Talk about your grade inflation—Megan Thode is suing Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., for the C+ she received in a fieldwork class in her graduate program. The damages? $1.3 million. That’s how much she says she’s losing in lifetime earnings because that grade prevented her from obtaining work as a state-certified professional counselor; she now works as a drug-and-alcohol counselor.
Thode, 27, of Nazareth, was enrolled in the College of Education in her second and final year of a master’s in counseling and human services. She needed a B to take the next course of her field work requirement.
(Thode’s attorney Richard) Orloski said she would have received that grade but for the zero in classroom participation that she was awarded by her teacher, Amanda Carr. Orloski charged that Carr and Nicholas Ladany — the then-director of the degree program — conspired to hold Thode back because they were unhappy that she’d complained after she and three other students were forced to find a supplemental internship partway through the semester.
(Neil) Hamburg and Michael Sacks, another Lehigh lawyer, said that while Thode may have looked like a good student on paper, she was not ready to move on. They said Thode showed unprofessional behavior that included swearing in class and, on one occasion, having an outburst in which she began crying.
Lehigh officials are urging the judge to rule against Thode. ”I think if your honor changed the grade,” Hamburg told the judge, “you’d be the first court in the history of jurisprudence to change an academic grade.”