How Should Schools Deal with Academic Dishonesty?

I want to ask you a question about educational policy. A colleague shared this blog post by Dr. Justin Tarte of the Union R-XI school district. The post describes the district’s policy for handling academic dishonesty including cheating and plagiarism. The High School policy, as described in the student handbook (pp. 35-36) is to treat the dishonesty and academic work as separate issues.

The first offense of academic dishonesty results in a 1-5 day suspension or detention and a make-up assignment that can receive full credit. A second offense results in more consequences, but the student is also allowed to make up the work and can receive full credit. The premise is that a student’s grade should be determined by academic work alone and that other behaviors should not have influence on a grade.

I think it is fair to say that this policy is not the norm. It is generally true that schools have various ways of dealing with academic dishonesty, but in most cases the work in question is penalized in addition to other consequences.

I started out feeling very strongly about this, but on further reflection, I have started to wonder if this policy wanders into a gray area. So I’m asking you, a leader in your field, a reader of the Lead Change blog, a person who values integrity in leadership and communities, what do you think?

Should grades and academic dishonesty be treated as separate issues with separate consequences? Are there examples of this practice in your field? If your child was in this school, how would you want academic dishonesty to be addressed? If you were considering a student from a school like this as an employee, what would you think? How should schools deal with academic dishonesty?

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