According to USA Today, a nursing student is suing Misericordia University after failing her final exam twice. Jennifer Burbella is suing the university, administration, staff, and her professor after she failed a required course two times. Burbella claims the university broke a federal law for not allowing her to talk to her professor during the exam.
The nursing student says anxiety and depression made it difficult for her to concentrate when she was being tested at the northeastern Pennsylvania university. The nursing student believed her Misericordia University professor didn’t do enough to help her pass a class on adult health patterns. For that reason, the Stroudsburg woman is seeking more than $75,000 in damages.
Fox News reported that Burbella believes she was entitled to reasonable accommodations because of her mental capacity. She claims she has a lot of mental health problems, citing anxiety, depression, and poor concentration. She believes failing the test on two separate occasions was due to her disability.
Burbella thinks it was unfair that she was not allowed to take the test in the same building as her professor, and she was not allowed to contact the professor by telephone during her final examination.
Misericordia is not commenting on the lawsuit. Harry McGrath, Burbella’s attorney, did speak out.
“Because she was denied her statutory right to accommodations, we’re looking primarily to have her take the test or take the course over with the accommodations she needs. And if she passes the test, fine. And if she doesn’t pass the test, fine, then she has to live with that.”
In the spring of 2014, Burbella failed a required class in her nursing program. She agreed to retake the class in the summer, and the school officially agreed to make accommodations during the test because of her disability.
The second time she took the exam, her professor, Christina Tomkins, was in another building giving the test to her class, while Burbella was in a distraction-free environment with extended time because of her disability.
Burbella claims that Tomkins denied her request to be moved to the same building as her classmates. Instead the professor gave Burbella a cellphone number where she could be reached. However, Tomkins didn’t answer the phone when Burbella called several times. This frustrated Burbella even more.
Burbella’s lawyer thinks it will be hard to prove that the nursing student would have passed the test if her professor had been present.
“I don’t think Misericordia was at any time malicious that she be deprived of her right under that statute, but it happened.”
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act prohibits recipients of federal funds from discriminating against people with disabilities.
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