Story by Ty Chandler, NBC Charlotte
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Dunnings said their son was dismissed from Calvary in 2015 after having three episodes in school thought to be seizures.
It turns out his condition was less serious: abdominal migraines. This is a condition common in children that is like a migraine headache for your stomach. The Dunnings thought this was good news, but they say instead they received a call from Director Pat Collins that their son’s health issues were too much for the school to handle.
“What they did to my child sent the message that ‘there is something wrong with you, you are not good enough to go to school,'” she said. “The phone call really made me question their values, their morals and the way they treat children,” Lucy Dunning explained.
The Borjas family found themselves in a similar situation with their son Francisco.
“It was a kick in the gut, I would say. Horrible, horrible– I was in shock,” said Amaya Borjas.
The Borjases say their son began attending Calvary at the age of 2. They loved the school and so did Francisco. However, they say when their son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 4, they were told he had to go.
“I’m like, ‘oh my God, can we work this out,'” said Luis Borjas. “I’m not asking for special accommodations.”
Borjas said they were told the teachers would not be able to check their son’s blood sugar. They offered to come in and do it themselves over lunch. Luis took it a step further, saying he would make a donation to the school so they could hire a nurse.
“I’ll do it for my kid,” he said. “I don’t want to take my kid out of school, so I’ll pay for the nurse, and she says, ‘no, no, no you cannot do that,,” he said.
The Dunnings and Borjases met each other by chance after trying to find alternate school options for their children. After hearing each other’s stories, they sought legal counsel. Their attorney, Josh Van Kampen, calls what Calvary Church did discrimination and a violation of North Carolina’s Persons with Disabilities Act.
“We are puzzled by the fact that there weren’t a lot of accommodations my clients were asking for to attend, and despite its vast resources, the church didn’t provide those accommodations– it’s shocking,” he said.
Both boys are doing well health-wise, and have adapted to their new schools. However, the Dunnings and Borjas say they hope taking legal action will prevent the church from discriminating from other families for health reasons.
Calvary’s attorney, Mel Garofalo, says they are aware a lawsuit has been filed. However, he says they have not seen the complaint so they are not in a position to comment on the suit or its allegations.