Super seniors

Clued in by LT, I actually think this is a terrible idea:

Parents of a South Albany freshman who was the victim of third-degree rape want Oregon school districts to keep fifth- or sixth-year seniors off regular high school campuses.

They’re working with state Rep. Andy Olson, R-Albany, who has said he is discussing the matter with officials at the Oregon Department of Education and is considering sponsoring legislation to clarify current policies.

“I want, if it takes you more than four years to complete high school, for you to go elsewhere,” said Paige Morgan, the girl’s mother. “Keep the experienced adults away from the 13- and 14-year-olds.”

Added her father, Tim: “Get rid of the ‘super seniors.’”

Don’t get me wrong – as a rule, I don’t think it’s healthy for a 14-year-old and a 19-year-old to be in a relationship.  But the parents are overreacting.  Fifth-year students should not automatically be booted from high school; as the district official in the story notes, each student should be handled on a case-by-case basis.

Furthermore, what happened here was not a failure of policy, but a failure to execute or enforce policy.  It is already more than clear that a) fifth-year HS students face some shaming for not graduating in four years, and b) both the parents and the district disapproved of the relationship and of such relationships in general.  Therefore, it’s not like the problem was a lack of rule or lack of disapproval, but a failure to carry out existing policies and procedures.  It is also the case that in some ways, things like this are not preventable by sequestering students.  Even if the 19-year-old in question had been in an alternative school, it’s possible he would have met a 14-year-old outside of school with the same result.

That said, I think the parents are right to note that there can be a massive developmental gap between a 14-year-old and a 19-year-old (or even an 18-year-old).  If that gaps becomes problematic for people (I’m not actually sure where I stand on it), then I’d suggest not peeling off the oldest students, but moving 9th-graders into a middle school or junior high-style setup.  The response of the parents here seems unnecessarily punitive and driven by their personal experience, not sound education policy – which is understandable, but not the right thing to do in this case.  And as the article notes, this incident is the first of its kind for the Albany.

I’m kind of curious how I missed this when it ran in the paper, actually.

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2 Comments on “Super seniors”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    I agree with you and thought the same thing about moving 9th graders to a middle school. In Lebanon, many parents have said they don’t feel their freshman are ready for the high school. This helps with both issues.
    Also, just because a 19, 20 or even 21 yo is still in a high school does not mean they are a slacker or a preditor or in any other way a risk to society. I have one son who is mildly MR, he graduated at 18 with a modified diploma, but had to return through his 21st birthday in order to qualify for benefits. I have another who has medical and mental health issues. He went an extra year and finally left as he had more in common with some of his young teachers than most of the students. He has taken practice tests for GED and received a perfect score on one and only missed one question on many of the others. He will be taking the actual tests in the coming weeks. We anticipate scores which would allow admission to a university vs a community college. If he had continued at the high school, he would have required two more years to complete enough credits to graduate. This is because of issues he cannot control. He has shown he is very cabable of learning, but just could not manage in the current high school environment with the particular challenges he faces.
    Lastly, I am not one to take the “blame the parent attitude”, but how is it that a parent of a 13 yo does not know she is seeing a 19 yo?

  2. Dennis Says:

    Anon, I believe the younger student in question was 14. For a 13-year-old to be in HS, they pretty much have to have skipped at least one grade.

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