Palm Beach County parents voice concerns over progress letter

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Fox 29 | by Michelle Quesada | January 5, 2021

Parents were warned that they might get a serious letter about their child’s progress in School District of Palm Beach County, urging them to switch from virtual learning to in-person.

But some parents of students doing distance learning say it’s a notice their child should not have received.

Thousands of students learning virtually were identified by the School District of Palm Beach County through certain criteria, and parents received notices strongly urging their children to return to in-person learning to avoid further academic consequences.

But some parents who called WFLX on Tuesday said their children had great marks on their report cards and still received the letter.

Twins Holden and Syrie are seemingly acing school virtually these days.

“I keep winning in math. I used to not be really good at math,” Syrie said.

But when their mom, Regis Ahern, logged on to the School District of Palm Beach County’s student portal to choose distance learning for the next semester, she was surprised to see a letter pop up.

“In really strong language told me multiple times that both of my twins are not meeting the grade standards, they are falling behind,” Ahern said. “Urged me to send them back, implying that if I didn’t they’d be at risk.”

Ahern reached out to their teacher.

“She said this is the first I’ve heard about it,” Ahern said. “I don’t agree that your children are failing to meet the standards. I think they are doing fine.”

At another school, Briana D’Andrea said the letter also popped up on her daughter’s VPK student portal.

“I’ve had great communication with my teacher and she’s never expressed any issue with her learning from home,” D’Andrea said.

The School District of Palm Beach County said 10,000 elementary students learning virtually were identified if they signed in fewer than three times into the portal, had three or more absences in three weeks, or received two or more “not demonstrating” marks on their report card.

A school district spokesperson said children could have been attending classes online but did not necessarily log into the portal, and that could be a reason why they were identified.

The district said it sent a list of the names to the schools to either add or remove students.

“A lot of us had a sleepless night because we’re here thinking that our children aren’t meeting, that they are not up to standards, they’re not meeting the requirements. Yet that wasn’t the case,” D’Andrea said.

The district said parents who received the letter should contact their child’s school for more information.

“I intend to keep them home, and in light of the increase in cases it really does seem important now more than ever to keep the numbers in the classroom down,” Ahern said.