About 20 students who just completed their sophomore year will be required to leave Howard County's technology magnet program because they have fallen short of the program's academic requirements.
Some will have a chance to raise their grades in summer school. Otherwise, they must leave the magnet program at Long Reach and River Hill high schools and return to their neighborhood high schools this fall, school officials said this week.
"Unfortunately, there are a few kids who haven't met the requirements," said David Bruzga, principal of Long Reach High School. "I don't want any of them to have to leave the program, and I'm hoping that students who are able to go to summer school will do it and stay eligible."
About 13 students at Long Reach and the remainder at River Hill were notified over the past two weeks that they have failed to meet the academic standards set by the school board in January, said Donald Lewis, who oversees the magnet program. As of January, there were 133 sophomores enrolled in the magnet program.
Those standards require all magnet students to have an overall grade point average of 2.0 -- with at least a 2.0 in their math classes -- by the time they enter their junior year.
The students also must have completed 13 credits toward graduation by that time.
Students who are just a credit short -- or who are able to retake one class in an effort to improve their grade-point average enough to reach the 2.0 standard -- can attend summer school to try to remain in the magnet program.
The county's magnet program began last fall as a rigorous high-technology replacement for the county's vocational-technical program.
Students attend either River Hill or Long Reach -- depending on whether they live west or east of U.S. 29 -- instead of their neighborhood high schools.
The program has proven so popular that the school system had to hold a lottery this spring to choose students for the ninth-grade program at the two magnet schools.
Designed for students of all abilities, the only academic requirement to enter the program is enrollment in algebra by ninth grade.
But the school board also decided that students, to remain in the program, should show a commitment to their studies. The board set academic requirements similar to the county's requirements to participate in extracurricular activities.
The board said students must meet the requirements by the beginning of their junior year to give students who might have had trouble making the transition to high school in their freshman year a chance to improve their grades.
ZTC But, since the school board did not adopt the requirement until halfway through the school year, students who were sophomores in 1996-1997 had just one semester to meet the academic requirements -- a short time period that upset at least one mother whose daughter received her notification.
"It's very unfair that there was so little notice," said Michelle Irvin-Smith, who lives in Columbia's Owen Brown village.
Her daughter -- who earned a C in algebra as a freshman and a D in geometry as a sophomore -- will have to attend summer school and earn a B in geometry, or else leave Long Reach and go to Hammond High School in the fall.
"At least the ninth-graders had a chance to improve their grades during the year," Irvin-Smith said. "These kids who were sophomores last year had no recourse at all. They found out about the new requirements after the second semester had already started, and that's just too late."
Irvin-Smith said she and other parents plan to appeal to the school board at its meeting tomorrow to make an exception for students who will be juniors this fall.
Pub Date: 6/25/97