School board denies grievance appeal, gives update on school attendance
In their regular meeting via ZOOM on Monday, September 21, the Groesbeck ISD Board of Trustees held a grievance appeal conference for a Level Three parent/student complaint regarding policy on GPA/rank and related to a change in dual-credit/dualenrollment opportunities.
Melissa Menzel spoke to the board on behalf of her daughter Emily, who was unable to participate in the conference as she was at high school band practice. Menzel explained to the board that because the district stated they would not be offering English 1301 through Navarro Dual-Credit in the fall of 2020 when she inquired about it last spring, her daughter chose to enroll in and complete the course during the summer, as it was a course that was required for the career path her daughter planned to pursue. She was told in May that the course would not be offered the following year because a UT OnRamps Dual-Enrollment English was available, but the board voted in their July meeting to switch to the Dual-Credit English 1301/1302.
“She definitely would not have taken this course over the summer had we known the course selection would be changed,” Menzel said of her daughter.
“I do not want her GPA, thus her future to be negatively affected, or for her to feel punished for making a responsible decision in pursuing her career path in any way possible, including working and studying diligently over her summer break. She completed this course with an A, and I’m sure you’ll agree Emily has been placed at a disadvantage concerning her GPA due to this unusual circumstance.”
Her request for an exception to the GISD EIC Local Policy so that Emily’s grade of an A could be applied to her GPA was followed by statements from GHS Principal Bonnie Bomar and Assistant Superintendent Dr. Diana Freeman. Bomar stated that as an agent of policy enforcement for the campus, she did not feel at liberty to breach policy and grant this request. Freeman stated that she and Cowley had discussed interpretation of school policy with attorney Trevor Hall in the spring, when the Menzels inquired about taking a class through Navarro during the summer, and verified that the policy did not allow for the inclusion of courses taken offcampus at Navarro in GPA calculations; that information was communicated to the Menzels.
Menzel expressed that she felt an exception was in order since course selection changed and explained that Emily is at a disadvantage because she had to take the course online, during the summer, for credit only, whereas her classmates are able to take the course inperson, on-campus and have the grade counted in their GPA. Board members asked several questions of both Menzel and GISD administration regarding policy, credit for courses taken during the summer or mini-mesters, GPA weight of grades for Dual-Credit/Dual-Enrollment courses, and more.
After over half an hour in executive session, the board reconvened in open session and voted unanimously to deny the appeal made by the Menzels.
For District Information, Superintendent Dr. James Cowley informed the board that the Homecoming Game against Fairfield set for Friday, September 25 sold out by 5:35 p.m. on Monday, but that the game will be available through live-stream to those who were unable to secure a ticket. Though Governor Greg Abbott announced on Thursday, September 17 that total capacity for most businesses statewide could be increased to 75%, Cowley stated that they have not gotten the okay from TEA or UIL to increase the number of available seats in the stadium at this time.
Cowley also shared that while district attendance is down from last year’s total of 1,619 students, enrollment is up from August, with 1,528 students compared to the 1,519 total of students last month, 391 of those students are learning remotely at this time.
Head Nurse Mychal Masters addressed the board with a COVID-19 update, stating that since Sept. 1, two positive cases had been identified, and 15 students are currently voluntarily self-quarantining as a result of outside exposure or close contact to an individual with a confirmed case of Coronavirus.
“As a healthcare professional, I feel that the district is doing a great job in every aspect,” Masters said. “I think all the campuses are doing a great job of keeping it mitigated, and I feel like the transportation department cleaning the buses, where students from a lot of different campuses are in one close contact area, are doing an amazing job of keeping everything mitigated, because we’ve had positive cases, but we haven’t seen a spread at this point.”
Campus principals provided the board with an update on progress of remotelearning students compared to on-campus students, and concerns that remote learners were struggling or failing to understand and retain as much as the on-campus students were echoed by all. Regarding H.O., Enge, and GMS, principals expressed that a majority of their remote learners were planning and looking forward to transitioning back to oncampus learning in October after the first 9-week session is over, and the consensus of all principals was that students learn more successfully through face-to-face instruction. Cowley stated that TEA has told the district that hot spots should be delivered by the end of the month, which will prove especially helpful for high school remote students who have raised issues with running out of service/internet before all assignments can be completed. For more information about Project Connectivity and how these hot spots are being paid for, see the Groesbeck Council Meeting story in this week’s edition of the Journal.
In other business, the board approved the consent agenda, and the Asynchronous Learning Plan presented by Assistant Superintendent Dr. Diana Freeman, as required by TEA to receive funding for students who are learning remotely.
The next regular meeting for GISD School Board is set for Monday, October 19 at 6 p.m. via ZOOM correspondence.