A parent said her son received a 'zero' grade from his teacher for not bringing in school supplies, igniting a debate about who should pay

Classroom supplies TikTok

The parent asked viewers what they thought about the situation.Screenshot/TikTok – shanittanicole

  • A mom went viral complaining about a teacher giving her son a “zero” after he didn’t bring certain supplies.

  • Many viewers were confused and said a grade point should not be attached to paying for supplies.

  • The parent, Shannita Busby, told Insider that the zero made her son’s grade drop from a 98 to an 83.

A parent has sparked a debate about whether students and their parents should pay for classroom supplies after she said her 13-year-old son was given a “zero” for not supplying them.

While many TikTok commenters agree that it’s outrageous to threaten a student with a lower grade if they can’t buy products, others have defended the teacher and said it shouldn’t be their burden, either.

In the TikTok, which has been viewed over 1.2 million times in a week, Shanitta Busby explained how they had just transferred to a new school district and not had an issue until the classroom supplies debacle.

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During his third week of 7th grade, her son told her that his honors math teacher was going to give him a “zero” grade for “classroom supplies” if he didn’t bring in communal provisions like tissues, Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer, pencils, Expo markers, and red pens. (These supplies would be in addition to other supplies he had already been required to bring, she explained on TikTok.)

Busby, who wasked to keep the school’s name private, told Insider that the failing grade made her son’s grade drop from a 98 to an 83.

‘Why do I have to buy supplies for the classroom?’ the mom asked TikTok viewers

Busby added in the video that while she eventually bought all the requested stock — and her son’s grade was remedied — she was uncomfortable about the whole situation. She added that she decided to email both the teacher and the principal to get clarity about why the supplies were mandatory.

“I might be extra, but I just wanna see what’s going on. Why do I have to buy supplies for the classroom?” Busby posed at the end of the video.

In the comment section, she clarified that since it was for his math class — and not his homeroom — which he only spends 50 minutes in every day.

The replies are mostly sympathetic, with the majority of viewers annoyed on her behalf and confused about what would happen to a student if their family can’t afford the supplies. Many commenters said they believe it’s OK for teachers to ask for donations for supplies, but it crosses a line when they threaten a grade over it.

“There’s nothing wrong with her ASKING for supplies but to try and make it mandatory is crazy!!” one top comment with over 5,000 likes says.

“I’m down for classroom supplies, cuz teachers pay for it, but don’t grade it,” another person wrote. “Nope, some ppl can’t afford it or have multiple kids and can’t fund all.”

Several who identified themselves as teachers also chimed in. Some sided with Busby, like one user who said their principal likely would have “cursed” them out and made them return all the supplies. Another self-identified teacher said they’re “thrilled” when students bring in supplies but would never enforce it.

Some, however, argued that it would also not be appropriate for the financial burden to fall on teachers. One user amassed 300 likes arguing that teachers “don’t’ make anywhere near enough to supply everything for classrooms,” like tissue stock for kids who have runny noses or make messes.

“It’s not appropriate for us as teachers to buy things for everybody else’s kids but we do,” one irritated top comment says.

Proving some commenters right, the principal eventually apologized to Busby

In a follow-up video, Busby said she spoke with the school’s principal, who apologized and told her that the math teacher should not have made the supplies mandatory.

According to Busby, the principal said their school district provides students with school supplies, so “she doesn’t know what the teacher was trying to accomplish, but it definitely wasn’t appropriate.”

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Busby said the principal told her she was going to flag her concerns to the teacher’s direct supervisor.

“It’s not a standard practice to penalize students grade-wise for the lack of supplies,” the principal wrote to Busby in an email that she shared in a screenshot to TikTok.

Busby told Insider that she never expected her video to blow up but was happy to get everyone’s perspectives on the matter. She said she’s hoping to get an update from the principal soon about how they are rectifying it with the teacher.

Ultimately, Busby said she thinks it’s the school district’s responsibility to supply the classrooms rather than forcing educators to pay out of pocket. She added that it’s fine to ask parents to donate, but forcing a child or parent to fund is setting an unfair expectation.

“What if a less fortunate child had a 75?” Busby said. “They’re going to be failing now just because their parents couldn’t afford to buy the classroom supplies.”

The middle school did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment.

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