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DPAC gets involved with Math 11 complaint

The New Westminster District Parent Advisory Council has sent a letter to school trustees seeking clarification about how the district evaluates teachers and administrators.

The move comes on the heels of a complaint from a group of parents that the district hasn't done anything about a Grade 11 math teacher they claim has been giving too many failing grades to students.

The group said they first raised the concern in October, and they are now calling for the development of a policy to deal with group complaints. The district currently only has procedures for individual complaints.

DPAC plans to seek clarification about how the school district evaluates performance of teachers and administrators, including the criteria and how frequently it is done. The parents also want to know how parents' complaints are forwarded from principals to senior district staff, and if there is any follow up.

"It took these parents to network within themselves and then to come to the school board just to be heard, and even then the trustees said they couldn't hear it," said DPAC president Wendy Harris. "The appeal process is faulty."

Since she is a member of the NWSS planning council, Harris said she has the right to request data on the Math 11 results for the last three years from the principal to see if the low marks are anomalies or a consistent pattern. She asked that it be provided by Wednesday (Jan. 18), but had not heard back by then.

"If in fact 70 per cent of kids are failing a particular course then alarm bells should have run a long time before parents would have to take this measure," said Harris.

DPAC is concerned the school's international students are also suffering the consequences because they are being assigned the teacher while students at NWSS transfer out when they realize who their teacher is.

"It will be an issue if that is what has happened," said Harris.

She also said the problem might not be the teacher but the result of not being properly trained or supported.

The district has informed one parent, Lisa Chao, it will meet with parents having any information on the Math 11 issue during the next two weeks.

"I'm always concerned when parents aren't happy and we need to resolve that. I understand quite a few parents feel it has taken longer than it should to resolve and I think that's the major issue," board chair James Janzen told CBC News on Tuesday.

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