A San Mateo County Superior Court Judge tentatively ruled Thursday that a Peninsula teenager who cheated in his honors English class has no legal merit to fight returning to class.
Judge George Miram stated that the plaintiff, in this case, Jack Berghouse, the Sequoia High School sophomore's father, failed to establish that he was sufficiently harmed, or that he could win at trial.
"Plaintiff’s claim of comparative harm further ignores the significance of proven cheating on the student and upon the integrity of the educational institution in its entirety," the judge wrote.
The Redwood City student had signed an "Academic Honesty Pledge" at the beginning of the school year, which states cheating is grounds for immediate removal from the advanced-level program. His mother also had signed it. After he copied a classmate's homework, he was kicked out of the honor's program.
In an April interview with NBC Bay Area, Berghouse acknowledged that his son, who is normally "hardworking," cheated, but he said the school district's "level of punishment does not fit the crime."
But Berghouse's lawsuit pointed out that while cheating is ground to be dismissed from an advanced-level program, school policy is that students be removed only after a second offense. Still, the superintendent had said in a letter that any cheating incident will result in removal.
Berghouse had filed the lawsuit, in part, because he was worried that his son's chances of getting into college will be jeopardized for a "stupid mistake."
The Berghouse family did not appear in court today.
Here is reporter Jodi Hernandez's report from April 26, when she interviewed Jack Berghouse.