Charlotte’s Prominent Calvary Church Faces Growing Scrutiny in Medical Discrimination Case

A judge has ordered Calvary Church to turn over more records involving the families who say the church’s pre-school discriminated against their children for medical reasons. (Observer staff)
A judge has ordered Calvary Church to turn over more records involving the families who say the church’s pre-school discriminated against their children for medical reasons. (Observer staff)

A judge’s ruling Thursday could expand a lawsuit against Calvary Church, which is accused by more than a dozen families of discriminating against students with disabilities or other conditions.

Superior Court Judge Erwin Spainhour of Concord ordered the prominent south Charlotte church to turn over school files for 14 families who claim that their preschool-aged children were denied admission or forced to leave Calvary’s child-development center due to real or perceived medical problems.

The lawsuit was filed by two families in January 2016 but has since grown to five. Calvary wanted to limit the exchange of evidence in the case to the families whose names are on the lawsuit.

The judge’s order, however, expands so-called “discovery” to nine additional families who have filed affidavits in the case claiming that their children also were wrongfully singled out.

The families’ attorney, Josh Van Kampen, said Thursday that with access to more church records, he expects the number of families coming forward with similar complaints against the church “to grow by several multiples.”

“Calvary Church is ‘the castle on the hill’ in our community,” Van Kampen said. “When you have an entity that prominent and that rich that ignores the law, it’s a stain on the community. It’s a stain we’re trying to wipe out. We want Calvary to abide by disability laws.”

The church’s attorney, Mel Garafalo of Charlotte, described Thursday’s ruling as a “routine discovery matter,” and said the judge “did what he thought was right.” He declined other comment. In the past, Garafalo has dismissed the claims against the church as baseless.’

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SOURCE: MICHAEL GORDON 
The Charlotte Observer