KANSAS CITY — A student who was dismissed from the University of Missouri at Kansas City's School of Dentistry due to bad grades is suing for reinstatement or $17.5 million—the value of career earnings plus $2.8 million in expected bonuses.
Afsaneh Momtahan, who was born in Iran and, at the age of 10 began the process of immigrating to the U.S. with her family to avoid religious persecution, claims university officials violated academic policies and her due process rights as well as breached various agreements. She also claims that the university violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because she suffers from "educational challenges" which is a qualified disability under the ADA.
According to the complaint, Momtahan was served with written notice of being automatically dismissed from the School of Dentistry (SOD) in her second year of studies in May 2017.
Students are automatically dismissed from SOD when they receive a GPA lower than 2.5 in two consecutive semesters. Momtahan had received a 2.225 in her first semester at SOD, followed by a 2.326 in her second semester at SOD, the complaint states.
During her appeal process, a dean for the SOD said that he did not believe Momtahan could succeed going forward due to concerns over her proficiency in English.
"Despite the SOD’s concerns over the Alleged Language Issue, the SOD was aware of Afsaneh’s proficiency as an English speaker prior to Afsaneh’s admission to the SOD," the suit says. "Furthermore, Afsaneh was, is, and remains a fluent English speaker."
"As Defendants were aware of (even prior to Afsaneh’s admission to the SOD), Afsaneh had already overcome extreme obstacles leading up to her admission to the SOD, which included, without limitation, a clear demonstration of her mastery of not only one (1), but three (3) languages (Farsi, Urdu, and English)."
Momtahan came to the U.S. at age 17 in 2006 not speaking a word of English, the suit says. She enrolled in a local community college followed by her being admitted into UMKC’s undergraduate program. She claims that by the spring of 2016 she was fluent in English, and graduated UMKC with both a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and a bachelor’s degree in Psychology.
She is represented by attorneys at Davis & Sarinoff of Carmel, Indiana.