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Nursing students sue college

By Fritz Mayer
April 5, 2011

A group of nursing students, who were dropped from the nursing program at Sullivan County Community College (SCCC) after inadequate performance on “skillings,” have brought a lawsuit against the college seeking re-admittance to the program.

The students claim there were a number of irregularities regarding the skillings, which are also called clinical competencies exams, or tests involving such skills as setting up intravenous feeding operations. First among the irregularities is that the first time the skillings were administered, only 17 of the 82 students who took them passed. The second time the skillings were administered in early February, 19 students failed and were removed from the program.

The students grieved the process and the results were thrown out and the removals overturned. However, that decision was then overturned and most of the students took the opportunity given by the college to take the skillings a third time. Sixteen students took the skillings and only one student passed.

Overall, according to figures from the college, 78% of the students who took the test ultimately passed.

In the lawsuit filed by Monticello lawyer Steven Mogul, the students claim that the SCCC nursing handbook says that only two skillings will be required during a 30-minute period. But in actuality they were required to complete three as well as a written portion. Additionally, it says that in the third skilling, the students were made to work with equipment they had not used before.

The lawsuit also claims that there is no mechanism that allows for the initial decision—to overturn the results of the grievance process—to be overruled. Had the initial decision remained in place, that would have allowed the students to remain in the program.

Also, the lawsuit claims that the college was making a deliberate attempt to lower the number of students in the nursing program because the lower numbers would give the college a higher pass rate. Mogul said that some of the 11 students who brought the lawsuit had very high grade point averages.

The lawsuit seeks to have the students re-admitted into the nursing program.

Vincent Begley, a spokesman for the college, said because the matter involves ongoing litigation, and because it involves “internal individual student grading issues,” which are confidential, it would be improper for anyone from the college to offer a comment.