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Pa. grad student sues, says C-plus cost her $1.3M

EASTON, Pa. — Talk about grade inflation.

Graduate student Megan Thode wasn’t happy about the C-plus she received for one class, saying the mediocre grade kept her from getting her desired degree and becoming a licensed therapist — and, as a result, cost her $1.3 million in lost earnings.

Now Thode is suing her professor and Lehigh University in Bethlehem, claiming monetary damages and seeking a grade change.

A judge is hearing testimony in the case this week in Northampton County Court. Lehigh and the professor contend her lawsuit is without merit. Northampton County Judge Emil Giordano declined to dismiss the suit Wednesday, ruling that there was enough evidence for the suit to proceed, according to The (Easton) Express-Times

Thode took the class in the fall of 2009. Her instructor, Amanda Eckhardt, testified this week that she stood by the grade, saying Thode failed to behave professionally and thus earned zero out of 25 points in class participation, bumping her down a full letter grade.

“I … believed she received the grade she earned,” Eckhardt said.

The C-plus prevented Thode, an otherwise A student, from going on to the next class and advancing in her professional therapist studies, the newspaper reported. She wound up getting a master’s degree in human development instead.

Her attorney, Richard Orloski, argued that Eckhardt targeted Thode because she is an outspoken advocate for gay marriage.

Eckhardt testified that while she believes marriage is between a man and a woman, she would never allow her personal views to influence her treatment of students. She said Thode had outbursts in class, did not participate appropriately, was emotionally unstable and failed to heed a warning letter.

Stephen Thode, the plaintiff’s father and a longtime finance professor at Lehigh, testified on his daughter’s behalf and said her participation score was highly irregular.

“I have never heard of a case, not just at Lehigh, where a student achieved a zero in class participation where they attended and participated in every class,” he said.

Giordano is presiding over the nonjury trial and is expected to rule on Thode’s lawsuit after testimony concludes.

One comment

  1. I was deeply moved by the story regarding a former Rutgers student of mine Louisa
    Leal. She was in my public speaking class. She was so inspired by my teaching
    that even though she is not Jewish she asked me to pray for her which I did.I
    went out of my way to help her as I did with many other students who needed
    extra help. I was there to help many athletes get through Rutgers, particularly
    those who had injuries and learning problems including Ray Rice, Jeremy Britt
    and most of the NFL players over the last twenty plus years. Last year I was
    terminated from Rutgers after teaching there since 1990. The Home News has not
    been willing to do my story. My crime was that I was not willing to give 20% A’s
    and 20% C’s and D’s to my students, creating and using my own textbook (not
    unlike other professors) and being unwilling to accept the disrespect given to
    me by the chairman of the department. THE HEAD OF THE UNDERGRADUATE DEPT. CONVENIENTLY RETIRED AND THE DEPT. CHAIRMAN IS ON SABBATICAL MAKING A FORTUNE AS A FULL PROFESSOR WHILE ADJUNCTS STARVE.
    I always received the highest student ratings. Please ask Louisa about me and she
    will verify this. I would love to speak with her if you could convey that . A current student at Rutgers told me today that certain professors are curving grades so that if you are one of the unlucky 20% YOU MIGHT GET A D EVEN THOUGH YOU REALLY DESERVED A HIGHER GRADE. If you do not believe this ask students at Rutgers. There is no way that I would ever do that to a student. That is why I NO LONGER TEACH THERE.
    message.
    Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg

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