Do you think she should get to take her "Homeschooled" boyfriend to her prom?
|UHS family members question prom lockout|
Family members of an Urbana High School student asked Urbana City Schools’ board members to reverse an administrative decision to bar her boyfriend from the upcoming prom.
The request came during the public comment period at the school board meeting Tuesday.
Tami Tobias told the board her daughter, a junior, was hoping to attend prom with her 18-year-old boyfriend, a home school graduate. Tobias said administrators told her that individuals who do not attend the high school must get permission to attend the prom, and there are rules as to who can attend. Those who can’t include individuals over age 20 and school dropouts.
Tobias said administrators determined her daughter’s boyfriend to be a “dropout” and are barring him from the prom because the company that awarded him his diploma, Cornerstone Christian Correspondence School in Townsend, Ga., is not accredited with state or federal departments of education.
“She’s denied the right to bring her boyfriend, unlike the other students enrolled at Urbana High School,” Tobias said. “How is that fair?”
Tobias added the boyfriend received the diploma last year, has a full-time job, worked at Honda and was accepted at ITT Technical Institute. She said she does not believe the administration’s decision on this issue is fair, calling it discriminatory.
“This document says high school diploma, with his full name and date,” she said. “If this is not accepted and he’s still considered a dropout, that to me is discrimination.”
Superintendent Charles Thiel said the reason the administration considers him a “dropout” is because it does not consider Cornerstone Christian’s diploma valid. Thiel said that organization’s accreditation is through a private company that is not recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the state of Ohio. The “diploma” document is more like a certificate of completion of the school’s tests and is often not recognized by a number of employers, the military or colleges as a valid diploma, he said. Often, individuals who receive that document must take additional testing or seek a GED before any of those organizations accept them, he said.
Other audience members questioned the term “dropout” for the situation, stating the student got an education as a home schooled student through this organization.
Administrators said though the term “dropout” is unfortunate, it is the term the state uses to label a number of situations at school, whether the student dies while attending the school or drops out of high school to do other things.
“It’s an inaccurate term,” said board member Jim Arter, adding students who move from the district to another, then move back, then move out again, are marked as dropouts — twice.
“It’s the box we are forced to mark. It’s bizarre,” he said.
Thiel said there are other misconceptions about what “home school” is. For many, it is the idea that a student decides to receive schooling at home instead of in a formal classroom. He said there are home school associations or organizations that provide curriculum, and there are private companies that provide schooling, with the family buying the program and the student learning at home.
The Urbana school board-sponsored Urbana Community School is a program in which students receive credit while learning at home. The program is accredited through the Ohio Department of Education, and a diploma from that is equivalent to an Urbana High School diploma, but the student never attends class in a building.
“For some people in the community, that’s considered home school,” he said.
Tobias asked board members to overrule the administration’s decision so her daughter could go to prom with her boyfriend.
The board could reverse the administration’s decision, but Thiel cautioned the board on making that move. He said boards tend to set broad policy relating to school operations, and administrators refine those policies into more specific guidelines for the district and individual buildings.
“We don’t expect the board to make decisions in regards to, say, young ladies’ spaghetti straps on their tops” he said. “The board policy talks about dress and appearance and gives a broad overview of what the expectations of the board are. The regulations and guidelines go deeper into the details.”
Thiel added there are times when board intervention is appropriate, but the board needs to consider when to do that and the precedent it could set.
Board members expressed sympathy for the situation and plan to schedule a committee meeting to discuss board policy relating to the issue.
The committee makes recommendations for changes to the full board. The date of that meeting has not been set.
The board would have to call a special meeting if it were to vote to reverse the administration’s decision, and that may not occur before the May 4 prom.