Parents seek greater input on Ross Sheppard policies

Parents of students at an Edmonton high school hope they will have a greater say in policy decisions such as the 'zero' mark rule following a school council meeting tonight.

'Zero' mark controversy sparks call for parents council

Parents of students at an Edmonton high school hope they will have a greater say in policy decisions following a school council meeting tonight.

High on their list is a rule that forbids teachers from issuing a "zero" mark, even when the student has failed to complete assignments. Former Ross Sheppard teacher Lynden Dorval was sacked earlier this month, partly due to him giving out zeros to students despite a directive from the administration.

Lynden Dorval, a physics teacher at Ross Sheppard High School, was fired earlier this month. (CBC)
Peter Bailey, the father of a recent Ross Sheppard graduate and another student currently in 11th grade, says he and other parents have been ignored in recent decisions on this issue and others.

"I find that frustrating,"  Bailey told CBC News. "We've had no communication from the school or from the principal [Ron Bradley] about the change in assessment policy.

"Shepp's always been known as a good academic school. So things like no-zero and the formative assessment that they're implementing seem to go against that, but you know, I'm trying to have an open mind. So I would like Mr. Bradley, the school board — whoever — to come and talk to parents about it."

They need five interested parents to attend in order to set up a formal school council, something he and other Ross Sheppard parents are hoping to get off the ground at tonight's meeting, the first since the spring of 2011.

"That is the best avenue for parents to be involved," said Doug Senuik, a retired teacher who added he's worried the school's principal has not been following rules under the School Act when it comes to giving parents notice about such meetings.

Formal complaint

"It sends a message to me that he does not want the parents to be informed, he does not want a school council to exist," said Senuik, a former member of the Ross Sheppard faculty who has launched a formal complaint with the school board.

Bradley says he has tried to reach out to parents but couldn't get enough commitment for a formal school council.

"Were there a number of people interested? Certainly, but none of them wanted to accept the responsibilities of a formalized governance structure," Bradley said.

Bailey said he and other parents are ready to accept that responsibility, "so if school council is a way to open up those lines of communication I think that would be fabulous."