Eccentric actor (and Oscar host) James Franco is almost as well-known for being a professional student as he is for his on-screen roles.

But a professor at New York University didn't think much of Franco's scholastic ability and gave him a "D" -- and now that teacher says he got the ax because of it.

Former NYU professor Jose Angel Santana, who's filed suit against the school in an attempt to get his job back, says he gave Franco the bad mark because the star missed 12 out of 14 of Santana's classes. He also says Franco missed just as many classes in other courses, but those professors ignored it and gave him good grades anyway.

“The school has bent over backwards to create a Franco-friendly environment, that’s for sure,” Santana, 58, said in an interview. “The university has done everything in its power to curry favor with James Franco ... In my opinion, they’ve turned the NYU graduate film degree into swag for James Franco’s purposes, a possession, something you can buy."

In a statement, NYU spokesman John Beckman said the school hasn't seen the lawsuit yet but "the claims we are seeing in the media are ridiculous" and that it's "regrettable and disappointing to see a faculty member -- former or otherwise -- discuss any student's grades for the purpose of personal publicity."

[New York Post]