Note: This story appears in the Tuesday, Dec. 3 newspaper on Page A1.
An ex-Ohio University student is suing the school for $75,000, claiming he was allegedly removed from his program due to “malice, ill-will, hatred and a conscious disregard of rights” on behalf of the program’s administrators.
The case began in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, but was transferred to the Southern District of Ohio Eastern Division, into Judge Sarah D. Morrison’s court.
In turn, the administrators and faculty have asked to dismiss the case on grounds that the court does not have the correct jurisdiction to grant the sought damages, and that a claim on items that would be in jurisdiction has not been stated.
Aaron Bremar, of Columbia, Maryland, levied the suit against OU and several of its faculty and administrators after pursuing a master’s in physician assistant practice through the OU College of Health Sciences and Professions.
He enrolled in the program in late Spring 2016. Part of his coursework involved a clinical rotation, of which hours were required to be logged within 48 hours of completion.
However, waiving the 48 hour limit was common, the suit alleges. Issues arose in late 2017 regarding logging those hours, according to Bremar. His complaint alleges that several faculty members overseeing the education records found that he had failed to report absences in November, but was allowed to log after-the-fact.
Logging hours became an issue again in late January 2018 when the teachers pointed to Jan. 22 and 24 as noted absences he has failed to alert them to. Bremar claims he did, noting that the preceptor of the clinical was aware and had no issues with each day’s delays or absences.
The faculty and administrators involved — Randy Leite, dean of the college of Health Sciences and Proffessions; Kristin Lugo, assistant clinical professor and director of Clinical Education; Melissa Bowlby, program director and assistant clinical professor of Dublin campus; Cheryl Geng, assistant clinical professor on Dublin campus; and Denielle Vazquez, recruitment and admissions coordinator — have several allegations lodged against them.
Bremar claims Bowlby and Geng forced him to sign a disciplinary notification that alleged he had failed the course due to insufficient rotation experience and academic dishonesty, which Bremar alleges in the suit was given with no prior warning.
Bremar did note that he had gotten some of his hours wrong when logging them, but it was not done to “deceive, be dishonest or cheat in any way,” but rather was an “honest mistake” by entering temporary duty hours for the days already passed the login deadline to “make sure he would not forget to accurately record these hours at a later date.”
He was removed from his program following January 2018, and has asked to be reinstated, along with the $75,000 in damages.
In a response, the University’s lawyers allege that the requested damages either are not under the specified jurisdiction of the court or that Bremar failed to state a claim the institution could award.
However, the motion did agree that Leite “arbitrarily and capriciously” denied Bremar’s appeal, and that the steepest punishment Bremar should have been handed was a failure of the January clinical rotation. Bremar earned an “A-” in the class prior to being removed from the program.
A jury trial is scheduled for Oct. 15, 2020 at 9 a.m. in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas.