Assist! My principal modified our high athlete’s grade

Dear WeAreTeachers,
I teach our high school basketball star. Earlier in the quarter, he submitted a plagiarized essay, an automatic zero in our school’s grading policy. His parents and my AP urged me to have him redo the essay, which I did, but he never submitted one. I finished his grades with a zero for the plagiarized essay, but later found that my AP had changed it to an 85. When I asked my AP why, he said, “I changed it because I thought he’d turned it in and didn’t want to, so that’s why I called you so close to midnight.” Is it petty revenge or an ethical obligation, mine AP to report at this point? —Petty Patty and the personal foul

Dear PPATPF,

It is important that both sides consider whether or not to report your AP in this case. Take a look at how these teachers reacted, and then I’ll add my two cents.

“What we allow, we encourage.”

“It’s a tough saying to live by in the moment, but one you’ll never regret in the long run. Knowing this lie and not saying anything means you are okay with it, and it sounds like you don’t think that’s okay. Report it and drop the chips; nothing is worth your integrity!”

– Barbara G.

“Unfortunately, it is your name that is listed on this certificate as responsible for this grade.”

“Talk to your union or association if you have one. Honestly, I’d get as far away from this train wreck as possible, but again, your name will be involved, and I’m just not sure I’d be willing to live with it without a fight.

– Jill M

“I would say that in that case you might have to take the main road.”

“Just documenting it in case this becomes a pattern but it sounds like it would be a situation he said/they said/family said. In the end, I can imagine the administration blaming the teacher for not following up the student.”

– Ayla D

I agree with Ayla that it’s not worth the who-said-what argument to suggest that your AP changed the grade even though he knew full well that the paper wasn’t turned in. But I also don’t think you have to just sit by and allow an unethical movement, especially one associated with your name, as Jill pointed out.

I would email your district athletic director and CC your AP and principal. Clarify that the student did not receive a passing grade in your course and that the grade was changed from fail to pass by your AP, assuming the paper was turned in. Be absolutely factual, but assume the best intentions of your AP part (at least in writing). Does that throw him under the bus? I’m sure of him. But if your AP makes an obviously unethical decision that undermines your integrity, I think they’ve abandoned the courtesy of a pre-conference.

Earlier in my career I would have said let the athlete have that win and move on. But after working at a K-12 school for seven years, I feel different. We understand how damaging it is to a child’s development to protect them from failure. The longer we wait to let them experience and process failure, the more severe the consequences (emotional, legal, social, etc.) will be when they finally do.

Dear WeAreTeachers,
I coach our middle school’s track team that practices after school. I have a parent who is often late to pick up their daughter. Being picked up late every now and then isn’t a big deal, but she’s always about ten minutes late for every workout. I spoke to her twice to clarify our training end time. She is always very friendly and apologizes but after a week or so she will be late again. I want to sympathize with your hectic schedule, but I also WANT TO GO HOME. – Not here for unpaid work

Dear NHUL,

It’s nice of you to empathize with the parents. But your time also counts. Ten minutes of wasted time adds up quickly when it happens every day of the week.

Tell your principal that a parent is consistently late for pickup despite reminders. Get advice on what your next steps should be. Your administrator probably has an idea how to handle this situation. You may also want to speak to your district’s athletic director. It sounds like writing expectations for a timely pickup in the athletics paperwork would be a good idea.

If parents are having a hard time adjusting their schedule, offer to help them find a carpool. The best outcome is a student who stays on course and a teacher whose after-school routine stays on course.

Dear WeAreTeachers,
I’m in my first year as an 8th grade science teacher. I struggle with a specific classroom management issue that was definitely never talked about in my classroom classes: boys making sexual moaning noises during class. I of course told them to stop but they either act like they don’t know what I’m talking about or they do when I have my back turned and there’s no way I can figure out who did it to them to punish. I don’t want to impose a consequence on the whole class and I don’t want to tell my principal that I’m dealing with such a gross class problem. What can I do? – Boys will be boys held accountable for their actions

Dear BWBHAFTA,

Ah yes. I saw the emergence of this in my classroom and hated it too. I nipped it in the bud with, “So how do you think I should phrase this noise you’re making in an email to your mom about your behavior?”. But only because I knew who was behind it. I also looped with my students for three years. They knew very well when I wasn’t here to play.

Since you’re not sure who is making the noise and it seems like it’s getting out of control, email an admin. Let them know you are being sexually harassed by students in one of your classes. If you’re feeling uncomfortable and upset, chances are you have students who feel the same way.

If your AP doesn’t offer this, ask them to come over and give a mini-lesson on sexual harassment. Make sure students understand the legal ramifications if the harassment continues. The students making these noises need a lesson in consent. Also, your other students need to see that their teacher does not tolerate breaking boundaries.

Do you have a burning question? Email us at askweareteachers@weareteachers.com.

Dear WeAreTeachers,
After being on a very cliche fourth grade team last year, I asked to be promoted to fifth grade. Not being “in” with my new team this year is affecting my job. The whole team “forgot” to include me in their Halloween plans, so they showed up in a matching costume. I did not. They also “accidentally” used the wrong group text for last minute critical updates about a field trip, which made me look completely lost and disorganized in front of all of our parent carers. What can I do? – Just no cliques

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