Legal Question in Education Law in California

I recently finished all my work to earn my Master�s Degree including my comprehensive exam; therefore, I applied for graduation evaluation at the end of the summer so my degree can be awarded and posted on my transcripts. I was denied. I never received a letter stating my denial, so I had to call and find out on my own after waiting 2 months for a response. I asked why I was denied and admissions stated that I did not meet all the requirements and to speak to my advisor for help. My advisor found out after contacting several people that I had to fill-out paperwork to allow me to get credit for 2 classes I took as an undergrad for my graduate work. So I filled out the paperwork including a petition for exception in order for those classes to be accepted. My petition for exception was denied and again I never got any paperwork stating why. I was stuck.

After the denial my advisor spoke to the lady who denied me, and asked her why I was denied, because in the paperwork that she filed with admissions she gave no reason. She told my advisor that there was no reason for her to accept the petition because I did not put a reason why the petition should be accepted. So I was told by my advisor to resubmit my petition but this time to write a letter explaining why the paperwork was not filed in the first place and why I took the classes as in undergrad. I did write the letter, stating that I was never advised to fill-out the paperwork previously and the reason I took the classes as an undergrad was, one my prof. asked me to do so, two because I wanted to see if this was the program for me, and three because I wanted to initiative and get a head start on my grad work. The lady denied my petition again, even though now my prof. has taken full responsibility for not advising me and I have filled out the required paperwork.

In the last few months the only contact I received from the lady came yesterday, when she called and told me that I had to get a letter from my employer stating that I would get fired if my masters was not granted, which this has nothing to do with the petition. Feeling like this was the only way to get my masters I asked and was completely and utterly denied. The school I work for wants nothing to do with the problem and stated that this is my problem, which I completely understand. Now I am back to square one and completely in dismay for what is going on. I am embarrassed because I walked stage with the assumption I was done so I my family feels I lied to them about my accomplishment (I am a first generation college graduate). I am disappointed by the way I have been treated. And worst disgusted by the process.

Furthermore, it has come to my attention through several contacts that these petitions have to go to a committee to be voted on and she had deliberately kept my case out of the committee and has decided to make the decision on her own. Because of this hold up my life has been placed on stand-by. I am in jeopardy of not being able to teach classes at the community college I work for as the minimum requirement to teach PE classes in the state of California is having a Master�s degree. In addition, I was not able to apply for a Doctorate programs so I can start my education to earn a PhD, so I can become a professor at the University level, which I had discussed with my advisors and professors as a goal for me. I planned to start in spring, but because of this hold up I am stuck in limbo. Now I may have to wait a year to start applying, which puts me back about a year in the whole process.

Asked on 10/27/11, 12:46 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Andrew Harrell W. Andrew Harrell, Attorney at Law

It sounds like you were enrolled in one of the many, unregulated private "universities" in California. There is always a well articulated appeals process for grade/credit disputes that involves appeals committees, along with appeals to higher level administrators. Since your faculty adviser has assumed responsibility for the error in the first place, you should prevail.

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Answered on 10/27/11, 3:19 pm

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