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Summer school policy at magnet schools being challenged

Magnet pupils kicked out if they fail a class

Saturday, Aug 17, 2013 7:33 PM
Last updated Sunday, Aug 18, 2013 9:27 AM
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The three magnet schools in Richmond County are celebrated for their near-perfect student achievement and innovative programs.

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April Young talks about her 13-year-old daughter, Erika Boyle, and how she was affected by Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School's summer school policy.   JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/STAFF
JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/STAFF
April Young talks about her 13-year-old daughter, Erika Boyle, and how she was affected by Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School's summer school policy.

But some parents and at least one board of education member argue its time to re-examine a policy that kicks middle-grade students out of the schools if they fail a class – a rule that is not being administered the same way by all three principals.

The school board passed a policy in 2012 that reserved summer school remediation at the magnet schools for high-schoolers.

However, when summer school for middle grades was offered for the first time districtwide this summer, LaMonica Lewis, the prinicipal of A.R. Johnson Health Science and Engineering Magnet School, permitted her middle-grade students who failed a class to retake the course in summer and remain enrolled.

Davidson Fine Arts and C.T. Walker Traditional magnet schools did not.

School board President Venus Cain led a heated debate Tuesday, arguing it’s not fair for a Davidson middle school student to be kicked out if they fail a course, even if they pass it in summer school, while the Johnson students have a chance at redemption.

“I am not looking in any manner to dummy down the education, but I am looking for us to treat our magnet school children across the board the same,” Cain said. “Our magnet schools may have the best and the brightest, but it does not give them the opportunity or the right for everybody to make up their own rules.”

Several of her colleagues disagreed. Board member Jimmy Atkins said the magnet schools have had to
adjust to enough changes over the last few years, from transportation to admissions policies, and principals should be given authority to handle their students based on their own judgment.

“I don’t think every magnet school needs to have the same standards because we’re not teaching the same thing at every magnet school,” Atkins said. “We’re teaching different things and we’re teaching different levels of students. As much time as this board has spent on trying to fix something that was not broken with the magnet schools, I’d love to see us spend that much time with the other schools and get these scores up.”

Former Davidson parent April Young said her daughter, Erika Boyle, was treated unfairly by being asked to leave the school after failing seventh-grade math last year.

Erika retook the course this summer and passed with a 94 average but was still not allowed to return. Students in similar situations at A.R. Johnson were allowed back.

“It’s not being fair to her,” Young said. “I’m not asking for her to get special treatment, I’m asking for her to be treated the same as the other children.”

Missoura Ashe, Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Schools who supervises the magnet schools, said her cabinet will re-examine the policy this year but must be cautious about making changes.

“I do believe we need to sit and have a conversation with all the magnet school principals and just look at the guidelines and see how we can align them,” she said. “There may be some areas where we can’t align because the school concepts are different.”

According to the school contracts, Davidson students in grades 6 through 8 must maintain at least a 75 average in core subjects and a 70 average in other subjects to remain enrolled. High school students with a course average below 70 may attend summer school to recover the credit.

A.R. Johnson’s contract states middle school students who do not maintain a 75 average in core classes or a 70 in the other subjects “may require” reassignment back to their zone schools.

That vague language is too subjective and might lead to students being treated differently, Cain said Tuesday.

Young said she will keep fighting to get her daughter back to Davidson or perhaps A.R. Johnson next semester.

She has big dreams of her daughter making it on the big screen, or seeing her name on a fashion line in Paris. Young said the opportunity of learning at a magnet school can help get her daughter there.

“I’ll never stop fighting for my children,” she said. “I want her life to be excellent, I want it to be better than what I had. I’ll do anything to give her that.”

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corgimom
26406
Points
corgimom 08/17/13 - 08:05 pm
6
6
"According to the school

"According to the school contracts, Davidson students in grades 6 through 8 must maintain at least a 75 average in core subjects and a 70 average in other subjects to remain enrolled. High school students with a course average below 70 may attend summer school to recover the credit. "

GET REAL, they kick the kids out that have trouble so they can keep their #1 rating!

There is nothing complicated about this, my dog Toby could run a school like this and make it #1!

corgimom
26406
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corgimom 08/17/13 - 08:12 pm
6
3
"She has big dreams of her

"She has big dreams of her daughter making it on the big screen, or seeing her name on a fashion line in Paris."

But what are the CHILD'S dreams????

And tell your kid to forget about "making it on the big screen" or "seeing her name on a fashion line in Paris", GO TO COLLEGE and get an education and THEN after you get a degree, go do something!

IBeDogGone
2871
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IBeDogGone 08/17/13 - 08:21 pm
3
1
Standards Seem Low to Me

I agree with corgimon she needs to go to college and that should be the childs goal and she shouldstudy what she wants not what Mama wants for her. I wonder which college is going to accept her with a 75 average. With requirements being tighten for admission for College I would think a higher average would be required to remain in a magnet school.

countyman
18855
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countyman 08/17/13 - 09:57 pm
2
4
Education

I would think the majority of people in the US were probably C students in high school. This type of student at Davidson would be consider at the bottom.

There's plenty of magnet schools in Georgia, but they all score different on the SAT/ACT.

It'll be interesting to see the scores for the new magnet school in South Augusta over the next few years.

RCBOE needs to build four additional magnet schools and one middle/elementary combination. The regular school could be located on Gordon Hwy west of Jimmie Dyess Pkwy. The first magnet school built should include the new middle/high school in West Augusta. Then focus on the elementary/middle school in West Augusta, elementary/middle in South Augusta, and middle/high off Peach Orchard near the city limits of Hephzibah(Hwy 88).

GnipGnop
11422
Points
GnipGnop 08/17/13 - 10:45 pm
6
1
Funny...

RCBOE needs to build four additional magnet schools and one middle/elementary combination. Are you going to pay the taxes for these new schools? You seem to think money grows on trees...

Little Lamb
43613
Points
Little Lamb 08/17/13 - 10:52 pm
6
0
What about the vacant ones?

Countyman posted:

RCBOE needs to build four additional magnet schools. . . .

RCBOE owns several properties with school buildings in various states of disrepair all around the county. They need to tell taxpayers what they will do with that property before building another school. They need either to divest the property and buy land where the childhood population centers now exist; or they need to demolish the old school buildings and build the new ones on existing school board property.

RCBOE has been a very poor steward of their property holdings.

dichotomy
29837
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dichotomy 08/17/13 - 11:57 pm
9
0
"RCBOE has been a very poor

"RCBOE has been a very poor steward of their property holdings"

Can I get an amen. And they, like our commissioners, also have that "all that glitters is gold" mentality where they think that shiny new buildings will actually improve education.

mybaskett
218
Points
mybaskett 08/18/13 - 12:54 am
5
1
DFA parents know the rules

Corgimom, the school does well because of the like minded students and parents. Everyone knows the rules and the rules should not be changed for one student. This would be unfair to all of the other students who did not succeed and asked to leave. This mom should have known/or knew that sending her daughter to summer school would not allow her entry back into the school. All parents know that. ARJ and DFA are not the same schools. They have different rules. This is not something ARJ has always done. Growing up I had many friends get put out of ARJ for the same issue.

ironpurps
143
Points
ironpurps 08/18/13 - 01:03 am
5
1
Good Point

Good point by Atkins about being different types of schools. The principals do need to have final say in the matter of grades. They are guardians of the gate and know the situations better than any. What if this student was given other opportunities to get the grade higher but refused? We don't know that information. And really, it's not our business. And, there are already enough magnet schools. The new high school has 20 openings they can't fill.

corgimom
26406
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corgimom 08/18/13 - 05:13 am
5
0
"I would think the majority

"I would think the majority of people in the US were probably C students in high school. "

No, back in the day when parents cared about education, and school was emphasized, and teachers didn't have to spend all day trying to maintain control, kids did better in school.

corgimom
26406
Points
corgimom 08/18/13 - 05:25 am
4
2
"RCBOE has been a very poor

"RCBOE has been a very poor steward of their property holdings."

Back in the day when Augusta was very rural, people used to donate property for schools. They typically donated land that wasn't prime, that had problems, that wasn't suitable for farming, that was on the edge of a road. Or the school district wanted to buy cheap land, and again, it was cheap for a reason.

Those pieces of property usually had issues- like drainage, or in an undesireable location. But for a school site, it was considered a good deal by all.

Then Augusta built up. Population moved west. Roads needed to be widened. School building codes changed, making buildings unsafe and obsolete. More people drove cars, making parking a problem.

This happens in every city, it's not unique to Augusta.

There's not much you can do with an old school. They are very hard to retrofit for other uses. They are energy-consuming monsters, and businesses have different needs than schools.

They are almost impossible to heat and cool and maintain properly by private concerns, they have to have big operating budgets.

All those old schools contain asbestos and lead paint. All of them are contaminated. And it costs so much money now to raze them, and the school system doesn't have the money to do it.

And everytime RCBOE tries to demolish a school, to make the land sellable, a group of people get together and say, "Oh, save our old school, we have MEMORIES" and so they just sit. Those fire-trap, rat-infested, dilapidated white elephants just sit.

avidreader
2935
Points
avidreader 08/18/13 - 07:30 am
3
1
Summer School

"Erika retook the course this summer and passed with a 94 average". Summer school in RC is somewhat of a joke. Erika's 94 will not equate to an A at DFA. However, I don't get it. If 9-11 students are allowed to make up a failing grade, then why not 6-8?

Normally, I am the guy who preaches strict accountability in education, but on this occasion, as much as it pains me, I must agree with Venus Cain. Every kid deserves a second chance when it's apparent that the child (with parental support) is willing to work harder and make amends.

Every journey has a few bumps in the road, but it's the focus on the destination that keeps us moving forward. I say, give Erika another shot at it.

avidreader
2935
Points
avidreader 08/18/13 - 07:33 am
0
0
McManus

Excellent reporting!

Little Lamb
43613
Points
Little Lamb 08/18/13 - 07:43 am
4
0
Enabler

Board Trustee Jimmy Atkins is enabling the principals to be little dictators. I think a single policy set by the Board would be the way to proceed. The trouble is that the board trustees were selected by the dumb masses (i.e., voters) from the dumb masses (i.e., Richmond County residents).

lddist
101
Points
lddist 08/18/13 - 08:16 am
3
0
Summer school = pay to pass.

Summer school = pay to pass. If you can't pass during the regular school year then why can you pass during summer school. I'm not saying it doesn't happen but I know of no one who attended summer school and failed. Again it's pay to pass.

seenitB4
79709
Points
seenitB4 08/18/13 - 08:46 am
3
2
countyman said

"I would think the majority of people in the US were probably C students in high school"

Not true countyman...I was in the a & b classes throughout high school.....& just like corgi said...back then the teachers CONTROLLED the school room....IT makes a big difference..

BTW...a new school won't make great students....we all know the home scene has to be above board in every way...sadly the kids are not getting the basic necessities in life.

Riverman1
78442
Points
Riverman1 08/18/13 - 08:52 am
10
2
Why Making All Schools Magnets Doesn't Work

If NEW magnet schools actually helped the entire student population of the county, we could change every single school to a magnet one. The truth is magnet schools only work because they draw the best students (and parents). The ones left behind would not improve because their school becomes a magnet school.

nocnoc
37570
Points
nocnoc 08/18/13 - 08:57 am
9
0
I have family in the Davidson School

Those boys are constantly busting their tails to keep up.

They understand it is hard school, but they also understand they will get out of it what they put into it studying.

They know failing is NOT tolerated, and students are expected to keep up. The parents MUST be actively involved for their child's education in order for them to pass.

It means giving up a lot of the students Social Life and weekends are dedicated to study not the mall. I watched those kids study through Summer just to be ready. But they understand it means they will get the best, most respected education in Richmond County when they pass.

The oldest has already had several scholarship offers, which included:
US Naval officers Academy ,
US Air Force Officers Academy,
US Coast Guard Academy
3 Private colleges
and a above average good NON-US college.

Above All
Don't screw with the Davidson program just to accommodate a squeaky wheel or the loose nut. It is achieving its goals.

The school has Realistic Goals and Standards that have been set.
These Goals and Standards are not for everybody or manageable by every family, therefore cannot be met by every student.

But parent(s) and Student(s) understood the student code, discipline and study requirements, BEFORE acceptance to Davidson and starting their 1st class.

Just like life,
some Tacks will always be sharper than others.
That's why we have leaders and followers.

The malcontents are the ones that want better, can't or won't earn it. But, still demand what others have obtained that they could not.

nocnoc
37570
Points
nocnoc 08/18/13 - 09:07 am
5
0
By the Way

When I attended Gracewood Elem. or the Elem school on 300-400 Green St they did not have AC and what was called heating had us layer wrapped for warmth. We did not have Summer School it was up, repeat or quit at 16 and grab a shovel.

But we learned if we did not want to have a Shovel ready County job.
The Shovel ready job has been replaced by EBT and other handouts.

dstewartsr
20388
Points
dstewartsr 08/18/13 - 09:36 am
3
1
Second time this millennium

... I agree with Corgi. The magnet schools have been run on a model that only allows for countyman to boast of the level of acheivement; any kid behind the curve gets booted to the curb. Nice work if you can get it, while the rest of the local schools have to educate everyone coming in the door.

justthefacts
20031
Points
justthefacts 08/18/13 - 10:15 am
0
5
Dang

People are being a bit hard on this Mom. Seems all she wanted was consistency across the schools. Seems logical to me. And, yes, tell her daughter to forget those dreams. Just wow.

justthefacts
20031
Points
justthefacts 08/18/13 - 10:20 am
1
1
dstewartsr

Maybe the first time this millennium I don't agree with you. Why shouldn't students who are willing to step up, give extra effort, pay the price if you will, to have a better education, not have that chance? As long as everyone has the opportunity to attend, why not reward those who earn it? That will certainly be the case at the next level.

corgimom
26406
Points
corgimom 08/18/13 - 10:43 am
2
1
justthefacts, do you think

justthefacts, do you think that there are only 600 kids out of a school district of 31,000 that want that?

There are THOUSANDS more kids, THOUSANDS more parents in RC that want it, and can't ever get it. They are stuck in the dismal RC high schools and can't get out.

justthefacts
20031
Points
justthefacts 08/18/13 - 10:50 am
2
1
Well

Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. I suspect that most of those THOUSANDS of student don't make the effort. In any event, if that is the case, lobby for more Magnet schools instead of denigrating the current ones.

corgimom
26406
Points
corgimom 08/18/13 - 10:51 am
4
1
I don't know the mother. I

I don't know the mother. I don't know the child. And I am very cautious about what I say about children, because they are children, especially about a specific child that I don't know.

But somehow I think there is more to this. And I don't know, I can only guess. Perhaps there was other issues. Perhaps the child was struggling across the board, and that the school felt that this was no longer the appropriate placement for her and that it wouldn't be in the child's best interest to remain. I don't know. I have no idea.

So many times the parents want to say "unfair" but when you start looking closely at the issue, the issue is more complex than the parent wants to believe.

The mother knew the deal when she enrolled her. She knew the deal when the girl started having trouble. She knew the deal when the girl failed.

How do you claim "unfair" when you knew the rules from the start?

I also have major issues with parents putting their BABIES on public display and disclosing very personal private information that NOBODY NEEDS TO KNOW and that will not HELP THAT CHILD IN ANY WAY.

I was stunned when the child was named in the article and her very personal, private information was published for thousands of people to see.

allhans
22990
Points
allhans 08/18/13 - 11:28 am
1
0
It's called "me, me, me".

It's called "me, me, me".

Darby
23123
Points
Darby 08/18/13 - 11:39 am
5
0
".....it’s not fair for a Davidson middle school

student to be kicked out if they fail a course, even if they pass it in summer school, while the Johnson students have a chance at redemption."

.
It's absolutely fair. They know going in that the bar is set higher. Let them "redeem" themselves in summer school, then send them back to the schools the originally came from.

What is with these people who are so determined to bring standards down to the lowest common denominator?

Don't lower expectations at Davidson and Copeland.... raise them to where they should be at Johnson.

If not, why even bother with the concept of magnet schools????

lmiller
4
Points
lmiller 08/18/13 - 12:08 pm
2
0
Concerning grades for magnet schools

Not knowing the teacher, student or parent, my question concerns the failing grade, a student doesn't just fail a class at the last minute. The grades are averaged over the 4 grading periods. How much work was done with this student during the grading periods? Math is a building subject, where a student needs to master the information taught before moving on to the next level. Were there not major flags before the end of the year?

Years ago, our son was told because he was a B/C student he need not even apply to attend a Richmond Co Magnet school. This article is saying that passing with a "C" is acceptable, but only the brightest get in these schools! I also know that grades aren't the only factor getting into magnet schools but I was told that unless a student can maintain a "B" average, they will be asked to leave the magnet school system. According to this article, a 75 average must be maintained, but a 75 is a low "C" in our school system. So, how many bright, talented middle school students in magnet schools make "C's" and continue into high school and excel in these subjects?

corgimom
26406
Points
corgimom 08/18/13 - 12:55 pm
1
0
Either way, that little girl

Either way, that little girl has lost.

If she stays, she will face ridicule from her peers, who will know that she shouldn't be there and is there only because her mother made a stink about it and that an exception was made for her. And school is Hell when you don't have friends and aren't accepted by their peers. Everyone will scrutinize her with intensity. This won't be good, and the other kids will never, ever forget this.

And if she goes, everybody at the new school will know that she failed math. Kids are cruel, she will face ridicule.

Why don't parents ever think about these things?

catsmeow
7
Points
catsmeow 08/18/13 - 02:09 pm
4
0
From DFA alum: don't lower standards

I think it's important that DFA alumni are invited to contribute to this discussion because each of our personal outcomes speak to the benefits and costs of attending a school with such high standards as those of DFA. I am a DFA alumna, and after reading this article, I'm convinced that neither Ms. Cain nor Ms. Boyle understand the purpose, spirit, or mission of DFA. DFA is for the area's highest-achieving students and for students who have the potential to excel in a learning environment where students are given advanced, high-level material. To excel at DFA, a student must absolutely love learning, or as one my fellow classmates once put it when we were in the 6th grade, "have an insatiable yearning to learn any and everything." You must be very disciplined and willing to sacrifice aspects of your social life so that you can study longer and harder. You must be willing to push the limits of your mind, and sometimes your body, to develop your talents. If you are weak in these areas, you will not make it at DFA, and that's a good thing. Why? Because it's called "standards." These standards are what have lead to DFA and its students and alumni winning numerous achievement awards. Rather than watering down these standards to that of A.R. Johnson's summer school policy, it seems the school board should perhaps challenge Johnson and bring their policy up to the standards of DFA and C.T. Walker. Why is that not being considered? I'll tell you why--because our education system is slowly descending into a pit of mediocrity where everyone's a winner, even in the academic setting. Well, that's not reality. Maybe we are all winners in the eyes of God, but in the competitive and global world of college, med school, business, the arts, or many other professions, that is not the case. If Ms. Boyle's daughter cannot handle the demands of DFA, then Ms. Boyle should be understanding of her child's needs and move her child to an environment where she can thrive. Maybe she doesn't want to be at DFA? Maybe the curricula are stressful or she doesn't like being in an environment that challenges children to the level that DFA does. It certainly sounds like Ms. Boyle may be living vicariously through her daughter rather than finding out what her daughter actually dreams of doing when she is an adult. And to that point, DFA is not designed to funnel young people into the entertainment industry, as Ms. Boyle's comments suggest. That's called a "performing arts school," and those schools are out there for that purpose. DFA is a "fine arts school," which uses the arts to enhance academics; it doesn't necessarily prepare you for Hollywood nor should it. I'll finish by saying that everyone I've gone to school with has done excellent in life and have made careers in fields where "summer school" (a.k.a. second chances) are not always there. That's life if you want to go that route, and that route isn't for everyone. It appears Ms. Boyle and Ms. Cain have taken routes that have not educated them in these matters.

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