NJ Student Says Professor Discriminated Against Him For Stuttering In Class

RANDOLPH, N.J. (CBS 2) — If you stutter, federal law prohibits anyone from discriminating against you on the job or in school. But a local college student who stutters says he was told not to speak in his class because of his disability.

Philip Garber Jr., who has been taking classes at the County College of Morris in New Jersey, said the incident made him feel like “stuttering is something to laugh at and that it’s not something to take seriously.”

The outspoken 16-year-old, who stutters, has been taking the classes to overcome his disability. He said an adjunct professor in a history course told him not to ask questions during class so as not to disrupt the other students, CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported.

“The first feeling was just shock,” said Garber, who is an aspiring photojournalist.

Garber said he was even more shocked when the adjunct professor told him to write out the questions before and after class. That’s when the college administration got involved and moved him to an identical course, where he felt more comfortable.

“He was in fact discriminated against in this class — that is other students were not asked to make the same accommodations,” College President Edward Yaw said. “So that is something we take seriously.”

Garber has struggled with stuttering all of his life and has been home-schooled and has gotten speech therapy.

“I have never experienced this level of discrimination,” he said.

CBS 2 was unable to get comment from the adjunct professor, but the majority of students who are not in the class are behind the 16-year-old.

“He paid tuition like everyone else did and it’s not fair that he’s not allowed to speak in class,” said student Henny Harmon.

The college wouldn’t say if any action was taken against the adjunct professor because officials said they don’t discuss personnel matters.

What do you make of these allegations of discrimination?  Share your thoughts in the comments section below…

More from Christine Sloan
  • DarthEVaderCheney

    What a dastardly bunch of lovable American people… ROFLMBO!!!

  • Susan

    Why would a stutterer’s right to speak give him the right to detract from others’ right to speak to and to hear the professor? The other students are not in class to listen to one person who seeks aggressively to dominate the airwaves. Plenty of people behave this way, and most are not stutterers.

  • Johnny-D.(Also stutter)

    Stuttering affects many of the american people but it still seems to be unknown. As it happened to this student, 99% of the times, people always try to make fun of me personally because i stutter. I wonder if anyone can imagine how hard and shameful it is to not be able to express yourself fluently like everybody else. Well, they say that the Federal law protects people with disability, i m certain that this disability is not protected by the law because people always make fun of it and make stutterer feel bad. Federal laws should be respected, i think nobody respect the law that prohibit people from offending or assaulting people who stutters or with any other disability. I think this law should be taken more serious.

    • Jen K

      While I am in no way condoning the treatment you’ve received (it disgusts me to no end!), you need to understand the difference between ridicule and discrimination. The Americans with Disabilities Act protects people from being discriminated against, as this boy clearly was. The professor asked him to not participate in class, because of his disability. Under the 1st Amendment to the Constitution, we the people (even the heartless, callous among us) have the right to free speech, which (unfortunately) includes “making fun of” others. In the wrong setting, or if carried out repeatedly, this can be considered harassment, but that would fall under local law enforcement and/or civil courts, not federal law.

      • Johnny-D.(Also stutter)

        I agree with your comment in a way but remember that ” freedom of speech” is not absolute. Making fun of someone else like you said is ” harassment” which was not included in the freedom of speech right. I think Nobody should use this right to violate other’s right of free speech especially a disable person. By making fun of someone like that, it’s like you are trying to keep this person down which is not right..

  • Advocate

    This young man’s speech was not difficult to understand in the video. So .it seems the difficulty that the teacher was having was in being patient. I had a college professor like that– very impatient– and she put us in groups– my group was noting but disabled- young and older– and when we had anything that required speech, for one student’s participation, we would write out her contribution and make copies for the rest of the class.
    It seems many of you commentors missed the part in the video where the school DID address the discrimination– and even labeled the teachers actions as such. Perhaps some of you ‘normal’ people need to pay as much attention as the disabled people do…

  • Fellow Student

    Geez…this was not at all about his stuttering. He was too “outspoken” and cluelessly dominated the class with his excessive questioning.

    • Andrew

      Were you there? Did you witness what happened? No? then how can you make that statement?

      • Fellow Student

        Yes. I guess my “Fellow Student” nick eluded you.

        • Andrew

          So why was he told that the request stemmed from his stuttering? Was the professor too spineless to speak up and tell this student in private that he was asking too many questions and dominating the classroom’s time? Seems kind of heartless to single him out and blame it on his stuttering, don’t you think?

          If that is not the way it happened, then the college should say so. Not doing so risks a PR nightmare for them. I can’t think of any reason why they wouldn’t put forward their side of the story… unless maybe that IS the way it happened.

      • texas

        Probably, the person’s title says “fellow student”….

  • Matt C.

    Typical of the professors @ Morris, WAY OVERPAID to under perform. One “professor” told a young women next to me that he appreciated her short skirts. The administration is also OVERPAID and does little. They only took some kind of measures here because a reporter was asking questions. Hope she stays on the story.

  • Andrew

    What if the kid was Black, and was told that he was not supposed to ask questions because it wasn’t a Black history class, and his questions interrupted the rhythm of the classroom? What if the kid was a woman, and was told not to ask questions in class becuase of the gender-biased approach in asking them? What if the kid was poor, or sick, and was told that asking questions was forbidden because of it? It is discrimination, plain and simple. The people here that have posted that he should “get over it” need to learn a little compassion for their fellow human beings.

    • Fellow Student

      And what if you’re simply wrong and have reached a false conclusion as to what really happened?

      • Andrew

        Both the school and professor had the opportunity to explain their side of the story, but did not. Why do you think that is. I don’t buy the whole “we do not discuss personnel matters” line. You would think that any person or institution accused of discrimination would QUICKLY set the record straight if they had the ability to. No rebuttal from the school leads em to believe that the student’s description of the events was exactly what happened, and that the school now has egg on its face.

        • Me

          Have you not heard of privacy regulations. They can not discuss the students, and they can not discuss personnel matters. There will be no information forthcoming.

          • Andrew

            Baloney. This isn’t a privacy issue. When someone makes an accusation of discrimination against another person or institution, it usually ends up in litigation. Eventually both sides of the story go on record. They would have done themselves a favor by immediately responding to such allegations with a strong statement on their own behalf when the media got involved.

      • melvinslizard

        And what if you’re insensitive to the struggle and challenge faced by people with speech impediments? Maybe that’s what this class is supposed to “teach” you… a little patience and empathy.

    • farquar

      Idiotic, meaningless, and insulting.

      • farquar

        Meant for Andrew, the illiterate,

    • Me

      What if the kid was disabled, and a special seat was given to him up front like at movie theaters?

      What if the kid was deaf, and an interpreter was provided for him?

      Making reasonable accomodations for someone is not descrimination. It is good policy.

      The professor offered to spend as much time as necessary answering the students questions. That is accomodation, not descrimination.

      • melvinslizard

        seperate but equal was struck down 50 years ago

      • Jen K

        That would be accomodation if the student didn’t understand the material, or needed extra one on one time w/ the professor. In this case, it was the professor who wanted the UNreasonable accomodation.

        As for making reasonable accomodations for students (or employees) w/ disabilities, it is not “good policy”. It is THE LAW. And it is often carried out grudgingly and to the minimum extent allowed by the law.

    • Stop_Being_Over_Sensitive

      Being black, a woman, poor or sick is not disruptive to the rest of the class, unless the sickness is either contagious or causes excessive coughing and/or sneezing. It sounds to me like the stuttering is not the end of the story. Try to remember that there are many other students in the class, and they all deserve an equal opportunity to be heard. If one person dominates the class time, regardless of why, it is not fair to everyone else.

  • roo1967

    Yes so maybe the teacher went about this the wrong way but the ultimate goal is for all the kids to get a fair shake. I used to teach in college and it was just impossible to get the lesson done in time if the kids kept asking questions during class…if they just waited most questions they had were answered by the end of the lesson. If you went to college you would know this to be fact. You would also know that there is always one kid who thinks they know all the answers and want to finish teacher’s thoughts. This behavior is disturbing to any teacher. Most who exhibit this type of narcissi were home schooled. Stuttering is not a learning disability it is a speech issue.

    • Fellow Student


    • Andrew

      If this kid was disrupting the class because he was asking too many questions, or was asking questions just to hear himself speak, then why was he given the reason that it was his stuttering that prompted the professor’s request? And if that was the case, why didn’t the professor ask EVERYONE to save their questions for after class? this kid was singled out, and asked to take a lesser role in the classroom because of his stuttering. ITS DISCRIMINATION. I went to college, and I sat through everyone else’s questions, no matter how long it took to ask them, or relevant/irrelevant they ended up being.

    • Kirsten Richards

      Stuttering is a disability when it is treated as one by others. The fact that you consider his desire to be treated THE SAME as any other student as being narcissistic is truly disturbing to me.

      Not all disabilities are learning disabilities. Supposing the student was blind and was told he couldn’t use his guide dog in class because the teacher didn’t like dogs? Supposing the student had significant scarring from burns and was told not to attend because he was too ugly? Supposing the student was in a wheel chair and told not to attend because his chair was not aesthetically pleasing?

      If a teacher doesn’t want the “rhythm” of a class interrupted, then he should tell ALL the students to hold their questions until the end of class, not choose who may ask and who may not based the physical qualities of the asker.

      • Me

        If he has a disability that makes it impossible to treat him the same as everyone else, then he has no room to complain when someone has difficulty doing what he asks. You can not treat a blind person the same as everyone else – you make accomodations. You can not treat a deaf person the same as everyone else – you make accomodations.

        Making reasonable accomodations for someone is not descrimination. It is good policy.

        The professor offered to spend as much time as necessary answering the students questions. That is accomodation, not descrimination.

        • melvinslizard

          Assuming that the teacher doesn’t act just as “put out” with the challenge after class…

    • Me

      Making reasonable accomodations for a student is not discriminatory. The instructor made time specifically for this student, so that the student could get all of his questions answered. That is like providing seats in the best location for disabled movie patrons. That isn’t discriminatory – that is good policy.

  • M.J.Barrett

    Sorry to take the teacher’s position but this kid is uncomfortable
    to hear from most normal speaking people, the teacher was just trying
    to keep the rhythm of his student’s lesson’s going, hey it’s a cruel
    world out there , not everyone disabled can expect the same universal
    treatment from non disabled people. That’s why it is a disability.

    • Jana

      You have GOT to be kidding me. The teacher has no right to request this PAYING (and even if he didn’t have to pay) student to NOT ask questions in class and to write his questions out before and after class. And you think the teacher was “trying to keep the rhythm” of the lesson going? How can you even think that’s okay?! That teacher should be made to teach only disabled students until he/she gets a grip on life and shows tolerance for others. He or she should also have to write an apology to the student and take some sensitivity classes.

      • Me

        Does a teacher have the right to ask a deaf student to speak through the interpretor that is provided? Yes.

        Does a teacher have the right to ask a blind student to answer questions orally, rather than attempt a written test? Yes.

        A teacher who volunteers to answer a students questions on his own time is making reasonable accomodations for that student – not discriminating.

        That is the reality of the situation.

        • Andrew

          like accommodating people by asking them to sit at the back of the bus where the view is better, right?

        • Jen K

          You obviously do not understand the purpose of the Americans w/ Disabilities Act. It is there to make life easier (make accomodations for) the person w/ the disability. Does the teacher have any of the “rights” you just mentioned? Absolutely NOT. The rights go to the person w/ the disability. A deaf student has the right to have all communication w/ the professor to be in written form, if that is what works better for THEM. The blind student has the right to have a test written in braille, if that is what works best for THEM. And the student who stutters has the right to have his questions answered in class, in the context of the lecture, if that is what works best for HIM. An accomodation is only reasonable if the person w/ the disability asks for it. If the professor didn’t want the class interrupted, then BY LAW he should have made that the rule for the entire class.

          THAT is the reality of the situation.

  • College professor

    Many “professors” in state colleges cannot not even use proper grammar, but it is politically correct to hire them. How can a “professor” even balk at someone’s speech?

    The so-called “professor” could talk to the student outside class and offer extra help, but never mind his ethnic background I bet allows him to get away.

    I despise my feeble, “me speak no enhlis” fellow teachers

    My 2 cents worth

    • Me

      What if the kid was disabled, and a special seat was given to him up front like at movie theaters?

      What if the kid was deaf, and an interpreter was provided for him?

      Making reasonable accomodations for someone is not descrimination. It is good policy.

      The professor offered to spend as much time as necessary answering the students questions. That is accomodation, not descrimination.

  • Isis

    This young man was also home-schooled, which may play a role in how well he has been able to adapt to a classroom setting. When you have had one-on-one attention and basically had free run of any discussions, it must be challenging to learn how to rein yourself in to give others their time. In addition, regardless of the stuttering, he seems to be someone who talks a lot. If you read the NY Times article on this incident, they mention his penchant for “paragraph-long” questions. With or without a stutter, I can’t imagine managing a class without having to have some discussion with student like that.

    • Fellow Student


    • Jen K

      If that were the actual problem, then the professor should have asked THE WHOLE CLASS to limit themselves to, say, two questions per lecture. Or asked THE WHOLE CLASS to write out their questions. Then if it persisted, one could make the argument that the problem was the kids actions and not his stuttering. But since he was TOLD it was about the stuttering, and no one from the school is rebutting this fact, I’d have to say that maybe, just maybe, that is actually why it happened.

  • Main St. Protester

    Remember the good ole days, where there were no handicapped ramps and bathrooms, and disabled people didn’t go anywhere, they just stayed at home and didn’t bother non-disabled people; and if they did go someplace, they traveled by special vans, not by subway or bus, and have to completely inconvenience non-disabled people. Aaaaaaahhhh the good ole days!

  • Rodin

    It’s the Christslime, the AmeriKKKan Taliban, the Christian Sharia that we need to be concerned with in the USA.


    “When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross,” said Sinclair Lewis. Well, folks, IT’S HERE and gathering its forces.

    • Heid Theba

      Oh, shut up you doofus !!!!! (or put on your aluminum foil hat)

    • Mike

      You quote a socialist and that somehow gives you credence? Why don’t you quote Marx? That may make some people think you are smart, too?

  • deering

    What a sorry teacher. How hard could it be to block out some time every class or so to let the kid speak? From all accounts, the teacher he transferred to has no trouble giving him speaking time without “disrupting” the class. Not only did this adjunct not come up with a solution to this problem, she treated his input as worthless because he stuttered. Hope she gets canned.

  • emjayay

    Soooo….what did the students actually in the class have to say? Maybe the kid insisted on continual long quesions and comments that took him ten minutes each to get out. Maybe the prof is a big jerk. Who knows? You can’t get a clue from this report.

    • badman

      true. some people can’t shut up and take up the whole class with questions, even if they don’t stutter. the report does seem to try to slant to the moral outrage side.

      it would have been much more balanced if they had reported comments from the other students and maybe the teacher.

      the report comes off as sensationalist and loses credibility.

      • Fellow Student


  • Ed

    The professor did exactly the right thing. This is not discrimination. This is group management. There is no question that it is unfortunate that the individual stutters. This, however, does not give reason to harm the balance of the students with the special attention this indivdual needs in communicating.

    This sense of entitlement that seems rampant really needs to be addressed. The world does not owe you (any indvidual) special treatment. Stop believing it to be your right.

    • Christina

      You are beyond ignorant. I am an Elementary school teacher and I am well aware of how difficult it can be to deal with children with special needs but that does not mean they should not be accommodated. Everyone has the right to an equal education and just because he stutters does not mean he should be embarrassed in front of an entire class. If you had a child with special needs, then I would hope you would NOT want your child to be treated that way and you would want your child to be treated fairly. You should consider thinking before you say things like this

      • Lori

        I agree with Ed; We don’t know the whole story. This is a college class, not elementary school. Everyone is paying tuition, and the goal is to learn college level history, content not to develop student’s sefl esteem at this point.

        • Tt

          Christina, thats why you are teaching elementary kids. Being fair to one is creating unfairness to everyone else.

      • Pete

        @Christinia ….What about the rest of the other students who are NOT getting their full time because of one person. You are the problem with the world today. I know many teaches and those who can’t ‘do’ … teach. They then try to convince others they are pseudo-intellectuals when the truth is they simply don’t have the ability to be successful, so teaching was just a way out.

        • Pete

          Spelling correction on my post above:

          My comment to be corrected:
          I know many TEACHES and those who can’t ‘do’ … teach.
          should of read:
          I know many TEACHERS and those who can’t ‘do’ … teach.

          I am correcting this so … “CHRISTINA” does not jump to a conclusion I can’t spell based on one little ‘typo’.

          • Michael H.

            “should have”, Pete, not “should of”.

          • Leroy

            YOU CAN’T SPELL!!!

        • Christina

          Ohhh Pete. Don’t you worry about your spelling. For very special children like yourself, we allow ‘invented spelling’. So you spell however you feel is appropriate. Also, I am one of those “pseudo-intellectuals” with a degree from Columbia University and I am extremely proud of it. I was extremely successful through out my entire college career and received an M.A. in History and Political Science as well. I am also completely and entirely sure that I have achieved way more in my 25 years than in your entire worthless and pitiful existence. Fortunately, your offspring will have teachers like me who will morph them into mini pseudo-intellectuals so they can be shown that they don’t have to be idiots like their parents. Bash me all you want, it does not phase me at all because I already am aware of my vast intelligence over yours.

          Jana, Thank You!

          • Susan

            Hm. You seem really sure of your own superiority. You call your intelligence “vast.” You are sure you have achieved way more than someone else you know nothing about. Sounds whiney to me, and much less than vast.

            • Richard

              And Susan you sound like a dumbass. Christina’s achievements sound greater than a huge majority of the American population. So why don’t you take your seat with the rest of the local idiots a shut up.

              Christina, don’t listen to anyone.

              • Richard

                and shut up*

                don’t wanna have poor grammar like everyone else here.

      • Jana

        Christina, do NOT listen to these other idiots responding to you. I totally agree with everything you’ve said. It just shows how many uncaring, ignorant, selfish people there are in the world and unfortunately, it will get worse as the years go on.

  • Helen Weinberg

    Noone chooses to stutter. It’s too bad an adjuct professor is subjecting this student to such harsh treatment! Perhaps the professor is afraid the student will
    somehow show him up by posing a relevant question.

  • a

    did you ever think that maybe the stutterer is just a pain in the ass and that the professor’s actions had nothing to do with his being discrimnated against?

    • Ben Goldstein

      If that was the case, the teacher wouldn’t have said “You’re speech is disruptive. Write it down your questions.” She would have explained that he’s asking too many and that she doesn’t want one student dominating the class discussions.

      It’s amazing how people are so quick to demonize Phillip. You know, the one who was blatantly discriminated against.

  • PT

    If the school wants to show it really takes discrrimination seriously, then the professor needs to be terminated at the end of this semester. That is blatant discrimination by the professor which is against the law. Fire his ass!

  • pugphan

    Just goes to show that ejamacated peeps can be as big arse holes peeps with no
    schooling at all. smokersodyseycom

  • CN

    Outrageous. The whole staff at the school should take sensitivity training.

    • Not Minor Stuttering

      No, maybe he should be enrolled in a specialized school which specifically deals with this. Why should everyone else have to feel dragged down and inconvenienced by him? He needs special training and individualized attention. It’s not a case of minor stuttering here.

      • deering

        So why isn’t the history teacher he’s currently studying with having a problem with him speaking in class? Perhaps because that teacher is a real teacher, not one in name or reputation only.

      • Dakotahgeo, Paastor/Chaplain

        YOU… are dispicable! We should discriminate against you because you have NO compassion!

  • Ronny

    Where are the lawyers, this kid has a winable case. Screw the school and that scumba. professor.

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