A former college student who was trying to become a gym teacher sued a Michigan university and alleged he was discriminated against because of his weight and other issues when he was barred from continuing his student-teaching remotely.
David Lopez, 44, was in Wayne State University’s physical education kinesiology program and finished each step of the course except for the student teaching. Lopez weighs over 400 pounds and has a litany of health issues, including diabetes, hypertension and asthma, the Detroit Free Press reported last week, citing a civil lawsuit filed in Wayne Circuit Court.
Lopez claimed the school didn’t see him as a gym teacher because he was overweight.
“They didn’t want me to graduate with my certification because I didn’t fit what they perceived to be a gym teacher because of my size and because of my weight,” Lopez says in the suit. “There’s no doubt that was the reason why. There was no other reason. I passed everything.”
Wayne State University, based in Detroit, responded to Lopez’s lawsuit by calling it “frivolous” and saying there was no legal claim for weight discrimination and the university doesn’t control the requirements of separate school districts, according to the Free Press.
Lopez was at Dearborn Public Schools for his student-teaching assignment in the winter of 2022 and received an accommodation letter for his health issues, the outlet reported. The letter said Lopez couldn’t stand or walk for long periods of time. Dearborn allowed Lopez to teach in a virtual program, but Wayne State would not, the lawsuit says.
He allegedly completed the first half of his program with the help of another gym teacher and “unofficial” accommodations. Wayne State University allegedly told Lopez not to report for the second half.
After all of that, Lopez filed the lawsuit earlier this year and said it was his last resort.
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