Carson City school officials resolve to fight state's proposed regulation

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Carson City's graduation policy will not be changed without a fight, school board members decided Tuesday.

During their meeting, the six school trustees present voted unanimously, Trustee Sheila Ward didn't attend the meeting, to request that state board officials not even consider a resolution that would force all schools in the state to allow students who have not passed the proficiency exam to participate in graduation activities.

Under the proposed regulation, which is up for discussion during Saturday's meeting of the Nevada Board of Education in Las Vegas, students would not receive a diploma but would be allowed to march in commencement exercises.

Carson High School officials require that students meet all graduation requirements -- including passing the state-mandated exam -- before they can walk through the ceremony.

However, it's more than the philosophical disagreement because board members resent the idea of state officials dictating local decisions.

"This is not the time to debate whether we should let students walk or not walk," said Doug Ponn, board vice president. "We're talking about a jurisdictional issue, not an operating one."

Trustee Joanna Wilson put it simply: "What I'm really concerned about is the state board sticking its' nose in the local board's business."

Kyle McAfee, a senior at Carson High School, agreed.

"That decision would be best left to the high school," he told board members. "It's a very personal issue."

Washoe County's policy is to allow students to participate in the ceremony without passing the proficiency exam.

However, Jim Hager, superintendent of the Washoe County School District, sent a letter to State school superintendent Jack McLaughlin against the proposed regulation.

He argued the decision should be left to local leaders.

The Carson City Chamber of Commerce and the Nevada Manufacturer's Association also sent letters in opposition to the regulation.

However, in a letter to the Carson City School Board, state board trustee Barbara Myers urged local trustees to support the proposal.

"This is an item that should have been a concern of the entire state board of education," she wrote. "I can only assume the resolution from your board will be to support the resolution of the proposed changes."

Myers addressed the school board in June, asking them to allow students to participate in graduation who had not passed the proficiency exam, which is a Nevada requirement for graduation.

Carson High School principal Glen Adair said a graduation ceremony is not required by law but is a tradition. He stood by his original decision.

"This district has not opted to lower its' standard to a mediocre position," he said. "This whole resolution is emotionally driven."

Mary Pierczynski, superintendent of Carson City schools, said she will attend a meeting for superintendents throughout the state on Thursday and will gauge their opinions.


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