While working on a science worksheet, I noticed no one had been working on the building for our earthquake-proof design. I left my worksheet and started adding materials to our building. In the meantime two students (I know the names) had taken superglue and glued the worksheet to the table. The students tried telling me to come and get the worksheet and I knew they had done something to it. I simply ignored them. A few minutes later the teacher came and looked at the worksheet and falsely accused me of gluing the sheet to the table. I tried explaining to the teacher in a kind manner that I had not done the deed, and I explained who did it. Instead he continues to blame me. He then tells me to clean the table up which I did, 80% of the paper had been cleaned but the remaining wouldn’t go away so I told him I needed different materials. He keeps saying use your finger nails, which obviously didn’t work, so I tried using a pencil. The teacher then says I am being defiant. He told me to sit down and do nothing till the end of the period. When the bell rings I leave but he stops me saying I have to clean up the mess. I get upset and frustrated at this false accusation. I then leave. Hours later he emails my mother stating that I am being suspended from class for 3 days, getting detention at lunch for 45 minutes, and after school for 1 hour, and he has given me a referral which is now on my student record and my college will see it. I have emailed the principal, and I will see what she says. Can you give me some advice? What should I do in this situation? Anything I should say? How do I make myself look innocent? Future advice?
Teachers and schools have very broad discretion in how they address discipline issues. It sounds like what your teacher and school are doing is perfectly legal, although it may seem unfair. However, you can probably try to change the principal’s mind through an appeal.
You’ve already started an appeal process by emailing the principal. If you have not already, you should try and set up a meeting with the principal. You may want the teacher and a parent there, as well. You can explain your side of the story, but be aware you may need to give the names of the student who glued the worksheet to the table. Explain that even though you didn’t cause the problem, you attempted to follow the teacher’s instructions and clean it up as best you could.
Think about whether there may be a reason the teacher assumed you were being defiant. Have you had behavior problems in the past? Have you had problems with this teacher before? These would be what the law calls “aggravating circumstances,” meaning they can make the consequences of a situation worse than they would otherwise be. You can offset the effect of aggravating circumstances by showing “mitigating circumstances,” such as recent history of good behavior, or perhaps even the progress you were making on your project. Showing that you are working hard and are trying to follow the rules can help reduce or eliminate any punishment.
Overall, try to be calm and respectful. Even if you’re angry with the teacher, avoid making this situation personal. Just present your “case” and hope that the principal believes you. Even if you are still suspended, you will have had important practice in defending yourself