New Details: Deaf Student to Attend PNWU Per Court Order
Zach Featherstone was originally admitted to Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences in February of 2013. He was set to begin classes that August. That's when in a span of nine months Zach went from being admitted to his dream school, to his admittance being deferred-and eventually in July of last year Zach's acceptance from the university was pulled.
Featherstone filed a federal court order asking for PNWU to allow him to begin classes immediately--provide interpreters and captioning technology in conjunction with the American Disabilities Act.
A Preliminary Injunction from the U.S. District Court of East Washington called Featherstone's requests "reasonable accomodations" and that PNWU is required to enroll Featherstone in classes starting August 4th of this year.
The court stated in the order, "while PNWU is a small new medical school, when they opened their doors to providing students an education, they, like other schools, have to obey the legal obligations that come with providing those services."
According to the ADA, schools must provide services to ensure an equal learning experience for disabled students. In the court order are new details from an email conversation when Featherstone learned his admittance was deferred-the message from the school reads,
"At present the school is unable to bear the cost of services you need," the message continues, "consider another medical school that has greater financial resources than PNWU."
At this time the Washington Division of Vocational Rehibilitation, or DVR, was already willing to pay for the services-- they told PNWU
"If they can't pay for the accomodations DVR can pay for them."
I talked with PNWU president Keith Watson on the phone today who told me,
"PNWU is a compassionate learning enviroment, they will fully comply with the court's ruling and will do everything in their power to make it a welcoming learning experience for Zach."
Zach released a statement after the decision saying he is, "overwhelmed and humbled to be given the opportunity to prove himself and pursue his dream."