Has your school decided to drop homework as part of the grade your child gets? It looks like another new education fad.
Bob Bevill, a parent in Merrimack, was not amused with the action by the school board there when the suddenly took this action. Nor was he happy with the school board’s reaction to his complaint that without having homework as part of a student’s grade it diminished the value of the diploma and lowered the chance of getting into college.
On the other hand, there is a process for appealing the school board’s decision and the unanimous vote to violate what looks like a state policy involved.
Bob called CNHT for help and we spend some time on the phone over several calls to find a resolution or path forward for him and his daughter.
It looks like this story isn’t over. From Bob:
I attended the Ed 204 meeting last night with the Merrimack School Board. I provided each of the Board Members with an 270+ pages Exhibit Binder, and a timeline sheet, to go through the material. My presentation lasted about 47 minutes. The board went into deliberative session for 15 minutes. The board voted 4-0-0 that: (1) there is no “dispute;” (2) there was no change to the homework policy; (3) the Assistant Superintendent did not act of his own accord; and, (4) there could be no “injury” to my child as a result of the no-homework grade “protocol.”
While on its face, this may look like a setback. However, in the appeals process, I couldn’t have asked for a better decision. By collectively sticking their heads in the sand, and refusing to acknowledge their actions (or as Stephen Berwick said “the lack thereof”), my appeal to the State Board of Education will be much easier. If the school board had capitulated in even the slightest manner, then the hearings officer would have said that I received a fair hearing. But by denying everything, it makes the path clear.
Thank you to each of you for your contribution in helping me forge this appeal forward.
Robert T. Bevill, J.D., LL. M.
Here is the latest information regarding my Ed 204 appeal before the Merrimack School Board. I also learned this week that Merrimack School Board Chairman Shannon Barnes also serves in a dual capacity as President of the New Hampshire School Boards Association (http://www.nhsba.org/). Therefore, she knew or should have known the proper procedure for accepting new policies within the School District.
I have also attached communications from Stephen Berwick, that according to the Office of the State Board of Education, the Ed 204 appeals process is the proper venue “in a contested case with the local school board” and that “the focus, in such a case, is the effect of the policy or lack thereof, on the student.” In her letter, Merrimack School Superintendent Marge Chiafery states that “[w]hile the matter does not involve an appeal of an administrative decision, the Board will follow the hearing procedures under NH Rule Ed 204.01 regarding your ‘dispute’ related to the District’s homework policy.”
We recently saw in the New Hampshire Supreme Court Kurk decision, that a plaintiff must have standing (e.g. harm by increased taxes) in order to levy a complaint against a state actor who is violating state laws. My 17-year old daughter has been harmed by the new homework policy in that she had a final semester grade of 64 in her 11th grade English Comprehensive Level class, with no weighted average applied towards homework. But-for the lack of homework being graded and included in the cumulative grading system, she would have received at least a 65, and passed the semester. Now, because of the new policy, she will be forced to make up the semester in the summer of 2018.
By no longer assigning grades for formative assessments, the Merrimack School Board is denying Merrimack students equal educational opportunities afforded to other students in other New Hampshire school districts.
I would hope that you could encourage others to attend this meeting. Please share this email with whomever you feel is appropriate.
The meeting is Monday, March 12th, 2018, at 7pm, at Merrimack Town Hall, in the 2nd floor Memorial Room, where the Town Council and School Board regularly hold session.
Robert T. Bevill, JD, LL. M