HOUSTON -- For college students, a straight-A average is a crucial building block on the road to success, but imagine having that average jeopardized because of a teacher’s mistake.
That’s what Lauren Firmin claims happened in her Fall 2013 semester at Lonestar College- University Park in northwest Harris County.
The class she had enrolled in and thought she was taking was an ‘Intro to Chemistry’ course, a study of the basics of the science.
Yet this student with a 4.0 grade average found herself unexpectedly struggling with the material.
“I was getting 40’s on every test,” said Firmin. “I studied as hard as I could, did everything in my power to try.”
Then, shortly before the class’ final exam, Firmin claims teacher Thao Shirley Nguyen admitted something.
“She told her mistake in class to all of the students,” Firmin told the KHOU 11 News I-Team.
And the mistake: “She was teaching general chemistry, another course, all semester.”
In short, Firmin says Nguyen told the class that she had NOT been teaching them the introductory course in chemistry that they originally signed up for, but an advanced course in chemistry.
Firmin says suddenly she and other classmate’s struggles made sense.
But the student says Nguyen also proposed a solution: She would add extra credit to the students’ grades.
Firmin says that turned her grade of “F” into a “B”. But she says it still ruined her straight- A, 4.0 grade point average.
“4.0 students, we are really stressed out altogether, but this just added to it to see what I have been working for, for two years destroyed,” she said.
So the I-Team went to speak with Ms. Nguyen, but when we asked her if she taught the wrong class she would only answer by saying, ‘no comment.’
KHOU: “Did you tell the students you taught the wrong class?”
Ngyuen: “No comment.”
KHOU: “Because it’s the students who are wondering what’s going on.”
Ngyuen: “No comment.”
KHOU: “You can’t comment at all?”
So we went to the administration.
“She followed the syllabus and taught from the 1405 textbook,” said John Powell with Lonestar College- University Park.
KHOU: “Students are claiming that the teacher in the class told them point blank, ‘I taught the wrong class.’”
Powell: “I wasn’t there. You weren’t there and I can’t comment what someone may have said in class.”
But Firmin showed the I-Team an email she received from the head of the college’s science department in response to her complaints about Nguyen teaching the wrong class.
“This was not intentional on Ms. Nguyen’s part,” the science chair wrote. “She was new to the introductory level.”
But Powell maintains: “They were taught the right class.”
So we asked about the possibility of an investigation.
“As a rule we don’t do investigations of classes,” said Powell.
KHOU: “I’m asking about a formal investigation by the college after a teacher allegedly told students that she taught the wrong class.”
Powell: “No. We wouldn’t do a formal investigation.”
But John Powell did tell the I-Team that the college will take another look at what happened.
As for Lauren Firmin, she appealed her ‘B’ grade in this course. Lonestar ruled against it.
Meanwhile, another student in the class told the I-Team what while Nguyen admitted to mistakenly teaching a more advanced class, that student also told us that she had since enrolled in another class with the teacher.