Recent History – 2000
Jan. 14, 2000
By Mark Nielsen, Daily News Staff
School board trustees will be taking a second look at the district’s non-retention policy following a complaint from a local parent. During Thursday’s board meeting, trustees agreed to review the policy in three weeks when a retreat is scheduled.
Parent Janice Anderson is upset that children who turn five years old before December 31 must be enrolled in kindergarten regardless of their readiness.
If parents decide not to enroll their child in September of the year they turn five, the child is forced into grade one the following year without the benefit of kindergarten.
“I feel only a parent has the ability to decide when a child is ready to enter school,” she said in a letter to trustee Moon Mah which she also sent to the Peace River Block Daily News.
She also says that the policy is in violation of Ministry of Education guidelines which states that a parent may defer a child’s enrollment into kindergarten for one year if it’s felt the child is not ready to start school at age five.
Trustee Bev Hendricks said during the meeting that policies are always open to review. “They’re not written in stone or cement,” she said.
The current non-retention policy came into effect in September 1999 after it was reviewed by schools and parent advisory committees for a total of 90 days and no concerns were raised.
But Anderson said she learned of the change only in November when she and her husband were forced to remove their son from preschool and place him in a kindergarten that had been in session since September.
“This has already had a detrimental effect on his personality, changing him from a very secure, outgoing child to a frightened and unsure child, which he has never been, all this within one month,” she said.
The Andersons are now thinking a move to one of the local private schools. “Children need a positive first experience in school to lay the foundation for successful learning,” she said.
In addition to Anderson’s letter, Mah said he received eight form letters from other parents also concerned about the policy.
Anderson said that the trustees’ decision to at least review the policy is encouraging, “as long as they’re not just saying that just to appease the parents who are upset.”
Anderson’s next move will be to gather some supporting evidence, including some literature on children who’ve had troubles in similar circumstances.
“What I’m doing right now is getting some parents together to write letters that have been through this,” she said, adding that her mother, who was a teacher for 30 years, will also help out.