HISD trustees learn more about asterisk removal program

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- A Houston ISD is responding to criticism about a Yates High School program that makes students do physical labor to make up for lost classroom hours.

Board President Rhonda Skillern-Jones said trustees on Monday learned more about the program, which allows students to perform janitorial work and moving furniture to make up for absences, during the closed session portion of their regularly scheduled meeting.

Students at Yates High School were offered the opportunity to participate in tutorials, write essays, complete college applications and additional classroom assignments, in addition to community service. The school removed the community service option from the program in the fall 2014 semester.

The district insists the physical labor was not in exchange for passing grades, and they do not believe it occurred on any other campus. Other high schools offer various attendance recovery programs that allow students to attend Saturday school and graduation labs to recover attendance credit.

According to HISD, allowing students to make up attendance credit by doing physical labor is within district guidelines, but it isn't recommended.

"We made a strong recommendation to Yates to offer more enrichment, project-based learning, grad lab, those types of opportunities when students need to make up that time," Chief High School Officer Harrison Peters said.

"So that means you don't want them doing what amounted physical labor anymore?" we asked.

"That's not acceptable. It's not illegal, but we want to make sure that students have a positive experience and that it approaches the district philosophy around restorative practices and that students have every opportunity to be successful," Harris replied.

Coincidentally, Yates High School Principal Donetrus Hill announced his resignation Friday. He has not answered requests for comment. A spokeswoman for HISD tells Eyewitness News Hill's resignation has nothing to do with the asterisk removal program. null
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