A policy that removes failing grades from students that were forced to take classes virtually last semester because of the pandemic is being praised by Boyle Heights elected officials and school administrators.

They say that guidelines set by the Los Angeles Unified School District in December, which convert “F” grades into incompletes, gives students the opportunity to make up work and earn a passing grade for the fall semester.

Ben Gertner, the principal at Roosevelt High School, said the district informed school officials of the policy on the last week before winter break. Teachers then had to to notify any student who were getting F’s and inform them that they had the opportunity to still make up assignments, retake tests or redo whatever caused the students to fail.

Gertner added that the school has ramped up to assist with students who need to make up work.

“What we’ve also been doing is offering office hours, so we had teachers that are getting paid to be available on Zoom for like an hour a day so that students can get help with any assignment,” said the Boyle Heights principal. “And then we’re also going to really encourage teachers and to work with those students that still haven’t been complete in January…   so that they can have a chance to pass those classes.”

In an interview last month, Councilman Kevin de León said that 2020 had been an extraordinary year that highlighted deep inequities in communities of color, especially in Boyle Heights.

 “And let me be straight out about this, because we already knew that we had deep inequities, but COVID-19 has exposed those equities even more so in a very raw way,” De León said, explaining  why he believed schools should pass students.

“I think at minimum, if you’re getting D’s or F’s, give them a C, this year is a wash. This is an extraordinary year; unlike anything we’ve ever experienced in our lifetimes.”

Councilman Kevin de León

“A lot of students right now, because the lack of connectivity, because just straight-out depression not being able to socialize with friends, their neighbors and be at school… there’s a lot of students getting F’s and D’s right now, and I think that’s unjust. I think at minimum, if you’re getting D’s or F’s, give them a C, this year is a wash,” the freshman councilmember said. “This is an extraordinary year; unlike anything we’ve ever experienced in our lifetimes.”

In a recent press briefing, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti echoed his support for the move.The mayor said that he applauded the board and the superintendent’s move and is “fully supportive” of the district’s move, and looked forward to ways in which the city could assist LAUSD.

Garcetti also acknowledged the difficulties some student face in communities of color and the impact that has on student ability to learn.

“That incomplete is something that allows us to catch up, allows them to have a fresh start, and allows us to make sure that we take responsibility for their education.”

Mayor Eric Garcetti

“I think we’ve got, especially, too many of our young people who are in low-income areas, communities of color, folks that don’t have the resources, whether it’s the broadband connection or the equipment, don’t have the family member at home, who can help,” Garcetti said.   “We’re already failing the [most vulnerable], let’s make sure we don’t give them a failing grade.”

 “That incomplete is something that allows us to catch up, allows them to have a fresh start, and allows us to make sure that we take responsibility for their education,” he added.

LAUSD did not respond to multiple requests for comment.





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