Teacher Claims She Was Fired Over ‘No Zero’ Grading Policy

School board denies having a policy that banned marks below 50 percent
September 26, 2018 Updated: September 26, 2018

An eighth-grade teacher claims that she was fired after refusing to adhere to a school policy that banned marks lower than 50 percent, even when students handed in no work.

Diane Tirado left her students a message on the whiteboard on Sept. 14, her last day teaching history at a school in Port St. Lucia, Florida:

“Bye Kids, Mrs. Tirado loves you and wishes you the best in life! I have been fired for refusing to give you a 50% for not handing anything in. (love) Mrs. Tirado”

Tirado shared her message on Facebook the following day. She later explained she was fighting to have the policy change because it was” ridiculous.”

“Teaching should not be this hard,” she wrote on Sept. 25.  “Teachers teach content, children do the assignments to the best of their ability and teachers grade that work based on a grading scale that has been around a very long time.”

The local Florida school board denies having a “no zero” policy, but Tirado claims to have a copy of the school policy handbook that states “No Zeros—lowest possible grade is 50%.”

She said that teachers try their best to collect in work so they can give grades.

“By nature, most teachers are loving souls who want to see students succeed. We do above and beyond actual teaching to give them the support they need.”

The local school board confirmed that Tirado taught at West Gate K-8 School in Port St. Lucie, but said her employment was terminated shortly after her month’s probation was up.

A spokeswoman for St. Lucie Public Schools told MPTV there is no district policy prohibiting teachers from giving a grade of zero.

Kerry Padrick, chief information officer, said in a statement, “The District’s Uniform Grading System utilizes letter grades A-F, numerical grades 100-0 and grade point averages from 4-0.”

On the issue of  Tirado’s claims of a no-zero policy at West Gate, Padrick said, “Some classroom teachers and school faculties have discussed the range of points for work submitted in each grading category.”

Low Expectations

A copy of the school handbook shown to WPTV does include a zero point category for “incomplete” work, below the “failure” grade, which is set at 50-59 percent (with a Grade Point Average of zero).

However, underneath the list of grade boundaries, in capital red letters, with four asterisks is written: NO ZEROS—LOWEST POSSIBLE GRADE IS 50%.”

“I’m so upset because we have a nation of kids that are expecting to get paid and live their life just for showing up and it’s not real,” Tirado told WPTV.

“What if they don’t turn anything in?” Tirado said she asked administrators. “‘We give them a 50.’ I go, ‘Oh, we don’t. This is not kosher.’”

According to WPTV, Tirado gained the support of several students.

“You were right about not giving people 50s because why would you give them half credit for doing nothing?” wrote one student.

According to WPTV, the letter of termination of employment does not provide a reason for the termination of her contract, stating that under a probationary contract there is no obligation to provide one.

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