Baylor University School of Law garnered some unwanted attention in April when an administrator accidentally emailed a spreadsheet containing names, undergraduate grade-point averages, Law School Admission Test scores and scholarship awards to about 400 admitted students.
Now, those data are fuel for an age discrimination lawsuit by a would-be Baylor law student who claims admissions officials wrongfully denied him a seat in the fall class and a full-ride scholarship.
In a pro se federal lawsuit filed on July 19 in Austin, Texas, C. Michael Kamps, 55, alleges that admissions officials repeatedly refused to take into account that grade inflation over time has significantly depressed the value of his 3.2 grade point average from Texas A&M University, from which he graduated in 1979.
He claims that administrators relaxed the requirement for a full-ride scholarship to ensure that it would be denied him, and retaliated against him for filing complaints about the handling of his application.
As for the mistakenly released data, Kamps claims they proved that his “Baylor index” — a formula that takes into account undergraduate grade point average and LSAT scores — surpassed 68 percent of the applicants who were admitted, according to the complaint. Kamps is on the waiting list for a spot the fall 2012 class.
“The inescapable conclusion is that Defendants, in retaliation for Plaintiff’s complaint, admitted scores, even hundreds, of candidates with inferior credentials while retaining Plaintiff’s application on the wait list,” the complaint reads.
“I honestly don’t know why this happened,” Kamps, an accountant and mortgage broker, said in a telephone interview. “I’ve gone through the internal grievance procedure at Baylor and I’ve seen some of their correspondence, but I’m hoping to find some answers through this lawsuit.”
Baylor spokeswoman Lori Fogleman told NLJ affiliate Texas Lawyer that she could not comment on the pending litigation. “It’s my understanding that this has to do with our admissions standards,” she said, “but we are confident that our admissions decisions, including our law school, are rendered within the boundaries of the law and in a manner that is consistent with our own admissions standards as well as national admissions standards.”
According to Kamps’ complaint, he applied in October 2009 for Baylor’s fall 2010 class and hoped to obtain a Joseph Milton Nance Presidential Scholarship — a merit award that covers full tuition for graduates of Texas A&M. Kamps was concerned that his 3.2 undergraduate GPA would seem low in the light of three decades of grade inflation, and provided evidence that his grades placed him in the top quarter of his graduating class. He scored a 169 on the LSAT, placing him in the 97th percentile of test takers.
“I was confident I would get in,” he said. “I was solidly in the top quarter of my class with an LSAT score that would normally get you a seat.”
Instead, Baylor placed Kamps on its waiting list and did not offer a seat in either the fall 2010 or fall 2011 class, according to the complaint. He rejected the offer of a seat in the spring 2012 class as less competitive than fall classes and because the Nance scholarship is only available to fall entrants.
The lawsuit alleges that an apples-to-apples comparison of GPAs earned decades apart constitutes age discrimination. The equivalent of Kamps’ 3.2 is now a 3.6, he argues — firmly within the range of accepted students in 2010, according to data Baylor reported to the American Bar Association.
The complaint also takes issue with the school’s handling of the Nance scholarship, claiming that officials in 2010 revised the criteria to deny Kamps eligibility and allow three “much younger candidates” to qualify. The law school formerly considered applicants’ Baylor index — a criterion under which Kamps says he would have qualified. The new criteria required a minimum 3.4 GPA, the complaint said, and the following year, the law school raised the minimum to 3.6.
Kamps seeks a seat in Baylor’s fall class; that he be awarded the Nance scholarship, valued at $137,404; and that the court declare it unlawful to use undergraduate GPAs as an admission criterion “when the candidate pool comprises applicants from different academic generations.”
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