Woman says Wheeling Jesuit professor wouldn't accommodate her learning disability

By Kyla Asbury | Aug 30, 2016

WHEELING – A woman is suing Wheeling Jesuit University after she claims a professor refused to follow learning disability accommodations and would yell at her.

Joseph Busche, a professor at the university, was also named as a defendant in the suit.

In 2011, Rebekah Zeigler was enrolled as a student at WJU and was seeking a degree in biology, according to a complaint filed Aug. 24 in Ohio Circuit Court.

Zeigler claims in December 2011, she was diagnosed with several medical conditions, including a learning disability and she provided the university with a record from her treating physician explaining her condition and outlining the academic accommodations she would require.

This information was also shared with Busche after Zeigler started taking a class he taught, according to the suit.

Zeigler claims in Fall 2014, she began taking Physics I, which was taught by Busche and required for her degree.

Busche refused to follow the accommodations required for Zeigler’s learning disability and when she sought help from Busche with the class, he yelled at her and physically intimidated her, according to the suit.

Zeigler claims she passed Physics I and began taking Physics II in Spring 2015, however, the class was only taught by Busche and he again refused to follow the accommodations required for her learning disability.

Throughout the semester, Busche would misgrade her homework assignments and would mark answers wrong that had been reviewed and completed with assistance of a physics tutor, according to the suit. Busche would also mark answers wrong that were identical to answers given my male students that were marked correct for the male student.

Zeigler claims on Feb. 23, 2015, she went to the director of student affairs to complain about Busche’s behavior and treatment and she also complained about his discriminatory treatment to students with disabilities.

The plaintiff’s father also contacted the director of student affairs about Busche intentionally verbally and physically trying to intimidate his daughter and WJU did not investigate, took no action and did not correct the situation, according to the suit.

Zeigler claims in Spring 2015, WJU advised her that she would graduate and collected her graduation fee and she attended the graduation ceremony. One month later, the university sent her a letter indicating that she did not meet the requirements for graduation and she repeatedly requested copies of her final examination for Busche’s class, but was never given the document.

WJU advised Zeigler that if she wanted to graduate, she would have to take and pass Physics II at the university and that it would be offered in the fall and would not be taught by Busche, however, after she signed up to take the class it was decided that Busche would teach the clas

Zeigler claims on June 5, 2015, she filed a Disability Services Formal Grievance against the school and Busche and filed a civil rights charge in August 2015.

Throughout the fall semester, Busche continued to intentionally misgrade Zeigler’s homework and the student disabilities coordinator took no action. Busche retaliated against her for filing the civil rights charge and failed her for the course, according to the suit.

Zeigler claims she took Physics II from a different professor the following spring and passed the course and was finally awarded her degree.

Zeigler is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. She is being represented by Frank X. Duff and Sandra K. Law of Schrader Byrd & Companion.

Ohio Circuit Court case number: 16-C-263

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Schrader, Byrd & Companion, PLLC Wheeling Jesuit Wheeling Jesuit University

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