Former Student Sues University over C+ Grade

by Andrew Johnson

A former Lehigh University graduate student is suing her alma mater over a bad grade, claiming it prevented her from pursuing her preferred career, according to The Morning Call, an Allentown, Pa., newspaper. After getting a C+ that prevented her from taking a required class, 27-year-old Megan Thode is suing the university, her teacher, and the program director for $1.3 million in damages for breach of contract and sexual discrimination.

In the final year of her counseling and human-services master’s, Thode’s grade was below the B she needed to take the next course for her degree. Her teacher, Amanda Carr, gave Thode a zero in the participation portion of her grade because, by “show[ing] unprofessional behavior that included swearing in class” and “having an outburst in which she began crying,” Thode demonstrated that she was “not ready to move on.”

But Thode claimed that Carr, along with the then-director of the degree program, gave her that grade in an effort to push her out of the program and that the zero on participation bumped her down to the C+ grade. Thode said that they were upset with her complaints about having to get an internship and as well as with her involvement in gay-rights advocacy. The university has denied both.

“I think if your honor changed the grade, you’d be the first court in the history of jurisprudence to change an academic grade,” Lehigh’s lawyer told the county judge presiding over the case. “[Thode] has to get through the program. She has to meet the academic standards.”

Thode did end up graduating from Lehigh, but with a master’s degree in human development instead; she is now a drug-and-alcohol counselor. The $1.3 million she is seeking in damages is to compensate her for, what she claims, would be the difference in her earnings over her career had she graduated with her intended degree.

Another Lehigh lawyer, Michael Sacks, also pointed out that because Thode’s father is a professor at the university, her tuition both as a York College of Pennsylvania undergrad and a Lehigh graduate student were paid for by Lehigh.

The trial reconvened today after testimony was given Monday. It is expected to last the week unless a settlement is reached beforehand.

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