NYU Professor Fired for Giving James Franco a 'D,' Lawsuit Claims

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on December 22, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Countless news outlets are reporting on Jose Angel Santana, a New York University professor allegedly fired for giving James Franco a bad grade.

While the grade may have played a part in the firing, there's a lot more to the story. A read-through of the complaint depicts a nasty picture of NYU's graduate film department.

Santana believes he was fired because of his race.

To begin, the lawsuit asserts that Jose Angel Santana was the only full-time non-white professor employed by the department since 2008. He was also the only Hispanic full-time arts professor in the history of the NYU graduate film department.

He claims to have been treated in a less-favorable manner than his white colleagues. He was given a small, unfit office and a lower pay rate. He was excluded from meetings.

The events that occurred after he gave James Franco a bad grade were just the icing on the cake.

Franco publicly reprimanded Santana, giving an interview to ShowBiz411. He claimed that he "did the work, I did well in everything else." But the lawsuit states that he missed 12 of the 14 meetings of "Directing the Actor II."

Though his attendance was just as abysmal in his other courses, only one other professor gave him a poor grade, notes the lawsuit. The head of the department evaluated and reappointed that professor.

But Santana was treated differently. The department head refused to evaluate him per university policy. When Santana brought up the disparate treatment, he was allegedly demoted. He was then fired.

Whether Jose Angel Santana was fired for giving James Franco a bad grade is thus up for debate. If the allegations are true, the grade may have just been a way to mask a firing based on race.

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