Reservist, Professor Battle Over Grade Law : Gulf War: New Jersey law says Marine should keep the A he was earning when he was activated two weeks before the end of classes. But his teacher contends he should get an incomplete.


A Marine reservist called to the Gulf War is battling a college professor who refused to obey a state law that requires that she give him an A grade.

Legislators passed the law last spring to help James Lloyd and other students who pulled out of school to go to the Persian Gulf.

Under the law, Lloyd is entitled to the A he said he had in professor Barbara Chasin's sociology course when he was activated. Chasin said legislators have no business dictating students' grades and she has given Lloyd an incomplete.

Once lawmakers start setting grading policy, there is nothing to stop them from taking away other decisions from academics, Chasin said.

"Why can't they tell you what books to use? What you can and can't say?" she said. "This is a very dangerous precedent."

Lloyd, 22, a junior majoring in English at Montclair State College, said Chasin is blindly following principles. The law, he said, was not passed to give lawmakers power over professors.

"It was not fair to me that I was plucked out of school two weeks before my final," Lloyd said.

The examination was worth 50% of his grade.

The law says activated students who have completed at least eight weeks of a course can take as their final grade the grade they had when they were called up. Students called up earlier can choose to take an incomplete or a pass-fail grade, or withdraw for a tuition refund.

Lloyd was taking three other classes when activated. One teacher agreed to give him his interim grade. Lloyd asked for incompletes in the other two courses to improve his chances of getting into law school.

Before the law passed, Montclair State's president, Irvin D. Reid, protested to state Sen. Daniel J. Dalton that the legislation would jeopardize the integrity of college transcripts. Employers and graduate schools would not be able to tell from the transcripts whether a student had completed the course, he said.

Dalton, one of the law's sponsors, said it would be unfair to penalize students for responding to the call-up.

Chasin said college administrators have told her that the grading policy is state law. The school administration wouldn't say what would happen if Chasin refused to give Lloyd the A.

Lloyd has threatened to file a lawsuit if Chasin refuses to change his incomplete.

"It's a hard transition to get pulled out of college, possibly to fight a war. To come back is also a hard transition; to get back into life, back into a job, back into school," he said. "I wanted to make things easier for myself."

Chasin said more is at stake than making life easier for Lloyd: "I think it's unfortunate that he doesn't understand the principles involved."

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