Nursing student files bias charge - East Valley Tribune: News

Nursing student files bias charge

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Posted: Saturday, November 8, 2003 3:13 am | Updated: 1:16 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

An on-call medic for the Hells Angels who said he was suspended from Mesa Community College’s nursing program because his biker attire intimidated faculty has filed a lawsuit against the district.

Stu Dvoret, 53, of Chandler said from the time he enrolled in January 2001 he received "discriminatory treatment from MCC faculty based upon his unorthodox appearance, his sex, his self-expression, his religious beliefs, his veteran status and his age," according to court documents. The lawsuit cites discrimination, defamation and breach of contract. Dvoret declined to be interviewed on the advice of his attorney.

The lawsuit, which lists the Maricopa Community College District as the defendant, come on the heels of the district’s campaign to recruit more men into its nursing program. MCCD officials could not comment on the case because they said they had not received a copy of the complaint.

Dvoret was suspended without a hearing for a year from the nursing program and was barred from the campus for disruption and possession of an illegal weapon, according to a letter dated Oct. 31, 2002, from Brian K. Johnson, dean of students and community services at MCC.

MCC nursing department chairwoman Myrna Eschelman wouldn’t comment on the lawsuit, but said, "I would do everything exactly the same with this student."

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Phoenix, gives the following account:

The day of Dvoret’s suspension, he arrived on campus to take the Health and Educational Systems test, a standardized exam given to nursing students prior to graduation, in the MCC library along with his fellow nursing students. He was wearing his usual biker attire consisting of black jeans, a T-shirt with motorcycle club insignia, a black road vest, a baseball cap and a belt with a small utility knife, a collapsible baton and a medical kit.

According to the complaint, before Dvoret could enter the library, he was stopped by campus guards and uniformed police officers and asked to submit to a "voluntary" search, according to court documents. Police confiscated the knife and the baton and then let Dvoret take the test. The search broke his concentration, he said, and he failed the test.

In the court documents, Dvoret said MCC officials made plans to search him the day before the test citing an alleged "vague and unsubstantiated threat" he made after a disgruntled student was arrested in connection with the slaying of three nursing instructors at the University of Arizona. The triple homicide occurred three days before the test.

The day after the test, Dvoret met with Steve Corich, director of college safety, and police officers, including officer Lynn Bray, who told Dvoret some members of the nursing program considered him to be a threat. He was then informed of his suspension.

Corich concluded Dvoret was not an immediate threat to the nursing staff and students.

"I just didn’t feel he was a powder keg at that point," Corich said Friday.

But, Corich said, comments Dvoret made in class after the UA incident, "that he could understand why somebody would do that," and "he could think of some people around there that were deserving of the same kind of action," merited further attention.

Dvoret denied making those statements and said some members of the nursing program took advantage of the tense situation to boot him from the program.

Dvoret said he didn’t "fit the profile of the traditional nursing student" and that’s why some of the nursing instructors discriminated against him.

A biker since his teens, Dvoret is more than 6 feet tall and weighs 240 pounds, court documents state. Unless he was in clinic or on a hospital visit, he regularly wore his motorcycle attire as an on-call medic for a number of motorcycle clubs in the area including the Hells Angels. Before enrolling in the nursing program, he was a Nazarene minister and a paramedic in Illinois.

Two instructors in particular were derisive to him, the complaint states. Another, Deb Bitter, disregarded his requests for an ER preceptorship and told students after Dvoret’s suspension that he posed "a physical threat to Nursing Program faculty and students," according to court documents.

Academically, Dvoret was in danger of failing his first courses, and no one told him about it until it was too late. He was informed his grade in Nursing Process was .34 below the minimum passing of 76 percent. If he failed Nursing Process, he’d have to withdraw and reapply for admission.

After a Nov. 25 meeting with Dvoret and his attorney, Ivy Kushner, dean Johnson offered to rescind the suspension. He asked Eschelman to consider rounding up Dvoret’s grade in Nursing Process so he could complete his studies at Gateway College, according to an e-mail dated the day of the meeting.

Eschelman refused, quoting a provision in the nursing handbook prohibiting the rounding up of grades. In court documents, Dvoret said other students "did have grades rounded up to passing grades — they just did not look like Stuart Dvoret."

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