Federal court case about Fair Housing Act - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE; KLKNTV.com

Federal court case about Fair Housing Act

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By: Sabrina Ahmed

An interesting court case involves a college, a student and a dog..

It's the US vs the University of Nebraska at Kearney and it centers on whether a student should have been allowed to have a service dog in her dorm room.

It all started in 2010 with a University of Nebraska Kearney freshman who lived in university owned apartments.

She was diagnosed with depression and anxiety and a doctor recommended she live with a service dog.  But the university said no, so she quit school and filed a law suit.

In Lincoln on Wednesday, a judge heard from each side to decide if the federal court will hear the case.  What it all boils down to is whether university housing is exempt from the Fair Housing Act, and had a right to tell her no, but the US Justice Department doesn't agree, saying this is permanent housing and should be part of the Fair Housing Act.

"This is where they provide their own beds, linens, TVs. telephones towels and toiletries, and importantly, your Honor, this is where they return night after night while they are living in Kearney," Prosecuting Attorney Mary Haan said.

UNK argues that students maintain permanent housing elsewhere and if universities aren't exempt from the Fair Housing Act, it could lead to other things like getting rid of separating sexes in dorms, or giving families special housing.

"Is it the University of Nebraska that's gonna answer the call from the parent or is it the Department of Justice that's going to answer the call from the parent that their 18 year old child is going to come to campus and may be living with someone of the opposite sex?" Defense Attorney Scott Moore said.

The US Justice Department said if the Fair Housing Act does apply to universities, they can still have segregated dorms.

As you can see, the original issue here, the student with the dog, basically opened up a lot of questions on the Fair Housing Act and universities. The judge is expected to decide this week if the case goes to trial.

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