Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Dental School Expulsion Reversed

The New York Appellate Division for the First Judicial Department reversed a judgment denying a petition to annul a decision by New York University that expelled the petitioner from its dental college.

The petitioner was expelled without possibility of readmission based on findings that she forged a patient treatment record and presnted forms she knew to be false to obtain the practice model values (PMV) required for graduation.

The court noted that the PMV "appears to have been the subject of controversy." The program creates an obligation to generate income for NYU.

The petitioner was, except for the PMV issue, an otherwise exemplary student. She contended that the issue was sprung on her literally moments before her scheduled graduation.

Petitioner's academic performance at NYU dental college was exemplary, and
this incident was at worst a single lapse in judgment in the face of extraordinary pressure. As Ploumis — who has been a member of NYU dental college for over 20 years — explained:

"In a moment of panic and desperation, Katie did something foolish and imprudent that blemished an otherwise spotless record. Her lapse was not premeditated ....
"... The entire student body is aware of, and aghast at, the punishment. Every student and graduate I have spoken to has indicated that, given a similar set of facts and conditions, he or she could envision acting similarly in a moment of panic....
"... Decent people, compassionate institutions, don't throw a student away on the eve of her graduation for one lapse."

Furthermore, because petitioner was able to enter the dentistry program before completing her undergraduate degree, expulsion from NYU leaves her with no degree of any kind after seven years of educational toil and the expenditure of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

There are also extenuating circumstances, grounded in the Code of Ethics, that were not given the weight they were due.

The court held that NYU failed to follow its own policies and felt compelled put the word "hearing" in quotes in describing the process that led to expulsion. The court further found evidence that NYU frustrated the petitioner's ability to complete the requirement and had treated similarly situated students less harshly.

The dismissal order of the Supreme Court is linked here.  (Mike Frisch)


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