College reaches settlement in discrimination case


MARQUETTE — Northern Michigan University has reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice after a student with a disability filed a complaint alleging discrimination.

The complaint filed in 2013 with the department's Civil Rights Division says the student told another student of her mental health struggles, which include being diagnosed with major depressive disorder and having doctors concerned that she was at risk for suicide, The Mining Journal reported.

The complaint alleges the university violated the Americans with Disabilities Act when it threatened to "dis-enroll" the student, require her to undergo a psychological assessment and sign a behavioral agreement, which prohibited the student from discussing suicidal thoughts with other students.

The Justice Department found three current or former students with similar allegations of discrimination, WLUC TV reported.

As part of the settlement, the university must draft an ADA/non-discrimination policy within 30 days, modify a portion of the dean of students web page and develop a training program for faculty and staff within 60 days.

The university must also pay a total of $173,500 in damages to the four students who alleged discrimination.

NMU Chief Marketing Officer Derek Hall said that the practices and procedures featured in the complaint ended several years ago, and the university is working on crafting new policy.

"NMU welcomed clarification from DOJ and OCR and has made changes to campus procedures," Hall said. "NMU continues to put the health and safety of our students first."

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