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Updated: 8th January 2019 09:36

Teacher who gave zeros won't appeal suspension

The Edmonton physics teacher who broke school policy by giving zeros to his students has decided not to appeal his suspension.

Legal costs too high for failed appeal

The Edmonton physics teacher who broke school policy by giving zeros to his students has decided not to appeal his suspension.

Lynden Dorval, a 35-year teaching veteran, had until Friday to file an appeal. He consulted with a lawyer who told him that based on past cases, his odds of winning are slim — a position also taken by the Alberta Teachers' Association.

"There's a rare chance, or small chance, that I may have to pay for the whole hearing if I lose," Dorval said on Friday. "I can't take that kind of hit."

Dorval became a hero to many for refusing to comply with the so-called 'no-zero' policy for incomplete assignments and missed tests at Edmonton's Ross Sheppard High School.

The thinking behind the policy, which was adopted by the school a year and a half ago, is that a failure to complete assignments is a behavourial issue, and marks should reflect ability, not behaviour.

But Dorval believes not giving zeros tells students that they don't need to be accountable for their actions.

Recognized everywhere

Since his story broke last week, Dorval has been featured in news items across Canada and given several interviews each day, even with media outlets in the United States.

"Everywhere I go, people recognize me," Dorval said. "They want to talk about the issue."

Dorval believes that a bid for school funding is behind the no-zero policy.

According to provincial guidelines, schools get full funding if a student receives a mark of 50 per cent or more in a course, or if a student shows up half the time and gets a mark of more than 25 per cent.

But a spokeswoman for Alberta Education says protections are in place to ensure schools don't inflate grades or attendance numbers.

"We do a fair bit of auditing every year to check assignments and to check marks to make sure that we see what's happening with kids that are falling between the 25 and 50 per cent," said Kim Capstick.

Dorval admits he first wondered if it was right to take a stand. But the response he's received since then — calls, emails and letters from complete strangers, and talks with frustrated teachers — has validated his decision.

"It certainly has made my resolve even stronger than ever because the support I'm getting from people is just unbelievable," he said.

Last week, Dorval said that he spoke out because as a 35-year veteran, he could retire and live on his pension if he lost his job, a price he expects to pay for speaking out.

He still hopes he can return to teaching, even on a part-time basis, once his suspension is complete.

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