Student Gets C, Sues Lehigh University For $1.3 Million

Bethlehem, PA – Lehigh University is not making the grade according to one disgruntled former graduate student.

Megan Thode is suing the school for $1.3 million after receiving a C+ grade in course that allegedly kept her out of a preferred graduate program.

The trial started yesterday.

Thode was pursing a master’s in counseling and human services when she received a C+ in a fieldwork course in 2009. To move forward in the program, she needed at least a B. She received a half grade lower reportedly because she didn’t do any class participation. Thode unsuccessfully challenged the grade internally before filing the legal papers.

She wants the grade changed in addition to money damages according to The Morning Call:

“Thode ended up graduating from Lehigh with a master’s degree in human development — which is also offered through the College of Education — and now works as a drug-and-alcohol counselor. The $1.3 million she is seeking represents the difference in her earning power over her career if she was instead a state-certified counselor, according to [her lawyer].”

According to the New York Daily News, the grad student raised other allegations which have been denied by the school and termed baseless:


“Thode claims her teacher gave her a ‘zero’ for class participation because she complained about having to take on an extra internship. That low mark, allegedly the result of human bias, left Thode with the C grade, her lawyer said. The lawsuit also claims that Thode was marked down in her class because she was an advocate for gay and lesbian rights.”

Since her father teaches at Lehigh, Megan Thode attended the school tuition-free. For the same reason, she also earned her undergraduate degree at no charge while attending another Pennsylvania college.

Courts generally have avoided intervening in academic disputes over grades or hiring/tenure decisions. The Morning Call suggested that a settlement could be in the works in this particular case.

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