Rankled Over Rank

A controversial student transfer issue was debated at Monday night’s meeting of the Warren County School District board of directors.

“The topic that has been before us for going on three months or more has been a situation in regards to a transfer… and a subsequent impact on honors,” Board President Arthur Stewart said.

Stewart explained that former Superintendent Brandon Hufnagel indicated the transfer in question was legitimate. “There is a solution. (Hufnagel) said that we would have dual honorees.” He said the board has viewed the issue as a transfer question but “in essence, this is really a dual enrollment question.”

He acknowledged that he views Policy 9742, which addresses GPA and class rank, “as a source of injustice.” The policy has been reviewed several times over the course of the last five years in an attempt to find equitable outcomes as new situations arise.

The answer to the current situation?

“It is being proposed that dual class rank will be awarded for the next two years, as has been done in the past, with no changes being made to the current Policy 9742,” according to the minutes of the March 2012 Curriculum, Instruction and Technology Committee. Such language was approved by the board at the April 2012 meeting.

“We would treat the dual enrollment situation…go through the class ranking application and award honors there,” Stewart said. “(Then) run it with dual enrollment. Those students would be similarly honored.”

He added that Hufnagel’s position was “if we apply that to the current circumstance, (we’re) going to have dual honors and this is the equitable way to resolve this in this instance. The only way that would not be the outcome is if we changed what we voted. We’ve already resolved this issue. There’s not any action being requested by the board.”

Paula Southwell, a senior at Warren Area High School who has spoken on this issue to the board on other occasions, said Monday that she would have stopped pushing for resolution of the issue “if I had full faith and confidence in the Warren County School District administration. I didn’t feel it was handled in a proper manner.”

Southwell said she passed a petition among the student body calling for action on the issue and that the “administration attempted to punish me for harassment.” Southwell claimed she was removed as a student worker in the guidance office as a result.

Stewart had to interrupt her comment to remind her about the importance of respecting the privacy of individual students.

“I am being punished for standing up for what I believe in” she said, asking the board to review the GPA/class rank as well as the transfer policy. “You owe it to all the students at WAHS to get us out of the circumstances you put us in.”

Kim Angove, a former member of the board, proposed that the valedictorian system be abolished and replaced with a traditional Latin honor system.

Later in the meeting, board Vice President Donna Zariczny asked that the policies be brought back for review to determine “whether class rank is even where we should go” for allocating honors. While it was determined that the issue will first be presented to the CIT committee for review, board member John Grant said, “I think there is so much energy out there (in the community) on this issue. Providing a pathway for that energy could be quite productive.”