Nursing Student + Placenta + Facebook Equals a Federal Lawsuit in Kansas
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (CN) - A nursing student says Johnson County Community College kicked her out of its nursing program for posting a picture of herself posing with a placenta on Facebook. She says her professor "explicitly approved" another student's request to photograph the placenta, and upon being told that they intended to post the photo on Facebook, the professor "merely responded, 'Oh, you girls.'"
Doyle Byrnes sued the college, four top administrators and a professor in Federal Court.
Byrnes says her class attended a nursing lab at Olathe Medical Center to examine a human placenta on Nov. 10. Byrnes said another student asked the instructor, Amber Delphia, for permission to take pictures of the placenta and told Delphia she intended to post the picture on Facebook.
"Delphia explicitly approved the students' request to photograph the organ" the complaint states.
"Additionally, Delhia gave implied permission for the students to post their photographs to Facebook by inquiring as to the intended use of the photographs, and being advised that the students intended to post the photographs to Facebook. Upon being advised of their intention to post the photographs to Facebook, Delphia, acting on behalf of JCCC, merely responded 'Oh, you girls.'"
Byrnes said the picture was on her Facebook profile for about 3 hours, until Delphia called her and requested she remove it, which she did. Byrnes says Delphia told her she wasn't in trouble during the conversation.
But the next day, Byrnes said, Johnson County Community College Nursing Director Jeanne Walsh blasted her and the other students by screaming and crying at them.
"During the meeting, Director Walsh's emotional conduct precluded the students from defending themselves and adequately explaining the reasons for engaging in the conduct in question," the complaint states.
"Director Walsh summarily dismissed Plaintiff Byrnes and three other members of the lab group from the nursing program, and exclaimed, 'I don't know if I would want you back.'"
Byrnes says the college violated her right to due process by failing to provide her with the proper disciplinary appeals process; failing to afford her a fair and reliable method for determining the factual foundation of her dismissal; failing to advise her of the grounds of the charges against her and the nature of the evidence against her; failing to give her an opportunity to be heard in her own defense; failing to specify which of the school's rules, policies or laws she violated; imposing a punishment which was not based on substantial evidence, and is disproportional to the violation alleged; failing to appoint an impartial arbiter to preside over her petition for review; and failing to afford her a proper disciplinary appeal.
Until the Facebook posting, Byrnes says, she was on schedule to graduate from the nursing program in May 2011.
She wants to be reinstated as a student at Johnson County Community College and actual and punitive damages. She is represented by Clifford Cohen with Cohen McNeile & Pappas in Leawood, Kan.
Johnson County Community College, Walsh, Delphia and three other school administrators are named as defendants.