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Dad Refuses To Help Son Get Grade Changed After Teacher Catches Him Plagiarizing Essay

A teacher holding a pile of papers.
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A parent never wants to learn their child got in trouble at school.

Of course, what’s vitally important is to hear the whole story.

In some cases, the punishment might prove unfair, as the child may have been at the wrong place at the wrong time, and got caught up in a mess without intending to.

Other times, however, it’s clear that the child is worthy of the punishment bestowed upon them, and the parents must accept it.

No matter the damage it might do to the child’s report card or permanent record.

Redditor NotFixingSonsGrade caught his teenage son breaking a major school rule.

As he expected, the original poster (OP)’s son’s transgression did not escape his teacher, and serious consequences were implemented.

While the OP’s son begged him to challenge this punishment, he flatly refused.

After being scolded by his son’s mother for not standing up for their child, the OP took to the subReddit “Am I The A**hole” (AITA), where he asked fellow Redditors:

“AITA For allowing my son to fail a major assignment and telling him he deserved the zero?”

The OP explained why he refused to challenge his son’s punishment at school and why his son’s mother was furious that he didn’t:

“My son ‘Devin’ plagiarized an essay for English by copy-pasting most of the sentences from Cliffnotes and replacing one of the letters with a specific Russian letter that looked the same as the original English letter.”

“It wasn’t as if Devin plagiarized without meaning to.”

“My son knew exactly what he was doing.”

“Devin’s essay did bypass the plagiarism software, but his teacher immediately recognized that it was from Cliffnotes and informed me that Devin would be receiving a zero, which is how I became aware of the situation.”

“Devin’s grade dropped to a D.”

“Devin asked me to fight with the school to get his grade fixed essentially.”

“I told him no and that he deserved the zero.”

“If you’re struggling with an essay, you reach out and ask for help.”

“You don’t try to cheat your way out.”

“He knew better than that.”

“Devin’s mom ‘Emma’ called me because she just received the physical report card in the mail and saw the D in English.”

“Devin hadn’t told his mom about what happened, and it’s too late to challenge the zero now since grades have already been finalized.”

“Emma tried to interrogate me on why I didn’t challenge the zero when it was possible.”

“I told Emma that I wanted this lesson to stick with Devin.”

“Devin will graduate high school in two years.”

“Getting a D in high school is better than getting kicked out of university or fired from a job for trying to pass off someone else’s work as his own.”

“Emma argued that a D will seriously hurt Devin’s university prospects.”

“She said she doesn’t condone what Devin did and would have been in agreement with a home punishment such as grounding Devin.”

“But that I was a terrible parent for making our son experience a punishment that she says can seriously impact his future.”

“Unless Devin were applying to an Ivy League (which he has not had any interest in) then I doubt one D will destroy his university prospects.”

“I’m struggling to understand Emma’s perspective and need more opinions.”


Fellow Redditors weighed in on where they believed the OP fell in this particular situation, by declaring:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

The Reddit community was all but unanimous in agreeing that the OP was not the a**hole for refusing to challenge his Devin’s zero grade.

A select few felt that the OP was at fault merely for not being transparent with Devin’s mother about the grade and his plagiarism.


“I don’t disagree with your decision being appropriate, but this was a major incident with your son’s education and Emma had a right to know and be part of the decision on how to handle it.”

“Everyone is saying Emma’s attitude is the problem, but considering your inability to communicate with other adults about things of which they have a right to know, I don’t have faith you have great communication skills with your teen.”

“If I were her, I would be absolutely furious and might even take you to court over this.”

“Not only did you fail to properly supervise our son’s education, which resulted in him cheating in the first place and getting a major failing grade, but you hid it from me.”

“You violated my trust and my rights as a co-parent.”- FoghornFarts

“NTA for letting him face the consequences but YTA for not involving his mom in the decision.”

“It sounds like you guys coparent Devin, and while I agree with your point of view, she did deserve to be notified of the issue much sooner.”

“Anyway a D for one semester won’t kill him as long as he can hit a B or higher next semester and on the final.”- Starfly37

Nearly everyone else, however, felt the OP did exactly the right thing by making Devin face the consequences of his actions, agreeing that there was nothing to challenge as Devin knew he was doing something wrong.


“Your son FA&FO, and he probably should have been punished more than just with his grade for plagiarizing.”

“That said, and this might sound ruder than I intend, but if he’s dumb enough to think it’s okay/reasonable/safe to turn in Cliff’s Notes as his own work, then you should have stopped him (because he’s just not got the brains to know better).”

“However, he’s at an age that he should certainly know better, and it seems you did the right thing by allowing NATURAL CONSEQUENCES.”- justagirlinTexas09


“By all means, challenge a teacher if there is unfairness.”

“But this was not unfair.”

“And a good lesson.”

“Devon experiencing the consequences of his own actions is a good learning moment.”

“Stand your ground.”- ExistingStruggle6885


“Sounds like you are the only one actually parenting.”- Old_Cheek1076

“Definitely NTA!”

“Letting your kid get away with, let alone actively defending clearly poor choices sends a terrible message.”

“A high schooler who wants to go to college and is copy-pasting from Cliff Notes to write an essay absolutely and literally needs to learn a lesson — that’s lazy AND foolish!”

“It’s moot, because based on your description, there was no way you could have successfully challenged that grade.”

“You couldn’t even have argued that the plagiarism was accidental/unintentional because he deliberately changed the letters to avoid detection!”- Zealousideal-Earth50


“Allowing your children to learn from their mistakes is the hallmark of a good parent.”- Ogodnotagain


“He has time.”

“If anything showing improvement as he ages will also look good and he can use that in his favor.”

“Proper lesson is being taught here.”- akshetty2994


“In a society where it seems like parents are so afraid to let kids fail or experience consequences, you decided to let your son experience the results of his choices.”


“It’s unfortunate that your son’s mother would prefer to the parent that can sweet talk or demand their child be given special privileges, but you’re right- the real world doesn’t work like that.”

“I can understand why son’s mom wants him to have the best chances to achieve whatever opportunity he decides to go for, but hopefully she can see this is a lesson of value, too.”

“Good luck!”- LostBody3801


“You made the right call.”

“However what I would do is go to war over the ‘plagiarism checker’ and see what metrics they look for, if it’s an ‘AI writing detector’ those are flawed.”- uwu_cumblaster_69

“Community college doesn’t care about D’s.”

“Sounds like he’s learning a valuable lesson.”

“NTA.”- Cultural_Yam7212

“NTA your wife is the worst kind of parent.”

“’Oh my poor dear cheated, but it can’t possibly be his fault. Quick argue with the school to get it changed’.”

“FAFO in play right here.”- PoliteCanadian2

“Good lesson to learn before university.”

“A lot of universities have strict plagiarism policies.”- mllebitterness


“And as an English teacher: THANK YOU.”

“You let him suffer the natural consequences of his actions, at an age when they are indeed likely to do him more good than harm.”

“My late father wasn’t a plagiarist, but he was an inconsistent student who didn’t get his academic act together until 21-22.”

“He ended up with a PhD and being an international expert in his field.”

“And he got all his degrees from UGA rather than the Ivy League.”

“It’s shortsighted to think a perfect high school transcript is more important to a kid’s future than developing good academic habits, much less basic integrity.”- Interesting-Fish6065

It’s a fair argument to say that maybe the OP should have stopped Devin earlier when he caught him plagiarizing his paper.

However, some lessons must be learned through self-discovery, and since Devin was well aware what he was doing was wrong, it’s likely the OP’s warning would have been on deaf ears.

Then, too, Devin should be well aware that a D in English is one of the least severe punishments he can get for plagiarizing.

Written by John Curtis

A novelist, picture book writer and native New Yorker, John is a graduate of Syracuse University and the children's media graduate program at Centennial College. When not staring at his computer monitor, you'll most likely find John sipping tea watching British comedies, or in the kitchen, taking a stab at the technical challenge on the most recent episode of 'The Great British Baking Show'.