Thumbs Up

The Gwinnett County Board of Education on Thursday voted to terminate the district's contract with Larry "Doc" Neace, a science teacher who docked a student's grade because the student was sleeping in class.

Neace, who has been teaching at Dacula for 23 years, allegedly refused orders from his principal and several school officials to give the student full credit on the assignment because he felt it would violate state ethics guidelines.

School officials said Neace had no right to deduct points from the student's assignment because Gwinnett County's policy does not allow grading to be used for disciplinary purposes.

The district has its policies, and in this case board members decided Neace had broken one. We can't say we agree with firing the teacher and letting a kid snooze through science, but, again, the district has its policies.

We will, however, give a thumbs up to Doc for teaching his students a lesson probably more valuable than anything they could learn from science books. Neace showed his willingness to stand up for what he believes is right. He easily could have changed the student's grade and gone on with the job he loves. He chose to teach the students a lesson in following through on a decision, regardless of the consequences.

And they must be learning. Students past and present turned out in the hundreds to support Neace at his Thursday hearing. We give a thumbs up to them, as well. The hearing started at 4:30 p.m. Thursday and adjourned at 2 a.m. Friday. Some chose to stay until the final bell.

We also believe District 1 Board Member Carole Boyce, the lone dissenting vote in Neace's dismissal, deserves a thumbs up.

Boyce voted with the board that Neace had gone against district policy. However, she voted against firing him.

Boyce, herself a former schoolteacher, is new to the board and might not realize that being the odd vote on a board ballot is unheard of. We can't remember the last time the board didn't harmonize on a decision. Boyce's nerve to sing a different tune is music to our ears.