Recently, a high school student in Redwood City, California was caught cheating on a homework assignment in one of his sophomore classes. The behavior lead to a disciplinary action his father believes could cost him his future. Along with three other students the unidentified teen was demoted and placed in a lower level English class after it was determined that he and four other students shared their homework and copied off each other.
Now the teen’s father is suing the Sequoia Union High School District, claiming the school district violated his son’s due process. Furthermore, the father contends that the move will severely encumber his son’s ability to get into an Ivy League School. Without the honors course, his son will be unable to obtain his International Baccalaureate, something most highly competitive colleges hold in the highest regard.
The lawsuit has caused many in the community of Redwood City to become angry and resentful. According to the Oakland Tribune, the father has been sent hate-mail and been villanized on local radio programs. Many see his lawsuit as a reason why kids lack any kind of accountability or responsibility and why the values of our country are becoming, what they claim to be, corrupt. They also think it’s a waste of valuable resources as the school district has to pour money into defending the lawsuit.
One parent wrote the Mercury News and said this of her experience as the mother of a son who cheated, “His wonderful teacher called me a couple of days later to discuss the situation, clearly very uncomfortable and painful for him. My reply was a very genuine, ‘THANK YOU.”
She went onto say that her son is forced to tell every college to which he applies, that he cheated in school and was denied participation in that class the next semester.
Many parents echoed those sentiments, saying that kids need to learn these valuable lessons and having a father sue for not bowing down to the needs of his son was trading ethics for entitlement. They see it as a vile and indulgent.
Many schools in California have enacted a zero policy for cheating. If a student is caught cheating, they automatically fail the entire class and are forced to disclose their cheating. It gives a whole new meaning to, “this will go on your permanent record”. While some states are following suit, some school districts in Canada are saying the zero cheating policy may be too harsh and have chosen to dial back their punishments.
While cheating is a big problem, I can’t help but feel for these kids who are pushed by unrealistic expectations from their parents and the pressure of having to attend the best schools possible.
For one stupid mistake as a kid, I don’t see how it’s fair to have your whole life (well, your whole educational future) completely transformed and possibly ruined. I understand the spirit of having a zero tolerance for cheating, who in their right mind would condone cheating, right? But surely there must be another way to punish the student without having to tell colleges that you have cheated. Kids are dumb and they do dumb things.
I mean, who in their life hasn’t cheated on something?
Who hasn’t done something they regret in high school.
I don’t know what the answer is. Perhaps a tiered punishment system whereby the first offense is community/district service for three months or something. I just think that taking a kid out of a class for cheating is a little drastic and failing him/her for the entire semester takes away any motivation for that kid to try for the rest of the term. There just has to be a better way.
Do you agree?
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