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The school district I work for has a tendency to bow down to parents. Anything a parent wants, a parent gets. Case in point: A couple of years ago, a student had an iPod confiscated during class. The teacher put the iPod on his desk, and it was stolen by another student. It sounds like the teacher didn't make the best decision and should have put it in a more secure place, but hear me out. Within the student handbook and student guidelines — which students and parents are required to sign — it states that the school and district are not responsible for lost or stolen items, and if items are lost or stolen, there will be no investigation into the matter. The parent of the student whose iPod was stolen threatened to sue the teacher, the school, the district and individual administrators at the school. The district bought the parent/student a new iPod to avoid the lawsuit.
I have been threatened with lawsuits twice this school year.
Situation #1: I had a student who was a senior in my Algebra 1 class, and he was failing. He would take notes when he was supposed to, but when it came time to practice the math, he shut down. He joked with friends in class and did anything to avoid attempting the new math concepts. He did roughly 25 percent of his homework assignments, left the majority of his quizzes and tests blank, and generally did not put in a lot of effort. This particular student was allowed to use his notes, the book and a calculator on his tests and quizzes, and he could take his tests and quizzes in a different room with a more quiet setting. As he had done for previous tests and quizzes, he took his final exam in a different room. When he learned he failed, he claimed that an instructional assistant helped him with the final and caused him to fail. As a result, I allowed the student to re-take the exam. He scored 40 percent lower than the original score, and his "F" dropped even lower. His mother threatened to sue me because it was my fault her son failed my class: I wasn't helping him enough; I didn't care about him; I just showed up for the paycheck. She has not yet sued me, but when he does not graduate at the end of the school year and does not receive his high school diploma, I'll be ready and waiting to be served with papers.
Situation #2: A student was transferred into my Geometry class about 12 weeks into the 18 week semester. His mother had him transferred into my class because she thought the other teacher's "pencil-only" policy was unacceptable. When he was transferred, I entered a 'D' -- the grade from his former class -- into my gradebook per our high school standards. At the end of the semester, the student received a 'D-' in my class, and his mother was upset and did not think it was fair to enter his transfer grade in the gradebook. My principal asked me to change the grade; I said I wouldn't and communicated to the mother that the grade would not change. She then threatened to sue me if I did not change the grade. The situation blew over after a few months, but it was very stressful and disappointing, to say the least.
I wonder what it's like in other school districts...
I wonder what it's like in other states...
I wonder what it's like in other countries...
What does this teach our future generations about personal responsibility and accountability?
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