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10th Grader Falsely Accused of Cheating

AndromacheAndromache Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
As the title states, my 10th grader was falsely accused of cheating on a math test last week. The test was last Weds., and by Weds. night, the teacher had already emailed the principal to report him for cheating. The next day, my son said he was called out of class and brought into a room with said teacher and his two homeroom teachers. He was told that he had cheated, because he had the same answer on two problems of the person sitting next to him, basically without the supporting steps outlined thereon. He said he had "consulted with a colleague" who also said it was impossible from the work on the page to derive those answers. It is Calc BC and no one else in the room (the homeroom teachers) understands the his explanation. My son got really emotional and broke down in tears, and couldn't really explain himself well. He described it as like being in front of a tribunal that already decided he was guilty. So, unfortunately, he apparently made a false confession in the hopes of escaping more of their ire. He mistakenly believed that he would be "in less trouble" by going along with what they wanted him to say, which was that he cheated.

Meanwhile, I was never contacted about this matter, and only heard about it from my son that evening. I arranged a meeting with the principal and the three teachers involved, by my son was told that he should not be present. So, the case was made by three people that he cheated, and admitted to cheating. My son has been at this school for 4 years and has an impeccable reputation as a great student with a lot integrity, empathy, and is an all-around asset there in every regard. He does not cheat, has never cheated, has never needed to cheat, and I believe him. Besides his character, there is no reason to cheat since it is just two weeks into the semester and students are allowed to retake tests if they are not satisfied with their scores, since the tests are made to be extremely difficult. We ended with the teacher insisting he take a zero on the test, with no other way to redeem himself, which means that he would be penalized by *at least* 10 percent of his grade for the semester. The principal agreed with me that the penalty was far too harsh, and that the situation had not been handled correctly at all. However, the teacher will not budge, even with her intervention, and the principal told me that she recommended I pursue it with the head of the school.

I have arranged another meeting with the principal with another math teacher and my son, so that he has the opportunity to explain his work. Beyond that, I am planning to take this to the head of school as necessary.

What I am wondering here is if there is anything else I can do, or should be doing, to end this nightmare. My son plans to pursue a STEM career, not to mention that his reputation at the school is marred by this accusation.
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Replies to: 10th Grader Falsely Accused of Cheating

  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 10,386 Senior Member
    False accusations drive me crazy. One of mine left a college because it was so hurtful, so I understand.

    Why didn't they just ask him to explain his work before accusing him?

    He did not help himself with a false confession. Why on earth did he do that?

    I would talk to a lawyer myself. I don't have a lot of money but it would be a good use of $200.
  • AndromacheAndromache Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
    It's crazy. The teacher actually contacted the principal to accuse him of cheating before he even spoke with my son at all. I really don't understand his mindset when he made the false confession. He just said that totally panicked and wanted it to be over. He said that the three of them were very angry and insisting that he admit to cheating, and that they were getting increasingly angry at his denials. I've been thinking I might need to contact a lawyer, but one problem is that I don't have a good alternative to this high school, and he has two more years to go.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 75,426 Senior Member
    However, assume that all of the school will be against him (the accusing teacher will tell other teachers that he us a cheater). College planning should assume that he will get an F in the course, and will be the favorite target of cheating accusations, possibly resulting in more F grades in the future. Recommendations should be assumed be bad.

    That is a harsh lesson to learn about falsely admitting guilt.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 75,426 Senior Member
    Is this high school the only nearby high school?
  • HamurtleHamurtle Registered User Posts: 1,927 Senior Member
    10th grader in BC-is this Basis?
  • AndromacheAndromache Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
    He is well-liked and admired by his teachers. The teacher accusing him has only taught for one year, and just got his degree a year prior to that. The homeroom teachers stated in the meeting that he was a "brilliant" student and that they did not hold the incident against him, nor did they feel that it was a reflection of his character. They said they thought he just made a mistake. Also, there's no reason for him to get an F in the course, unless he fails on everything for the rest of the semester.
  • coolweathercoolweather Registered User Posts: 5,918 Senior Member
    Several 10th graders take Calc BC. That's not unusual.
  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 21,023 Senior Member
    Did the other students also have the answer without showing the work? Why don't you ask if son can take the same test or a similar test and show his work. Why not ask if he can change his seat?

    I don't think your son is going to recover from this is everyone is angry and accusing everyone else.
  • coolweathercoolweather Registered User Posts: 5,918 Senior Member
    edited February 17
    Was the other kid who had the same answer punished by that teacher too?
    Was the answer wrong or right?
    Did your son let the other kid look at his answer?
    He said he had "consulted with a colleague" who also said it was impossible from the work on the page to derive those answers.

    Did you son explain how he got the answer?
  • AndromacheAndromache Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
    I'm not completely sure about what the person sitting next to him had on the test. I don't understand the math, and we were not allowed to see the other kid's test. 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. I don't remember what he said about a second problem.

    My son doesn't let others look at his paper. I've always been paranoid about this, though, because he said that people have often looked at his paper while during tests. In this case, my son said that he's sure that the other kid did not cheat, either.
  • AndromacheAndromache Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
    He said he tried to explain, but was very shaken up and that they did not believe him. Only one person in the room would have any chance of understanding the explanation, and that's the teacher that made the accusation. I've requested that another math teacher be present for our meeting so that he can explain it to someone who is unbiased (hopefully, that is).
  • roycroftmomroycroftmom Registered User Posts: 2,114 Senior Member
    Unfortunately, the student being able to explain it now is irrelevant. It has been days since the event, he has had plenty of time to think about it, and the lack of work shown on the test is really problematic. I would shift into damage control mode. Take the zero, have him apologize since he already confessed, and meet with the head of school to see if it can be kept off the transcript for college. A zero is not a bad penalty, many schools would suspend the student.
  • coolweathercoolweather Registered User Posts: 5,918 Senior Member
    I tend to agree with @roycroftmom. If you strongly believe that your son did not cheat then you should fight. But you need to have a sincere conversation with your son first: did he cheat or not? The argument of the teacher seems strong. Your son cried and admitted it. Ask your son what really happened in the first meeting. Sometimes a distressed kid cannot remember everything in a meeting. Your son is good and wise in school most of the time. But he could also make an unwise decision. The consequence of losing the fight will have a big impact on your son at his school.
  • allyphoeallyphoe Registered User Posts: 2,185 Senior Member
    Since the teacher's evidence seems to be that it was mathematically impossible to arrive at the answer via the work that was shown, if he can get from one to the other by any logical means, I think he'd be fine. This isn't the same as having no work at all shown.

    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.

  • sunnyschoolsunnyschool Registered User Posts: 1,209 Senior Member
    edited February 17
    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. However, don't say that.

    Can he offer to take a re-test?
    He should be able to demonstrate how he did the problem, to the principal or math supervisor. Can he do that?

    Ultimately, the grade on the AP Calc BC exam will tell the story. If he gets a 4/5, then he has mastered the material. But you won't have those results until July.
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