Student has good reason to sue for better grade

Illustration by Chris Sanford

Many students who make it to college worked hard in middle and high school to be accepted into the university of their choice. A student’s work ethic in school sets them up for either potential success or potential failure at the collegiate level. But working hard is something that is pulled from within. If one does not work hard to try to achieve the grade they want or need, then the ramifications are on that individual.

Working hard and getting assistance when needed are two of the most important lessons for success when it comes to academics. When these are combined with time management, success is almost guaranteed. On the other hand, students often tend to be bitter about grades on assignments they feel they should have done better on.

I feel that people who don’t get the grade they think they deserve shouldn’t sue any school, teacher or district for monetary benefit, except in extreme cases, such as Bowen Bethards’.

According to a July 2012 Albany Patch article by Steven Lau, 17-year-old Bethards and his mother Laureen filed a lawsuit against the Albany Unified School District in California after Bethards’ was unable to make up a chemistry lab and then felt he was unfairly graded on his final examination.

This resulted in his grade dropping from an A to a C+. Bethards claimed that he missed class to attend a court hearing for the adoption of his younger sister. Later, when he came in on the agreed day to make up the missed lab, the teacher told him he would not be able to and that she was going to fail him, according to Bethards.

My biggest issue with this supposed situation is how the grade dropped so dramatically after missing one lab and failing his final examination. Dropping two full letter grades is not unheard of when it comes to failing final exams, but I don’t understand how someone can supposedly maintain above a 100 percent in a class for almost all of the semester and then completely fail a final. However, it would make more sense if the teacher graded the exam unfairly.

I have never had an adopted sibling, so I don’t know the emotional impact that can have on an individual or a family as a whole. However, if academics were this important to Bethards, he should have been there for that chemistry lab.

As I am not a judge or a member of the jury for this case, I haven’t the slightest clue who is at fault. However, I am someone who cares about my academics. I care about how those letters look on my transcripts and how my GPA will look to future employers. I care about my work ethic and how it is portrayed to others.

If I were in high school and was attempting to get accepted into an Ivy League school, I don’t know whether the lesser of two evils would be suing my school district for a better grade or taking the C+. Potential schools might be skeptical of you if they knew you had a background of suing schools, whether the grade was fair or not.

Working hard and getting the grade you feel you deserve is something to which I feel everyone can relate. As presented, it appears the teacher is at fault for misgrading the final exam and for not allowing Bethards to make up the missed lab, but Bethards could be at fault in some aspect as well. At the end of the day, it’s about whether or not the high school’s and classroom’s policies were followed by both the student and the teacher.

Jakki Thompson is a sophomore in journalism and mass communications and American ethnic studies. Please send comments to