SCHOOL BOARD VOTES AGAINST WAIVING ALGEBRA REQUIREMENT.
LANCASTER - A divided Antelope Valley Union High School District board voted against granting a reprieve to seniors who are struggling to pass Algebra I, a new state graduation requirement.
The board last week voted 3-2, with trustees Donita Winn and Jim Lott dissenting against granting waivers, affecting an estimated 50 to 75 high school seniors.
``According to staff information, for four years they have known that they had to pass algebra. It's been a requirement for four years,'' board President Al Beattie said. ``It's not really appropriate to lower our standards. The real problem we saw would be the message that we would send: If we have a problem, just do a waiver.''
State lawmakers in 2000 made algebra a graduation requirement.
The state Board of Education announced in January that it would consider granting waivers to students having a hard time with algebra, provided they and the district met certain conditions.
The consideration of waivers was prompted by the Santa Cruz Unified School District, where officials said they didn't know about the law, affecting some 130 students.
If the waiver had been approved, it would have permitted the district to award diplomas to otherwise qualified students who lack only the completion of Algebra I.
Waivers will not be considered for the Class of 2005 and thereafter.
At Wednesday's meeting, one parent gave an impassioned plea in favor of the waiver, saying her daughter has problems grasping algebra concepts, officials said.
Teachers spoke for and against granting waivers.
Lott said he supported granting a waiver since the state is allowing it for one year.
``I felt a one-time waiver would be sufficient for those who are really trying hard and not finishing. Most finish one part and don't (finish) the other part,'' Lott said.
Staff was directed to make sure that struggling students are given the help they need to pass the math course, Beattie said.
``Our direction to staff was to investigate students and make sure they get the help needed to pass,'' Beattie said.