Parents seek help from BOE over PSEO

Two parents of Marietta High School students who did not submit a timely letter of intent to participate in next year’s Post Secondary Enrollment Option (PSEO) program asked the Marietta City Schools Board of Education for assistance during the board’s regular meeting Monday afternoon.

“The PSEO provides an excellent opportunity for students to gain college credits while still in high school,” parent Jonathan Hupp told the board members.

He said his youngest daughter participated in the PSEO program over the last year, attending Washington State Community College, but she missed the March 28 deadline to reapply with a letter of intent to take part in next year’s program.

“There was not one notice on the school web site and we didn’t receive one phone call telling us we had to reapply by March 28,” Hupp said.

Ohio Revised Code 3365.022 requires parents or guardians to notify the Ohio Department of Education by April 1, 2014, if the student intends to participate in the PSEO program during the upcoming school year.

Marietta City Schools normally requires the letters of intent to be submitted by March 30 so that the Ohio Department of Education can be notified how many students will be seeking state funding to pay for the college courses. This year the deadline was March 28 because March 30 landed on a Sunday.

If the letter of intent is not submitted on time the students can still participate in the program, but the parents must foot the bill for the college courses.

Hupp said he had many other expenses and it would be difficult to afford to pay for his daughter to take the college classes next year.

Fellow parent Scott Moore said his daughter also had not reapplied for the PSEO by the deadline.

“But we did not know she had to sign up for the program every year,” he said, noting that he had not received any advance notice to reapply for the PSEO from the high school nor from Washington State Community College.

Both parents said state law currently allows district superintendents to waive the letter of intent for students who have participated in the PSEO program during the previous school year. But Marietta Schools Superintendent Harry Fleming told Moore and Hupp that the deadline had not been waived in past years, and therefore he would not waive it this year.

“I’ve talked to both men, and they know my position on this,” Fleming told the board members.

But Hupp and Moore asked the board to intervene and grant a waiver, noting they had discovered at least nine students who participated in this year’s PSEO program at WSCC had also missed the deadline.

BOE president Bill Hutchinson told the men that the board would consider their request.

“We’ll have some discussions about this and will get back to you,” he said. “That’s all we can do for now.”

Following Monday’s meeting Fleming said he had to stick with the deadline.

“If I granted a waiver this year, what would I tell those parents who missed the deadline last year and were not given a waiver?” he asked. “If a student had to be hospitalized for an extended time or was out of the country I might consider that, but both of these parents said they just forgot to send the letter of intent on time.”

Fleming said if he granted a waiver to Hupp and Moore, he would have to grant it to everyone.

In other business Monday, school board member Greg Gault announced the Marietta High School men’s basketball team had been honored for having the 10th highest cumulative team academic average in the state. Coach Mark Duckworth introduced the team to each of the school board members who congratulated the young men for their accomplishment.

Also during Monday’s meeting, Julie Brewer, art instructor at Washington and Harmar elementary schools, announced that Harmar Elementary Principal Cheryl Cook had been selected to receive this year’s Ohio Art Education Association’s Distinguished Educator Award.

“This award is not for artists or art teachers, but for someone who supports art in our schools,” Brewer said, presenting Cook with an award plaque.

“I’m not much of an artist, so it’s my job to be an appreciator of art,” Cook said. “And we all need an appreciator.”

In addition, Tasha Werry, director of community outreach for the district, honored three of the district’s Partners in Education, including Par Mar Stores, Dimex, and Harmar Place.