Report #379

DATE: July 27, 2015
PARTIES: Ms. P.M. (the Student) v. the School of Graduate Studies (SGS)

Hearing Date(s): June 29, 2015
Committee Members:
Ms. Renu Mandhane, Chair
Professor Salvatore Spadafora
Mr. Ben Coleman
Secretary:
Mr. Christopher Lang, Director, Appeals, Discipline and Faculty Grievances
Appearances:
For the Student Appellant:
Ms. P.M., the Appellant (“the Student”)
Ms. Nicole Wilkinson, Ms. Tegan O’Brien, and Ms. Sherice Annis, Downtown Legal Services
For the SGS:
Professor Luc de Nil and Ms. Kendra Hawke, SGS
Professor Brent Sleep, Department of Civil Engineering
Ms. Lily Harmer, Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein LLP, Counsel for the SGS
School of Graduate Studies – late withdrawal without academic penalty – personal and familial difficulties – Student’s circumstances did not change after the drop date – insufficient documentation – appeal dismissed
Request for late withdrawal without academic penalty from one Course. The Student faced a number of personal and familial difficulties while she was enrolled in the Course. The Student filed a petition with her Department’s Graduate Departmental Academic Appeals Committee when she learned that her failures could result in termination from her program. The GDAAC denied the petition because the Student’s distress was not documented by a medical certificate. The Student then appealed to the Graduate Academic Appeals Board. The GAAB also denied the Student’s petition, noting that the Student’s circumstances did not change after the drop date, and that the Student had not provided any documentation of any unanticipated circumstances that affected her performance in the Course.
The Student then appealed to the Academic Appeals Committee. The Committee accepted that the Student was distressed by her family situation and that her academic performance was likely affected, but concluded that the circumstances were insufficient to merit the extraordinary remedy of late withdrawal without academic penalty. The Committee emphasized that the remedy of late withdrawal without academic penalty is an extraordinary remedy, reserved for rare situations where unexpected circumstances arise after the drop date, where pre-existing circumstances significantly worsen or where pre-existing circumstances that were reasonably expected to abate do not. The Student did not file sufficient medical or psychological evidence to support the finding that her situation became unexpectedly more difficult after the drop date. The Committee also noted that even if it were to accept the Student’s characterization of the events as a significant deterioration of existing circumstances, it would have expected her to reach out to someone within the University to discuss her situation well before the exam, or at least immediately afterwards. Appeal dismissed.