Nursing student Jennifer Burbella is suing Misericordia University after she failed to pass a required nursing course twice. The Pennsylvania student claims that she suffers from anxiety, depression, and stress, and did not receive the support she needed to pass the course. Burbella requested special disability accommodations, including extended time to complete test and communication with the professor during the exam. However, Burbella says the requests were not followed through with, which caused her to fail the course — not once, but twice. As a result. Burbella was unable to obtain her nursing degree and is now suing for $75,000 and the right to take the exam again with the required accommodations.
The Times-Tribune reports that a Pennsylvania nursing student, Jennifer Burbella, is suing Misericordia University after she failed to pass Functional Health Patterns of Adults IV, a required course that nursing students must pass with at least a C. The student says she suffers from disabilities that require special testing accommodations that were not provided, which resulted in her failing the course twice. The disabilities in question include anxiety, stress and depression.
Burbella says she requested extended time to complete exams and for access to the professor during the test. However, the student says she was only given a portion of these requests, which resulted in her inability to pass the course. For the final exam, the university gave Burbella some accommodations, such as being allowed more time to complete the test and was placed in a”distraction-free environment” for the exam. The school also offered to allow her to ask questions during the test. However, when Burbella phoned the professor on his cell phone during the test he was unavailable. According to Burbella, this resulted in additional stress and her inability to pass the test.
Now Burbella is suing the Misericordia University for violating the Federal Rehabilitation Act. Burbella’s attorney, Harry P. McGrath, says that the school is required by law to accommodate Burbella’s disabilities and that they failed to do so properly. Now, Burbella is seeking damages of $75,000 and wants to take the test again.
The attorney notes that Burbella struggled through her disability and nursing courses receiving average and below average grades. However, the Functional Health Patterns of Adults IV course was a roadblock.
“(Burbella) struggled throughout her studies at Misericordia University, but always continued to seek a bachelor’s degree in nursing and appeared to be moving toward that goal, albeit with some average, but primarily below average grades.”
Some are wondering if Burbella should seek a different career, as you are not given extensions and additional time to care for patients. One student, Kevin Collins, points out that Burbella would probably be better suited outside of the medical profession.
“If you’re going into a medical program that if you need that certain kind of time, my opinion is maybe it’s not for you. I’m doing physical therapy here and I feel like I want to be the best and I want to know that I’m able to do what I need to do in the time frame to be done. That’s how I feel about it.”
However, Burbella’s lawyer says that Burbella just wants a “fair opportunity.”
“I think many people suffer from anxiety, depression, and those types of things who are doctors, lawyers, nurses. She’s not looking for the university to ordain that she get this degree, she’s looking for a fair opportunity, which the statute provides, to take the exam. If she fails it that’s her own problem and she has to deal with it.”
What do you think about Jennifer Burbella’s lawsuit against Misericordia University? Should students be able to sue a university for not making specific accommodations such as access to a professor during testing?
[Image Credit: Times-Tribune]