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 Kent State University and four of its employees have been charged with housing discrimination for refusing to allow a student with disabilities to keep an emotional support animal in her campus apartment.

The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to refuse to make reasonable accommodations in policies or practices when a person with a disability requires such an accommodation, including refusing to grant waivers to “no-pet” policies for persons who use assistance or support animals.

The charges stems from complaints that were filed by a Kent State University student and her husband and a local fair housing advocate group. The tenant claims she and her husband lived in university-owned and operated housing set aside for upperclassmen and their families. A university psychologist treating the student documented her disabilities and wrote a letter stating that the best way for the student to cope with her disabilities was having a support animal. The student subsequently obtained a dog and submitted a reasonable accommodation request to the university seeking a waiver to the apartment complex’s “no pets” rule.

In her complaint, the student alleged that the university offered her academic accommodations, which she did not need, but denied her request to keep her support animal. As a result of the denial, the student and her husband were forced to move to an apartment the university did not own.

The school and employees may owe damages, attorneys fees and other penalties.

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