Wait-listed student’s mom demands answers from SD #8
A Nelson mother is demanding answers after she says her daughter was put on a waiting list to attend the city’s only high school… while 50 foreign students are taking up seats in the same school.
Camara Cassin says she was told her daughter would have to wait a week to see if she can attend L.V. Rogers High School in Nelson. School started again for high school students this week.
“It is incredibly disappointing to see the decay in the public school system in British Columbia,” Cassin wrote on a lengthy note on Facebook, which she also forwarded to local media. Cassin has hit a nerve with her post, which has been shared more than 2,000 times on Facebook.
Cassin, who homeschooled her daughter last year, tried to enroll her for high school in April. However, she missed the enrollment deadline by one week, and she says her daughter was put on a waiting list. After trying to get confirmation from the school district for months, she went to the school on Tuesday to find out when her daughter would be able to begin classes.
“We showed up at LV Rogers High School half an hour before the start time and waited to speak with the principle [sic]… who informed me quite bluntly ‘There’s nothing I can do, my hands are tied. It’s the School District who made the policy’,” Cassin says she was told.
Cassin says she attended the school assembly with her daughter for orientation, and heard that the school was hosting 50 foreign students this year. The news angered her. She notes that school districts receive $12,000 per foreign student, compared to about $7,100 from the province per Canadian student.
“That’s right. My daughter is WAIT LISTED for her grade A Canadian education at the only high school in our town because the seats have been SOLD to the highest bidders, the international students,” Cassin says in her Facebook post.
“I am sickened. I am disgusted with our school district and with our provincial government.”
But School District #8 Superintendent Jeff Jones says the presence of foreign students has no impact on seats available for Canadian students.
“International students come to us with full funding they have supplied,” he says.
“That funding goes to all the students in the school and it contributes to staffing. We based our staffing and preliminary school organization based on the first week of April. That is our starting point. International students are already accounted for and included in our seats and staffing.
“If those students weren’t there, the staffing wouldn’t be there to accommodate them.”
Jones says the challenge in this case is Cassin registered her daughter to transfer into the district after the March 31 deadline.
“The school district received 163 requests for transfer into the district before the end of March, and accommodated all those requests,” he says. “We had 142 other late transfer requests, which we are considering this week.”
Jones adds that every principal has to struggle with organizing their staff based on students who have registered, without knowing if others have moved into or out of the district over the summer. He says that’s why the District has set a September 30th deadline for accommodating students who come in late to the district.
Priority is given to students who live in a school’s catchment area. Since Cassin’s daughter is one of five students who live in the LV Rogers catchment area that are on the list, he’s confident there will be a place for her at the school.
Jones iscounselling Cassin to be patient and says he’s confident a space will be found for her daughter.
“Stay in close contact with the school, be patient,” he advises. “Ms. Cassin also has to recognize we are trying to work with her to accommodate her daughter.”
“I think one of the things we need to remember, what is missing from the story, is that our schools are welcoming places and seek to welcome all students,” he says.
But Cassin is still upset at the treatment students on the wait list receive. She says not having an answer to where her child will attend is bad enough… but to fall behind in orientation at such an important social time makes it more difficult for students.
“In my opinion our school district, by not including wait-listed students in the first week of school, or even giving them an answer about attendance, creates a dysfunctional and possibly damaging situation for new students trying to find “their place.”,” she wrote on Facbook.
She says the district is creating unneeded stress for students and families by making them wait so long to hear if they will get into school.