Sunday, July 01, 2007

Convicted Without A Trial


Two of my kids were accused of cheating on the math regents. Did they really cheat? I'm not sure. I wasn't in the room. I know some of the boys answers were probably copied off of the girl behind him. His long answers were the same wrong answers as she had, only he had no work to support his results. His short answers were different than hers. Both kids had their papers disqualified. The girl (a 90 student) had her grade lowered by 5 points) and the boy (a 65 student) failed.

I have some problems with all of this. The kids parents were never called. The kids were never allowed to come in, face charges and try to defend themselves. Even if they were guilty, they were entitled to a hearing. When the girl came into the ofice to talk to my a
AP, the teacher who saw her yelled out "that is the girl that cheated." The poor kid felt branded. She never got to open her mouth. She went to the dean. The dean wouldn't let her write a statement and told her not to worry. I wrote a letter to Principal Suit about both students. I didn't say that they cheated or didn't cheat, since I was not present during the regents. I just told him about the kids, about the girl's hard work that took her from a double period class to almost honor Math B class and how the boy who is probably going into special education spent every lunch period with me in the library, getting tutored. I think this poor kid freaked out when he saw questions on the Part III and Part IV that were so different from anything he had ever done.

It is not my job to decide penalties for these kids. Principal Suit made the decision, never asking me anything about either one of them or even acknowledging the letter I wrote. My own AP screamed at me for not coming down on the kids. I told him, I didn't see anything and did not feel comfortable accusing them on another persons word.

School teacher just wrote a piece on discrimination and racism in the schools. She is so on target with what she has written. These kids are from immigrant families, practicing a religion that is not in favor with most of the country. I wonder, would their treatment have been better if they had been while, middle class kids? I think the answer must be yes. I would never allow any school to treat my child this way and I don't know too many American parents that would. Immigrant parents don't always know their right and because of this are not given fair treatment. That is what has happened in this case.

8 comments:

CaliforniaTeacherGuy said...

Unfortunately, the girl in this situation is learning first hand how Hester Prynne in Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter must have felt when she was forced to wear a scarlet "A" for "adultery." With the AP's screaming at her, the girl might as well be wearing a scarlet "C" for "Cheater."

Sad story. Very sad. Ever since 9/11, people are guilty until proven innocent. Only in this case, there was never an attempt to prove innocence.

Anonymous said...

So...if this had happened in your classroom, what would you have done? Even giving the students a chance to defend themselves could not erase the damning evidence of the two aligned wrong answers (one without work). I could see allowing the students to describe the events in their own words, but it is not a court of law, it's a school.

Pissed Off said...

No one should be punished without a chance to defend themselves. Hopefully, I would be able to prevent this from happening in my classroom by proctoring effectively. I wonder what the proctor was doing that allowed the cheating to go on.

Jose said...

That's a shame. Something very similar happened to me when my kids were taking the social studies exam in middle school. Caught a kid red-handed with another student's book. Frankly, because of the "moderator" position I was in, I just let the powers that be take care of everything. Good post, though ...

Darren said...

While I agree with you that the students' lack of opportunity to defend themselves is inexcusable, I (hopefully incorrectly) sense,from the latter half of your 2nd paragraph, that you are attempting to excuse their behavior.

rightwingprof said...

If she was, indeed, party to academic misconduct and she only had points deducted from her score, then she got far less than she deserved. At the university, we fail them -- no matter what color their skin is, what their first language is, or what religion they practice.

Pissed Off said...

I am not excusing the act of cheating. But, the kids were never spoken to and neither were their parents. If my child had been caught doing something like that, I would have liked to have been informed. The boy involved is so clueless that he would have had no idea why his regents didn't count if I didn't speak to him. Even murderers are entitled to a trial.

Anonymous said...

I, too, am one pissed off mom. My daughter was accused of cheating after one year of graduate studies and was immediately expelled. She, along with 2 other girls, are allowed to attend classes while the "process" takes place. It has been a month since they were expelled and the appeals process rolls along. Meanwhile, they have had no opportunity to defend themselves in person (only through appeals letters) and do not know the identity of their accusers. They had never been warned or accused of cheating, although now the charges go back to classes they took last fall and spring. Because it is a private university, they are not entitled to due process. However, we intend to sue the university on grounds of breach of contract and acting in an arbitrary and capricious manner. The "evidence" they were given was simply he said, she said. No proof was ever produced. Someone here is power hungry, just as the Duke case has unfolded.