No F’s Allowed? Teacher Sues for Harassment & Retaliation

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Sue Goudreau, a fourth grade teacher, is suing her principal and other school officials after the principal ordered teachers to alter grades so no child received a failing grade.

Ms. Goudreau claims that principal Sholanda Shamlin “adamantly directed … teachers to assign a D to students who were not going to pass 4th grade and not to fail a student who has even the slightest chance of passing [the state test].”

Ms. Goudreau, the only National Board Certified Teacher at her elementary school, was nominated to be “teacher of the year.” When Ms. Goudreau disagreed with this policy at a teachers’ meeting, the principal told her “to shut up and not open her mouth again.”

Although Goudreau was forbidden from assigning failing grades and ordered to change grades to “passing,” she recorded her students’ actual grades in her grade book.

She claims that “illegal alteration of students’ grades misled the affected students and their parents into thinking they were passing and obtaining the required skills to proceed to fifth grade, when in reality those students were neither passing nor obtaining the requisite skills needed for the fifth grade.”


In May 2009, Ms. Goudreau filed a grievance against the principal for forcing teachers to illegally alter student grades. She was “seriously concerned and suffered from anxiety over falsifying her grade book at the direction” of the principal. Despite several memos that supported Ms. Goudreau, the superintendent found “insufficient evidence” that the principal ordered teachers to change their grades.

After filing the grievance, Ms. Goudreau suffered “constant fear of being written up for insubordination or other baseless reasons.” She developed cardiac problems from stress caused by harassment and retaliation.


Ms. Goudreau filed suit in federal court, and requested a jury trial. She is seeking punitive damages for reckless and deliberate indifference, and violations of state law and federal civil rights. She is represented by Craig Watson.

You can read the Complaint in Sheila Goudreau v. East Baton Rouge Parish School Board, Shilonda Shamlin, Individually and in her Official Capacity, Superintendent John Dilsworth in his Official Capacity, Charlotte Placide Individually and in her Official Capacity at

Hat tip to Courthouse News: No F’s Allowed? Teacher Sues School

  1. It looks like Christine is projecting her anger against the system vis a vis this teacher. Knee jerk reaction?

    It sounds like this teacher would do everything in her power to help students.

  2. Good for this teacher. If students make failing grades, they deserve an F. In real life if you do not do your job, you are fired! Not everyone passes, we are all different. Life is hard, this is a preparation for the real world.

  3. Margaret, EndTeacherAbuse is about ending abuse against teachers. Sue Goudreau, and many other teachers, are being abused by their principals and district administrators. So teachers do go to NAPTA’s (National Association for the Prevention of Teacher Abuse) to post their stories. Yes, some teachers do abuse students, but Karen’s site is dedicated to exposing the abuse against teachers.

  4. Karen:
    Why would any teacher go to a sight named “end teacher abuse?” The above article is about a teacher fighting administration. The teacher is not the abuser. I’m glad she has the financial resources to do what she is doing.

  5. I think this teacher is ridiculous!!! If she was implementing the appropriate modifications and recommendations there would not be an issue!!! If the child is still unable to learn based on IEP recommendations then another meeting is needed!! I’m sure she did not contact the Special Ed teacher nor parents with concerns and willingness to try other options. She does not have a valid case in my opinion! I have a son that has severe learning disabilities and is a 2 time cancer survivor and the teachers that have given my son Fs, simply refuse to abide by not only the IEP but a mediation agreement that is also in place and has been for years. These teachers in our situation are in contempt of court and now I have to battle them once again. So, no, she has no right to sue. What about the stress she’s inflicted on those poor children?

    • You have concluded that YOUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCE as a parent if an ill child qualifies you to opine on a topic you are clearly ignorant of? Really? I’ve taught for nearly 3 decades. Grades 5-11. Ive taught 12 year olds who read on the college level & 15 year olds who read on the 1st grade level. Many had IEPs. In fact, I taught a group of 7th graders, 115 of them, and 97 of them had IEPs!!! My own child has Lupus & dyslexia. I know BOTH sides of this issue. I will tell you authoritatively you have zero concept of what you’re speaking of. Just stop.

  6. This is in response to 5 Susan. I understand what you are stating about teachers being too willing to hand out F’s. I am a special education teacher, and I am continually advocating for special needs children. I touch base weekly with teachers to be sure students are not failing. If students are failing, I speak with the teacher to determine why, and frequently it is because teachers are not using adaptations or modifications stated in the IEP. Most teachers are willing to take advice, they welcome it. A minority of teachers, though, are rigid, and unwilling to adapt around the needs of the students. I try to come to an agreement with the teacher first, but if they are unwilling, I have no choice but to involve the principal. My principal has always backed me, fortunately. There are some great admin staff out there.

  7. Teachers like this deserve a medal in my book. I wish I had her email address to congratulate her personally for having a backbone and morals. It’s such a shame that honest people are the ones who get punished like this. This country has become such a mess, and the only way it will change is if more people like Sue stand up for what is right.

  8. As a current teacher of children with special needs and a very unpopular one (according to the District), I can attest to the many unethical and illegal things that we are ordered to do each and every week. Most of us who refuse to participate in these activities are retaliated against daily. Many of our unions will not even deal with our situations and we must lose our jobs in order to get assistance from a lawyer.

  9. Well, my school had no problem giving my children with disabilities almost straight Fs (undeservedly), while they refused to follow the IEPs and sabotaged their academic progress in every possible way. They promoted them to the next grade. The retaliation against me and my children was rapid-fire to the point that we were forced to homeschool this year to avoid more mental, emotional, physical abuse. My hat is off to this teacher for bucking the system. And Karen will be posting my story on her website soon.

  10. This is very common. School systems don’t want to retain students because it cost money, so they tell teachers not to fail anyone.

  11. This teacher is one of many excellent teachers targeted for not following the politics of White Chalk Crime. She needs to join our group that is trying to expose the truth about our schools so parents can protect their children from these Bernie Madoff like creatures calling the shots. If you agree that our schools should be looking out for children rather than be pots of gold for educrats, join us. We need a loud voice so the media cannot keep ignoring what is going on. Come to or WhiteChalkCrime. com and become educated about education.

  12. If only we had more ethical teachers like Sue, our public schools would not be in such a mess! What if all teachers spoke out and refused to follow orders unquestioningly. What happened to Sue happens at too many schools today. Teachers are silenced so the public does know these things. Good for Sue. You will be richly rewarded one day. Never be afraid to do the right thing. Have courage.

  13. Good for the teacher! I hope she is able to prevail against the principal and the school superintendent.

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