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Lehigh Grad Loses Lawsuit Over C+ Grade

A Northampton County judge ruled Thursday against former Lehigh student claiming damages because of a poor grade.

A judge has ruled against a local woman suing Lehigh University for $1.3 million because, she claims, a poor grade in one class diminished her lifetime earning potential.

The "plaintiff failed to establish that the university based the awarded grade of C+ on anything other than purely academic reasons," the judge said in his ruling Thursday, according to a WFMZ report.

A trial on the civil lawsuit brought by 27-year-old Megan Thode of Nazareth began on Monday in front of Northampton County Judge Emil Giordano, who on Wednesday chastised both sides for being unable to reach an out-of-court settlement, according to The Morning Call.

Thode claimed sexual discrimination in the case. Lehigh University countered that Thode behaved unprofessionally—including swearing in class—and hadn’t earned the right to move on in the program. Thode took the stand Thursday and denied yelling a swear word at her teacher, the Morning Call reported.

The $1.3 million is the difference between what Thode would have earned with the degree she was seeking as opposed to her current lifetime earning potential, according to her attorney, Richard J. Orloski.

Thode, 27, was attending graduate classes in Lehigh’s School of Education tuition free because her father, Stephen Thode, is a Lehigh finance professor.

The C+ grade given during the fall 2009 semester forced Thode out of the graduate counseling program, ending her dream of becoming a licensed professional counselor. She instead got a master’s degree in human development and works as a drug and alcohol counselor, according to The Morning Call.

Orloski charged that Thode was held back because she complained about having to get a supplemental internship in the middle of the semester and also because she is an outspoken supporter of gay and lesbian marriage rights.

Thode’s student teacher for the class, Amanda Eckhardt, dismissed that claim in testimony, according to The Express Times. While she believes that marriage should be between a man and a woman, she has a sister who is a lesbian and would be the matron of honor at her wedding if she were asked, the newspaper reported.

However, Eckhardt also testified that she gave Thode an unprecedented zero points out of a possible 25 for class participation, which knocked down her final grade by a full letter, The Express Times reported.

John G. Lewis February 19, 2013 at 03:17 PM
Rasterone: Are you serious? - JGL
Rasterone February 19, 2013 at 03:36 PM
Serious about what? Clearly if somebody hands out unearned higher grades that could impact the persons ability to get ahead of others in a competitive line or stay in a line or in general diminish the quality/perceived value of that diploma or whatever it is. If XYU hands out diplomas to warm mushrooms then I am going to put applicants with degrees from XYU into a shredder file or at least be forced to examine other measures of possible qualification? At a time when a HS diploma does not assure you the holder can read a tape measure or tell time or write two coherent sentences are you willing to assume that a 4 year degree from Mudflat U does either? And as to second point--yes I am aware of a school in CT that got sued because student did not learn enough (to proceed to a career in football!) despite getting a diploma. Handing out diplomas to make the institution look good is not a lost art.
John G. Lewis February 20, 2013 at 03:04 PM
Rasterone: Yes... I vaguely recollect too, that a school or University was sued because it did not provide the perceived correct, or proper, instruction... Happened 10 years or so ago, maybe less. Unfortunate, all the law suites in today's world. But there is mistreatment too, very much so, let us keep that in mind. I am not saying Thode was justified, or the University was not... But immorality in the work place certainly will not justify any thought, or real, immorality in Colleges and Universities. It's been a nice discussion everyone! - J. G. Lewis, LU Class of 1990
Rasterone February 20, 2013 at 04:08 PM
Grade games are likely to get worse and more costly . I have in my hand an edict written by a licensed professional that she divines to herself the right to change students grades as may be issued by others. She lives near Bethlehem ; I do not know if she is a product of that fine institution LU but such would not be unreasonable possibility The basic tone of her edict is to induce staff to issue higher grades than the student might otherwise get on basis of real world learning performances. With educators like that we are in for some very tough times!
John G. Lewis February 20, 2013 at 04:33 PM
Rasterone: I certainly do not at all agree with pandering to the students, as you suggest, nor with letting the administrators do whatever they deem 'fit and proper', as seems to be increasingly the case for Lehigh. That is another story, another topic. Who will judge the magistrates? - John

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