Dental students sue ADA

2007 10 29 16 16 16 706

What are the rights of students accused of breaking the ADA's test-taking rules? That's the question raised by 13 UCLA dental students who sued the organization after it charged them with helping others cheat on the National Board Dental Examination.

The ADA charged the students with remembering questions from the test and writing them down later for other candidates preparing for it, according to their attorney, James Kosnett of Los Angeles. "My people are innocent of any wrongdoing and stand to be severely damaged by the ADA's actions," he says.

The ADA is keeping mum about the case. "The ADA doesn't comment on investigations," says Fred Peterson, the organization's spokesperson.

Likewise, the university says it's in the dark. The ADA "let it be known that there was an investigation; that's about all we know," says Phil Hampton, a UCLA spokesman.

The ADA's Joint Commission on Dental Examinations voided the students' passing scores from 2006 and barred them from retaking the test until 2009, but stayed this penalty while the students appeal, Kosnett says.

Meanwhile the students have filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court alleging that the charges could cost them more than $1 million each by delaying their careers.

Kosnett claims the ADA has deprived the students of due process. "Before they were even aware that there were any allegations against them, the ADA had already found them culpable and imposed their maximum penalty upon them," he says. "The ADA has refused to give us the so-called evidence forming the basis of the allegations, has refused to allow us to confront our accusers, and has refused us the opportunity present evidence and testimony in our own defense."

He adds that the ADA investigators never even interviewed the students. While the students are appealing the sentence against them, Kosnett says, they have little faith in the appeals process because the same people who passed sentence on the students will also hear the appeal of that sentence.

So what's the evidence against them?

According to the Los Angeles Times, investigators have computer disks with the students' names next to remembered questions. Kosnett dismissed the disks as easily fabricated.

Meanwhile, the newspaper reported that students at two other Southern California schools, Loma Linda University and the University of Southern California, were under investigation for similar offenses.

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