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10/10/2012 6:01:00 AM
Kingman schools enact new graduation guidelines
Kingman student Alex Mendoza was able to graduate and get football scholarships because of an old school district policy on “banked credits,” but the district decided to change it to something that’s clearer and less arbitrary.
Kingman student Alex Mendoza was able to graduate and get football scholarships because of an old school district policy on “banked credits,” but the district decided to change it to something that’s clearer and less arbitrary.

Ahron Sherman
Miner Staff Reporter

Without the Kingman Unified School District policy that until last night allowed students to bank credits, 19-year-old senior Alex Mendoza wouldn't have scholarship offers to play football for San Diego State University and the University of South Florida.

Mendoza failed five classes last year - not because he didn't understand the material, but because he missed too many classes. He had actually done the work and passed the classes academically, but KUSD rules said 10 or more absences equals an F.

Feeling like he was too far behind to catch up, he enrolled at the district's alternative campus, where he found out that those classes he failed because of too many absences could be retroactively changed into passing grades if he got on track to graduate and stopped missing school.

"That was a big relief," Mendoza said. "I need that diploma."

The policy worked for Mendoza and many others, but it led to uncertainty in many instances and was seen as arbitrary by administrators.

The school board voted 3-0 Tuesday to do away with the policy and replace it with a much more straightforward policy that takes into account the types of absences students have.

Board members Pat Carlin and Bill Goodale did not attend the meeting.

Under the new policy, if a student has 10 excused absences in a particular class, he or she can still pass the class by meeting all the academic requirements.

But a student with 10 or more unexcused absences can only pass the class by meeting the requirements and getting an 80 percent on the final.

Students who already have banked credits will be grandfathered and not affected by the new policy. The new rules take effect immediately.

Darlea Guthrie, who goes to the same school as Mendoza, failed four classes last year at Kingman High after missing 30 days of school because she was pregnant and ill.

Up until her junior year, Guthrie's grades were outstanding. She thinks the new policy is a good idea.

"I thought I was going to have to retake all these classes," she said. "It was scary."

She had done all the work but was faced with not graduating on time. It wasn't until her guidance counselor told her about the rules that allow her to bank credits that she started to feel hopeful.

But it seemed too good to be true, and her fear persisted.

"I didn't want to work in fast food for the rest of my life," she said.

She thinks the new policy will give students a better chance to succeed because they'll know that missing classes because of a personal emergency doesn't automatically mean they fail.

It's better for students to know where they stand instead of dealing with ifs and maybes, Guthrie said.

The new system doesn't come without concerns.

The thought of students ditching multiple days of school, doing the work, passing the final and ultimately passing the class seems unfair to Mendoza. He doubts that would become a common occurrence because passing classes is no easy task when you never show up.

Guthrie agreed.

"You should come to school as much as you can," she said. "But if you can't help missing some days, it shouldn't be held against you."

After graduation, Guthrie plans on getting a degree in phlebotomy on her way to becoming an Emergency Medical Technician.

Mendoza, who desperately wants a diploma to show his family that he can do whatever he sets out to do, hasn't decided on what school he'll attend. San Diego is nice, but his mother lives in Florida, so he has a tough decision.

But it's a decision he's excited to make.

ICT - Dr. Mohtaseb
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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Article comment by: Edward Tomchin

@ V Stokes

Those mistakes (double quotes rather than apostrophes) were put in by Web Admin, not me. See many other posts. I know better. I submitted my post correctly. But after a half dozen of my posts were censored today, I could expect little else.

Posted: Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Article comment by: V Stokes

And I notice people use quotes when they should use apostrophes.....

Glass houses anyone?

Was it fixed...yes...what else do you want?

Posted: Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Article comment by: Edward Tomchin

Oh yeah, typesetter. I''ve noticed your inabilities with cut ''n paste in the past. Hanging paragraphs, hanging clippets, words cut off. Where''d you learn your trade? School for the blind? Of course ultimately I blame the editor and publisher who don''t know any better.

Posted: Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Article comment by: Ms. Marie

Big article editing Glad to hear of the change though.

[@ Ms. Marie @ Say that again -- What can we say? Whoops? Sometimes when the web articles are cut and pasted from hardcopy pages that jump from page 1 to an interior page... well, let's just say that mistakes happen. Thanks for the heads up. It's fixed. -- Web Admin]

Posted: Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Article comment by: Stephanie Neiman

Thank you to the administration at Lee Williams High School for getting the ball rolling on the this. Way to go!!

Posted: Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Article comment by: Say that Again

Don't proofread much do you guys?

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