BESSEMER, AL (WBRC) - We have an update on more than a dozen Bessemer students who were caught up in a grading mistake while in middle school last spring.
The students thought they were promoted to the 9th grade until the central office discovered there was no record the students completed their 8th grade coursework as required by the Alabama Course of Study.
The school system came up with a compromise agreement with the parents of the students. The 13 students - four girls and nine boys - were to complete their 8th grade coursework online while going to school in the 9th grade.
We talked with one student who administrators touted as doing well, not only on course with A+ credit recovery for her 8th grade work but also excelling in the 9th grade curriculum at Bessemer City High School.
However, Barbara McCoy, director of student services, told us she was the only student out of the 13 not in danger of being sent back to middle school to complete their coursework.
McCoy says, in addition to A+ credit recovery online, each students also received an internet WiFi box to access internet hot spots if they didn’t have a connection at home. She further outlined other resources including daily tutors at school and Saturday school if students needed additional help.
McCoy says she’s done everything she can to stress to students the consequences and yet there is little improvement. Sadly, she says the same is true of response from parents. After the initial meeting, two subsequent meetings went unattended by any of the parents. So, administrators also reached out through other means.
"We have sent letters and we’ve received the return receipts showing the parents have signed for these letters just to give them an update on how the children were doing,” McCoy said.
She says there is no response from emails or phone calls, as well.
McCoy says under the agreement, the only way students can be promoted is if they complete the 8th grade coursework as well as the 9th grade work.
Again, currently the only student ready to move on to 10th grade is Kamajee Adams.
“She has been very diligent to log onto the internet at home and I have looked to monitor the lessons she’s done and completed. She has done everything that we’ve asked her to do as far as in class and weekly tutoring. She consistently attends class on Saturdays. She is right on course to move on to the next grade," McCoy said.
Adams told us she was inspired to work hard by her family.
“I think about it every day. I want to make them proud, make my dad proud. my mom proud, my whole family proud,” she said.
So, what happens now? Is there any hope for students?
Some are showing promise in their 9th grade work, but again have not completed the 8th grade coursework. McCoy says the agreement states they can’t be promoted unless they do both, and the final decision rests with the Bessemer City School superintendent.
“There is still hope. As a school system we are not going to give up on our children. We are going to do whatever it takes to work with them and motivate the parents. One of the things I am going to do personally is meet with the parents. If they won’t come to me, I will got to them,” Superintendent Dr. Keith Stewart said.