Sunday, June 24, 2007

Nursing Student Sues School for F

June 24, 2007 -- Columbia University gave him an "F," but he deserves an "A" for audacity.

Nicholas Perrino was kicked out of the Ivy League institution's School of Nursing for missing an exam, and now he is suing to get back in.

"I should have went to Yale," moaned Perrino, who is representing himself in the case.

The 27-year-old Illinois native said he was working toward two master's degrees last summer, when his grandparents became gravely ill, forcing him to take a few days off.

He told his instructors he would be absent for a skills exam and tried to arrange a makeup, Perrino claims in documents filed June 15 in Manhattan Supreme Court.

Instead, he says, the school failed him in the course - part of a fast-track master's program.

Without the test, the school wouldn't let him continue his nursing coursework.

Filing academic grievances and appealing to the Columbia provost got him nowhere, he said, and he was withdrawn from the School of Nursing.

"It's insane," Perrino said. "It's not like I killed someone."

Perrino, who says he spent $65,000 on tuition, did complete a master's degree in public policy. He says he had a nearly spotless academic record at the School of Nursing.

A Columbia spokesman said he could only confirm Perrino had been a nursing student, and cited privacy rules preventing him from discussing the case.

Perrino is asking a judge to remove the "F" from his transcript, reinstate him at the school and reimburse tuition costs for classes he has already taken.

Found in the NY Post:
Posted by HypnoKitten at 9:15 PM

Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:28 PM  

I'm actually the student who filed suit against the University's School of Nursing. Let me file you in on what the NY Post failed to reveal:

I did in fact inform the instructor of the clinical course in advance of my family emergency (5-6 days in soon as I knew why and when I would need to be out of town). Originally there was some confusion as to why I would not be present for the skills exam, however, after further clarification and discussions with the program director, it was agreed upon that a) I had a serious family emergency and that the precedent at the school was to allow students excused absenses due to these rare and infrequent situations and b) that a make-up skills test and date would be arranged for me.

Such arrangements were verified via an email from the program director within a few days of my return to New York City. However, the school never followed through with its word and decided to simply fail me in the course nine days later...essentially stating that I did not complete the skills test.

Moreover, another student in the class failed at least one part of the skills test. As per the course syllabus, she was allowed to re-take the appropriate testing. This took place the next week. The school could have easily informed me of this date and had me perform the skills at that time. In my estimation, the six skills on the exam would have taken one student approximately 20-25 minutes to perform. The preparatory set-up is also minimal and I even offered to set up myself because of the inconvenience.

I attempted to appeal this decision to fail me in the course via a procedure known as an Academic Grievance. I was told in the summer of 2006 (immediately after being informed of this grade) that assembling such a faculty panel for a grievance proceeding was not possible in the summer--this is a direct violation of student policy at the university. All students are entitled to having a grievance hearing within 5-10 days of request. I later submitted another formal Academic Grievance via email (which was deamed an appropriate route)...but the school essentially ignored it.

Any student who receives an "F" in a clinical course at Columbia University School of Nursing must be reviewed by the Committee on Admissions. This committee is supposed to review the entire academic record of the student, the circumstances behind the poor grade, and determine if the student should be allowed to re-take the course the following year. For some unknown and unexplained reason, this committee decided I should NOT be allowed to re-attempt this course.

My GPA at the School of Nursing was 3.7. My GPA at the School of Public Health (where I was a dual degree student) was around 3.9.

I appealed these decisions to the dean of the school and then to the provost/president of the University...both of which upheld such decisions.

The skills test of the clinical course itself wasn't even graded. I was essentially prevented from continuing on into the graded part of the course. This suggests per the student handbook that I should have been given an INC (incomplete) rather than an "F" since I didn't actually fail any of the graded material.

And lastly, had I known that my family emergency wouldn't be deemed excusable (like everyone elses at the school in the past had been) and then unexcusable, and had I known that the school would lie about making "arrangements" for a make-up test for me and simply fail me instead...I would have withdrawn from the course. This would have given me a "W" on my transcript instead of an "F", and it wouldn't have counted against my graduate GPA. In that case, since I wouldn't have received an "F", the Committe on Admissions wouldn't have to review my standing at the school and would not have been able to dismiss me for any reason.

-Nicholas M. Perrino

*the NY Post misquoted me. I actually said "I should have ATTENDED Yale." I should have went to Yale is improper grammer.

**The quote about killing someone doesn't make sense out of context as the NY Post has it. I was actually stating that one was to fail a clinical course would be to kill someone in the hospital (i.e. a patient) because of negligant or careless practice.

Should an academically well-performing student at the school have been failed and then dismissed from his master's program for missed ONE class--a class he chose to miss because of a family emergency he informed the school of 5-6 days ahead of time? Does that seem reasonable?

Hope this helps.

Blogger Phil Essam, at 1:50 AM  

Hello from Down Under in Australia. I only just found your blog tonight, but will be adding a link to it. My blog is at and it covers health and nursing issues in Australia.


Anonymous rheachel rn, at 6:59 PM  

I am not at all surprised by the schools decision. I too think this is very unfair to you and the entire Nursing student body at Columbia.
I have been an R.N for 22 years and see that nursing student are still treated just a little bit different.We are still seen as having a vocation rahter than a career. Of course you should be more dedicated to your vocation than your family.
This kind of thing is not new. I wonder if it will ever stop? I think not. Nurses are dedicated to thier patients . Is it so surprising that we shold also be dedicated to our family?
Good luck to that student and I hope he does win his suit.
rheachel rn

Blogger shrimplate, at 10:54 AM  

The rules don't matter. The policies don't matter. Your grades don't matter. Your grandparents' health doesn't matter.

Bureaucrats are senseless and inebriated with their own puny powers. And you are their victim.

You might be able to get some satisfaction in this case. But it won't be for any reason other than completely imbecilic, random, capricious application of administrative bullshit. Period.

No wonder there's a nursing shortage.

Blogger JLeonard, at 2:41 AM  

How do I get a mention on the list of nurse blogs?

Anonymous joan, at 3:55 AM  


Thanks for the clarification. I really feel for you. What a fiasco. Hope you can get it resolved.

Blogger amahri01, at 1:39 PM  

I hope you win your suit. I am a student at a nursing school in Ohio and I was failed in a nursing clinical course because the instructor did not like my care plans. This is after I consulted with 3 of the instructors in the course about the care plans more than 6 times(mind you I have never had issues with care plans until this class). With three teachers having three different perspectives and grading my papers at random times, what I wrote was never satisfying. I was told that I failed the course on the last day of class. Did I endanger a patient? No. Do I have a 85% in the course? Yes. I have my appeal hearing this week. I pray that I win just as I pray that you win your suit.

Blogger L, at 8:44 AM  

Given that I haven't heard the school's side of the story, it sounds like the student did make a good faith effort to fulfill his obligations. Doesn't the nursing school have any disciplinary options before dismissal? Seems like the academic side of nursing should be doing everything it can to encourage MORE students rather than fewer.

Blogger CK RN, at 6:10 PM  

Have you expereienced any other problems while a student in this program?

Blogger Melissa Silva, at 9:12 AM  

There is a nursing shortage. I do not know the details of this case. However, there is a generation out there that will not be bullied like the battle ax nurses of old. Why should they go into a profession that treats students inhumanely?

Blogger Kim, at 6:20 AM  

I am convinced that Nursing School is not about what you know or what you don’t it only matters how high you jump when an instructor tells you to jump. I will be finished with my BSN in December. The first time I went to nursing school we had a student cheating in MedSurg the students brought it to the attention of the instructor, the Nursing Chair, the Dean of academics and the President of the College. Nothing was done the test were not changed, she was not questioned, there was no consequence. She was jumping through their hoops. Working towards my BSN now is about the same although we do not have any cheaters. Good luck in being reinstated. Kim OB Nurse

Blogger Rphizz, at 11:53 AM  

that is crap. im in nursing school too and they make you pay money if you miss a clinical skills day. thay are also rarely acceptable of missing a day. i feel like you and a lot of people have the same problem. it seems we arent allowed to have a life outside of school...

Blogger Rphizz, at 11:56 AM  

that really sucks. i also go to a school that is forbidding of missing class or clinical. they make you pay for missed days even with doctors notes. i hope everything works out for you...

Blogger kmoney, at 12:01 PM  

Wow poor kid. I also go to a nursing school where you pay an arm and a leg to go there and its YOUR money but heaven forbid you miss a class you must pay. You miss clinical? sorry if someone died pay up.

I dont agree and I'm on your side.

Blogger Pramila Adhikari, at 9:01 PM  

Hi guys, this is a very interesting blog. I am also a nursing student about to graduate. I hope you win the law suit. It does not seem fair to a student who had unfortunate family problem and missed the test. That can happen to anyone whether to a nursing student or a father or a chairperson of nursing program etc. We are also a family member who also have to face family responsibility during our schooling or career. We should get a chance unless it was repeated and caused due to negligience.Also, there should be other consideration such as previous absences, grades etc.

Blogger Pramila Adhikari, at 9:22 PM  

Hi guys, I hope he win his law suit. I am also a nursing student about to graduate. I can understand how stressful a nursing school is. No matter what, good student should get second chance to correct their mistake whether caused intentionaly or unintentionaly. We also have family members. we also have a family responsiblity. This unfortunate family problem can occur to anyone whether a nursing student, a father or a chairperson of the nursing school. So nursing student should be judged by many different ways not only by a single miss of a test. I think, Nicholas should get another chance. Also committee should look at him previous records and grades before they decide to kick them out.

Blogger Adrian, at 6:23 PM  

If you made prior arrangements to retake the test, technically you should be allowed to make up the test. Everyone has issues and schools need to start recognizing that. At the time, your family was a higher priority then the school was and that made them angry. I too am a nursing student and have had issues with test make up even though I also had made prior arrangements. I wish you the best of luck.

Celinda in NY

Blogger Lalster7, at 8:05 AM  

How many boys (as in male students) were in your class? Probably not that many right? Well, they'd like to keep it that way. This whole thing could just be a big ruse to disguise their prejudice against your sex. I know that they hate boys in my nursing school. They have the mentality that they're just not quite cut-out for this kind of work. They are somehow biologically illdisposed to perform nursing duties. Seems to me like you've just been 'served,' royally screwed for having a package. Good luck.

Blogger Matt, at 6:32 AM  

My girlfriend is going through a similar issue at her nursing school. They are trying to make her withdraw. They will not allow her to attend her clinical or classes but they haven't dismissed her. They want her to sign a paper saying she withdraws and I'm guessing that would clear the school from any responsibility in the matter. She continues to refuse.

I hope you win. I hope we win.

Blogger LivingDeadNurse, at 3:39 PM  

i hope he wins his suit. That sounds totally unfair.

Blogger Jason, at 11:33 PM  

Hello, I'm from Canada. I found your blog, but will be adding a link to it. I am study in nursing education. So, I think I will get lots of information about Nursing education from your blog

Blogger beckyreed, at 5:53 AM  

It is hard to judge who is right in these situations. I am a nursing instructor and find faculty who are unfair but also find students who leave out essential information when describing their failure. in nursing we evaluate not just knowledge but also skill, and ethical character. The fact that the student pushed it to a law suit would indicate his story has no hidden facts that he doesn't want exposed.
Sometimes educators need the wakeup call to remember their obligation to the student.
the question I have is....what skills test is required for a masters in nursing?

Blogger beckyreed, at 5:56 AM  

what skills test is required for a masters? these complex situations are always a challenge for both the educator and the student. How did the court cas turn out?

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