Cumberland Times-News

August 28, 2013

Keyser school’s 5-point policy ‘unfair’

Elaine Blaisdell
Cumberland Times-News

— KEYSER, W.Va. — Area resident Barbara High spoke with Mineral County Board of Education members about Keyser High School Principal Charles Wimer’s Five-Point policy during Tuesday evening’s public meeting.

High presented board members a petition signed by 200 people asking that the policy be revised.  

“This shouldn’t affect grades at all unless students decide to not make up the things they miss,” said Wimer. “In reality, the grade is not what we are really after — it’s this concept that classes are important.”

The policy states that each teacher will assign five classroom participation points and any student who misses instruction will have points or a portion of points deducted. It includes students missing class for sports, clubs, extracurricular activities and students with a doctor’s excuse.

“What I’m asking you guys to consider is that doctors’ appointments cannot be missed,” said High. “If you start taking away five points from people who are involved in school-sanctioned activities you are sending a message to the kids that it is not worth participating.”

High asked how the policy would affect students like her daughter, who has a class requirement to participate in clinicals at Heartland Nursing Home once a week.

“The way it’s written is unfair and unjust,” said High. “This policy — the way it’s written — doesn’t give clearcut answers.”

Wimer said that he had met with Scott Staley, director of vocational education and supervising principal, who is in charge of the clinicals.

“Those students are making up their work, they are asking their teachers what they are missing and that’s all that is required by this,” said Wimer. “There is no reason they shouldn’t continue those good behaviors. We don’t consider this a punishment. We are sending a message that when you are missing a class you miss something valuable and you should be able to make it up.”

According to the policy, students with a valid reason for missing classroom time will be given an option by the teacher to attend after-school tutoring, instructional support and enhancement days, complete an additional assignment or task, meet with the teacher to discuss what was missed and/or additional items to be decided by the teacher.

“If you put this in the hands of a teacher, you can’t expect every teacher to treat every child the same,” said High. “I think for the children who don’t show up because they are at another school-sanctioned activity or they are at a doctor that can’t be avoided. It shouldn’t count against them.”

The policy has a lot of flexibility so that it can address a broad spectrum of students with various challenges, according to Wimer.

“It does address things besides just attendance. It addresses rigor in the classroom, the teachers not having high expectations and equality for different students,” said Wimer.

High said that she spoke with Wimer earlier and he was open to suggestions for the policy.

“I believe between educators, board of ed and parents, we can come together and try to figure out a better way around this,” said High.

A few things in the policy need to be clarified before it’s put into action, said Craig Rotruck, board member.

“I think that Mr. Wimer has done his very best to try and communicate with people. He sent two letters out. The first one he realized wasn’t the best of communications,” said Superintendent Rob Woy. “He sent another letter out for clarification.”

KHS has always had participation points; however, in the past, the school had used bonus points for participation, according to Wimer.

The group that will most be affected by this policy is the Future Farmers of America, according to Wimer.

“They are one of the most active groups in our school,” said Wimer.

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.