Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Law is a Law!

  The Guilford County School Board has gone off the deep end! In a nutshell, I warned them weeks ago that their plans to make up snow days on June 11th, 12, and 15th were against the law that sets June 10th as the last day of school for traditional calendars. Nothing they didn't already know, of course. Well, when they received a letter from the NC Department of Public Instruction informing them of their non-compliance with the law, they voted (Tuesday night) to defy DPI - thus defying the law. What an example for a school board to set for our children!! Unbelievable! Below you will find a link to the article in the Greensboro Record, and a copy of an op-ed piece that I submitted to the Winston-Salem Journal (their system also listed make-up days after June 10).


A “Heads Up” for Public School Parents

If you have a student in a Winston-Salem/Forsyth or Guilford County school district, please sit up and take notice. Your spring break might not be as long as you think.

Over the past few months, I have observed with interest the dates that various school systems have set for weather-related make-up days. Many weeks ago, when I found out that Guilford County had announced June 11th as their second snow-day, I promptly contacted an administrator to remind him that such an action is against the law. Now, I understand that Winston-Salem/Forsyth has done the same thing.

Some of you will recall the 2004 “School Calendar Law” that sets August 25th and June 10th as parameters within which local school boards can establish their own school calendars. This law includes waiver provisions for qualifying school systems that typically have a large number of weather-related make-up days. A waiver can also be granted if it meets certain criteria, is deemed “reasonable” and “necessary”, and is “not an attempt to circumvent the opening and closing dates set forth [in the law]”1. All other traditional schools are required, by law, to use days prior to June 10th for making up those days.

I find it inexcusable that certain school districts are still leading parents to believe that June 11th, June 12th, etc. will be used to make up days missed because of recent snows. They have been well aware of the tenets of the calendar law since 2004. I realize that the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school system has already cut into spring break, and to lose even more days that week would be a hardship on parents, students, and teachers alike. As a parent and former teacher myself, I empathize with those families; however, because of the way the local school board set up the calendar to begin with, they now have few options left.

No matter how the school calendar is laid out, make-up days will be established. For some families, a break in the spring might be most important; for others, it is a hardship to have days added on to the end of the school year. Who’s to say which is more important? Some year-round schools have their make-up days on Saturdays. Many parents are flinging a fit about that, and those schools are exempt altogether from the 2004 law!

Let’s face it - this has been an unusual year for us, weather-wise. Even so, creative and forward thinking from the beginning on the part of school board members could have prevented the situation that now exists. Other school systems are dealing with make-up days as well, and are carefully adhering to the law. Yes, the law limits options, but since it also (among other things) prevents traditional schools from opening in late July or early August, many think that it is well worth the trade-off. But… that’s a discussion for another day!

For now, suffice it to say that if I were a parent in the Guilford or Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school systems, I would be livid that, even after being reminded, leaders have still not let the public know that the June make-up days will not be allowed. On March 10th, the Guilford County school board voted to ignore a letter from the Department of Public Instruction informing them that their plan was not in compliance with the law. This is nothing less than a blatant attempt to “test” the law, and to incite parents to blame the law for last-minute schedule changes.

At least some of us in other systems were forewarned more than a year in advance of the possibility of losing some of our spring break or weekend time. For this to drop as a “bombshell” now is unconscionable. Parents and teachers, I hope you will question your school board members about this. I would love to know how they respond.


A Fellow Public School Parent,

Louise Lee


1.Session Law 2004-180

Section 1, 115c – 84.2, (d)


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