College fears ‘undue burden’
Nawojski mostly fits the profile of a Trocaire student. The average age of a student is slightly above 27, making most of its students “nontraditional,” according to a 2016 report from the college.
Nawojski was 38 in August 2013 when she enrolled in the nursing program, the college’s most popular major.
Trocaire, in court papers, said the case should be dismissed because, as a college, it is excluded from providing reasonable accommodations for disabilities and that the Division of Human Rights has no jurisdiction in the matter.
Trocaire also points to the student’s psychological assessment as proof it provided everything required. Tutoring is not explicitly mentioned, and the college had provided it, not because it had to, but because it does so with every disabled student.
The college also said the “allegation that Ms. Murray refused to tutor her during the 2016 Spring Semester is untrue.”
Trocaire acknowledged its tutor “apparently forgot to follow up” with Nawojski, but that was because she had been working with 186 referrals. Trocaire said Murray’s “oversight” was not the reason why Nawojski went without a tutor that spring semester.
“The reason was complainant’s failure to make any further effort to obtain the tutoring that was available,” Trocaire said in court papers.
Nawojski knew the names of other nursing tutors and how to contact them, the college said. The college called Nawojski’s enlisting of a math tutor that semester further evidence she simply chose not to find tutoring.
“Whether a student receiving tutoring is classified as disabled or not, it is the student’s responsibility to arrange for the tutoring,” the college said.
In justifying its decision not to reconsider Nawojski’s dismissal, Trocaire said she asked for the exemption after the fact. And, she had not yet been diagnosed with her disability when she failed the class, the college said.
Trocaire also said in court papers that exempting Nawojski “would be an undue burden on Trocaire under the (state Human Rights Law) because it would require Trocaire to fundamentally alter its academic requirements.”
The college points to Nawojski’s decision not to request the second failure be excused, too.
“(Her) willingness to ‘accept responsibility for failing NU222’ is an implicit acknowledgement that her failure in NU222 was due to her actions and inactions and not anything Trocaire did or failed to do,” the school said.