Student claims she got a zero for her opinion

JOHNSTON COUNTY She claims she got a zero, because of the opinions she expressed in her paper.

The West Johnston High School tenth grader says she's never gotten a zero before.

"They could have at least taken a few points off," Dominique Wiwatowski said. "I was like, what are they trying to do to me here, do they hate me."

Wiwatowski says she's accused of plagiarizing -stealing a summary of the first amendment from the internet site Wikipedia. She did reference it, just not correctly.

"And I'm like, well wouldn't that be more of a grammatical error than it would be plagiarism, they're like no," Wiwatowski said.

In fact, Wiwatowski says it wasn't until she was called to the principal's office that the word plagerism came up. The report itself addresses content -and in this case, content with a somewhat conservative bent.

"In the write up, they didn't say anything about plagiarizing, they talked about the content in it," Wiwatowski said. "So I don't know if they just didn't like how I felt about the first amendment."

As for what's next, it's up to Wiwatowski.

"They told me it was going to be a zero until I fixed the paper," Wiwatowski said.

But Dominique's mother, AnneMarie Wiwatowski, is encouraging her not to re-write the paper, to take a stand.

"My main concern is that what my daughter wrote about is her first amendment rights and that what's being done to her is a violation of her first amendment rights," she said.

No one from the school district would comment on the matter, citing student confidentiality.

"We are legally restricted from discussing this situation, because it involves student records and student discipline," school spokeswoman Terri Sessoms said.

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