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Can my teacher accuse me of cheating and give me a zero on a test if she cannot prove that I've cheated?

Huntersville, NC |
Filed under: Education law

My English teacher gave me and my friend a zero on a quiz because while she was grading them she noticed that the answers were almost identical. We sit next to each other, so I can understand her suspicion, but it was very specific questions, so it was hard to answer uniquely. The quiz was on the novel that we were reading, and I know for a fact that both my friend and I read it, so we had no reason to cheat. We're both good students, and my teacher has no reason to think otherwise, but she's called our parents at home and made them aware of the situation. My parents are furious- not at me, because they believe me 100%, but at my teacher. Who's in the wrong, here? Should I go forward with approaching the principal and bringing someone of more power into the situation?

Attorney Answers 2


  1. Public school?
    Your school most likely has an administrative review process. Ask your parents to inquire about the process and trigger an admin review. But the teacher does not have to "prove" the accusation. If school officials in the admin process concur with the teacher, based on a review of the two papers, that's it. No further proof required.

    Private school:
    Whatever the school says, goes. Whatever grievance or appeals process the school is willing to allow is what you get.

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  2. Ms. McCall is absolutely correct. Your best course will be to use the appeals process and ask to see all of the tests for the entire class. Make sure you ask that they redact the names of the other students as they will not give you nay "confidential" information. If you can show that a number of people had similar questions. If you have say 25 people in class but only your answers are similar, then you will have problems proving your case.

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