For two and a half years, beginning in May 2010, I worked as Faculty Advisor for a student involved in a grade appeal at a CSU campus. Without the late intervention of James Kosnett, this long process would most certainly not have come to the successful conclusion that it did in December 2012.
The student appealed a final grade of "No Credit" for her semester of student teaching. She had received positive midterm evaluations from both her University Supervisor and her two Master Teachers at the high school site, and very strong final evaluations from her Master Teachers. However, due to what amounted to a disagreement over a miscommunication, the University Supervisor refused to give her credit, and refused even to discuss the matter with her, leaving her no alternative but to file a grade appeal. In December 2010, she won the first round of the grade appeal, the Program Grade Appeal Committee deciding that the Supervisor had acted arbitrarily in giving the grade of No Credit. However, from that moment on, the College of Education, responsible for administering the University Grade Appeal process, repeatedly violated the University's published procedures, resulting in the appeal being denied by the College Grade Appeal Committee, and finally by the University Grade Appeal Committee during the Spring 2011 semester. While this was going on, our repeated complaints regarding the procedures violations were simply ignored.
At the beginning of the Fall 2011 semester we attempted to file a formal Grievance against the College of Education. However, at that point, the student was notified that, because due process had indeed been violated, the denial would be set aside if she wished to repeat the grade appeal process. Although we thought such a remedy to be dubious at best, and informed them of our doubts, which were, again, ignored, we decided to drop the Grievance and enter the grade appeal process a second time. Our doubts proved legitimate when, in the Spring 2012 semester, her appeal was again denied, with the College of Education being sure to avoid the due process violations committed the first time around. Convinced that the attempt to get a fair hearing within the university would be futile, we then decide to seek legal assistance.
We engaged an attorney who claimed to have expertise in Educational Law. Unfortunately, as matters developed, we discovered that he didn't. He advised us that the matter could be addressed through what is called a Writ of Mandamus, which would avoid the excessive time and expense of a court trial, which was crucial to the student and her family. However, he soon informed us that the Mandamus was not viable, and that we had to prepare for a court trial. It was at this point, in May 2012, that we found and engaged James Kosnett, who was clearly called on to enter into a difficult situation.
Mr. Kosnett entered that situation with enthusiasm and tenacity. By December 2012, he was able to convince the University that, given the history of the grade appeal process, litigation was not in their interest, and that a settlement was preferable. In the end, the University agreed to waive missed deadlines, etc. and allow the student to finish the last part of her student teaching to receive her credential in the Spring 2013 semester.
The difference between working with the first attorney and later with Mr. Kosnett was extreme. At the outset, Mr. Kosnett clearly informed us of two possible approaches he might take--either to get the case back on the Mandamus track, or to seek a settlement with the University that would enable the student to complete her student teaching in a timely and convenient manner. As he pursued talks with the opposing counsel, it became clear that settlement was not only the best option, but also very possible to achieve. Of course, moving the University to cooperate efficiently in bringing about the settlement was a job in itself. But Mr. Kosnett, tact