A former graduate student is suing the University for fraud and requesting nearly $2 million in damages, after she was notified by University officials that she was ineligible to graduate.
Ling Yuan Hu filed a complaint against GW Oct. 25, alleging the University discriminates against students who speak English as a second language, according to Hu’s official complaint filed in D.C. Superior Court. Hu is also suing for defamation, misrepresentation and “breach of fiduciary duty,” or trust between two parties regarding monetary property.
Hu enrolled in the Graduate School of Education and Human Development to complete a master’s degree in secondary education and expected to finish the program by the spring of 2006, according to court documents. Hu said she was approved by the University to transfer six credits from the University of Maryland toward her master’s program, but received an e-mail from GSEHD in July 2006 saying she was ineligible to graduate that spring. Hu was ineligible to graduate because she lacked six elective credits, failed the comprehension exam and did not submit teacher certification assessment test scores, according to the complaint.
Hu said she failed the comprehension exam because she was charged with plagiarism, but claims she was not guilty, according to the documents.
Hu did not finish her exam within the allotted two-hour time period because English is her second language, adding that she was never told why she was facing a plagiarism charge, according to the complaint. Hu said the plagiarism charge “shocked” her, adding that test answers are commonly produced from previously learned knowledge and facts.
Hu said the academic record “seriously damages” her professional status, hurting future chances of employment and warranting the need for $1,900,000 in damages. The settlement includes $400,000 for tuition compensation and “lost employments due to damaged reputation, mental anguish and emotional distress.” She is also asking for $500,000 in damages for her lack of degree and lost future earnings.
The rest of the $1 million Hu is requesting would serve as punitive damages to “deter schools from intentionally damaging students’ reputations, taking away their freedom of speech” and “taking advantage of ESL students.”
Hu did not return request for comment on the case.
University spokeswoman Michelle Sherrard, speaking on behalf of the University’s general counsel, declined to comment on the case, saying the University does not comment on ongoing litigation.