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Mom Says Albany Teacher Bullied Son, Sues District

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Albany High School. (CBS)

Albany High School. (CBS)

ALBANY (CBS 5) — A mom is suing the Albany Unified School District, after her son received a C+ in a chemistry class. She claims the teacher bullied her son.

Looking at his 4.6 grade point average from last school year, one would think school comes easy to Bowen Bethards.

“I always strive for A’s,” he said.

His mother Laureen Bethards said nothing has come easy. She adopted Bowen after he was born to a drug addict.

“He was born addicted. He went through withdrawals the first five months of his life,” she recalled.

Bowen Bethards has battled learning disabilities ever since. But this is not a story about those battles. It’s about a battle in the last place this A-student ever expected to have one, with a chemistry teacher at Albany High School.

“It first started with an adoption for my younger sister,” Bowen said.

According to the family, the adoption would happen on a day that Bowen was supposed to complete a chemistry lab. He said he asked his teacher, Peggy Carlock to make up the lab later.

“She said, ‘Oh, you’re adopting a sister. Oh, that’s perfectly ok,’” Bowen recalled. But when he returned the next school day, he said Carlock had changed her mind.

The mother talked to the principal. She said administrators promised Bowen could make up the lab.

Instead, Bowen said he received the wrath of his teacher.

“She said, ‘I know it was you who sent your mother after the school administration to have you make up that lab,’” Bowen said.

Carlock failed Bowen on his lab, dropping his grade from an A+ to a C+.

In the lawsuit, Laureen Bethards said it’s a violation of the education code, which states that a child must be allowed to make up schoolwork in the case of a court appearance.

But in a letter, superintendant Marla Stephenson denied that request, saying, “My rationale for the denial is that it gives unfair advantage for one student to make up credit missed in a prior year.”

“This isn’t about a grade. It’s about standing up for something that’s wrong,” Bowen said.

Bowen has since transferred to Berkeley High School.

CBS 5 wanted to talk to Carlock for this story, but she was out of town. Carlock no longer works at Albany High. Neither the district nor the school would comment, saying it was a personnel matter.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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