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Student Sues Lehigh U. for $1.3M Over C+ Grade

Lehigh grad student attending tuition-free alleges her stance on gay marriage made her a target of teachers who lowered her grade and stopped her from getting dream job.

BETHLEHEM, PA -- A local woman who attended graduate classes tuition free at Lehigh University is suing for $1.3 million more from the college because, she claims, a poor grade in one class diminished her lifetime earning potential.

A trial on the civil lawsuit brought by 27-year-old Megan Thode of Nazareth began on Monday and continues in front of Northampton County Judge Emil Giordano, who today chastised both sides for being unable to reach an out-of-court settlement, according to The Morning Call.

Thode is claiming sexual discrimination in the case. Lehigh University counters that Thode behaved unprofessionally—including swearing in class—and hadn’t earned the right to move on in the program.

The $1.3 million is the difference between what Thode would have earned with the degree she was seeking as opposed to her current lifetime earning potential, according to her attorney, Richard J. Orloski.

Thode, 27, was attending graduate classes in Lehigh’s School of Education tuition free because her father, Stephen Thode, is a Lehigh finance professor.

The C+ grade given during the fall 2009 semester forced Thode out of the graduate counseling program, ending her dream of becoming a licensed professional counselor. She instead got a master’s degree in human development and works as a drug and alcohol counselor, according to The Morning Call.

In a statement made before the lunch recess today, Giordano said he had suggested a settlement in which Thode would be allowed back into the program to take the class again, the newspaper reported. "I remain unconvinced that the judiciary should be injecting itself in the academic process,” the judge reportedly said.

Orloski charges that Thode was held back because she complained about having to get a supplemental internship in the middle of the semester and also because she is an outspoken supporter of gay and lesbian marriage rights.

Thode’s student teacher for the class, Amanda Eckhardt, dismissed that claim in testimony, according to The Express Times. While she believes that marriage should be between a man and a woman, she has a sister who is a lesbian and would be the matron of honor at her wedding if she were asked, the newspaper reported.

However, Eckhardt also testified that she gave Thode an unprecedented zero points out of a possible 25 for class participation, which knocked down her final grade by a full letter, The Express Times reported.

joyous behar February 13, 2013 at 07:30 PM
Awarding her that kind of money is ridiculous. Perhaps she should have worked harder/
Brooke February 14, 2013 at 01:53 AM
Give me a break! i guess she feels "entitled" to a grade she didn't earn. This generation thinks the world should revolve around them. This girl is a spoiled brat!
Carmen February 14, 2013 at 01:10 PM
I agree with the previous comments-swearing in class? would she do that in a professional setting? Well school is where you are supposed to learn how to behave in the professional world. The judiciary system should dismiss this case because every spoiled, entitlement minded person out there will use this as a way to get better grades for shotty work. The schools will let them get away with it because they will be afraid of getting sued and before you know it we will have a workforce that cannot compete with Europe and China. Get a life "little girl." I was an older student at a local college earning my BA-40 years old to be exact when I witnessed the younger students direspect the professor when he asked for assignments to be turned in that were due-attitude that was uncalled for because the student decided she did not like the timeline set by the professor for turning in her paper-give me a break-she would not have a job for very long if she cost her employer money by not turning in her work on time and he/she lost a contract.
Ruby Montana February 14, 2013 at 02:56 PM
I agree. Daddy gets her a free ride for education and now she wants one for bad behavior. My guess is she will do poorly in her new line of work and end up at a fast food joint! Ah, the lessons of life!
Ruby Montana February 14, 2013 at 03:00 PM
This is the same dog and pony show everywhere. From daddy gets my tuition free to bring-mommy-to-work-day, this is the lost generation. Born to a future of recession (It happens! They lived through WWll, as well.) this group of selfish and demanding individuals will enter the "real" world and bump up against someone with WAY more attitude ... AND the success to back it up!
Inga Eula February 14, 2013 at 03:04 PM
I have an masters i counseling. there are so many counseling programs for more than half the price of what lehigh university offers. plus no counselor makes that kinda of money with or without a license. Tbe degree is important to move up the ladder but know one cares where it comes from if you dont have the experience or know how to be a counselor. it sound to me like a bunch of hog wash. in addition it is the state that gives you a license after you comeplete 3000hrs counseling and of post graduate work. then you have to get on insurance panels. No school can stop you from doing this.
Inga Eula February 14, 2013 at 03:07 PM
Plus if she is a d&a counselor isnt that great experience to help her towards her dream job?
Ruby Montana February 14, 2013 at 03:28 PM
You are correct. I think what she wants is a tuition free education, LOL! Transferring those credits and getting her license require a bit more form her than sitting in a class daddy provides and phoning the rest in!
Ruby Montana February 14, 2013 at 03:29 PM
I'm not sure she has what it takes to counsel anyone! She seems self absorbed and greedy. And you are right. Experience would go a LONG way to assure that 1.3 million dollar pay-day at the end of her life!
sue February 14, 2013 at 05:04 PM
whoever allows this kind of garbage to even make it into a courtroom? i cant believe the stuff people are allowed to sue for, unbelievable!
Michele February 14, 2013 at 05:36 PM
The rest of us wind up paying for it!
mark wood February 14, 2013 at 08:58 PM
yeah, it got tossed!!
sue February 14, 2013 at 09:21 PM
kudos to the judge for not letting this nonsense continue!
John G. Lewis February 14, 2013 at 11:21 PM
The fact that her father was a professor at Lehigh, and that she was being given a free ride, is irrelevant. I do not know why so many people are bringing this up.
John G. Lewis February 14, 2013 at 11:27 PM
The judgement here is difficult; I would need to know more. Getting a "zero" for class participation (as opposed to, say, a failure) is a very good point on the side of the prosecution. [But we are not told... perhaps the "zero" really amounted to a failure?] But I would say the University does have the right to hold back students, or to "call them out" (as long as it is done justifiably). In the Middle Ages, students could be blackballed. In my years at Lehigh, I never once experienced a person curse, teacher or student.... - J. G. Lewis '90

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