Former dental student’s lawsuit decision upheld

Former student Ali Amir alleges discrimination was cause for his dismissal

dental-schoolThe First District Wisconsin Court of Appeals has upheld a decision to dismiss a lawsuit against the university that alleged a School of Dentistry student was released because of discrimination, according to documents released Oct. 15.

Ali Amir, who was born in Iran, was let go by the School of Dentistry for poor academic performance in 2002.

He filed a lawsuit in 2004, alleging that a white dentistry student in comparable circumstances was treated differently and given greater chances to stay in the school.

The lawsuit was dismissed by Circuit Judge Clare Fiorenza — a ruling Amir appealed. In 2006, the state Court of Appeals ruled the case was improperly dismissed because a decision that the two students’ situations were comparable remained to be decided, according to the appeal brief.

In 2008, Circuit Judge Jean DiMotto again dismissed the case. Amir appealed a second time and was rejected again this year.

Amir received two F’s and one D during the fall 2000 semester and was threatened with dismissal by the Academic Review Committee, according to the brief. The committee allowed Amir to repeat his first year in 2001 while on academic probation. That meant he would be dismissed if he failed any more classes.

He did not receive any failing grades in the fall 2001 semester but received an F and a D during the spring semester, as well as a D in summer school.

In the fall of 2002, Amir was formally dismissed from the School of Dentistry.

In the lawsuit, Amir tried to prove he and student Daniel Meyers were “similarly situated.” Meyers did not fail any courses his first year, but received two failing grades his second year in fall 1999.

The following spring semester, Meyers received six failing grades. The Academic Review Committee permitted Meyers to repeat his sophomore year in fall of 2000. He received three failing grades that semester.

Meyers was able to repeat his sophomore year in fall of 2001, but did not pass. He was allowed to continue studying in spring and summer of 2002 as well as spring of 2003, despite failing grades.

Meyers was finally dismissed from the School of Dentistry in May of 2003.

The court found that Amir and Meyers’ situations were not comparable because Meyers did “substantially” better than Amir as a freshman and had also disclosed a medical condition prior to being dismissed, according to court documents.

Amir also said a medical condition was to blame for his sophomore year performance, but did not disclose it until after he was dismissed, according to the documents.

Tim Olsen, communication manager in the Office of Marketing and Communication, said via e-mail that the university does not discriminate in any manner contrary to law or justice on the basis of race, color, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, disability, veteran’s status or national origin in educational programs or activities, including employment and admissions.

“Marquette is pleased that the Wisconsin Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of a discrimination suit brought by a former student in the School of Dentistry,” Olsen said. “As our Statement on Human Dignity and Diversity states, ‘Each member of the Marquette community is charged to treat everyone with care and respect, and to value and treasure differences.’ This case was about academic performance.”

Amir’s lawyer could not be reached for comment at deadline.