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BOTD 5/3/15 "School Woes" A mahoover Production

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David M. Katz

School Woes
A mahoover Production

Your son Mark is 16 and a bit of a nerd.  He is in the Honors Society, the Science Seminar, and the chess club at school.  He has always been picked on some at school but he seems to handle it okay.  You are happy that lately things have been going much better at school.

Mark - 16
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Today you get a call from the school.  Mark has been caught cheating on a test.  You don't understand, since Mark is acing the class and wouldn't need to cheat to get a good grade.  The vice-principal explains that Mark wasn't copying from another student, he was letting another student copy from him.  And the school considers that just as much cheating as if he had been the one copying.  Since this is the first time that Mark has gotten into trouble, his punishment is only getting a zero on the test and having to write an essay on why cheating hurts everyone involved.  The vice-principal is calling to make sure you are aware of what happened.

John- 16
The other student involved
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When you get home you can see that Mark is upset, and as soon as you come in the door he tells you there is something he needs to tell you.  He tells you about getting caught cheating on a math test.  When you ask him why he was letting John copy from him, Mark breaks down.  After he calms down, you find out that at the beginning of the semester he made a deal with John.  Mark would do John's math homework and help him with math.  And John would make sure that the jocks stopped giving Mark a hard time.

What comes next?

Cleverly disguised as a responsible adult.


First of all - the principal is a moron. Mark is not being hurt at all by his cheating, accept because of the condition imposed by the principal himself. Going further, unless this teacher graves on a bell curve, then no one except John is really being hurt (and John is only being hurt if there's some reason he'll need this class for anything beyond graduation credits).

Having said that, rules are rules, and Mark should have been smart enough to know this would happen. Further, while helping John is not only acceptable, but good, what he's been doing isn't, if only because it would probably end this way.

I am going to have him invite John over for dinner, and the three of us are going to talk. We'll try to negotiate some way to continue the agreement without further trouble. I think Mark and I will also try out a few martial arts classes to see if he likes anything. If he's going to get in trouble at school anyway, it might as well be for whipping on people giving him a hard time.

"In the end, it's just a story. But if you ask me, it's all true."


Ditto, and Bravo, Jack.


Mark did cheat, he did get caught, and he was punished at school.  In view of the extenuating circumstances I am not going to take any further action regarding this..

I am however concerned about the bullying aspect but before I take any action  I need to know whether the arrangement with John was one between friends for their mutual benefit or whether Mark has been subjected to a low level form of protection racket.

Mark is sixteen now and whatever (if any) further action I take on this will only be after consultation with him and with his agreement.


I'm not terribly happy with this. I accept Mark got dealt with at school but the school and some of the answers here are not really looking at the wider picture. Mark it appears has not been helping John with the work but DOING IT FOR HIM. It might do Mark some good in that John keeps the bullies off but John gets entirely fraudulent marks and learns NOTHING. Mark also has OWN work to do. This seems to be a friendship of convenience. I'd be happy for Mark to tutor John and with Johns parents in the picture but the current arrangement stops and whether Mark likes it or not I want the school to tackle the bullying and Marks cooperation with that. It seems to me the bullies are the winners at the moment


It's a definition of cheating I've not come across before, but I guess it does take two to tango. Moreover being caught in the test was evidently just the tip of the iceberg.

So personally I think the vice principal has a point as it would seem John's results for the entire term have been fraudulent.

As the bullying has stopped I can't lodge a complaint about that but will try and see how the situation develops once Mark is just restricted to tutoring John. I think a conversation with John to inform him that I expect him to continue to retrain the bullying is also called for.

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