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Student Sues Teacher, District Over C+ Grade

Mistah K88

Dec 11, 2008
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A C+ is considered average on the grading scale but for one California high school student it was well below average, enough so that he filed a lawsuit against both his teacher and school district.

Bowen Bethards, 17, was a sophomore in Peggy Carlock's chemistry class at Albany High School in Albany, Calif., outside of San Francisco, in the 2010-11 school year when she gave him the C+ grade at the center of the suit, according to court records first reported by the Albany Patch.

Bethards, in a lawsuit filed with his mother, Laureen, in Contra Costa County Superior Court last month, claims that he has suffered severe physical and emotional suffering, damage to his academic reputation, and diminished chances of getting into his college of choice because of the grade.

The Bethards claim that Carlock, who no longer teaches at the school, punished Bowen for missing class on a day that his fellow students performed a lab. Bethards, according to the suit, had to miss class to attend the adoption hearing for his younger sister and so informed Carlock of his absence ahead of time. The two agreed upon a make-up date but when Bethards showed up on the agreed-upon date, he says, Carlock said he could not make up the lab and was instead, "going to fail him," according to court documents.

"My son was denied his rights and they stole his grade from him," Laureen Bethards told ABCNews.com. "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.
The school district rejected the claim in January but did change the grade for Bethards, who by then had transferred to another high school, to a B.

The Bethards are requesting in the lawsuit, which names the district superintendent and school principal in addition to Carlock, that, along with the monetary damages, the district change the grade to an A+.

"We did everything we could to get the school to allow him to make up that lab and they assured us they would," Bethards said. " It was an excused absence. I don't think he missed more than one or two days the entire year before that."
The suit says Carlock's refusal to allow the teen to make up the lab violated California Education Code Section 88205. The missed lab, according to Bethards, dropped his overall grade from an A+ to a C+.

Court documents filed on Bethards' behalf also state that, "Carlock was aware, at all relevant times, that a 'C+' in chemistry would effectively destroy plaintiff Bowen Bethards' chances of being accepted to either of his two colleges of choice, as well as his chances of getting a scholarship to attend to the programs of his choice."

"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.
"With a lot of the colleges you have to get your applications out by January," Bethards said. "That's when we have to send transcripts out and that is obviously when the most harm is going to be done."
Phone calls placed by ABC News to the school district and Albany High School for comment were not returned. Carlock could not be reached for comment.

Legit case, or is the kid being a self entitled prick? How are we so sure that the student's story is completely true? Is it even really sue worthy?
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I think the parents are a little bit anal, but if that teacher does have a history of pulling stunts with grades like that it could be reasonable. I don't see how a student would go down almost 40% just for missing a lab though. It is still a passing grade and I don't see how it could cause the kid real psychological damage and it won't stop him from getting into a top university at all, that idea is just ridiculous. It all depends if the teacher manipulated the grade or not and the kids truly agreed to make up the lab.
Well I'm assuming he wants to get into an Ivy league school. That C+ will stick out like a sore thumb on his transcripts.
Self entitled prick looking for some free money. How can one missed lab drop your grade two letters? The parents and kid seem very full of themselves and reactionary, why is the kid in a new high school now? Is it this one grade? We're not getting the whole story here.
Oh then yeah, he's being an idiot.
I don't think that the C would have been all that bad. However, this spectacle may keep him from getting into school as now the boy seems to be a liability. Especially since the adoption hearing wasn't something that he NEEDED to be at. It's not like he was in the hospital or something else that was really unavoidable...

As for the lab, some classes are like that. The homework is simply extra padding whereas the main portion of the grades are from things like labs and tests. You miss one, you take a pretty big hit.

One thing is for sure; I don't think this kid is ready for the harsh realities of real life (were any of us at that age?). I don't think he's even ready for the harsh realities of college, where more often than not they won't allow you to make up stuff like that...especially med school.
The point of the lawsuit is the ethics of the teacher, not the grade he got.

In one respect, it's probably overkill.

At the same time, if the teacher is doing something wrong, then I certainly can't be upset someone's calling her out on it.
If you want an excused absence, you should get it in writing. Always. Then there can never be a dispute.
Well you should have told him that sooner. Now it's your turn to get sued. $10,000 + his college tuition!
They actually give letter grades in High schools in California?
If you want an excused absence, you should get it in writing. Always. Then there can never be a dispute.
The article says it WAS an excused absence.

On one hand, I want to say that the kid - if his claim that the teacher lied about being able to make up the lab is true - has a right to correct a wrong. On the other hand, this could set a very bad precedent.
The judge should throw a law book or two at the educational system.
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In that case, that C+ will put him in the top decile. :o
My internet sarcasm meter is bad but those are not easy schools to get into by any means, especially UCLA. I can assure you C+ isn't going to help his chances if he wants to go to one of those schools

And if he deserves an A and got a C+...then good for him imo
I earned my C's :csad::up:.
I'd happy be to earn a C in any form of Science.

Then again, I don't do Science :p
He already had the grade changed to a B. That's enough. No A+, no money, do not pass Go.
I think once I inherit my father's estate, I'm going to sue one of you guys here at random.

It should make for a great thread.
You wacky Californians. I wish I would have threatened to sue my teachers back in the day here in Gary, Indiana. They would have literally beaten my ass for even attempting it.
The point of the lawsuit is the ethics of the teacher, not the grade he got.

In one respect, it's probably overkill.

At the same time, if the teacher is doing something wrong, then I certainly can't be upset someone's calling her out on it.
Pretty much my thoughts. Also, why did it take him a year to sue?

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