Have a case or Not a case??? That is the question?

  1. This past fall, a good friend of my came through a nursing program to where the students in their last level of the ADN program had issues/complaints with the two new instructors who never and I do mean never ever taught in a classroom before, much less written any type of application tests. But because they had a master degree as well as good friends with the head instructor of the level is how they got the job to teach in a level that goes by so fast.

    The students did as they were told to do, from Level 1 to the last level, Level 4, when any of the students have any kind of issues, complaints, or problems with any tests, instructors etc. . ., go to the instructor that you are having the problem(s) with; if that instructor does not do anything to fix the problem, then you go to the head instructor and so forth. They even went as far as the Dean of Instructors [which they were told to go to]. They were told by the Dean of Instructor that he and the vice president of the college would contact them. A week went by, nothing. So my friend took it upon herself to contact anyone that would listen, that would help get their issues listened to as well as resolved outside of the college. WHY? Because of the time frame, the semester was ticking on down and too many students were failing. She contacted her representatives of her state. Well it took the representatives of her state to write a letter to the President of the college before he or the vice president would take time to listen to the students of their last level. Before the head instructor and the chairperson of the nursing department would do anything to compensate them for the exams that they had to take from the two new instructors.

    Because she did that, the college took revenge upon my friend. HOW? There was a hurricane make-up clinical day that she missed due to sickness. But not only did she missed this particular day, so did a guy in her clinical rotation missed it as well. Six days before the final exam [the exam that can pass you or fail you and consist of material from exam 1 to exam 7 and other important material], her clinical instructor told her "By order of the Vice-President of the college, you have to make up this missed clinical day before taking your final exam." She pleaded with her clinical instructor and even the chairperson of the nursing department to allow her to make up the clinical day the day after the final exam. She told them how she needed the time frame to study and prepare for this final and how her fellow classmates were given that time frame. But they would not allow it.

    The day she arrived at school to make up this clinical day, the guy was not there. In fact nothing was ever said to him.

    Due to my friend having to leave [at 1:00 pm] on the day that she was making up the clinical day that she missed, she never did get finished with not only the paperwork that her clinical instructor had for her to do, but also the other three instructors of this last level, because she had to leave to pick her daughter up who got sick. And the paper that everything was written on for her to do, they had for her to leave at 5:00 pm that day. Nine straight hours of paperwork for a make up clinical day.

    She arrived on the day of the final exam to take it, even though she knew that she was not fully prepare to do.

    WHY? Because of their actions, they took valuable time from her.

    So as she sat down at her desk, as well as her fellow classmates, her clinical instructor asked her to come to her office and to bring her pencil. So she got up, and went to her office. Her clinical instructor told her, "By order of the vice president of the college, you are not allow to take your final exam until you finish this paperwork." She explained to her that she is there to take her final exam, an exam that can pass or fail her. But that did not matter. Not only did her clinical instructor emphasized to her six days before the final the importance of her making up this clinical day, but that it was more important then taking or studying for the final exam.

    She pleaded with her clinical instructor to allow her to finish the paper work after the final. But the instructor would not allow it, because, "This order comes from the Vice-President of the college. And what he says goes." So she follow the instructor to a room and sat there doing the paperwork while her fellow classmates and even the guy that missed the same clinical day that she missed, take their final exam. The exam that they had 6 to 8 days to study and prepare for.

    [At 1:00 pm] the head instructor of the level came into the room and said to my friend, "Stop where you are at and come take your final exam."

    Because of the actions that these people took towards my friend, she did not succeed the program, the last level of the ADN program. And not only that, they took points from her through exams and a quiz that she took from two weeks on up to three months prior to the day that she found out she did not successfully succeed the course, the program. And when she asked why were they taken points from her, the answer was "Sorry, but we miscalculated."

    So now my friend is sitting at home, waiting and praying that the people that she has contacted will be successful with helping her to get what they took from her [RN Degree, pin, and any information she will need for state boards].

    You see, even though my friend was not prepared enough for the final exam, she knew deep within her heart that she was going to pass. But because they made sure before she took her final exam, even on the final exam day, that she would be too upset to be able to focus and to concentrate as well as to pull from memory what she had studied to answer the questions.

    If my friend calculated correctly, she only needed 1.9 to 2 points to successfully succeed the program. And she would be preparing for state boards.

    Yes, my friend has contacted several lawyers. Even the Attorney General and this is what the ones who would allow her to verbally explained to them over the phone would tell her:
    "You do have a case, but I do not handle that type of law."
    "By law, we would represent the college before we would you."
    "My office is too far to handle your case."
    "You need to go through the chain of commands of your college."
    "By law we would represent the college and enlieu of that, it would be unethical to advise you. Find a private attorney and meet with the board."

    That's just it, to this date, my friend cannot find a lawyer to represent her, to plead her case. And that is why she once again sought the help of her representatives. And yes, she has asked each one that she contacted to prove what she has said was the truth.

    As of today, she has not heard anything. So she does not know if they have investigated what she has told them or what. She does not know what she should do. She does not know if she should contact them, asking for an update or leave it along and go to another college to get her RN Degree.

    So my friends, from reading, does my friend have a case? If so, do you know of a lawyer that she can contact that will plead her case, that will help her? Or who else is there that could help her?

    Thanks
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  2. 15 Comments

  3. by   rogdog
    People like that make me angry. I thought educators were supposed to encourage you through your studies. I can't say I'm surprised though. Too many people are on a power trip and have no idea(or they don't care) how they can drastically affect someone's life because of their big ego.

    I'm a firm believer in what goes around comes around!
  4. by   rncountry
    I would guess that she should keep trying different attorney's. Plus if the guy who missed clinicals didn't have to make up anything, that would be discrimination. Plus there should be specific guidelines for missed clinical time and they are to be followed correctly. Perhaps she should contact her reps again and they could either help or give information where she could find help. I would most definately also go to another school. But I wouldn't let this drop either.
    I hope things work out, we need nurses!
  5. by   SmilingBluEyes
    GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR if/when I become an instructor, HOPE I treat others better than this! I know nothing legally about this...I would encourage her to try different lawyers til she can find ONE who will take this on! I wish her luck...I echo the others; we need nurses too badly for this sort of nonsense!
  6. by   BadBird
    Wow, I can certainly understand her frustration at the injustice. Perhaps the media could help her in this case, negative publicity against the college may be her best defense. If they do it to her what is stopping them from doing it to other students.
  7. by   sjoe
    She could phone the local BAR association and request a low-cost legal consult, VERY BRIEFLY, explaining the situation. It will cost her less than $50 for 30 minutes or so. This is as close as she will come to free legal advice.

    However, unless she is willing to pay an attorney up front and in full his/her fees, regardless of the outcome, after that initial consult, she can expect that no attorney in his/her right mind would take such a case.

    1) How much money would she be able to claim in damages? What evidence would support the notion that she sustained this loss? And what evidence supports the notion that this loss is due directly to a breach of contract, etc. on the part of the school? (Hint: The answer to all three is "Very little to none.")

    2) Would this money, if she won any after some years of litigation, be enough to pay the attorney and related legal costs, much less leave anything for her? (Hint: the answer is "No.")

    But don't take my word for it, nor waste your time arguing with me about it, she can find all this out at the initial consult.
  8. by   RN2B2005
    Have to concur with sjoe on this one. No attorney is going to take her case pro bono; there's no money involved, and no real precedent to set.

    The only thing I can think of that would make an attorney want to take this case is the sex-discrimination angle. And that is going to be difficult to prove, since there generally has to be a pattern of discrimination, i.e., the school has a history of letting male students skip clinicals without penalty while forcing female students to make up clinicals or be dismissed. It doesn't sound like any other female students were failed for missing clinicals, and I'm sure your friend wasn't the only one who missed a day or two.

    Do you know for a fact that your friend is giving you all of the information? My husband is a high school principal, and many students have taken the "I just made this little mistake and now everyone is out to get me" angle when in fact there was a lot more going on. Modifying grades after they've been given is a little more unusual, but not unheard of--did other students also have their papers reviewed? Knowing "deep in her heart" that your friend would pass the final isn't reason enough to allow her to take it if she's failed to complete the requirements for taking the final in the first place. The fact that your friend seems eager to blame outside forces ("they made sure...that she was too upset"), rather than acknowledge that there are certain requirements, makes me think that she's got a victim mentality going on.

    At this point, I would encourage your friend to look at other options. Can she repeat the semester or year? Most colleges offer some sort of recourse in this sort of situation. Your friend seems to be busily blaming everyone else in this situation EXCEPT herself--she's blamed the instructors, the college, the programme, and even the attorneys who won't take her case.

    She needs to take a hard look at herself--somehow, the rest of her classmates managed to make it through, even with these supposedly horrible instructors who "...got the job being good friends of the head instructor."
  9. by   KP RN
    I found it somewhat difficult to follow the story. Let me begin by saying that I feel badly for your friend. I am well aware how difficult nursing school can be.
    BUT
    I think your friend made a big mistake by going to a state representative to complain about nursing professors!! My goodness, she only waited one week to get a response from the college!!
    Am I the only one thinking this is a little overkill??
    Listen, if she had make up work to do, she should have just done it!! I feel badly that her child became ill, and she couldn't complete the make up work but, HEY, that's not the instructors fault!!
    After reporting these instructors to a state representative, do you really think they care if your friend's child is sick?????
    Nursing is a tough profession. Individuals who have a tendency to blame others for their own shortcomings aren't going to make it in nursing.
    Let's see if I get this right. The nursing professors are to blame. The Dean of instructors is to blame. The VP of the college is at fault. The male RN student is to blame because he got better treatment? Even the sick child had a part in the failure.
    Bottom line, they found she was a couple of points short to pass. How can one dispute that?? Grading, in part, is subjective too.
    Sadly, it is a big mistake to make waves in college. Stating that having only 6 days to study when everyone else gets 8 days to study is not going to cut it in a court of law. Contacting state representatives or government officials is equally apalling to me.
    I'm sorry your friend flunked out. She won't be able to prove discrimination. Sounded like she fell short on her responsibilities as well. Give it up and attend a different school. Only this time, she needs to keep her mouth shut and just roll with it.
  10. by   susanmary
    There are always three sides to every story -- in this case your friends, the college's, and somewhere in between. You don't know the whole story. Don't believe everything you hear -- perhaps the other student DID make up the clinical. Also, when your friend was required to make up the clinical day (which are most likely 8+ hours -- so why is she upset if she had "9" hours of paperwork?) she should have made arrangements for her daughter. Whether she believes it is fair or not, I can't imagine any school which would allow a student to leave early on a clinical MAKE-UP day.

    Although there are unfair instructors around, I've heard nursing students absolutely trash instructors who had very high (yes, and realistic!) expections for students -- who required their students to give 100%. Your friend is looking to regain what she perceives was "taken" from her -- her degree, pin, etc. -- she cannot reclaim what she has not earned. She has not earned
    her degree -- she did not pass. Perhaps she would not have passed if she had the entire time to study -- who knows. Rather than using this as a learning experience regarding maturity and responsibility, she is blaming others for her failure. They are not to blame. Unsupportive, perhaps -- perhaps not. But she's missed the entire point. She owns her actions or lack of actions. She should either repeat the semester or change schools. Either way, she should do more introspection, get over her anger, and focus on her goal -- to become an RN. She went overboard -- she'd be lucky if they'd readmit her. Just my 2 cents. Sue
    Last edit by susanmary on Jan 3, '03
  11. by   hoolahan
    I am NOT going to go into details. Suffice it to say I had some issues with my alma mater, and I took it to the organizations which provide nursing accreditation and financial backing for the school. This info is in the school pamphlets. It did NOT win me any popularity contests, and I was subjectively failed on my last exam. My saving grace is that there was an appeal process. I was able to cite discrepancies in the study guide and references which supported my decisions in the clinical exam. The decision was overtunred in my favor and I passed.

    But in the meantime, ugly things were implied about me. Heaven forbid you criticize a college. There is a real boys club type of environment. If you thought doctors stick together, they are sissies next to the way educators watch each others backs.

    Your friend woud be better off transferring to the nearest school that is compatible w the courses taken. But she will likely carry this black cloud with her if she tries.

    I think there is a serious issue with changing grades already earned. As for missing the clinical. Even thought it is stingy, most schools will allow more than one absence, so if that is the case, not matter what the reason, they don't care, that is the rule, she missed the clinical, she would need to make it up.

    She needs to carefully examine the policies regarding absences and make-ups, in writing, then compose a well-articulated, no emotions, letter to the powers that be in and over that college, with a cc to all parties invloved.

    To say the instructors only got the job b/c they were friends w someone, how does she know that, and how could she prove that? It has nothing to do with your friends test scores, missed days, etc. I agree they probably tried to punish her by rattling her on the last day, but they gave her the opportunity to make it up, what more can she want? 6-8 days to study? Well if she only had to make up one clinical day, that still lefther 5-7 days didn't it?

    I think there are some parts of this story that are left out, and this particular story sounds very familiar. Did your friend already post about this herself recently?
  12. by   fergus51
    She should make up the semester if she can. The lawsuit angle is not going to pan out for her. No point in wasting the time or the money even if she feels completely self righteous.

    As for the male student who didn't have to make up the clinical day, that was a subjective requirement when I went to school. A strong student could miss a day or 2, a weaker student was forced to make up the time. Anyone who missed a makeup day without a notice from a doctor that they were deathly ill would be failed, just like she was.
  13. by   CountrifiedRN
    It does seem that there may be some info missing from the story. Did she have any other clinical absences? If it was a pattern, that might explain things a bit.

    I think she is lucky that they were even willing to let her make up her make-up day before the final. In my school, we are not allowed to miss any clinical time at all. There are two make-up days at the end of the semester, so if you miss more than two days during the semester, for any reason, you're out of luck. If you miss a make-up day, you are out. And all clinical or class work must be complete before taking the final.

    And I can only dream of having 6-8 days to prepare for the final! We have gotten 4 days, at the most, in any of our past semesters. But since finals are generally cumulative, you should have an idea of what to prepare for way in advance. This past semester we didn't get any days to prepare for the final. As a matter of fact, we had our last lecture covering about 5 pages of notes the day before the final because we were running behind in class. (And the reason for that is that some of our instructors get sidetracked easily and start relating personal stories instead of covering the topics that are scheduled)

    Anyway, I'd have to agree with the others who said to drop the lawsuit thing. It's obvious that no attorney will touch it with a ten foot pole, which basically says there is no case.

    I hope your friend is able to regroup and find a way to continue towards her goal. But she will get nowhere harboring a grudge against the school. She has to look at where she fell short and make some improvements. I believe she had the time to prepare for the final. And she must have known that she would have to make up the portion of the clinical that she missed. Hopefully, she will be able to make up the semester and graduate with the next class.
  14. by   RNonsense
    wow...long story. Sorry about what happened to your friend but to be honest it does sound like there's more to it...

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