Lawyer-dad: so what if my son cheated?

by Walter Olson on April 28, 2012

“The parents of a Peninsula high school sophomore are suing the school district for kicking the teenager out of an honors class because he cheated.” Jack Berghouse and his wife do not dispute that their son committed plagiarism, but their lawsuit claims “the school’s policies regarding punishment for cheating are vague and contradictory and shouldn’t be enforced.” [KCBS, KGO, San Jose Mercury News]

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Defending People » The Best Tradition…and Bad Judgment
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1 Bumper 04.28.12 at 3:52 am

Rarely is the public treated to such a massive case of FAIL as we are with this situation. Mr. “I’m trying to teach my child a lesson…” apparently isn’t aware of the Streisand effect, and I thought that Babs little love nest by the sea was just down the road from San Mateo.

I guess dad skipped the class in law school where they talked about student and due process are being rarely used in the same sentence. And I love the part where daddy is aghast that people are angry that “the lesson” is “don’t worry son, I’ll get you back in, we’ll just sue ‘em.”

With these credentials daddy can probably pick up a gig writing threatening letters to internet commenters.

Ohhhhhh, I’m soooooo scared.

2 marco73 04.28.12 at 7:20 am

Cutting through all the baloney, the parent is concerned that getting kicked out of an advanced English class as a high school sophomore could harm the son’s chance of getting into an Ivy League school.
The school offered that the child could complete regular English class for the remainder of sophomore year, then start the tough IB classes as a junior; if successfully completed, the son would received the highly coveted IB diploma, seen by many as one of the keys to getting into an Ivy League school.
Well, of course, taking some bad medicine now, learning your lesson, and getting on with life at 15 or 16 just isn’t good enough for the parent. They don’t want some stigma to attach to their little gem of a son.
So, let’s sue! Yeah, that will work. Wait until Fall 2014 when some Ivy League admin staffer Googles the son’s name and this story pops up. That’s the way to the big time.

3 Jack B. 04.28.12 at 8:50 am

According to the linked articles, the student (and his mother) signed an

“‘Academic Honesty Pledge’ at the beginning of the school year that declares cheating is grounds for immediate removal from the advanced-level program.”

I might have a smidgen of sympathy for the student had he not signed the pledge.

4 wfjag 04.28.12 at 9:19 am

The lesson Dad is teaching his son is a History lesson: Ted Kennedy did it (OK, there are some differences – Kennedy was a student at Harvard , rather than a kid who hopes to go there; Kennedy paid someone to take his test, rather than copying from someone else for free; It was Spanish, rather, rather than English.) However, the basic lesson is the same: If Daddy has enough money and power, you don’t have to face the consequences of your behaviour. Laws and rules are for little people.

5 LisaMarie 04.28.12 at 10:15 am

Hell, I have to have an academic dishonesty/plagiarism section in every syllabus because you can’t enforce any consequences for cheating if you did not specifically tell students they are not allowed to cheat on their work.

6 Bette 04.30.12 at 12:40 am

This lawyer dad is a bully – that’s the lesson he is teaching his son. Might ($$$) makes right. He knows most school districts are loathe to go to court as the costs are hardly something they can afford. Hopefully some rich CEO with ethics will step forward and agree to bankroll the lawsuit for the school [Eli Broad where are you?].

I bet dad drops the suit if faced with the other side having more money than he has. He needs to do self reflection – you raised a kid with no conscience.

7 peter 04.30.12 at 7:14 am

Just goes to show. A lawyer is not there to play his part in the proper application of the law by properly representing his client, but to get his guilty client off. And lawyers claim to hold the moral highground?

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