Student Sues School After Failing Class Twice

A student is suing her school for not accommodating her anxiety and depression during her final exam retake.

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A nursing student at Misercordia University is suing the school after failing a required class twice, claiming that the school denied her the proper test-taking environment—specifically, the ability to talk to her professor during the exam.

According to the Washington Post, Jennifer Burbella is suing the university, faculty members, and her professor Christina Tompkins for not accommodating her disability during the final exam for a class she was retaking. Burbella cites her anxiety and depression as her disability:

Burbella said that she suffered from a host of mental health problems, including anxiety, depression and poor concentration, and that the university failed to make reasonable accommodations to her testing environment to account for her disability.

Specifically, Burbella claims that the university did not allow her to take the test in the same building as her professor and that when she was unable to reach the professor by phone during the final exam, she broke down crying “on several occasions” during the exam.

Apparently, Burbella asked for two things during her exam: a distraction-free environment and extended time. The school agreed to that when she agreed to retake the class she'd failed over the summer. The trouble started when Tompkins offered to answer Burbella's questions during the exam, but then ended up having to proctor the exam in another building for the rest of the students.

Even that would have been fine, because Tompkins gave Burbella her cell phone number. But then she didn't pick up when Burbella called her during the exam:

Burbella claims that Tompkins denied her request to be moved to the same building as her classmates and instead gave Burbella a cellphone number on which she could be reached.

“The unfortunate reality of the situation on the day of the exam was that Professor Tompkins did not answer her cell phone despite [Burbella’s] repeated attempts to contact her throughout the final examination,” the suit said. “Professor Tompkins’ failure to be available to the Plaintiff on numerous occasions during the examination created an even more stressful environment for the student.”

The unfortunate reality, indeed. It's hard out there for a college student—and maybe even harder for the professors who deal with them.

Burbella is not currently enrolled in any Misericordia classes.

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