UPDATE: Parent Response On Church Discrimination Claims
CHARLOTTE, NC — Claims of Calvary Church discriminating against children with disabilities has left intense emotions on both sides.
“A person tells you blatantly to your face your kid is not normal, that’s a rough, rough feeling,” said Lori Robbins.
She’s one of nearly 10 families listed in the complaint filed against the church Wednesday. Families say Child Development Center Director Pat Collins expelled or denied enrollment for migraines, diabetes, peanut allergies, blindness, speech disorders and more.
“That’s a little frustrating because it doesn’t match up to our experience,” said Lyndsay Johnson.
Johnson is like other parents whose kids are still in the school, stunned by the complaint.
“We don’t see any discrimination whatsoever since we’ve been going there,” said Johnson. “His teachers are loving and caring and reach out to us when we need to speak with them about anything.”
“They don’t have a disabled child,” argues Robbins.
She says the director denied her son, Noah, enrollment because he has a prosthetic leg.
“It was immediately, ‘Your son would be a liability to our program, and your son would be a distraction to the other children as he would need extra time and care,'” said Robbins.
Her statement is in detail in the court documents. She can’t sue because too much time has passed.
“I didn’t come forward when it happened because who’s going to believe, no one would ever believe, that this huge church that’s been around for so long would ever deny entry to a child just because a disability,” said Robbins.
The complaint argues Calvary can’t discriminate based on the Persons with Disabilities Protection Act.
“It doesn’t concern me because there are two sides to every story,” said Johnson.
The Attorney representing the families, Josh Van Kampen, says, “We protect disabled children under state law even in private setting. They qualify as being a public accommodation under the NC Persons with Disabilities Protection Act.”
To see our February 10th report, when more families filed against Calvary, click here.
The Attorney representing the church, Mel Garofalo, tells WCCB Charlotte, “I can state that Calvary and Pat Collins will vigorously defend themselves against these unfounded allegations through the legal process.”
He says his clients have not yet been provided with a copy of the amended complaint filed with the court on February 10th.
To see our report on the original complaint, click here.
“With respect to the allegations made in the original complaint, my clients strongly disagree with the allegations that have been made against them,” said Garofalo.
The families are asking the court to order Calvary Church to change its policies.