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Board expands membership; reviews test scores and grievance procedures

The board of directors for the International High School met on Nov. 16 at 5 p.m.

Board members Andrew Ward (chairman), Ed Graf, Karen Mayer Dwyer, Laval Hughes, Robert Couhig, Liljana Johnson and Maria Garcia were present.  Maria George and Errol George were absent.  Six members of the public were in attendance, including two prospective board members and two reporters for The Lens.

The official board meeting was preceded by a committee meeting on academics and another on board governance.

During the academics meeting, the group discussed the results from the ninth-grade EXPLORE test which is the first in a series of three ACT tests.  The results show IHS’s ninth-graders to be performing below the national average in all subject areas.  Future student progress will be monitored through the PLAN test in tenth grade and the actual ACT test in eleventh grade.

Of particular concern during the academics meeting was the lack of a full-time, dedicated math teacher on staff for the ninth grade.  41 percent of the ninth graders who took the test reported needing help with “improving mathematical skills,” yet these same students have been led by a substitute teacher for about a month.

“Where is the accountability here?” one parent asked. To which Andrew Ward, chairman of the board, replied: “The buck stops here.” Ward promised that the board would remedy the situation, and board members reminded parents that help is available before, during and after school.

A parent’s complaint about the administration’s lack of response to an incident involving his child prompted the board to distribute their new “Grievance Procedure” and assured the parent that the matter would be handled according to the procedure’s guidelines.

The governance meeting began at 6:08 p.m. with discussion of a candidate for board membership, Molly Oehmichen, a Tulane graduate who works at the Launch Pad, a non-profit that supports entrepreneurship. A motion to recommend her for membership was approved.

The board seeks to increase its size and diversify the membership. At the next meeting, the board will consider another candidate for membership, Ronnie Seaton, a former White House chef who was also in attendance. Chef Seaton is already offering a free cooking class to students Monday-Friday from 4-5:30 p.m.  The governance meeting adjourned at 6:27 p.m.

An executive session took place at 6:45 p.m. to discuss personnel issues.  When the public was readmitted to the room shortly before 8 p.m., the board had nothing to vote on but passed out a draft of the “International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme Handbook 2011-2013” which will be discussed at the next meeting and eventually added to the student hand book.  The meeting adjourned at 8:03 p.m.


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