Maryland College Leveled With Second Suit for Rejecting Student Because of Faith

CCBC Credit Kevin SmithBALTIMORE — A community college in Maryland has been leveled with a second lawsuit for allegedly rejecting a student because of his Christian faith.

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) has filed a legal challenge against the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) on behalf of student Dustin Buxton for denying him entry into the college’s radiation therapy program because he cited his faith during his interview as an applicant.

“During that interview in 2013, Dustin was asked by the CCBC interview panel, ‘What do you base your morals on?’ Dustin replied, ‘My faith,'” ACLJ attorney Michelle Terry outlined in a report this week. “His faith was not mentioned again, yet, in a written review of his interview, the program director, Adrienne Dougherty, stated that Dustin had lost points because ‘[Dustin] also brought up religion a great deal during the interview. Yes, this is a field that involves death and dying; but religion cannot be brought up in the clinic by therapist or students.'”

Buxton applied for the program for both the 2013 and 2014 school years, surpassing academic standards and making the dean’s list in 2013. However, after his initial interview in 2013, he was not invited back for another interview when he applied the following year, even though his grade point average (GPA) was even higher than the year before.

Buxton then attempted to discuss his denials with various officials at the college, including Charles Martino, the academic adviser for the radiation therapy program, who advised that he did not believe Buxton was rejected because of his GPA.

In July of this year, Buxton sought to register for another class outside of the program, but discovered that a hold had been placed on his account. The ACLJ soon became involved to intervene on Buxton’s behalf, and was told that the hold was due to the college’s desire to discuss Martino’s meeting with the student further, but that representatives had been unable to reach Buxton because he had changed his phone number. Buxton said he has had the same telephone number for ten years and never received a call from officials.

“Due to the ACLJ’s advocacy, CCBC agreed to, and did, remove the hold from Dustin’s account without further issue,” Terry outlined. “Unfortunately, CCBC officials have yet to admit Dustin to the radiation therapy program.”

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Therefore, the ACLJ filed a legal challenged against CCBC—the second of its kind against the school in the past five months.

“Our lawsuit requests that the court state that the defendants’ actions did in fact violate the First Amendment, prohibit all defendants and CCBC officials from further retaliating against Dustin for the expression of his religious beliefs, and require CCBC to immediately admit Dustin to the radiation therapy program,” Terry outlined.

As previously reported, the ACLJ also filed suit against the college in April after student Brandon Jenkins was allegedly likewise denied entry into the program due to his responses during the interview phase.

“I understand that religion is a major part of your life and that was evident in your recommendation letters; however, this field is not the place for religion,” Dougherty wrote in response to Jenkins’ inquiry surrounding the rejection.

“We have many patients who come to us for treatment from many different religions and some who believe in nothing at all,” she said. “If you interview in the future, you may want to leave your thoughts and beliefs out of the interview process.”

Photo: Kevin Smith

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