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Lawsuit alleges Fortis Institute violated Americans with Disabilities Act

Times-Tribune - 12/28/2019

Dec. 28--An autistic man who sought to become an electrician filed a lawsuit against an area trade school, alleging it reneged on its promise to offer him additional help so he could earn a certification.

According to the suit, in October 2018, Benjamin Knox, 21, of South Abington Twp., applied for the electrical trades program at Fortis Institute, a for-profit, private trade school with 32 campuses, including one in Forty Fort.

At the time, Knox and his mother, Denise Knox, advised school officials he is autistic and would need special assistance. The officials assured them he would be provided accommodations.

Shortly after beginning school, Knox had trouble in mathematics and electrical safety classes. He requested reasonable assistance, including extra time for tests, a study guide prior to exams and that he be provided notes or slides of each class beforehand to help him follow the material. The school failed to abide by the request.

In November 2018, Knox enrolled in an electrical circuity theory course and again had difficulty. His mother repeatedly contacted the teacher to request additional help but got no reply.

Without the extra assistance, Knox could not complete the course and withdrew from the school in January. That caused his anxiety and obsessive-compulsive behaviors to worsen.

The lawsuit, filed by attorney Michael D. Raffaele of Bryn Mawr, alleges the school violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and Rehabilitation Act. It seeks damages for lost earnings, tuition, medical expenses and emotional distress.

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