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Student sues university after twice failing to pass course

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DALLAS, Pa. -- A Pennsylvania nursing student is suing Misericordia University officials after she twice failed to pass a course.

Jennifer Burbella of Stroudsburg was enrolled at Misericordia University, but her attorney said because of disabilities including anxiety, depression, and stress, she needed help. Burbella claims school officials failed to abide by federal law, according to WNEP.

According to a federal lawsuit, Burbella asked for extended time to complete exams and communication with a professor during a test. She claims Misericordia officials did not follow through on those things, so she failed to pass the required course twice.

According to the lawsuit, Burbella tried to call her professor during the examination. When that professor did not answer, a witness saw Burbella "...on several occasions during the exam...breaking down and crying."

Misericordia University officials told WNEP, "We do not comment on matters of litigation," but others are talking about it.

McGrath, Burbella's attorney, specializes in education law, representing students, families, teachers, and administrators.

"She has some disabilities and under section 504 of The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1973, you can make certain accommodations, not only in educational setting, but in the workplace, et cetera,"McGrath said.

McGrath said his client's disabilities should not keep her from being a nurse.

"I think many people suffer from anxiety, depression, and those types of things who are doctors, lawyers, nurses," said McGrath.

According to the lawsuit, Burbella is seeking in excess of $75,000 in damages, but her attorney said what she wants more than anything is a chance to take the exam again.

"She's not looking for the university to ordain that she get this degree, she's looking for a fair opportunity, which the statute provides, to take the exam. If she fails it that's her own problem and she has to deal with it," said McGrath.

Burbella is no longer a student at Misericordia University.

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18 comments

  • Brooke Inman

    are you kidding me????????????? She needs to GET OVER HERSELF! many people have those issues including me but why should she get benefits over other students! That’s crap! If she has such “serious issues” how is she gonna handle the pressure of being a nurse???? I would not want her as MY nurse that’s for DAMN sure.

    • Blankman

      Why should she get these benefits? Maybe because that’s the law? And maybe because it’s standard practice for other courses on this campus and others [I know that the colleges that my kids attend both have similar arrangements – it’s posted prominently on those schools’ websites – I have no idea how it works in practice but according to the websites they have to meet with a counselor at the start of the year and provide a doctor’s certificate to support anything].

      Having said that, I have no idea how she’s going to handle the pressures of nursing if she’s freaking out over an exam.

  • LuAnn

    Nursing is a stressful job! I know I would not want her for my nurse! Everyone has stress and anxiety at least once in their lifetime, do we all have a disability then?

  • The World is Emding

    She suffers from anxiety, it’s called life get over it. She wants extra time to take the test, so I then if she is working as a nurse she can ask for extra time before an accident victim dies so she can get over an anxiety attack.

  • d. kramer

    Her disability pevents her from passing a college exam, but won’t affect her ability to perform career nursing duties? Throw it out, judge!

  • Bob

    I failed a couple of classes in collage, and it was MY FAULT, this generation needs to stop blaming everyone else and take PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY!

  • Concerned

    Well, my two cents… I have two children with IEPs in place. I work at a university. I often see students getting accommodations. I, personally, feel certain fields should not have accommodations. Nursing in particular, maybe it’s me, but if I’m in an emergency situation, I want a nurse who doesn’t need a word bank, extra time, or a shortened exam. I want the one who could pass a hard ass professor, on their own, with no accommodations. I know not all situations are emergency, but I have to think what if and that’s the only nurse available.

  • Mag

    I knew a nursing student that suffered from panic attacks. The university accommodated her and she’s the best nurse I have the pleasure of knowing… I trust her skills tremendously. So, for all of you “Book Smart” nurses, get a heart like she does. She’s a natural. Therefore, she may save your life some day..

    • dg54321

      Until she injects you with the wrong drug because she didn’t pass the tests and couldn’t read the charts correctly. Oops.

      I don’t want doctors and nurses treating patients that couldn’t pass the test to be a nurse or doctor.

      I definitely don’t want a nurse treating me that figured instead of learning what it took to pass the tests, figures she can just sue her way through life and doesn’t have to try.

  • Hello Murica

    Seriously? What the hell, she cracks under pressure at school, calls it a disability, and then sues the school because she can’t handle the coursework? This chick does NOT deserve to work in the medical field. If she thinks it’s tough in medical school, she’s in a for a huge shock when people whose lives might depend on her abilities are put in her care. The last thing anyone is going to want is wind up with some blubbering moron who cracks under pressure when they need medical attention.

    My advice: practice this phrase, princess “want fries with that?”

  • Medic Girl

    What a joke! She has had two separate goes. She needs to accept she is not cut out to be a Nurse! She might be a nice person, blah blah blah but two tries? She should know the requirements by now.
    The university did give her a chance under Section 504 because they gave her a second chance to do it and she still failed.
    On a side note, someone that suffers from stress, anxiety and depression has no grounds to be a nurse. Nursing in any field is a high stress job. It wears you down physically, mentally and emotionally. If you have a pre-existing disorder to mental health issues then that’s just asking for trouble.
    The Lawyer should be dis-barred for even supporting her taking the test again because it will play on her mental health when she fails a third time!
    Get over it honey, go do research or something else that is less stressful and you can have ongoing guidance but you can still make a difference

  • yeahright

    Anyone else find it ironic that this is Misericordia university? Ad misericordium being a fallacious appeal to sympathy…

  • Alex

    i am a student at CWU in Ellensburg. This gives me an idea.In the fall I will be a SR and I graduate Fall Qtr due to taking summer classes. I am going to show up in a mini skirt and state I am transgender. I am not going to study just drink beer and watch tv. When i fail which I will i will say discrimination and ask for $100,000 and a passing grade. (only taking one class) I will lie!!!! I will be believed. If she can do this so can I. Screw personal responsibility. Too poor to be a republican.
    On a another note i just filed bk wipping out my student loans. yes I am paid them off with my credit cards four months ago. SO BRILLIANT. no income so i am filing a chapter 7.I kept good credit through college.