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Volume 68, Issue 16, Tuesday, September 17, 2002


UH student files for a better grade

By Nikie Johnson
The Daily Cougar

A UH student who claims he was discriminated against in one of his classes because he has a disability won a court battle against the University last week.

Jonathan Sadik, a senior electronic engineering major, said in court documents filed Wednesday that he was accused of cheating on a test in an electronics course during the Spring 2002 semester.

He denies charges of academic dishonesty and is asking that a low grade he received in the class be reviewed. He requested a court injunction so he wouldn't be dropped from classes while awaiting his University hearing.

Sadik declined in a telephone interview to say what his disability is, but was in a wheelchair at the time of the test in question.

According to the court papers, Sadik was informed by a University official that an unidentified professor complained to UH's Center for Students with Disabilities "that individuals with a physical disability should not study engineering because engineers are required to have ease of mobility in projects in which they work."

The director of the center, Cheryl Amoruso, told Sadik's mother, Linda Sadik, that the professor who made the complaint was not an engineer, according to Linda Sadik's affidavit.

Sadik received a D in the class, ECE 3455, which is a prerequisite for other classes he must complete to get his degree, according to the injunction request. The College of Engineering requires a C- or better in its required courses, so Sadik could have been dropped from engineering classes he's in now because of the grade.

U.S. District Judge David Hittner on Wednesday granted Sadik a temporary restraining order so he can remain enrolled in his classes through Oct. 4, while he challenges the grade he received in ECE 3455, which he took from associate engineering professor Len Trombetta.

The court papers state that Sadik took the class' second test at the Center for Students with Disabilities, with Trombetta's consent, before the rest of the class.

That was when the charges of academic dishonesty came out. Sadik was accused of taking the test into a restroom and taking a picture of it.

Sadik claims he was not allowed to present a proper defense at his hearing.

"It's kind of sad the way they followed their procedures," he said. "They haven't followed the procedures laid out in the handbook."

It was recommended that he be given a failing grade in the class and suspended for an academic year.

Provost Edward Sheridan initially upheld the recommendation, but later dismissed the charges "following reconsideration after plaintiff obtained counsel," according to the injuction documents.

"We found out the Friday before school started that they had dropped all charges of academic honesty violations," Sadik said."

Sheridan then "directed that plaintiff be assigned the grade earned in the course 'without taking into account any consequences that might have resulted from the charge in question,'" he said.

The course grade should have been taken from two tests and a group project.

Sadik said his grade on the class's first test was 51 percent, which was above the class average. The second test, on which Sadik was accused of cheating, was re-administered, but Sadik said in the injunction request that it 'was (re-)administered while plaintiff was threatened with expulsion from the university for academic dishonesty," according to the reports.

He also alleges that he was treated unfairly during the group project, and that the professor was "hostile" and treated him differently than other members in his group, according to the report and his affidavit.

Sadik is asking that he be given a grade of C+ or higher, alleging his grade should be similar to that of other students in the class who performed similarly on the first exam. He also said in his affidavit that he "maintained good grades during the course of my university studies." He declined to make public his overall GPA.

He said in his affidavit that "having the unfair grade on my transcript would have a serious and permanent affect on my ability to obtain advanced training and education and better employment."

Since the injunction was granted, Sadik will have another round of University hearings to determine how his grade should be determined and will appear in court again Oct. 4.

The University maintains a policy of not commenting on pending court matters.

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