Gulfport Students Protest Over Grading Conflict - - The News for South Mississippi

Gulfport Students Protest Over Grading Conflict

Central Middle School eighth graders should be counting down to the end of the school year. Instead, 10 students came up with a counting cheer to protest their computer grades.

"One, two, three, four, we don't want Merrill no more," they chanted. "Five, six, seven, eight, "kick him out and get this straight."

Leah Cunningham was one of the protesting students. "I had an A in the beginning of the year," she said. "Second semester I had a B. Third semester I had a C. And now I have a zero."

Student council president Reinaldo Feliciano was also part of the protest. Feliciano said that despite teacher claims that students didn't finish assignments, his classmates did the work. It just didn't get graded. According to the student body leader, "Everybody except for a handful of students is failing. This is an obvious problem. It needs to be heard."

So the students protested. And a parent and a grandparent helped them publicize what they call grading discrepancies.

Sam Riojas joined his son on the picket line. "If the teacher doesn't do his job, he isn't teaching them," the father said. "I feel strongly about what they're doing. And I'm here to support them 100 percent."

Central Middle School's new principal is Dean Frederick. In fact, he's been on the job just 20 days. He met with the students before and after their protest. On both occasions he told them that resolving this grade conflict is a top priority.

"I think the teacher understands that from my standpoint," Frederick said, "that what we're in this business to do is prepare and educate students. I don't think this will be a stumbling block. I won't let it, I'll say that much."

The students and parents said they left a Monday meeting with principal Frederick hopeful that there's enough time to turn progress report F's into the grades they really deserve.

The teacher involved in the grading conflict didn't attend Monday's meeting between the students and principal Frederick. And the principal told us he wouldn't let the teacher talk with WLOX News about the grading protest.

By Brad Kessie

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