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10th Grader Falsely Accused of Cheating

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Replies to: 10th Grader Falsely Accused of Cheating

  • Groundwork2022Groundwork2022 2814 replies64 threads Senior Member
    "I think he said that the other kid had the same answer, but the other kid had the proper steps written out and my son did not."

    That is pretty damning - not 100% conclusive, but close. At this point it might be best to negotiate to keep the incident off his record and transcripts, but take the zero, learn from the experience and move forward.
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  • yourmommayourmomma 1323 replies1 threads Senior Member
    Ok a couple of things. First, the good news is you're kid will recover from this. It's not the end of the world.

    Second, tell your kid he is never to answer investigator questions with authority figures (schools, cops, etc.) without your notice and approval. (This is a good practice, one which I learned in 10th grade as well). What these "adults" did was wrong -- they basically bullied a young kid into a "confession." What choice did the kid have -- 3 adults hounding him for the "answer" they wanted.

    Third, get his copy of the test -- that's the evidence. Was the answer right? Have it reviewed independently. Have the teacher explain why "you can't get the answer from what is written." My kid was famous for going step A, D, E, F, Y = answer. (Of course he made a lot of mistakes that way :) ) Make your own determination as to the likelihood that your kid copied. Determine if there is another class/teacher you kid can change to.

    Based on the evaluations and how the powers that be handle the situation determine what to do next. Be prepared to run into roadblocks with administrators. The kid may just have to eat the 0, ace the rest of the tests, pass the AP exam and go tell the teach where to stick it. Good luck.
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  • roycroftmomroycroftmom 3422 replies40 threads Senior Member
    And these responses explain why teachers don't usually bother dealing with cheating. There is no incentive to do so whatsoever, the parents will deny and raise a ruckus, the administrators will be annoyed-frankly, it's a miracle anyone bothers to raise the cheating issue anymore;no wonder it is so commonplace now. Heaven forbid we hold our kids accountable for their actions.
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  • calmomcalmom 20729 replies168 threads Senior Member
    edited February 2019
    It's low odds that he made multiple, exactly offsetting, mistakes on two problems. And if it were my kid, I'd probably just take the zero and move on.

    Actually, my smart, intuitive math-y son could easily have done exactly that because he would figure out answers to math problems in his head, and then write down the "steps" only to please the teacher --and he often had no clue as to exactly what the steps the teacher wanted/ expected were. I know that he found the math part of calculus easy, but was confused by some of the conventions as to symbols/notations in equations. I used to watch him do his algebra & trig homework, writing down answer first, and then work backwards to arrive at the steps. So I can see it as being quite probable that he could have made all sorts of errors in the "steps" even though the answer was correct.. precisely because he had never used those steps to solve the problem. My son was dyslexic as well, which would definitely increase the likelihood of making errors in the written sequencing stuff (such as inverting or transposing numbers, etc.).

    That being said, I agree the confession is a huge problem. My son would have been pretty upfront with any teacher about his process -- and if the OP's son also had that habit, I'd expect that would be known pretty clearly by now. That particular pattern sets in long before high school.

    My point is that may not be a case of "multiple, exactly offsetting, mistakes" because the person may not have actually solved the problem following the steps.
    edited February 2019
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  • roycroftmomroycroftmom 3422 replies40 threads Senior Member
    It also seems, from the original post, likely this is a private school (he has been there 4 years and is now a sophomore; they refer matters to the head of school). Private schools usually don't follow the bureaucratic framework that public schools have to. At our private school, refusing to answer questions would lead to an automatic suspension/expulsion for a student, so no, the above advice to contact one's parents before talking would not work at all. Many private schools have a similar approach-they wish to be able to talk to the student directly, without parents present,and if that is a problem,the student shouldn't enroll.
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  • yourmommayourmomma 1323 replies1 threads Senior Member
    It also seems, from the original post, likely this is a private school (he has been there 4 years and is now a sophomore; they refer matters to the head of school). Private schools usually don't follow the bureaucratic framework that public schools have to. At our private school, refusing to answer questions would lead to an automatic suspension/expulsion for a student, so no, the above advice to contact one's parents before talking would not work at all. Many private schools have a similar approach-they wish to be able to talk to the student directly, without parents present,and if that is a problem,the student shouldn't enroll.

    Fine take the suspension. NOBODY has a right to speak to my under 18 kid without my permission. Too many of these adults go on power trips and railroad the kids.

    It happened to me. Your darn right my parents raised a ruckus. The school administration had a painful, unscheduled meeting with a group of parents. It was interesting watching the "adults" backtrack and "redo" their "investigation."
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  • yourmommayourmomma 1323 replies1 threads Senior Member
    And these responses explain why teachers don't usually bother dealing with cheating. There is no incentive to do so whatsoever, the parents will deny and raise a ruckus, the administrators will be annoyed-frankly, it's a miracle anyone bothers to raise the cheating issue anymore;no wonder it is so commonplace now. Heaven forbid we hold our kids accountable for their actions.

    This teacher didn't "deal" with cheating. He accused a young kid, and then he and two others railroaded him into a "confession." Maybe what he should have done was inform the kid and his parents. Then submit his "evidence" and meet with the parents and principal.
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  • mom2andmom2and 3010 replies20 threads Senior Member
    edited February 2019
    If that were actually the case, then of course that is a coerced confession. But all the parent knows is the student's perspective. In the later posts, it sounds like the HR teacher is supportive of the son and still thinks he is a great kid, although also believing he made a mistake. So not clear that he was interrogated to the point of making a false confession. It is unlikely that this is the first time this principal has been in this situation (although not with this teacher). But that may be the case.

    While i think my relationship with my kid is critical, i would also want my kid to be honest, if he did this, or learn to stick up for himself better if he didn't. If he is in legal trouble, of course he should ask for a lawyer and not answer questions. But not sure that in school or in college a kid that is accused of plagiarism or cheating is entitled to not answer the charge or hire a lawyer.
    edited February 2019
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  • mom2andmom2and 3010 replies20 threads Senior Member
    Schools are not obligated to bring in a parent prior to disciplining a student and certainly not just to question a student. If a kid breaks a school rule, there is a consequence and the parent is notified. The police are not legally required to contact you before questioning your minor child. The child has the right to remain silent or ask for an attorney, but if they talk to police without parents present it can be a valid confession.
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  • roycroftmomroycroftmom 3422 replies40 threads Senior Member
    Lots of people will speak to your minor child. If you don't like that, you better lock them in the house for 18 years.
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  • sylvan8798sylvan8798 6675 replies141 threads Senior Member
    Super smart kids can do math in their heads and are known for not showing work. It sounds, to me, like this is a brilliant student who is smarter than his teacher.
    Meh, not likely, lol. Nothing in op’s post to indicate that. It does seem like the teacher is fairly new on the job and perhaps a bit overzealous.
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  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 23836 replies17 threads Senior Member
    The teacher's test, the teacher's rules. Teacher could have easily said "Show your work or no credit on the problem." Even back in the stone age, that was the rule for my math teachers. Teacher should have marked the exam with a zero.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 35239 replies399 threads Senior Member
    edited February 2019
    My kids were required to show the calculations, too. And in logical order, not just a scratchsheet. They could lose test points for incorrect process, even if the final answer were correct.

    What I'd say to mine is, "I'm going to go to bat for you, but I need the straight scoop on what we're dealing with." What were the requirements, why did they suspect cheating, etc.(Eg, was anything else going on? Talking, looking around, etc.) And I would go to bat, if it came to that.

    Good chance a prep doesn't report this with college reports. Unless they're the ultra serious, take no prisoners sort. And if other teachers like and respect him, you can deal later with their LoRs. Important to be on the GCs good side.

    My kid got tagged for something dubious. She handled this and the headmaster chat herself. 11th grade? It was dropped. Sometimes, you need to think about what's war and what's not.
    edited February 2019
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  • EmpireappleEmpireapple 1984 replies27 threads Senior Member
    I agree with the poster who suggested your son is smarter than his teacher. It seems to me if they are describing him as brilliant he easily could have derived the answer without showing all his work. That is one of the first indicators teachers are to look for among young children as a sign of being gifted. They just "know" the answers. I'm certain your son's math teacher is not brilliant as well. (I'm not slamming teachers...I am one...he would be something other than a high school teacher if he were brilliant too).

    I also agree that one course of action right now might be to just keep this off his permanent record. Very important.

    The principal and teacher were wrong to speak to your son about something so serious without contacting you as well. That was completely out of line and something you can use to keep this off his record. Another thought I have is to demand he take another test, alone, without any other students present. This would give him a fair opportunity to show his ability. Your reasoning to request this is because there is no actual proof that he cheated (only the teacher's opinion) so they owe your son the opportunity to test again. Did the teacher see him copy the classmate's paper? It sounds like she/he did not. So it is an accusation without proof. Use this to demand action.

    I would caution you that the additional math teacher present will probably not be unbiased. Most likely the course teacher and the teacher from the dept. are friends and work together. Unless you get lucky and for some reason the second teacher is highly ethical and knows more about the course teacher than you do. Sadly, I have watched most teachers "stick together" even when they know one is in the wrong.

    If your son will not have this teacher in future years, and the rest of his experience is positive at his school, try to move on and put this behind you. There are always bad apples and this is a lesson for everyone.

    In terms of getting a lawyer...honestly where I live and where I have worked, the administration would respond to that. I have found teachers and administrators can often be bullies and do not keep their own power in check until you bring in a bigger power. Again, I have been and educator for over 25 years. I've seen it all.

    Good luck,. I am so sorry this happened to your son. Of course he crumbled under that type of pressure while being accused. Honest, hard working students who hold themselves to high standards always do. It's the others who can handle that pressure and lie right to your face.
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  • MWolfMWolf 2053 replies14 threads Senior Member
    @mom2and wrote:
    The police are not legally required to contact you before questioning your minor child. The child has the right to remain silent or ask for an attorney, but if they talk to police without parents present it can be a valid confession.
    If police had detained a minor in that situation, and had told the kid that they couldn't leave until they confessed, that confession would have been thrown out by any court. It would be considered as detaining the kid, which is the same as an arrest, and telling a kid that they have to answer violates Miranda laws. The kid would have had to be notified that they do not have to say anything, which did not happen.

    Of course, these weren't police, so Miranda rights are not relevant here.
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  • SatchelSFSatchelSF 1372 replies13 threads Senior Member
    edited February 2019
    I agree with the idea that there are kids who can solve most BC calc problems appearing on typical high school tests in their heads, without showing intermediate work. I also agree that most HS teachers will generally be quite a lot less talented at math than these kids.

    For the OP, how good is your son at math? That is the threshold question. Start with that. If he is exceptional, then I think I would try to fight this. The school will never show you the other kid's test because of privacy concerns. A lawyer could help here, but it is a lot of fight for not much payoff, unfortunately.

    Best of luck, I know it is frustrating.
    edited February 2019
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 6305 replies10 threads Senior Member
    If the kid is so good at math that he can do it in his head, he should have no trouble foing what the teacher wants and getting 100 in every test going forward and a 5 on the exam. Or a 100 on a make-up exam. This grade seems fixable. And success is the best revenge!

    In reading this thread, I wonder if the kid feels pressure to get great grades from the parent, perhaps to the point of cheating. Whether he cheated or not, I think the issue may be addressing the relationship with the parent. OP, you are clearly 100% behind your kid -- that is so critical! Maybe he needs to know you are 100% behind him whether he gets straight As or not. You are going to go to bat for him with whatever he needs, and who knows what's at play here. Peer pressure, need to please you, needs a tutor, needs to stand up to authority. You are hearing only his side of the story and perhaps only the side he thinks you want to hear.
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