HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — A former Horry-Georgetown Technical College professor is facing a lawsuit after being accused of sending a racist text about a female student and violating HIPAA by telling a colleague about her learning disability.
Sheryl Lindquist, an English professor at HGTC on Sept. 22, 2020, is accused of discriminating against a student because of her race and a documented learning disability, according to a lawsuit filed by Ladaysha Berrien who was 18, and a first-semester freshman at the time of the incident.
According to the suit, Berrien was in Lindquist’s English class and was having trouble understanding an assignment, so she emailed Lindquist asking for clarification. Instead, Lindquist told Berrien to seek help from HGTC’s Program for Accelerated College Enrollment program, which only confused her more, according to the suit.
Berrien’s mother emailed Lindquist asking for clarification, hoping to help her daughter, according to the suit. Lindquist became annoyed and proceeded to send a text to Berrien, thinking it was going to a friend/colleague instead.
The text, according to the suit said, ” This black, NY girl is giving me fits has her mother involved. The mother sent me the girl’s documents for her LD: last year she had 5th grade reading and comprehension. WHY would not this ‘b—-‘ just go collect her disability check and leave me alone? This is going to blow up yet and I catch the shrapnel.”
The lawsuit claims the text violated confidential information related to Berrien’s learning disability. Berrien immediately forwarded the text to her mother.
Berrien’s mother immediately filed a complaint with the school, and a few days later she recieved an apology from Lindquist.
The school also issued Berrien an apology and offered her a scholarship to continue her education. Berrien, however, turned down the offer saying she did not feel comfortable continuing her education at HGTC because she was traumatized by what was said about her in the message.
The school gave her a full refund and withdrew her from all classes as if she had never attended HGTC, so that it would “not have a negative effect on her financial aid and future higher education endeavors.” the school said.
On Oct. 14, 2020, Berrien sent a letter to HGTC, asking to negotiate a settlement that included fees for emotional therapy, tuition to attend a higher education institute of her choice and the cost of attorney fees. HGTC said it could not commit to the settlement because of the ongoing investigation.
Berrien is suing Lindquist and HGTC for all fees to cover the cost of therapy for emotional distress; all fees to cover the cost to attend an institution of higher education of her choice; attorney fees and costs; and actual and punitive damages.
In a response to a News13 request for comment, HGTC, to which they said “Horry-Georgetown Technical College (HGTC) has not been formally served with a lawsuit and upon receipt, we will take appropriate steps in responding to the matter.”