2003 Law School alumnus’ complaint won’t likely get him a new grade

Hayley Odom

University 2003 Law School graduate Shane Placek was .013 of a point away from graduating with honors.

He said a violation of University policy prevented him from receiving that honor, and he decided to take action.

Placek filed a formal complaint alleging University policy was violated, and he won, according to an April 5, 2003, University Law School Grievance Committee panel report.

The disputed exam occurred in professor Ruth Okediji’s employment law class. Placek said the exam – which occurred on two separate test dates – was similar to an exam in the Law School’s library. According to Law School policy, faculty members are not allowed to use old exams or essay questions that were made public.

Although the University sided with Placek, his grade remained unchanged.

The grievance panel recommended that before each exam, the dean’s office send a memo to faculty about testing policies. But the panel does not have the power to correct any damage that occurred before the ruling – which means the committee could not change Placek’s grade, the report stated.

“I was happy with the grievance committee; it’s just the administration I’m disappointed with,” Placek said. “They refused to acknowledge they did anything wrong.”

Placek appealed for a grade change to Law School Dean Alex Johnson, who denied his request.

In a letter to Placek, Johnson said he agreed with the committee’s resolution and does not have “unilateral power” to change grades.

“How ironic the Law School is, in charge of developing young people into ethical lawyers, and the administration neglects its same duty to its own students,” Placek said.

Okediji said she understood a final decision has not been made, and the issue is still being resolved. She also said she will not change Placek’s exam grade.

Committee panel chairwoman Jean Gerval said that because of Minnesota law, she was unable to comment on the case or whether it was still ongoing.

University law students had mixed opinions on the issue.

“I know what he’s mad about, but the whole problem arose because he didn’t go to the library,” first-year law student John Gabrielson said. “I don’t think it’s that big an issue – it’s his own problem.”

He said he felt the remedy was adequate.

Some other Law School students, who said they wished to remain unnamed, said they have had classes in which professors left exams in the library that were very similar to the actual tests.

– Amy Horst contributed to this article.