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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Friday, November 07, 2014

Superior Court Flunks Appeal of C+ Grade

Speaking for a three-judge panel of the Pennsylvania Superior Court, Judge Patricia Jenkins has rejected the appeal of a Lehigh University grad student. She had claimed that her C+ grade was both a breach of contract and the result of sexual discrimination. The poor mark hampered her effort to become a professional counselor, she claimed. But following a four-day bench trial before Northampton County Judge Emil Giordano, a Moravian graduate himself, he concluded that Lehigh had it right.

This student, who ironically is the daughter of a distinguished Lehigh professor, appeared to have a bumpy relationship with a professor who awarded her zero out of 25 points in classroom participation. This brought her down a full letter grade.

Judge Giordano sympathized with this student, writing that if he were her father, he would be unhappy, too. But he found no evidence that her grade was based on anything other than academic performance.

Though conceding that "[t]he relationship between a student and a private educational institution such as the University is contractual in nature," Judge Jenkins added that courts “may not override [the school's judgment] unless it is such a substantial departure from accepted academic norms as to demonstrate that the person or committee responsible did not actually exercise professional judgment.”

You can read the Opinion yourself here.


disgusted said...

this spoiled brat is nothing more than a waste of the courts time and other resources

Bernie O'Hare said...

You couldn't be more wrong. I happen to know her and she is a very nice lady and a dedicated student who was devastated by that grade. I also watched part of the trial. Judge Giordano at no time made the litigants feel they were unwelcome to present their case. The courts are open to everyone.

Bernie O'Hare said...

As a point of full disclosure, I should note I consider this student's father a friend. I hope he feels the same way. They are exceptional people, and it's unfortunate this matter had to go to court. But this is why courts exist.

Pipeline Guy said...

Is there some reason why she could not just retake the course and try for a higher grade? Not like she was paying for it anyway.

Anonymous said...

I was in the CHS program at Lehigh when all this played out, and while I have to say that the student in question was a bit out of line the way she acted out toward our professor in the classroom, she wasn't the only one who got caught up in Lehigh's incompetence. 160 hours into my internship, I was suddenly told that the site I was at wasn't meeting Lehigh's requirements and I needed to start over at a new site. Keep in mind that the site I was at was on Lehigh's approved site list, which in my opinion, made it their fault, not mine, but they didn't care and I scrambled to make my required hours and what should have been a time of professional growth was a miserable ordeal.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I believe that happened to this student as well.

Anonymous said...

Yes indeed, and it continues to this day. Friends of mine in the program now have told me they feel like they are being blackmailed into doing their placement at Lehigh's own community clinic, by making other options unavailable. Once they start there, Lehigh pressures them to commit to more and more hours with the ever looming threat of poor evaluations which could land you in remediation or denied your degree. The program sucks.