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School Rejects Child After Autism Diagnosis, Family Sues

May 07, 2014

A toddler in New York City was refused entry into a private pre-school after he was diagnosed with autism. The family says the school had never even met their child and they are now suing Washington Market preschool in Tribeca.

Jennifer Sample, the mom of 3-year-old Owen, told WABC, “The point is you can’t discriminate and get away with it.”

The federal discrimination lawsuit may be the first of it’s kind in the nation. Attorney Gary Mayerson is representing the family in the case, which claims the pre-school violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. Mayerson serves on the Board of Autism Speaks and is the founder of Mayerson & Associates, a Manhattan-based law firm founded in 2000 as the very first law firm in the nation dedicated to the representation of individuals with autism.

Sample says after she revealed her son’s diagnosis to the school, they told her it wouldn’t be a good fit and too rigorous for him.

“They didn't discriminate on the basis of some legitimate reason such as the child has aggressive behavior, or the child is doing something that will change the fundamental character of the school. They didn't even care to see the child. They rejected him and rejected him sight unseen because of the autism label," Mayerson told WABC. "I think that a number of pre-schools have been doing it for many, many years. I just don't think you have a fact pattern that's this evident, that cries out for relief. It sometimes is very hard to prove discrimination. But sometimes a fact pattern comes along and I think this is the one."

Watch the WABC video above for the full report.