Baker charter school backtracks after telling students they failed, needed to attend summer program

Baker charter school backtracks after telling students they failed, needed to attend summer program
Source - Pablo Buffer

BAKER, La. (WAFB) - Parents of students attending Advantage Charter Academy are fuming Friday night after being told their kids would be held back and would need to attend a 16-day summer school program in order to advance to the next grade.

The summer school begins May 28, leaving parents little time to speak with school officials to understand why their child is being held back.

One parent questioned the legitimacy of the program. In an interview with WAFB she highlighted students would have a shorter time to learn information they should’ve learned over several months throughout the school year as an issue. “What can they get in 16 days?”

Making matters more confusing for her and other parents is a statement provided to WAFB Friday night by Leah Nixon, a spokeswoman for the school. The statement implies parents have input as to whether students will or will not be held back. That decision doesn’t have anything to due with academics, rather the school is allowing parents to choose because of a procedural error on the school’s part.

Parents should have been notified over winter break that their kids would be asked to attend summer school, but instead were not notified until the end of the year.

Read the full statement below:

"When our students make a mistake, we teach them to own it, to apologize, and to fix it as best they can.

We have made a mistake in the process outlined in our student handbook by failing to inform parents in a timely manner of our intent to retain their child. Our handbook states those conversations should have taken place before winter break, but that did not happen. Some parents learned of our decision to retain their child when final report cards were issues. For this oversight, we are deeply sorry.

School leadership is reaching out individually to parents to apologize and to let them know we will promote their child to the next grade after summer break if they so choose. But we are also letting parents know when we think their child would benefit by staying in a current grade in order to master reading skills at grade level. This recommendation was made with the best interest of each child at heart.

As we have shared, the state of Louisiana places a strong emphasis on student reading performance. NHA has reinforced our promotion and retention policies to align with these expectations. We should have taken more care to follow the timeline established by our own policies and procedures. We are sorry if our mistake upset parents and their children, and we are taking steps to ensure this does not happen again."

That decision has inspired doubts among parents. One parent we spoke with says she’s left questioning if the school ever really had any reason to hold the kids back in the first place, or instead was attempting to retain students longer to get more government assistance.

“As professionals, they should care more for their students instead of coming up off government funds” she said. “It’s just not making sense.”

Parents say the disorganization is due in part to recent changes in the school’s leadership. One parent who spoke with WAFB says the school has had two different principals in the last two years. The new administration has closed itself off to answering complaints and questions from parents, according to the parent WAFB spoke with.

“It’s like they’re always running,” she said.

She, like many other parents, wants answers that can’t come soon enough.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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