Here is an illustration of what teachers deal with:

A kid in my 10th grade Biology course doesn’t turn in any work for several weeks, gets a slew of zeros and is now failing for the quarter. A month later, his mom writes me (his teacher) to demand that I allow him to make up the work that was due as far back as October 6th. Here is the email chain that followed:

From: Angry Mom
Date: November 11, 2019
To: Other teacher
CC: Divemedic
Subject: Lazy Son
I am reaching out to you in regards to my son mentioned above. I am his mother and I am concerned with his grades in school and would like to schedule a parent teacher meeting with you and his other teachers as well to try to figure out why his grades are so low, what’s going on, is he not doing classwork or homework, just to try to get a grasp on what’s going on and a better understanding and some help for him so his grades will improve. Please respond back to me via email so we can schedule a conference please. Thank you in advance and I hope you have a wonderful week.
Angry Mom

Conference was scheduled for Tuesday the 18th by the other teacher, but I was off that week and didn’t attend. Here is the email that I got on December 2:

I’m just following up on my last email regarding my son , Lazy Student. He told me his missing assignments are from a book that you will not allow him to take home. I am asking for a response from you before going to the guidance counselor. He has a free period everyday for a class that he has already finished and I don’t see why he can’t come to your class on that free period and get his missing work turned in. Let me know what options he has as I am trying to prevent him failing your class.
Thank you,
Angry Mom

Note that I took off the week before Thanksgiving. I don’t take off many days, and I had weeks of vacation on the books and had to burn some of them. Before I could answer her email (I have students and can only answer emails during my lunch), my computer died and when it was finally fixed by IT on Wednesday, I answered her with this:

I apologize for the delay in my response, my computer died and I have been working without one for the past several days.
 Students may take books home, if they sign one out. However, there is no homework in this class, and students are given significant amounts of time to complete these activities in class. If they fail to complete them in class, they can bring the assignment in the next day for full credit, and up to five days later for partial credit.
 Unfortunately, Lazy’s free period is during sixth period, and I am not teaching Biology during that period. I cannot dedicate time away from my other students and their needs to provide specialized instruction to students who were not willing to complete their work when it was assigned, as the rest of their classmates were able to do.
 At this point, he currently has a 45 percent F for the quarter, and there is little that can be done to salvage his grade. His best hope is to spend the weekend studying for his quarter exam, which he will be taking on Monday, and to study for the midterm exam that he will be taking the following week. Perhaps a high score on one or both of those exams would serve to increase his grade. 

This apparently pissed her off, because I got this back in return:

So you’re telling me that you won’t allow him to sign a book out and bring it home and still turn in his missing assignments Because it’s past the free period and we were not made aware of this until now because you were on vacation for ten days and not present for the conference we had with his guidance counselor and then the kids were out for a week due to thanksgiving break ? His other teachers are allowing him to still turn in his work so that he doesn’t fail but you will not allow it ? Even possibly taking points off for it being late ? Is that what you are telling me ? You would rather let my child fail when you have the capability of helping him catch it up as his other teachers are ? I just want to be clear. Lazy is in trouble for not getting this work done when he should have but I have been reaching out to you for weeks now with only getting a response yesterday. I will wait for your response to this email.
Thank you ,
Angry Mom

So here was my next answer to her, which I also carbon copied to my boss:

Again, students are given ample time to complete all assignments in class. If the assigned work is not completed, students are told to complete it and bring it back the next day. If they fail to do so, the work is considered to be late work. As far as late work being accepted, the syllabus states that if any assignment is late, one full letter grade will be deducted for each class day that the assignment is late. After the third day, the assignment will not be accepted and the student will receive a ‘zero’ for the assignment. I have actually tried to be lenient in Lazy’s case, and offered to let him turn in missing work that was up to a week late. This policy is in place because the concepts taught in this class are taught in a specific sequence, with the knowledge learned in one week being applied to concepts being mastered in the current week. With Biology being a vocabulary intensive course, a student who falls behind will have difficulty understanding classroom discussions if they do not understand the words being spoken. This makes it difficult to master the course content. Since each course has its own requirements and pacing, this means that each teacher has their own policy for how they deal with late work. How those teachers choose to present their course and how they choose to handle late work has no bearing whatsoever on my course or classroom.

 All students have been aware of that since the first day of school, as we reviewed this policy during that time. In addition, the syllabus is on the class website. I will attach a copy of the syllabus to this email. It would be unfair to show favoritism by allowing one student an exception to this policy while holding others accountable. The fact that I was on vacation has absolutely no bearing on this policy, and I am not interested in debating vacation policies or my personal life with my students or their parents. 

This is when she became unglued:

Thank you for your rather RUDE response!! Teachers are supposed to help struggling students and the fact that you WERE on vacation and therefore not present for the parent/teacher/guidance counselor DOES have bearing on this situation!! But you have made it quite clear what kind of teacher you are and that you would rather have students fail then help them due to “your policies” which I am not expecting leniency for JUST MY CHILD !!! I feel it is your responsibility to first of all help your students and second of all to RESPOND TO A PARENT EMAIL ASKING FOR HELP and not some lame excuse about your computer being broken !!! I have emailed you 4 times in the past month. I’m quite certain there are computers at the school that you have access to. This will not end here. I will be contacting the dean when I get back in town requesting a conference with YOU !! 

I will not be answering this email, and have referred her to my boss. 
Categories: Uncategorized


jwl · December 7, 2019 at 2:36 pm

I have to ask … At what grade level (roughly) is this student?

Divemedic · December 7, 2019 at 2:41 pm

I teach high school science. This particular student is a 16 year old high school sophomore.

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