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Danckaert v. Cuyahoga Community College Foundation

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

March 30, 2017

EMILY DANCKAERT PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT
v.
CUYAHOGA COMMUNITY COLLEGE FOUNDATION, ET AL. DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES

         Civil Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CV-14-830312

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Brian J. Darling Darling Duffy Co., L.P.A.

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Michael DeWine Ohio Attorney General Jeffrey Knight Marissa J. Palumbo Assistant Attorneys General Michael T. Fisher.

          BEFORE: Blackmon, J., E.A. Gallagher, P.J., and Stewart, J.

          JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

          PATRICIA ANN BLACKMON, JUDGE.

         {¶1} Plaintiff, Emily Danckaert ("Danckaert"), appeals from the order of the trial court awarding summary judgment to defendants Cuyahoga Community College Foundation ("Tri-C") and Dental Hygiene Program Manager Mary Lou Gerosky ("Gerosky) (collectively referred to as "Defendants"), in Danckaert's action for breach of contract and other causes of action. Danckaert assigns the following three errors for our review:

I. The trial court erred in granting Tri-C and Gerosky's motion for dismissal/summary judgment since Tri-C breached its promise to pass Danckaert under the modified contractual terms.
II. The trial court erred in granting Tri-C and Gerosky's motion for dismissal/summary judgment since promissory estoppel prevents Tri-C and Gerosky from dismissing Danckaert from the Dental Hygiene Program.
III. The trial court erred in granting Tri-C and Gerosky's motion for dismissal/summary judgment since Tri-C's decision to dismiss Danckaert from the Dental Hygiene Program was arbitrary and capricious and violated her due process rights.

         {¶2} Having reviewed the record and pertinent law, we reverse and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. The apposite facts follow.

         {¶3} Danckaert worked as a dental assistant in Ohio since 2009. In 2012, she entered Tri-C's Dental Hygiene Program in order to be authorized to perform additional professional duties.

         {¶4} During the spring semester of her first year in the program, Danckaert received deficient marks in one of her clinical courses, Preventative Oral Health Services II ("POHS II") or "DENT 1400." Danckaert explained that her instructor did not timely sign off on a portion of her work, so she requested permission to receive an "Incomplete" in the class. At this time, Danckaert was advised in writing that she would be placed on academic probation. She was further advised that no student is permitted to earn two or more "Incompletes" in a class series, under the following provision in the program handbook:

Two consecutive incomplete grades in the clinical component of the POHS [Preventative Oral Health Services] I, II, III, or IV may lead to academic dismissal. Situational circumstances will be addressed on a case by case basis and a decision will be made by a consensus of the dental hygiene faculty.

         {¶5} Danckaert finished the work after the term ended. She received a B in the class, and the Incomplete was removed. The following year, Danckaert began Preventative Oral Health Services III ("POHS III"). The syllabus for this course requires the students to have an end of the term average of at least 86% in the Professional Development component of this course. Danckaert struggled in POHS III. She sought counseling from the course instructor Jane Durocher-Jones ("Durocher-Jones") and preceptor Irina Novopoltseva ("Novopoltseva"). Clinical Coordinator Cynthia Quint ("Quint") met with Danckaert to discuss how Danckaert could bring up the grade and pass the course. Quint also conferred with instructor Jones, and they agreed that Danckaert was entitled to 60% rather than the 0 she had been given in one of the Professional Development clinical sessions. With the benefit of this change, Quint and Jones calculated that if Danckaert received 100% in seven of the remaining 11 sessions, she could pass the Professional Development component of POS III and pass the course. They emailed program manager Gerosky, advising her of their calculations and asking Gerosky to inform Danckaert of their computations.

         {¶6} It is undisputed that Danckaert subsequently received scores of 100% on nine of the remaining Professional Development sessions, but her final grade was 83.6%. She also received passing grades in other ...


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