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8th Grade Teacher Defends Herself After Getting Fired For Giving Students Zeros For Not Submitting Homework

Photo: Facebook
Diana Tirado, message written on whiteboard

A middle school teacher was promptly let go after she was told by school administrators that she failed to follow the school guidelines when it came to grading her students.

Diana Tirado, who taught U.S. History at West Gate K-8 School in Port St. Lucie, Florida was forced to say goodbye to her students after she was fired from her job for not giving the students any credit for their homework.

Tirado defended her decision after she was fired for giving her students all zeroes for not turning their homework in.

In an interview with local news outlet WPTV, Tirado explained that she had been hired during the 2018 summer break to teach eighth-grade social studies at the Florida school. She had spent 17 years as a teacher, with education experience in different grades and classrooms, both online and in-person.

Only in her first year at West Gate, Tirado said she had been fired for ignoring the school's "No Zero" policy, which is printed in the student and parent handbook as “no zeroes – lowest possible grade is 50%.”

Tirado was forced to learn about the policy after some of her students didn't complete an assignment that she had given them two weeks to do. As a result, the school chose to fire Tirado.

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The eighth-grade teacher took to Facebook after the incident, posting a photo she had written on her whiteboard during her last day teaching in September 2018, just two months after she had been hired.

"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," she wrote.

Despite facing serious repercussions for not adhering to the school's policy, Tirado defended her actions, telling WPTV that she refused to let her students off easy when that's not why they attend school every day.

"What if they don’t turn anything in? ‘We give them a 50.’ I go, ‘Oh, we don’t.’ 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,” she told the news outlet.

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Tirado didn't receive a specific reason from the principal for her termination.

In an interview with the NY Post, Tirado said she had been called to the principal's office after they had learned she hadn't given her students 50% for not turning in their homework. However, when she received her letter of termination, she noticed that there was no official cause mentioned for why she was being fired. Despite not seeing it, Tirado knew what the issue had been.

"I loudly bucked the system,” she said. “I refused to do their policy. I guess you would call that defiance.”

Tirado also made sure to speak openly about the reason she had been fired on her Facebook page, expressing her disagreement with the school system.

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"The reason I took on this fight was because it was ridiculous. Teaching should not be this hard. Teachers teach content, children do the assignments to the best of their ability and teachers grade that work based on a grading scale that has been around a very long time,” she wrote her social media page.

“Teachers also provide numerous attempts to get the work collected so they can give a child a grade. By nature, most teachers are loving souls who want to see students succeed. We do above and beyond actual teaching to give them the support they need. Are we perfect? NO. We make mistakes like all other human beings, but I know teachers work their butts off to help children to be the best people they can be!”

However, in a statement to WPTV, the school district denied that they had fired Tirado over the school's grading policy and instead claimed that she had been fired because of "performance."

"[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.”

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Nia Tipton is a writer living in Brooklyn. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics.