Ransome seeks answers

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 7, 2005

WINDSOR – When seeking answers to questions, it’s always a good rule of thumb to start at the top.

Windsor resident Dwight Ransome, expressing his concern over a sudden change in a long-standing school policy, tried that approach with the Bertie County Board of Education. More than 30 days later and still without a response, Ransome is taking his case to the North Carolina State Board of Education and the U.S. Department of Education.

In all of his correspondence, Ransome has voiced his concerns over Bertie School policy #3670, one dealing with a change in Bertie High School’s residency requirement for valedictorian and salutatorian status.

Ransome said when the BHS graduating class of 2005 were in their freshmen year (2001-02), the School Board policy for residency requirement stated they were eligible to compete for the honor of valedictorian or salutatorian as long as they were enrolled &uot;for at least three and one-half of the four years and in good standing.&uot;

However, he said, the Board has breached this contract with the class of 2005.

According to Ransome, the Bertie Board of Education, late last year, voted to amend policy #3670. That change reduced the residency requirement from three and one-half years to two years. Ransome claims this change was done in order to accommodate one student who had transferred to Bertie High in 2003. He alleged that student was currently ranked among the top of the senior class, thus, under the amended policy, qualifying that student for valedictorian or salutatorian honors.

As an added twist, Ransome’s daughter, also a BHS senior, is currently ranked near the top of her graduating class. His daughter has been at Bertie High all four years.

&uot;I’ve never brought my daughter into this issue,&uot; Ransome said. &uot;What has upset me the most on this is that the policy was changed in the middle of the year as opposed to making it effective with the new freshman class of 2005-06.&uot;

He continued, &uot;This is not fair to the students. As freshmen, they were informed of one policy in regards to certain requirements and then, three and one-half years later, the policy changes. I’m raising issue to this because the revised policy, to me, was written to please one family. That’s just not fair.&uot;

Ransome said the change sent a bad message.

&uot;Basically, by allowing this change to occur, the Board of Education is sending a message that it’s okay to have the rules changed if you don’t agree with them or if they don’t best suit your individual needs. That’s not how life works. You may not like the rules, but you must learn to abide by them.&uot;

Now that his plea for a response from the School Board has apparently not been heard, Ransome asked the county’s public school leaders to address/investigate the following four issues:

(1) A student, then a junior, attempted to drop a class after the drop/add deadline. Allegedly, that student did not attend that class for the remainder of the semester, thus not fulfilling the four class semester requirement. How was this allowed to happen?

(2) Is it a state policy or a Bertie County policy that a student is required to have successfully completed one unit of Physical Education or a Health Science class in order to graduate?

(3) How many referrals does a student receive prior to suspension? How can a student with 29 referrals not be suspended?

(4) How many office assistant classes/assignments are afforded to a student during their four years at Bertie High School?

&uot;The lack of a response from the Board of Education in regards to my letter dated February 24 of this year leaves me no other option than to ask these questions,&uot; Ransome noted.

He also wondered one other thing.

&uot;I would also like to know who is running the Bertie Board of Education – the Board Chairman or the Superintendent – so I will know to whom I need to address my next set of questions,&uot; he said.

Ransome said he has received confirmation from both state and federal education officials that his letter was received. The U.S. Department of Education informed Ransome that his letter had been forwarded to the Office of Civil Rights.