Hi Scott, thank you for the response once again. Could you provide more details to me about the direct e-mail consultation? My name is Sid by the way.
To answer your questions, I finished my first year of podiatry medical school but my condition only caused me to struggle in one portion of both General anatomy and lower extremity anatomy (the practical portion) . I excelled in all my other classes with an average of 83 and a standard deviation of 4.8. In spite of my poor performance due to my condition (which btw, is unprecedented as I have never had a course where I was tested in the same environmental conditions as the practical portion of anatomy), I still managed to maintain an overall passing GPA of 71.33 for my first year courseload. I am attaching to this, the letter that I sent to the Dean after the school academic committee (CAPS) decided to dismiss me. After this letter was sent, I didn't hear back although I continued to e-mail persistently about it. Only when I sent an e-mail saying that I would look into my legal options (9 days later) did an administrative dean respond. He notified me that the school made an error and failed to notify me that I also failed 'Lower Extremity Anatomy' (for the same reason that I failed the General Anatomy course, the practical portion). He also notified me of some General Anatomy remediation courses that are available online. However, the time has already passed for these courses (they're strictly summer courses), and if anything, they should have notified me of such resources back when they told me that I had failed it. Moreover, the recent communication with the administrative dean has been murky at best. He says that at this point, the dean is considering giving me provisional 2nd year status (the first day of 2nd year was this past Tuesday, btw) if I re-take the lower extremity anatomy exam by the 23rd of this month and complete a general anatomy remediation course online. So I responded inquiring how this could be possible as there are no online General Anatomy remediation courses being offered at this time (the last one finished in July). I also re-emphasized my sentiment with regards to the CAPS committee's negligence and the fact that I felt that they acted in a discriminatory manner in dismissing me without a smidgen of reasonable accomodation. Furthermore, trying to force me to take this re-exam ASAP due to their own mistake makes me seem like i'm being setup to fail as it seems that they want to cover up any wrongdoing on their part. However, he hasn't me e-mailed back (it's been 3 days).
Anyways, here's the letter that I sent to the Dean a few weeks ago that does a good job in explaining the details regarding my situation:
Letter I sent to the Dean:
Dear Dr. Mattiacci:
I hope this letter finds you well. I am writing to you to appeal the decision of the CAPS committee to dismiss me from TUSPM on the grounds of ‘unsatisfactory academic performance.’
In this letter, I will attempt to prove the following points to you:
➢ I did not receive due process from the CAPS committee.
➢ Certain relevant evidence on my behalf was not properly reviewed
➢ The sanction imposed on me was not consistent in keeping with the gravity of the offense based on previous School procedures in policies.
The following criteria validate my claim:
➢ I have an overall passing GPA
➢ My course grade in General Anatomy is due to a personal medical problem that I am now in the process of receiving therapy for. This problem will be fixed by the time the course is offered again
➢ I was never offered the remediation that the student handbook (‘section XI. Re-examinations and Repetition 2b) indicates that I should have been offered.
➢ Other students in the same circumstance as myself were allowed to return to the school.
➢ During the meeting with the CAPS committee, one member stepped out of the room in the middle of my testimony and did not return until after I was done. Prior to leaving the room, he had made a sarcastic remark to me. I don’t believe it to be fair that he was allowed to collaborate on me.
In fact, my grades were good with the exception of one course, where my difficulty was only due to one portion of the course (the practical component of anatomy). I have a medical reason for this difficulty. On July 1st, I explained this medical condition of panic disorder to the CAPS committee and that I am currently receiving therapy for it. More importantly, I explained that it would be treated by the time the course is offered again so that I can prove that I know the material better than my grade indicates. Therefore, I find it discriminatory to dismiss me from Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine based on a medical condition outside my control, especially considering the fact that this problem will be fixed if I am given the chance to re-take the class.
Moreover, the sanction imposed was not consistent in keeping with the gravity of the offense based on previous school procedures in policies. While taking Anatomy this past year, I came to know of students in my class that were 2nd years. They had been given the opportunity to retake anatomy, while still being promoted to 2nd year status. I plead that you please allow me this same opportunity. I would also like to note that I have spoken to the other student from my class in the exact same situation as I am in. I find it unfair that he was allowed to return to the school but the committee decided to dismiss me. The committee did not act fairly.
My Academic Performance:
To begin, please take a look at the following document that I received in the mail from the student services coordinator a few weeks ago. It indicates my 1st year cumulative GPA of 71.33, which is passing.
Before we look at my grade in anatomy, the class in which I struggled, first I’d like for you to please take a look at my other 1st year course grades for reference:
Now I could understand the charge of ‘unsatisfactory academic performance’ if I had performed poorly in my other courses. However, with an average of 83 in these other courses, and a standard deviation of 4.80625, it should be quite clear that I’m a hard working student that is capable of excelling academically. In fact, most of my classmates would agree that Histology is the hardest class in the first year curriculum, and I managed to get an 81 in it.
Now let’s take a look at the class in which I struggled: General Anatomy.
The following screenshot shows my grades for each exam given for General Anatomy during the fall 2012 semester, displaying both my written and practical scores.
I feel it necessary to emphasize at this point, that had the course been only written (as it will be on the board exam), I would have passed, given the different weight distribution for each examination (40% and 35% for the 2nd and 3rd exams, respectively). I would also like to note that my score improved after each exam, as illustrated in the following line graph:
Now, let’s get to the reason why I failed the course: the Practical exam.
It is clear that the practical component of anatomy is responsible for my failing grade. This is due to my medical condition of panic disorder.
In spite of the fact that I worked laboriously in lab and knew the material sufficiently before the practical examination when my lab partners would quiz me, I suffered a panic attack prior to and during the timed practical component, where my mind would go completely blank. As I have never taken anatomy (nor have I ever had any experience with lab practicals in a timed setting), this problem only became apparent to me this year after the first practical examination. At that point, I figured it was only a one-time deal, as we all have those days when things don’t go as planned due to personal stress. However, the problem resurfaced in the future examinations in spite of the fact that I did make improvements. I decided to wait until the final result of my re-exam before I went to seek medical help. I am now receiving a 10-week therapy treatment for this, and will pass the class if given the opportunity to take the class again. I will make this promise to you: If I do not pass the class, I will voluntarily leave the school myself.
I don’t believe that it is fair to prevent me from being able to pursue my dreams of becoming a physician due to a personal struggle (that I am now actively taking care of) in one portion of one course.
Considering the fact that this medical condition is the reason for my failure in the course, and that the problem will be fixed by the time I return for 2nd year, I consider the decision to dismiss me to be discriminatory, especially considering the fact that another student in the same situation as me (failed General Anatomy) was allowed to return and the fact that I have met 2nd years that were allowed to retake the course.
With regards to due process, I do not feel that I received the proper administration or assistance from the CAPS committee in conforming with the procedural process as indicated in the student handbook.
Please review the following errors that occurred:
➢ Article XI. Re-examinations and Repetition part 2b In the student handbook states the following:
“b. First, Second, and Third year students who are eligible for re-examinations will be notified that they have the opportunity for informal remediation via a tutoring system (with faculty backup). Tutors will be selected by the course director.”
However, I was never notified about this. When I received the e-mail that stated that I would have to take a retake exam for the General Anatomy course, nowhere in the e-mail was this informal remediation service mentioned. Furthermore, after receiving this e-mail, I looked at the handbook to further familiarize myself with the procedure for retaking an exam for a failed course. Please note that it specifically states, “student … will be notified that they have the opportunity for informal remediation via a tutoring system.” It does not say, “based upon a student’s request, they will be notified that they have the opportunity for informal remediation.” Had I been aware that I must request this on my own time, I would’ve done so. But since it specifically says, “student will be notified,” I patiently waited to be notified about this opportunity for informal remediation via a tutoring system. As I pay a large sum of tuition to the school, I feel that I have every right to interpret Article XI in the literal manner in which it was written. After a few weeks into the spring semester, I sent Dr. Burke an e-mail inquiring about assistance for the failed course, but I received no e-mail back. I consider the negligence on the part of the Office of Educational Affairs in failing to notify me of clearly stated regulations in the handbook to be irresponsible and unprofessional. Therefore, I find their reason to dismiss me in spite of their negligence to be unreasonable and unfair.
Furthermore, during the meeting with the CAPS committee, one member stepped out of the room during my testimony and did not return until after I was done. He had made a sarcastic remark to me about not being able to name all my grades off the top of my head before he left the room. He also had a very disappointed look on his face when he returned. I believe that he influenced the other people in the room and don’t believe it to be fair that he was allowed to collaborate on me.
Contribution to the school:
I strongly believe in the mission and values of the school and based on this belief, I have given back to the school to the best of my ability.
Based on this belief, I was appointed as the ‘improvement chair’ of my class this past year and have been working diligently with the administration on main campus to improve the TUSPM website. The newly renovated website should be completed by September based on my current timetable. This is a huge renovation project that is urgently needed, as it is the most salient issue that both students and potential students have had grievances with.
Moreover, I have taken many of the skills that I have obtained through my prior work experience and have educated and assisted my classmates both in the classroom and through school clubs, such as the Technology club. I was elected president-elect of the Technology club and have worked hard to educate members of the school on how to make their own websites and how to effectively utilize information technology to market ones practice.
I am still extremely passionate about podiatric medicine. Unlike many others, I did not get into this field for the money. Prior to enrollment at TUSPM, I worked in different facets of the health care industry, including consulting, and was on track towards a very financially rewarding career had I stayed. However, the opportunity to have a direct impact on the multitude of diabetic patients that I encountered in my work is what motivated me to pursue this field, and this passion will enable me to overcome any obstacles I endure along the way.
I want to thank you for taking the time to read this letter. I hope you will understand my personal situation and personal struggle with only one course and give me one more chance to prove that I am capable of proficiency in Anatomy.
If the motto of TUSPM is truly "Where the Student Comes First," then I believe that it means that you should care about students that face minor struggles along the path, particularly if the student is an asset that is passing overall and makes a wholehearted effort to improve a weakness. I don’t believe that automatic dismissal coincides with this motto.
I hope that you will please reconsider the faulty decision of the CAPS committee as I am fully committed to fixing my problem and excelling in this field and giving back to the school and field to the best of my ability.
Please feel free to write back to me at XXXXXXXX or call me at XXXXXXXX.