Diane Tirado doesn’t believe in giving credit where it’s not due. The school she used to work at apparently does.
Tirado says she was fired from her job at a Port St. Lucie K-8 school because she insisted on giving students zeros if they didn’t turn in an assignment.
The U.S. history teacher left a goodbye message to her eighth graders on a white board at West Gate K-8 School:
“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. 💓 Mrs. Tirado.”
She told WPTV that she assigned an explorer notebook project and gave students two weeks to turn it in. Several students failed to do so.
In Tirado’s mind, no work should mean no credit. But then she checked the West Gate student and parent handbook. Below the chart detailing the score requirements for letter grades, there was a line in red ink.
“NO ZEROS- LOWEST POSSIBLE GRADE IS 50%.”
Tirado said she asked administrators what the score should be if a student doesn’t turn anything in.
“We give them a 50,” she was told.
“I go, ‘Oh, we don’t.’ This isn’t kosher,” Tirado said.
What happened next might also qualify as not being kosher. Tirado was fired on Sept. 14.
The principal sent her a letter, but it did not mention the reason for her termination because Tirado was still in her probationary period.
The principal referred media to the district public information office, which is where things get confusing.
Kerry Padrick, the chief information officer, released this statement. It read in part:
“There is no District or individual school policy prohibiting teachers from recording a grade of zero for work not turned in. The District’s Uniform Grading System utilizes letter grades A-F, numerical grades 100-0 and grade point averages from 4-0.”
When asked about West Gate’s “no zero” policy in the handbook, Padrick said, “Some classroom teachers and school faculties have discussed the range of points for work submitted in each grading category.”
So Tirado apparently didn’t violate district rules, but she must have violated something. She said she was told to abide by the handbook and never give a student a zero.
Tirado posted her goodbye message on a class app. It hit home with a few students.
“You were right about not giving people 50s because why would you give them half credit for doing nothing?” one student wrote.
She later posted it on her Facebook and it has been shared more than 500 times.
Tirado just hopes the students learned a lesson, even if it wasn’t about U.S. history.
“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,” she said to WPTV, “and it’s not real.”
David Whitley is a member of our Community Conversations Team. He can be reached at email@example.com