Nov. 21, 2002 – With the school year almost halfway gone, seniors at Ivanna Eudora Kean High School are still in limbo and their parents are still in an uproar over the last-minute requirement of three new courses for graduation.
Gladstone Hazel, Eudora Kean Parent-Teacher-Student Association president, said at a PTSA meeting on Wednesday evening that if the Board of Education doesn't come to an acceptable decision concerning the requirements, the group will seek legal action against it.
The seniors were told during orientation in August that they must take courses in Speech, Computer Application and Developmental Reading and Writing in order to graduate. (See "Mandated new courses could hold senior back".)
So far, none of the Eudora Kean seniors have taken the Developmental Reading and Writing course, and for good reason.
"We don't have any such course here," acting Principal Lydia Lettsome said. "To say that a student in the 12th grade has to take a Developmental Reading and Writing Course is an injustice to the student."
According to Lettsome, some students have been able to take the Speech and Computer Application courses, but 12 seniors will be unable to take the computer course by next spring, and 13 will not be able to take Speech.
Lettsome briefly told the PTSA members about a meeting she had attended with Board of Education members on Wednesday afternoon. No one from the board was present at the PTSA meeting to respond directly to the concerns of the parents and students.
The objective of the board is to ensure that graduating seniors are capable of expressing themselves, Lettsome said.
Board of Education member Linda Thomas had stated in October that 80 percent of incoming freshmen at the University of the Virgin Islands, where she teaches, have to take remedial reading and writing courses, although some have graduated from high school as honor students.
Lettsome told parents not to worry because the school would look at the students' transcripts and see whether they took classes that could substitute the required ones. She also said there would be a means of assessing whether students are computer literate. Such assessments have to be done by Dec. 16, according to the Board of Education.
Frustrated students said at the Wednesday PTSA meeting that the three-course requirement should have been implemented earlier in their school career. "I don't think it's fair that they make us take these classes in our last year of high school," 12th grader Mera Ramkissoon said.
Ishani Chinnery said, "I think it was very irresponsible to force these classes on us in our senior year. They should have enforced it on the 9th and 10th graders."
Many of the parents had the same cry on their lips: "It's unfair."
"They just can't come up in the last school year and expect the students to be given three extra subjects to add to their schedules," PTSA member Jane Ramnarine said. She noted that there are other required courses that her daughter Abigail has to take besides the three new ones.
"I just see it as causing confusion for no reason," another irate parent said.
Hazel told the parents they should focus on helping their children prepare to take the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), especially since the school has lost its accreditation, instead of getting stressed about the board's decision.
The Board of Education is expected to issue its final decision on the three-course requirement on Friday.
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