IRVINE — A battle over academic standards at Irvine Valley College has landed in Superior Court, with a veteran writing professor suing administrators for raising a student's grade.
Hugh Glenn, who has been teaching at the college since its founding 25 years ago, gave a student a "D" for a class taken in spring, 1991.
The student had successfully completed all course requirements except submitting an acceptable term paper, Glenn said.
After several revisions in the paper the student did turn in, he wrote her a note, informing her that the paper was not satisfactory and offering her one more chance to make it acceptable. When the paper was again resubmitted, Glenn said, it contained numerous errors, prompting the "D."
In a grievance procedure established by the Saddleback Community College District Board of Trustees, the student appealed the grade to Glenn's immediate superior, Peter Morrison, chairman of the college's School of Humanities.
Morrison, who is named in the suit, could not be reached for comment Saturday. But according to Glenn, the two men discussed the matter at length, and Morrison ruled that the grade should be raised to a "C."
Morrison's decision was then reviewed by the vice president for academic affairs, president, legal counsel and, ultimately, by Richard Sneed, chancellor of the Saddleback district.
Sneed, who is also named in the suit, approved the grade change.
Changing an instructor's grade is "a very serious matter," Sneed said Saturday, adding that primary responsibility for grading belongs to the instructor.
However, in this case, he said he strongly supports Morrison's decision.
"Does a professor have the right to set standards for classes that you teach?" Glenn asked, "or does the chair have the right to say, 'I don't acknowledge your standards, you have to grade according to my standards,' which are lower in this case."
According to the state Education Code for community colleges: "When grades are given for any course of instruction taught in a community college district, the grade given to each student shall be the grade determined by the instructor of the course, and a determination of the student's grade by the instructor, in the absence of mistake, fraud, bad faith or incompetence, shall be final."