My department has a policy that all major assignments must be turned in, in the order assigned, before a student is eligible to pass a course. I state this in my syllabus along with my interpretation : I will not accept a paper after the due date for the next paper. In accordance with this policy, I emailed a few of my students a while back to let them know they would no longer be eligible to pass.
One student asked for an exception. He "really need[ed] to pass." He hadn't been to class in over a month and hadn't turned in a paper in two months (and those by email). For a while there, I honestly couldn't remember what he looked like.
I told him to come by my office with a better case than "I really need to pass" and we'd talk.
I looked through my grade book. In order for him to pass, he needed to submit a revision, four new papers, and make nineteen blog posts, all in less than a week, all at passing quality. When he showed up for his appointment, I told him that I didn't think he could pull it off, but I'd let him try.
I'm still not entirely sure I should have budged on my interpretation of the English department policy not to accept papers turned in out of order. But I feel like at least this way he can't blame his teacher for his failure.