WILLIAMSPORT – A former master’s degree student at Penn State Harrisburg accuses the university of discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Aaron Frazier, who has major depressive and generalized anxiety disorders, contends in a suit filed Thursday in U.S. Middle District Court that professors failed to accommodate his needs.
As a result, he says he got an “F” and dismissed from a practicum course in the applied clinical psychology program. Penn State does not comment on pending litigation.
Frazier enrolled in the master’s program at Penn State Harrisburg in the fall of 2017 after graduating magna cum laude from North Carolina at Greensboro.
Prior to taking the practicum course, he said his grade point average at Penn State was 3.95.
His disabilities significantly impacted his ability to complete work at an efficient pace because the depression and anxiety overwhelmed him, the court complaint states.
Until the fall of 2018 Frazier says he managed his disabilities with the assistance of a life coach, psychiatrist and psychotropic medication.
In the spring of 2018 he said he made professor Carla Towsey aware of his symptoms because he needed accommodations, which were approved, after a depressive episode following the death of his grandfather.
His depression intensified and Frazier said that fall he found himself in an impossible situation with the practicum at a business that itself was having problems.
The suit details issues he claims led to him being dismissed on Jan. 7, 2019, from the practicum location. His grade point average at the time was 3.93.
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The document accuses several professors of failing to help him resume the practicum despite their pledge to do so. The professors are not defendants.
Frazier, whose residence is not provided, was dismissed from the program May 15, 2019, citing the “F” in the practicum as the reason. He appealed and a hearing was held Aug. 19, 2019.
His request for his father to accompany him as a note-taker and for emotional support was denied, and the university reneged on its promise to provide a recording of the hearing, the complaint states.
Frazier’s final appeal was denied Sept. 23, 2019, when the Penn State Affirmative Action Office found no evidence of discrimination.
Frazier accuses professor Gina Brelsford of taking steps to blackball him because of her belief a clinician who cannot “muscle through” his depression is irresponsible and unfit to work in psychology.
The suit, which seeks unspecified damages, lists seven ways Frazier says he incurred discrimination due to his disabilities.
It also seeks an injunction that would reverse Frazier’s dismissal from the practicum program and allow him to withdraw.