Nearly 70 students were wrongly denied their right to enter an admissions lottery for the Academy for Science and Design charter school this year, the school acknowledged in a letter sent to parents this week.The school chalked up the error to “inadvertent human error,” though e-mails provided by parents whose children were rejected show they were told if their children didn’t score 70 percent on a math placement exam, they were not eligible to attend the school. Using placement test scores to deny students would be a violation of the school’s charter and possibly state law...[Thomas Frischknecht, chairman of the school’s board of trustees] said the issue came to the board’s attention last week when parent Janet Sukkar attended the meeting with her family and told the board her son had been denied admission because of his math placement test score. She provided correspondence to corroborate her claim, according to meeting minutes.
Sukkar declined comment Tuesday. She and other parents have provided e-mails they received from the school to The Telegraph, which clearly indicate their children were not admitted to the school because of their performance on the math placement test.Mary Mattingly, director of admissions at the school, wrote in an April 5 e-mail that students who did not score 70 percent or above on the placement “will unfortunately be declined.”...Mattingly is no longer the admissions director, Frischknecht said. There has been a reorganization at the school which was, in part, response to the admissions issue, but Frischknecht would not say whether Mattingly was part of that...“This lack of communication and the confusion or frustration it may have caused is something we regret and wish to apologize for,” the school wrote in its letter, co-signed by Frischknecht and David Chauvette, director of the school. Chauvette did not return a phone call Tuesday...Frischknecht said the placement exam was intended to be used as a guide for the school and the parents. If students don’t score high enough, parents were supposed to be able to choose to enter the lottery, knowing their child may not be able to handle the advanced curriculum, he said.“The problem is that did not happen for those students,” Frischknecht said...The issue raises questions about the state Department of Education’s ability to oversee the charter schools it is authorizing, the number of which is expected to climb significantly...
Academy for Science and Design
“Merrimack charter school wrongly denied nearly 70 students lottery access.” Nashua Telegraph (NH), 08/24/2011