Former nursing student sues Ohio University for denying her a degree

( A former nursing student at one of Ohio University’s branch campuses has sued the university in the Ohio Court of Claims, alleging that OU breached its contract with her by denying her a degree after she got an inadequate grade on a national preparatory test.

Because of her failing grade in a crucial course, plaintiff Robin Krause was unable to obtain her associate’s degree and become a registered nurse.

OU officials said Friday they had no comment on the case as it is pending litigation.

Krause, 52, was enrolled in the OU nursing school at the Zanesville branch. She began coursework in 2008, aiming to graduate in two years. Like other students, she signed a contract agreeing to abide by the nursing school student handbook.

The final course in the program, Nursing 260, had as one requirement for passing that the student get a grade of 91 percent or better on the “ATI” test – so named for the company that offers it. Students needed to pass Nursing 260 to get a degree.

While she was still in school, however, according to Krause, OU informed students that the ATI was being replaced with a different test, the “HESI,” on which they needed to get a score of 850 to pass Nursing 260.

Though Krause and others already enrolled were told they would be “grandfathered” and still get to take the ATI, her suit claims, in fall 2010 OU Zanesville administered the HESI test. Whereas a student could take the ATI repeatedly until she passed it, the suit states, the HESI had a “four strikes and you’re out” provision.

Krause took the HESI four times and never got a score of 850 or higher; she therefore failed Nursing 260 and did not get her associate’s degree. She appealed administratively but was turned down.

She argues that when she signed an agreement to abide by the handbook, she was signing a contract with OU, whose terms the university never amended. Therefore, she maintains, when OU changed the required test, the university breached that contract.

Krause claims to have expended more than $9,000 in pursuit of her degree. She has asked a judge to order OU to give her a passing grade in Nursing 260, grant her a degree, and certify her as able to take the test with the National Registered Nurse Board that will allow her to become an RN.

She has also asked that OU be made to pay her back wages as a registered nurse, and compensatory damages of at least $25,000.