Case Study for Educators: A Moral Dilemma

Mr. Davids is one of four vice principals in a large urban high schools of twenty five hundred students.  One of his many duties is to make follow up phone calls to parents informing them of their son or daughters absence.

One morning, he finds a very distraught grade eleven female student waiting at his office door.  The day before, he had called her home to indicate that she had been absent for two consecutive days as he had been unable to make contact on the first day.  The student, through her sobbing and irregular breathing, explains that she just had a miscarriage.  She had left her home the last two mornings as usual, but instead of going to school, she was at a friend’s house whose parents were away, recovering.  Tearfully, she explains that because of her cultural background and her father’s temper, “He will kill me if he finds out.”  She begs Mr. Davis to call her home and explain that it was a computer error and that she was at school for those two days.

She doesn’t have a record of previous absences, and is a good student. She has received proper medical care.

What should he do?

If you were the vice-principal, what would you do with this dilemma?

We can choose to believe her story.  To make up such a story, to avoid a phone call home because of truancy, seems rather far-fetched.  She appears sincere.

Would you call her home?  Potentially sending her home to be “killed” by her father, or thrown out of her house?  Would you call her parents to the office and talk to them about it?

Or, would you, as a professional, lie?  She suggests contriving the lie of a “computer error”. Would this raise any of your doubts — or is she simply thinking of a believable lie?

What would you do?