10th Grader Falsely Accused of Cheating

Maybe the “angry and insisting” part needs to come first? How about this:

  • Son is removed from class and meets with math teacher and 2 homeroom teachers.
  • Son is asked if he cheated.
  • Son says no.
  • Son is explained the ramifications of cheating, and asked again if he cheated.
  • Son says no, again.
  • Son is getting upset and anxious.
  • Teacher says he doesn't believe him, and is asked again if he cheated.
  • Son says no, again.
  • Son starts to sweat. More anxiety.
  • Son is asked "how did you get the answer then?"
  • Son tries to explain but explanation is not accepted.
  • Son breaks down emotionally.
  • Son is asked again if he cheated. Son says no.
  • "Good" cop enters the conversation. "You know this will go easier for you if you just be honest." "We're not going to do anything to you. Just be honest." "You cheated, didn't you."
  • Son says "yes."
  • Questioning stops and son is relieved, but continues to sob.

The problem is that we don’t know what the work showed or didn’t show.

Some of my math and engineering tests in college had this requirement by the professors: “Show your work. No work no credit.” Cal BC is a college level class.

2 of my 3 kids took Cal BC in 10 grade too. They dare not to ignore the teachers’ rules because they knew they would lose points. My son could answer algebra questions in the middle school Mathcounts competition or calculus questions in high school academic league competitions in less than 3 or 5 seconds.

You’re right. Never has a HS teacher/administrator been on a power trip.

If you’re going to accuse a student of cheating, you better have all of your ducks in a row. It’s a serious offense. You better have strong evidence. It seems the evidence they are using is the “confession” rather than the test itself. That’s what needs to change.

@yourmomma You added in an entire narrative that the OP did not include. The fiction of that is great but just list in order what mom wrote then added in her follow up posts. This might be your experience, your imagination, or even what mom has imagined, but it is not presented in what mom wrote. Again, this is not some Law and Order episode written for entertainment, this is real life. What possible reason for accusing a bright (teacher said “brilliant” according to mom), upstanding student? What is the motive behind such an interrogation? It is nonsense.

The school is going to want to talk to the student and see if he confesses before getting into a he said/she said situation between a student/parent/teacher but all logic of a first year teacher vs. an admired smart student would suggest to offer an out if the student says “this is my work, I’m not sure exactly now how I got from point a to point d but I did, and I did not cheat”. If that was the case, I am certain the school would not have pushed it more. Where is the common sense that 3 ADULTS plus an administrator, respected teachers at a school where this mom has kept her child for 4 years, people who make the choice to work with kids knowing that they get this type of cr*p, would make up an entire narrative and push this child into confessing something he didn’t do? What would be the purpose?

At out school, a cheating accusation would involve the teacher and the child’s advisor and perhaps the disciplinary committee. The additional people are there to ensure everyone hears the same things and reacts fairly, not to gang up. I always appreciated this as there was a guaranteed adult advocate in the room.

@Yourmama “If you’re going to accuse a student of cheating, you better have all of your ducks in a row.”

2 identical incorrect wrong answers with no work shown…no ability to explain how answer was derived…confession.


I have no idea if the kid cheated, but vilification of the educator should not be the default response.

Your momma’s proposed narrative does not sound far fetched to me. Of course, we don’t know whether or not things happened that way. That’s why the parents should have been called.

In the past, when I read news stories of medical abuse, I always suspected there was more to the story. Why would any medical professional behave that way… 3 years ago, I was the victim of an incompetent nurse and a negligent doctor who instead of apologizing for making a life-threatening mistake, attempted to shame and bully me into silence. I was so baffled by the whole experience that I reached out to a few good friends (a nurse and 2 doctors) who said this behavior is unfortunately common, and patients would never know who the incompetent bullies are because the worst offenders seemingly have the best bedside manner.

Maybe you have to go through something like that to know you don’t give your blind allegiance to any human in any profession. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t recognize that others in their profession can at times be mistaken, incompetent, deceitful, power hungry, etc. Why would we assume ALL teachers are above reproach?

Maybe the student was coerced into confessing, maybe he wasn’t. We don’t know the answer because his true advocates (his parents) weren’t present. If the matter was important enough to have 3 teachers in the room to confront 1 child, then it was important enough to have parents present. With 3 teachers in the room against 1 student, there was a definite imbalance of power, no matter how great or well-intentioned the teachers may have been.

There are some parents who obviously believe their child is perfect and anyone trying to curb the kid’s conduct for the good of the school (and the kid’s character) is in the wrong, and nothing will change their view. Those kids will not have a good adulthood.

Jazzymom7, your example actually works against the kid, not the teacher. When caught in the wrong, people try to cover up, whether they are doctors or students, as likely occurred in this case. That is a far cry from claiming the teachers are on some vendetta against the kid, just as the doctors likely didn’t intentionally cause a risky mistake because they were on a vendetta against you. In both cases, parties tried to evade responsibility for their actions.

@roycroftmom My example was more about whether or not individuals in certain professions are inherently trustworthy. Medical professionals no longer get my blind trust. Neither do I believe teachers deserve blind trust.

Sometimes students cheat. Sometimes teachers mistakenly believe a student cheated. Were it my kid, I wouldn’t assume guilt or innocence. I would want to be present in conversations about the incident, and I’d want to see the evidence.

If my kid were to come home and say he was in a 3 vs 1 meeting like the one OP described, I would be very disturbed. Regardless of whether or not the student cheated, IMO, the meeting was inappropriate.

Sure there is some writer’s embellishment in my take. But it wasn’t a simple “confessed to cheating.” The evidence we do have is that they were getting “angry” with his denials. And that they continued to accuse him after his denials. That’s how you coerce a confession. Why would they do that? I don’t know. But what I do know is that some do. The OP also states that the Principal disagrees with the punishment but the teacher won’t “budge.” That tells me something. Why won’t the teacher budge? Maybe his ego is in the way?

My kid was accused. I was accused. The same tactics where used 40 years apart. Both cases were BS.

@jazzymomof7 “My example was more about whether or not individuals in certain professions are inherently trustworthy.”

I trust the student when he said he was unable to explain how his answer was derived and that he cheated. I look at motivations.

The student had everything to gain by cheating and denying it to his parents who apparently believe him blindly. The teacher and school have nothing to gain by accusing a highly regarded student.

@Nocreativity1 According to the student, he was coerced by 3 adults into making that confession. 2 of the adults did not understand the math involved, and the only adult in the room who did understand the math is a first year teacher who did have something to gain by making sure that once he had gone to such lengths to accuse the student, the student was found guilty and punished.

Jazzymomof7, the school likely wanted to find out the truth. Once the parents are involved, and often their lawyers, that is much less likely to happen , as it is in everyone’s interest to dig their heels in and not talk to the other side. No, I really don’t think a false confession is likely in this case (compared to custodial police cases where the accused may already have a record or other undisclosed felonies to worry about). I’m glad the school had 3 adult witnesses-If they had fewer, parents would be complaining about that too, claiming collusion.

OP hasn’t been back on since yesterday, and will be surprised no doubt to see where this all has gone! Anyway, there are lots of assumptions being made, only some of which seem supported. Here is what caught my eye in the OP’s posts:

This is a very inexperienced teacher, and may already have switched jobs prior to arriving at this school. As to ability, that is an open question. This is a high school, not the NSA or Google, and talented math degree holders have many options.

This is a red flag to me. Appealing to some unnamed authority figure who was not present at the meeting suggests a lack of confidence or incompetence, combined with a desire to justify actions to the principal, who didn’t understand the math:

It does not appear likely that the student got the questions wrong, at least to me:

It seems the absence of supporting steps underlay the belief that the student cheated, not the identical answers, implying that both students’ answers were correct (if both problems were wrong, then there would be no question of cheating, no need to “consult a colleague,” etc.) Again, we do not know what sort of questions, but if we are talking simple things like computing the definite integral of a simple function or a simple u-substitution integration - roughly where we might be in BC in Feb - yeah, plenty of kids could do those in their heads with no work.

Finally, it appears that the principal has some doubts about the teacher too:

I have personally seen new and inexperienced teachers get defensive when challenged and dig in their heels. One at my kid’s school last year was dismissed mid-semester, and I played some role in having another teacher’s policies put under the microscope, which resulted in multiple grade changes for multiple kids. I hope OP comes back and comments further.

We actually don’t know what the teacher did. All we know is what the student, by way of what they told their parent, thinks the teacher did. That’s the biggest problem here, we are only hearing one side.

But this is not what happened. Work was shown. It is alleged that the work couldn’t lead to the answer. The kid had a hard time explaining himself during interrogation.

Maybe, just maybe what you do is call little johnny in after class and ask him how he got his answer without any allegation of cheating. Let him explain. If he can fine. If he can’t, fine. Now you have some corroborating evidence and you can move on from there.

And, you see, to me, this suggests due diligence, as in a check to make sure this is probably cheating before I accuse a student.

MODERATOR’S NOTE: This thread has turned into one big debate with lots of assumptions being made on both sides. I am closing it. The OP can start a new thread to update. @Andromache