2008-06-11 / Front Page

17 LHS seniors did not graduate as school nears unacceptable rating on latest TAKS

Family pleads with board to give classes to DAEP students
ROBERT WILCOX Editor/Reporter

The family of a Lyford High School (LHS) senior who did not walk with classmates at Friday's graduation ceremony at Bulldog Stadium had asked, pleaded, appealed to TEA, and even hired an attorney to force school officials to provide state mandated education to students in the school's Discipline Alternative Education Program (DAEP), so that their son and others could graduate.

Seventeen students, including Jamie Rodriguez's son, did not graduate this month. This is up from 15 in the 2006/2007 school year.

Rodriguez spoke before the Lyford Consolidated Independent School District (CISD) board of trustees meeting on Monday evening, where he blamed school officials and board members for rigid school polices and a failed DAEP program.

"I had been assured all along by school officials that my son would graduate," Rodriguez said. "You heard tonight from the superintendent that the high school could be unacceptable."

The Rodriguez's allege their son had been falsely accused of possessing a marijuana joint, and got 90 days in DAEP.

"He and the other kids just mainly sat there, no education, and no preparation for TAKS," Rodriguez said

At the board meeting, Rodriguez said, "You've been ignoring this," referring to monthly warnings since February that his son was not receiving the classes necessary to pass the TAKS test. "You're required to give my son and other children in DAEP state-mandated education, and you're not doing this."

Lyford CISD Superintendent Eduardo Infante said that he feels for the Rodriguez's situation.

"The DAEP setting is not the same, and unfortunately it's the same situation statewide," Infante said. "We're trying to improve the program, but it (DAEP) will never be the same as the regular classroom."

"We hope that parents will work with their kids to avoid disciplinary problems," said Infante, referring to students getting referred into DAEP for fighting or drug possession.

Infante said that there are fundamental statewide problems with DAEP in Texas including, but not limited to; limited funding, no teacher-student ratios, and a lack of standards.

The state (TEA) is looking at increasing DAEP standards, according to Infante.

LHS is not alone with se- niors that did not graduate this month.

Raymondville High School principal Gilbert Galvan said 19 of his kids did not walk last Wednesday night, which is up from 11 from the 2006/2007 school year.

However, RHS had about 50 more high school graduates than LHS this year.

Raymondville ISD Superintendent Johnny Pineda reported that TAKS scores are getting tougher each year.

"Students will need to focus more," Pineda said. "Their parents and the schools will also need to make a greater effort."

The grandmother of Rodriguez's son, Maria L. Mendez, also addressed the board of trustees on Monday night.

"My grandson never had the honor to walk with his classmates last Friday," said Mendez, after the meeting.

"They're now going to finally do something like sending the kids to TSTC ," referring to LHS's offer to send any or all of the 17 students to a first-ever special program at Texas State Technical College. "Why didn't they do something earlier this semester."

Infante said the TSTC summer program will focus on math and science.

"So far, five students have signed up to take the class," Infante said. "We're also going to have a summer graduation ceremony for the seniors who do pass the required state tests." This would be a first for LHS, and Rodriguez seemed pleased at the idea.

Rodriguez's son is one of the five kids who will attend TSTC this summer.

Infante closed his comments by saying, "We want all seniors to attend, and we want all of them to graduate later this summer."

Lyford CISD Board President Cruz Salinas, has refused for a third time to comment on the DAEP situation, and was asked yesterday morning to also comment on TAKS scores, that could rate the district's only high school to unacceptable state levels.

E-mail comments on this story to; robert@raymondvillechroniclenews.com

Editors Note: Lyford CISD Board President Cruz Salinas is not responding to media questions from parentinitiated concerns involving the superintendent, the athletic director, and two faculty members. School board presidents from Raymondville ISD, San Perlita ISD, Lasara ISD, and Kenedy County ISD willingly respond to genuine media inquiries.

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