By Jamie Vinson/Editor

Eastern has issued an answer to a complaint filed against it and two Model Laboratory School employees earlier this year.James and Carol Stutts of Berea filed suit Jan. 16 in the U.S. District Court in Lexington against Eastern, Jacqueline Vance, director of Model, and Ellen Rini, Model psychologist, for discrimination the couple says the parties committed against their 14-year-old son. The couple’s son is a student at Model, which is owned and operated by Eastern.

The couple is seeking punitive and compensatory damages from the three defendants for failing to provide their son “his basic rights as a disabled person and be treated equally among his peers,” according to the suit. The couple allege that during the past three years their son, who reportedly suffers from a number of physical disabilities, has been harassed, physically abused and discriminated against, and that the school has done nothing to protect their son or prevent the abuse and harassment.

The couple’s suit also includes a chronological outline of alleged instances of harassment and abuse beginning in 2000 and continuing through 2002.

Eastern’s answer to the complaint, filed in Lexington March 18, states the Stutts “fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted,” and thus, the complaint should be dismissed. The university’s answer also responds to specific allegations the Stutts make and says the suit “fails to adequately state a claim that any of the defendants violated the civil rights (of the couple’s son).”

In addition, the university’s response states among other things that the couple’s son “is not a qualified person with a disability as defined by law,” and that he “received from the defendants all reasonable accommodations to which he is entitled and to which the defendants are obligated to provide by law.”

The Stutts are now under new counsel — Katherine K. Yunker and Katherine S. Sanford of Lexington. Attorneys of Sturgill, Turner, Barker and Moloney, PLLC in Lexington, are representing Eastern.

Tuesday, University Counsel Kacey Coleman said no action has been taken beyond the filing of the original suit and university’s response.