A former law student at Southern Illinois University has sued the school and its dean after they refused to re-admit her for her second year based on what they said was poor performance. Lisa Dawn Rittenhouse ended up with a 1.948 GPA, and a law school rule apparently provides that only those with a 1.95 or better will be invited back for another year. Doesn’t seem too unreasonable, on its face.
But Rittenhouse says that her low scores are due to disability, not a lack of ability. She claims she suffers from bipolar disorder, hyperactivity, ADHD, and dyslexia. One or more of these disorders may or may not explain why Rittenhouse’s complaint describes ADHD as "Attention Span Deficit Disorder" and says it contributed to her "low grape point average." She alleges that she has one or more impairments that substantially limits here [sic] ability to perform" and that the school’s failure to accommodate her was a violation of the "Americans for [sic] Disabilities Act."
Rittenhouse also claims a violation of the Equal Protection Clause, on the grounds that minority students with even lower grapes than hers were readmitted.
UPDATE: I recently came across a post at the very good blog Simple Justice which argued that it seemed unfair to make fun of Ms. Rittenhouse for typos in her complaint, given that she may have dyslexia. That is a valid point, and I think I was lazy in doing the initial post. I should have clarified two points:
- First, I wasn’t and still am not sure that Rittenhouse’s allegations actually even describe dyslexia — could that make someone call ADHD "Attention Span Deficit Disorder"? Not sure. So I was suspicious of the underlying claim, not setting out to make fun of a disabled person, which I would not knowingly do. But the post does read that way, which is my fault.
- Second, the post would have been more accurate and a lot funnier had I made clear that Rittenhouse was not representing herself. (The corrected links below now go to articles that clarify that point.)
I haven’t found any evidence that her attorney suffers from any disability that may hinder his ability to write in a way that will not embarrass his client, but if that turns out to be the case, I will run another correction.
Thanks to Scott at Simple Justice for bringing this to my attention.