University offers fair appeal process for grades
February 21, 2013
A Lehigh University student sued her school over her grade, but the court overruled the case.
“I’m not surprised they threw out the case,” Eliott Baker, the executive Director for Academic Records, Summer School and Graduate Studies, said.
He said that SRU has never been sued for grades. However, students have the right to get a change through an appeal if their grade is inaccurate. The due process can be found in the Final Grade Appeal Policy and Procedure.
“It’s always fair for the students and for the university to have due process if they think they have been treated unfairly,” Baker said. “They should be able to discuss the matter.”
Due process is set up like an algorithm, but in general, a student would have to start the process with his or her professor first, the chair person, dean and then a hearing board.
Baker said that the vast majority of grades are changed without further appeal. As a word of advice, Baker suggests that student should keep a record of the process.
“Keep e-mails, notes and copies that you send,” Baker said. “Make sure you appeal in the first two weeks in case your professor doesn’t respond.”
Baker encouraged students to informally talk with their professors about their grades first. Most changes in grades are made through an informal talk with professors.
“Sometimes professors accidentally type the wrong grade and will change it if a student points it out,” Baker said.
Baker said that the court does not judge grades because they do not qualify to do so. Richard Rainsberger, a retired formal registrar at Carnegie Mellon University and expert in the privacy education acts, said that Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) does not cover the appeal of grades. They would suggest that if students with disabilities were not accommodated that they retake the course with the accommodations.
Lehigh student, Megan Thode, sued her school for giving her a C+ which prevented her from pursuing a career as a licensed professional counselor. Thode received a zero in classroom participation—the points she needed to have received a B. One of Lehigh’s lawyers said she lost points in participation due to her unprofessional behavior including swearing in class and having an outburst once in the classroom. She now is a drug-and-alcohol counselor after graduating Lehigh with a master’s degree in human development.