Ex-Student With Autism Sues Orange Coast College

A former Orange Coast College student with autism has sued the institution for mistreatment, as he faces felony vandalism and misdemeanor charges, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Robert McDougal’s lawsuit, filed Monday in Orange County Superior Court, accuses the Coast Community College District and several college employees of negligence, emotional distress, assault, battery and false imprisonment. McDougal’s parents, in an August 2017 letter, claimed the college failed to accommodate their son despite knowing of his disability.

According to college officials, McDougal’s problems with the college arose in February 2017, when he repeatedly emailed his chemistry instructor, Amy Hellman, requesting to retake an exam with a calculator, which she denied. McDougal took the exam without a calculator and received a B — a lower grade than he anticipated.

School officials alleged that on Feb. 27 last year, McDougal charged into the classroom while other students were there. He was removed by security officers and then returned and ran around the room.

Orange Coast College did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

McDougal’s lawsuit portrays events differently. The suit states that McDougal withdrew from the class and immediately tried to get reinstated. Hellman emailed McDougal telling him he could finish the test questions and be reaccepted to the class, but when he arrived, he was told to stay outside the room until the class finished. McDougal was taken away by security officers, who slammed him to the ground and pepper sprayed him.

The Costa Mesa police, who arrested McDougal, said he was pepper sprayed after he kicked security officers and yelled a racial slur at one of them.

McDougal was then barred from entering the campus by a restraining order issued by Judge Michael McCartin in March 2017.

That month, McDougal was arrested and sent to jail based on a suspicion that he carved a swastika and a racial slur into two Orange Coast College security vehicles, and slashed their tires.

Prosecutors claim McDougal came back to the campus several times, violating the restraining order.

McDougal is facing felony vandalism and misdemeanor charges of disturbing a public school, staying on campus without consent, resisting a public or peace officer, and disobeying a domestic relations court order in connection to the incidents, according to court records. He pleaded not guilty to all charges.

McDougal is slated to appear in a Westminster court for a pretrial hearing March 16.

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