Former New York University film studies professor José Angel Santana is suing the school, claiming they fired him because he gave a D to star student James Franco in his "Directing the Actor" class.

Santana claims Franco deserved the grade because he missed 12 out of 14 classes this semester. (Franco has also been busy this year earning a Ph.D., hosting the Oscars, starring in 900 new films, writing a dozen new novels.)

Santana says NYU's other profs have become Franco's lapdogs, favoring him in treturn for hoped-for rewards. (Franco hired one prof, Jay Anania, to write the movie Shadows & Lies.)

"The school has bent over backwards to create a Franco-friendly environment," Santana tells the New York Post. "They've turned the NYU graduate film degree into swag for James Franco's purposes … a possession, something you can buy."

An NYU rep tells TMZ the school has yet to review the suit, adding that Santana's claims are "ridiculous."