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SOUTHEASTERN COMMUNITY COLLEGE V. DAVIS, 1979 CASE CRITIQUE 1 Southeastern Community College v. Davis, 1979 Case Critique Name Institution Southeastern Community College v. Davis, 1979 Case Critique Title: Southeastern Community College v. Davis (1979) - Southeastern Community College is the petitioners and Davis is the respondent. Facts In 1979, Davis, who suffers from a serious hearing disability, made an application to trained as a registered nurse at the Southeastern Community College. Southeastern Community College is a state institution that receives Federal funds from the government. Davis was enrolled in the College Parallel program of Southern Community College between 1973 and 1974, with hopes that she would progress to Southeastern Associate Degree Program to train as a registered nurse. During the interview, it was evident that Davis experienced difficulties in understanding the presented questions. On inquiry, she admitted that she had suffered hearing problems and that she depended on hearing aid. An audiologist from Duke University Medical Center was requested to examine Davis’ problem. Results indicated that Davis was suffering from “bilateral, sensori-neural hearing loss (Supreme Court of the United States, 1979).” The doctor recommended a change in her hearing aid. The hearing aid could not however allow her to communicate effectively and she had to rely so much on lip-reading skills for effective communication. Southeastern Community College denied Davis a chance to train as a registered nurse explaining that her hearing problems would not allow her to contribute fully to the requirements of the training program and that she could not take good care of patients as the dictated by nursing profession. Davis therefore decided to file a case against Southeastern Community College in Federal District Court. Davis claimed that Southeastern Community College had violated section 504 of 1973 Rehabilitation Act by denying her a place at the College. Davis however lost the case and she was never given an opportunity to study as a trained nurse at Southeastern Community College (Hall and Marsh, 2003). Issue (s) The major issue facing the Court was whether or not Southeastern Community College had discriminated against an “otherwise handicapped individual” by denying Davis a chance to study as a trained nurse in the College. More particularly, was the Southeastern Community College supposed to consider Davis’ academic qualifications and ignore her disability? Was the College supposed to accept Davis then make a change in its academic programme in order to accommodate her? Did Southeastern Community College reject her application by viewing her status as a sign of complete inability? Could Davis meet the requirements of nursing programme in spite of her communication problems? Southeastern Community College argued that Davis’ status could not allow her to effectively learn all the requirements of a trained nurse even if the program was changed to cater for her bilateral, sensory-neural hearing incapacity. On the other hand, Davis felt that the Southeastern Community College had violated the legal provisions governing students with disability, and proposed that she was supposed to be allowed a chance at the college in spite of her physical status because met the programme’s academic requirements (Supreme Court of the United States, 1979). Decision (s)/Holding (s) The Court upheld that Southern Community College was not compelled by law to make a change it its academic program by providing aids on oral communication to allow Davis who suffers from a bilateral sensori-neural hearing loss to be included in the nursing program. According to the Court, Southeastern Community College decided to deny her a chance to study as a trained nurse because, based on her status, it was unlikely that Davis could benefit from any changes in the program. The Court maintained that academic institutions have all the freed to require physical qualifications for admission into clinical training programs (Hall and Marsh, 2003). Legal Doctrine (s) The court makes its decision based upon the legal statement of section 504 of Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that concerns students with disabilities. In section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, it is declared that , “ No otherwise qualified individual with a disability……, shall solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance… (Hall and Marsh, 2003, p. 216)” The term of this section indicates that possession of handicap should not make educational institutions that a student is unable to function in academic context (Mayerson, 2007). However, this does not mean that a student must not meet the institutional physical requirements in order to be considered “otherwise qualified.” Such a student should not be seen as one who can meet all the program requirements in spite of his or her handicap (Supreme Court of the United States, 1979). By refusing to change academic program to meet the needs of Davis, Southeastern Community College was seen to observe institutional laws but it did not illegally discriminate against Davis who is disabled. In the case, Southeastern Community College testified that the main goal of its program was to train nursing students who met all the physical requirements of the course and who could serve the nursing profession all customary ways. The Court also made its judgement based on the requirement of section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that dictates that this law should not compel the Southeastern Community College to begin the action of providing oral communication assistance, such as by giving Davis individual supervision as she directly attends to patients or by redesigning the nursing program that can help her meet the full requirements of a licensed registered nurse. Significance The above described case is highly significant to the study of Technical Education and Law. From the ruling, career and technical administrators can learn how to deal with employees with disabilities. They should not discriminate against any disabled employee who is able to perform essential functions of a profession. In addition, they should only allow disabled students into an academic program so long as the students are able to learn the indispensable requirements of the course and put them into practice without much physical hindrance (Rothstein, 2010). Based upon this case, career and technical administrators can restrict the number of disabled students admitted into the technical programs provided they act by the law of their institutions (Hall and Marsh, 2003, p. 216). References Hall, B. & Marsh, R. (2003). Legal Issues in Career and Technical Education. Illinois: American Technical Publishers, Inc. Mayerson, A. (2007). Disability Rights Law: Roots, Present Challenges, Future Collaboration. Journal of Poverty Law and Policy, 41 (6): 265-270. Rothstein, L. (2010). Higher Education and Disability Discrimination: A Fifty Year Retrospective. Journal of College and University Law, 36 (3): 1990-1998. Supreme Court of the United States. (1979). Southeastern Community College v. Davis: United States. Retrieved, April 20 2014, from
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