Havre Daily News
The Havre school board on Tuesday night discussed possible changes to district policy about admitting 19-year-old, fifth-year senior students.
Out of the 17 fifth-year seniors accepted over the last decade, eight have graduated - a 41 percent success rate.
It is the board's responsibility to decide whether an individual student's circumstances merit re-admission after a recommendation from the school's principal. Fifth-year seniors must write a letter stating their reasons for needing extra schooling to graduate and be within six credits of graduating.
Board member Norman Proctor wrote a letter in December to board chair Denise Thompson that proposed five new requirements students would have to meet before the board could allow the student to attend school. The proposed requirements included an attendance record, a discipline record, a transcript, a background check for criminal activity after the age 18, and $500 tuition per class.
“We're the ones signing a note saying they can attend that school. We're asked to say yes or no without knowing them,” Proctor said at Tuesday's board planning meeting.
The board discussed and decided against the possibilities of fingerprint background checks and charging tuition for fifth-year seniors.
Under the proposed revised guidelines, generally the district will not admit any student who turns 19 on or before Sept. 10 of the year in which the student is to enroll. Special provisions can be made and the policy waived. The student requesting a waiver must list exceptional circumstances justifying the need for the waiver and other information to aid the principal's recommendation.
“I think Norm's concerns have a lot of merit, especially given 41 percent is the rate of success,” board vice chair Kathie Newell said. “I would hope success would be 70 percent.”
Board members discussed forming a questionnaire to help them view the needs of the student and the student's reason for needing a fifth year. Board member Judy Bricker said she wants to know the issues that got the students in trouble in the first place to make sure they are no longer a problem.
“I'm inclined to give the students a second chance if they feel they can make a difference this time,” Bricker said. “These are the people that have fallen through the cracks. What are we going to do about them?”
The board members said they need to have more information about the students to make a decision. One suggestion was not only a principal recommendation, but also a teacher's evaluation. Board member Todd Hanson said he would feel more comfortable knowing that a teacher was willing to go on the record for the student.
The policies will be rewritten and discussed before the board votes on them.