your daughter to come here to the same school you went to because your daughter’s in a wheelchair,” said Edmunds.
Campbell can also be heard in the voicemail telling the mother that “so many things have changed” at the school since they were both there in 1989.
Edmunds says the school is not exempt from making accommodations for people with disabilities.
In fact, the school received a PPP loan back in April for at least $1,000,000. Part of the terms and conditions of that federal contract is that you cannot discriminate on the basis of disability.
Edmunds says his client is no longer interested in attending the school, but wants Mt. Carmel to change their policies to be more accepting of people with disabilities.
We reached out to school officials and the archdiocese for comment and have not heard back.