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Dropped cheating accusation doesn't help my daughter

(16 Posts)
SAmumindistress Sat 02-Nov-13 07:45:28

My daughter was falsely accused of cheating in an end of year exam.

When marking papers, the teacher noticed that my daughters paper and the paper of the girl who sits next to her were identical in their responses and this raised a suspicion of cheating.

Prior to this, my daughter had complained to me that this girl had tried to cheat from her in other tests by asking her to move her arm and/or her paper. She refused. My daughter didn't notice any cheating in this latest exam. She won't tell the teacher as this girl can and will make life very difficult for her.

When questioned together, both girls denied cheating although no satisfactory explanation for the identical answers was provided.

The cheat is a popular girl, the class captain and a first team sports player. She is also bright and has no reason to need to cheat.

The school has decided to drop the investigation but they haven't exonerated either girl. This is eating my daughter up inside. She wants her name to be cleared. She has told her few school friends that she's been falsely accused of cheating and they have revealed that this girl has also tried to cheat from them but they too fear what will happen to them if they get involved.

Now the teacher has disciplined my daughter for protesting her innocence. She told her to stop speaking of the matter and to let it drop.

I called the school and told them that my daughter is suffering. I explained that she fears retaliation from this girl if she speaks out. I suggested that threatening to give both girls a zero mark might force the culprit to confess out of conscience or spur the class to speak out as they would not want to see an innocent person punished.

The teacher responded to the effect that if forced to continue with this investigation, the school would have to reveal to the other girl that my daughter had supplied new allegations (she didn't - that was me), that it still might not result in anyone being punished and she would have to take the consequences of that.

I'm shocked at the way the school is handling this. As a parent, what is my next step?

peteneras Sat 02-Nov-13 08:10:05

I'll tell you what is my next step. First, I'll make sure 110 percent that my DC is innocent and telling the truth and then I'll instruct my solicitor to write to the school and demanding an apology. To me, it's not only my DC's repuation which is at stake but my whole family's too.

steppemum Sat 02-Nov-13 08:25:06

well the trouble with that peteneras is that then OPs dd will have to say why she is the innocent one.

I think actually that the school is a bit over a barrel on this. Your dd and her friends all know this girl is cheating. It is possible that school even knows, but unless someone is prepared to say that it has happened, the school is stuck.

I don't like the way the school is handling it, but they have probably gone down the line of dropping it, to protect whichever of them is innocent. The school can't pursue it, unless someone actually accuses this girl.

The only suggestion I have is a meeting with the school, outlining the situation and asking them to assure dd that she is innocent and keep the other girl under surveillance.

peteneras Sat 02-Nov-13 09:06:59

No not really, steppemum, OP’s DD does not have to say anything at all except to insist that she is 100% innocent, and I’m assuming exactly that she is indeed 100% innocent. It is the school’s heavy handed approach and insistence that OP’s DD is guilty without any proof or foundation that I cannot stomach. Again, I’m assuming OP’s DD is 100% innocent, I can’t emphasise this enough!

What impression does the school’s handling of this matter impart on it’s students? That you can go and accuse anyone of any kind of wrongdoing without proof or foundation? What consequences can this attitude result in the wider world outside school? The school must apologise.

FiveExclamations Sat 02-Nov-13 09:12:56

Has the school agreed to not sit this girl next to your DD in future? If you are not prepared to push things because of consequences to your daughter (I completely understand why) then I would definitely lobby for this.

lljkk Sat 02-Nov-13 09:39:49

I totally see this from school's POV & don't see how they can do better.

If you will let a fear of bullies rule your life then this is what happens. And even if a slew of kids stand up to identify the other girl as a chronic cheater it's still just Heresay; there is no proof. The school can't act on rumours. All the accusations would do is get the girl into an interview room where she might be pressured into confessing. The school can act on nothing less.

Of course OP believes her own child but that's just a parent's own faith. We have no idea what story the other girl is spinning. OP & her DD are the ones pursuing this & making it into a chronic problem. If school is willing to let it go then let it go. Although I would demand that my DD not be sat next to other girl during exams in future.

Moominmammacat Sat 02-Nov-13 09:45:03

This happened to me 40 years ago and I'm still furious. My mother wouldn't back me up because she thought I was making a fuss even though I was the innocent one. I'd battle on with school and take consequences but the important thing is that your daughter knows you believe her. Good luck.

AuntieStella Sat 02-Nov-13 09:51:46

As OP says it was end of year exam, then it was last June/July that this incident took place (or are you say antipodean) and the allegations your DD made could be from an exam round even earlier than that. There may not be much that can now be established, as it is coming down to one person's word against another. As none of your DD's friend's would have seen anything, and may be saying 'I believe you' to the other girls too (if she is also continuing talking to third parties about it).

If your DD won't talk to a teacher in confidence (perhaps you could point out that that is a more discreet option than involving classmates of them both), then I think further investigation by the school will prove fruitless.

Further action by the school - eg ensuring tactfully your DD is nowhere near the other pupil - is however vital.

schoolnurse Sat 02-Nov-13 10:16:15

The school as you said could not find a satisfactory explanation as to why answers were identical, they then dropped the investigation but how can they exonerate either pupil because they don't know what happened? You daughter is protesting her innocence but for all you know so is the other child. The school may be in an impossible situation no one has been punished because they can't identify who was in the wrong. At all the schools I've worked at in such cases both are usually punished usually a 48 hour suspension perhaps this is better because it draws a line under it.
OP teenagers frequently dwell on unhappy incidences in their school life and blow things out of proportion. We work very hard with our children to encourage them to put things into perspective and often with significantly more serious issues than this, to accept that it wasn't a great period in the their school life but it's over don't let it blight you education or for that matter still feel aggrieved many years later. Teaching staff will often meet with these children usually organised by someone not involved whose already explained the child's perspective to discuss how to move on after a serious incident. In general it works. You say she was told off for raising it again I suspect the school has moved on and has expected her to do the same although they've been rather heavy handed about it. If this was my DC this is what I would be concentrating on. Go to her head of yr/pastoral care/tutor and discuss how she can satisfactorily move on let you daughter see and learn these things can be resolved even if not in a way she would like. She has to learn that life is not always fair and that compromises have to be made. Part of this would be ensuring she doesn't sit next to this girl again in exams.

admission Sat 02-Nov-13 20:30:29

The first question that I think the school has to answer is why they believe that either girl was cheating or could it have just been coincidence. This is very much around whether the exam could have ended up with identical answers or not. If it was a factual exam then surely there is a possibility that all the same answers could be the same. If it was a much more subjective set of questions then I think that identical answers is highly unlikely.
If the answer is there is no way that the exam scripts should be the same then the school and the school teacher concerned seem to have handled this very badly. There seems to have been an immediate assumption of guilt and to question both girls together was just crass stupidity. What did they expect to gain by this? It was obvious neither would say anything because of the presence of the other. The sensible way to investigate would have firstly not to have made it so obvious to all that an investigation was taking place, to have interviewed each girl separately and also other pupils who were sat near by. If the outcome of that was no clear conclusion, which is where you currently are, then the school does need to drop the case but look to their processes for the exam - they are not good enough if cheating did take place.
What ever has happened I do believe that the school now has to right the wrong of the smear on both your daughter and the other pupil, they are either guilty and the school can prove it or not guilty. They are certainly not guilty by virtue of what the school thinks might have happened. I don't in all honesty believe that the school can exonerate your daughter because there simply is not the evidence to back up your and your daughter's beliefs as to who has been cheating. However I do think the school needs to say they have found no evidence of cheating but that steps will be taken to improve their vigilance in all future exams and that needs to be in writing. That should allow your daughter some confidence that she is not being called a cheat within the school.
If the school will not do that then I would start to wonder whether the school does possess some other information that they do not wish to disclose. In that circumstance I would, having asked for some clarity on the subject, ask for an FOI to disclose the contents of your daughter's school file to ensure that there is nothing been put on file that could have consequences in the future.

peteneras Sat 02-Nov-13 21:09:16

”Now the teacher has disciplined my daughter for protesting her innocence.”

It seems to me the school is saying to your poor little girl, “You have to accept what we (the school) think is correct, and not what you say is the truth. Clearly the verdict had already been finalised before the case even began.

”She told her to stop speaking of the matter and to let it drop”.

The big question here is WHY is the school adopting this attitude? It is a serious matter to haul up two girls and accuse them of cheating. That being done, the school WILL HAVE to see to the end of the matter, one way or another and not threaten the girl(s) to ‘stop speaking of the matter and to let it drop’. Is it possible the school suddenly finds itself making a big mistake by hauling up the girls accusing them of some serious offence which never happened?

complexnumber Sun 03-Nov-13 14:14:58

Any teacher with a few years experience under their belt will not make the accusation of copying unless they are very sure it has taken place, I do not think this is the issue here.

I wonder whether the school could have offered the two girls in question the opportunity to re-sit the exam. It is a lot of work for the teacher involved, but would have settled the issue fairly quickly.

BellsaRinging Sun 03-Nov-13 14:34:38

But what can the school really do? as far as they are concerned they have 2 girls both protesting their innocence and no evidence either way as to who is responsible. they have to be fair to both. presumably the other girl could also say 'but the other one is the cheat, everyone knows but they are too scared to say so'. without any support for either account how are they supposed to judge?

complexnumber Sun 03-Nov-13 17:33:35

That's why I proposed my solution BellsaRinging

Though it sounds as if it's a bit late for that now.

BellsaRinging Sun 03-Nov-13 18:19:36

It was a good one complex, but as you say prob too late now. I always wonder what the other girl's mother would say in her aibu when things like this are posted....

SAmumindistress Sat 09-Nov-13 06:14:15

Hi Everyone,

Thanks for the replies to my question. Just to clarify, this is a current issue. I'm in South Africa and our end of terms exams just happened. The answers that were identical were interpretive type questions and not verbatim notes that could have been memorised and regurgitated by both girls. There was cheating, of that I have no doubt.

I tend to agree that the school is in a tough spot as they can't prove anything if nobody confesses. That said, a bit of careful, individual questioning could have achieved this, I think.

At my daughter's request, the girls were moved apart, the school held a general class talk on cheating and, although the school won't officially come out and say it, I believe that the teachers know that my daughter didn't cheat. That's good enough for me - I wasn't out to seek punishment for anyone, just to make it clear that if cheating happened, it wasn't my daughter who did it.

As a post script, the other girl didn't tell her mother anything about the cheating accusation and was very happy when the matter was dropped which speaks volumes to me.

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