Teacher Fired For Giving Zeroes To Students Who Didn't Submit Their Homework

Teacher Fired For Giving Zeroes To Students Who Didn't Submit Their Homework

Diane Tirado was fired from a Florida based school as the institution had a "no zero" policy which forbade teachers from given a score less than 50. Tirado chose to ignore it and ended up losing her job.

A former middle school history teacher claims she was fired for refusing to give half credits to students who did not submit their assignments. Diane Tirado, who used teach History at West Gate K-8 School in Port St. Lucie, Florida bid adieu to her eighth-grade pupil on September 14 last year via a message written across the whiteboard. It read: "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. [heart] Mrs. Tirado."


During an interview with a local news station WPTV, Tirado explained how this school along Florida’s Treasure Coast practiced a "no zero" policy that prohibited teachers from giving a score less than 50. It is also mentioned in the student and parent handbook as "no zeroes – lowest possible grade is 50%." Tirado, who was still in her first year of teaching at the school, revealed that she only learned about this policy after she gave zero to students who simply did not submit their homework assignments. "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," said Tirado.


Despite providing two weeks for the submission of an Explorer notebook project, few of her students simply showed up without anything. Since there was zero work done, Tirado decided to give them zeros. Unfortunately, she got fired for it. Sharing how appalled she was by the school's policy, she said, "What if they don’t turn anything in? ‘We give them a 50.’ I go, 'Oh, we don’t.' This is not kosher." Furthermore, the Florida school teacher revealed that the termination letter she received from the school principal did not specify any reason for the decision as she was recently hired and was still serving her probationary period.


St. Lucie Public Schools' chief communications officer, Kerry Padrick, told ABC Action News in a statement how Tirado was dismissed of her duties "shortly after one month of classroom instruction." A school district spokesperson also addressed this and told the news station that there is "no district or individual policy" which prohibits teachers from providing a zero for work not turned in. When asked to comment on the specific rule of the school's handbook that mentioned this "No Zero" policy, the spokesperson said, "Some classroom teachers and school faculties have discussed the range of points for work submitted in each grading category."


The School district responded to this with their reason: With respect to the private lives of individuals, St. Lucie Public Schools (SLPS) normally does not publicly comment on the details of why an individual was released from duties.  However, in the case of Diane Tirado’s campaign of misinformation, an exception is warranted. Ms. Tirado was released from her duties as an instructor because her performance was deemed sub-standard and her interactions with students, staff, and parents lacked professionalism and created a toxic culture on the school’s campus. During her brief time of employment at West Gate, the school fielded numerous student and parent complaints as well as concerns from colleagues. Based on new information shared with school administrators, an investigation of possible physical abuse is underway. In addition, her refusal to incorporate students’ Individual Education Plan (IEP) accommodations (a federal mandate) into her instructional practices was deemed defiant and put students at risk. Her dismissal was not a result of grading issues.


The institution further claimed that there were "numerous student and parent complaints as well as concerns from colleagues" and how "an investigation of possible physical abuse is underway." Speaking to PEOPLE, Tirado refused any such charges. "I deny all these charges and will pursue litigation and/or fight to clear my name and protect my character. I have been teaching in Florida schools approximately 17 years. Until this year, I have never had any of these types of accusations thrown at me. … I have had many principals and other administration dislike me and argue their opinion with me, but I have never been accused of causing a toxic environment and fired without warning or representation from my union until now."


Michelle Mccown, whose daughter attends Southern Oaks Middle School, was surprised to see her daughter's online grade log as 50 as she did not turn anything in. "It’s not right," said Mccown. "It teaches them to be lazy." She is one of many who completely agree with Tirado's stance on this topic. "I don’t want my kids to be taught like this," she said. Addressing the issue, Tirado said, "Some of the school systems in Florida and other states are committing fraud based upon the fraudulent grades they are giving to students. Their school grades are false, their district grades are false, and their graduation rates are false. The whole system is set up to be fraudulent, so they can get federal funding for their schools. Having schools compete by grading them is a failure to the children and the teachers. My goal is to create a movement of change." Explaining why she posted this incident on Facebook, Tirado said, "The reason I took on this fight was because it was ridiculous. Teaching should not be this hard." She concluded, "A grade in Mrs. Tirado's class is earned."


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