California High Schooler Sues School Over Bad Chem Grade

A California high school student is taking his complaint over a chemistry grade to court. Bowen Bethards, a 17-year-old sophomore from Albany High School in Albany, California, is suing his school and district for giving him a grade of C+, and thus hurting his chances of being accepted to a good college.

Bethards, who filed jointly with his mother Laureen, said that Bowen’s chemistry teacher Peggy Carlock retaliated against him for missing one day of mandatory lab. Bowen said that he notified his teacher beforehand that he would be unable to attend due to a court appearance at the adoption hearings of his younger sister. He was under the impression that Carlock agreed to have him makeup the lab on a different day. However, when the day came and Bethards showed up, Carlock refused to allow him to proceed and said instead that she was going to “fail him.”

“My son was denied his rights and they stole his grade from him,” Laureen Bethards told  “He had a 106 percent and he always went to class and he missed that one class and he was entitled to make up that missed lab and they didn’t let him.”

Complaints placed by Laureen Bethards on her son’s behalf escalated all the way to the Albany Unified School District’s superintendent, Marla Stephenson, and resulted in a $10,000 government claim filed against the District by the Bethards last year.

Although the claim for compensation was denied, the district officials did agree to change the grade to a B. However, this solution wasn’t satisfactory. In their lawsuit, Bowen and Laureen are asking for both the financial compensation and a grade change to an A+. Both believe that they put in sufficient effort making sure that Bowen would be allowed to make up the lab at a later date and trusted that the agreement with the school was solid. In light of the fact that Bowen had missed only one or two days of school during the whole academic year, the decision by the school to deny him the opportunity to make up the work was unreasonable, Laureen explained.

Laureen said that they’re not interested in getting a grade that wasn’t earned.

“He had his grade taken away from him and got a C instead of the A that he’d worked so hard all year long to achieve by a teacher who, I discovered, had a habit of doing this to students,” Bethards said.  “This is a kid who worked every day, worked on the weekends, studied and had earned his grade in chemistry.”

The two parties will next meet in September for a case management conference.  The Bethards’ aim is to end the dispute before Bethards, now a rising senior, has to apply for college in the fall.  He hopes to attend either UCLA or UC-San Diego to study pre-med.

08 7, 2012
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