May 31, 2018

From: Anne Mucci <amucci@mlschools.org>
Subject: Update on Interim Principal/GPA/AP Issue at MLHS

Good evening,

I am very much looking forward to serving as the interim high school principal as we search for Mr. Davies'replacement. I have elected to make that interim appointment shorter than originally presented. Therefore, we will immediately advertise for an Interim High School Principal and make every effort to have this individual in place prior to the start of the 2018-2019 school year. Given that Mr. Downes has agreed to stay with us through August to ease the transition to the new administrative and office staff and we have secured an exceptional administrative support staff for MLHS, I have no concerns that our high school office and communications will be well run in the coming months.

After the suggestion from several Board members to assume to this dual role, the topic was brought to the full Board for discussion and it was agreed this would be the best choice. The allure of spending more time with our high school students and the esteemed faculty and staff that guide them each day drew me to this same conclusion. I sincerely appreciate that many people expressed concern over the combining of the Superintendent and High School Principal roles and it is not my intention to cause any additional anxiety during this time of transition. I look forward to supporting an Interim Principal throughout the extensive search process for a permanent replacement.

I have spoken with many members of our community over the last few weeks and the Board and I have heard the various ways that community members would like to become more involved in our schools. Mrs. Goldthwaite, Board President, will be sending out detailed information regarding all the ways we welcome your involvement in our schools and how you can join a committee that interests you.

One item that has come up repeatedly in these conversations is the issue of GPA and AP Course Equity at MLHS. To share information that has been presented in recent conversations and meetings with everyone, please review the following summary.

Beginning in the 2015-2016 school year, Briarcliff and Rockaway Valley School offered Geometry to a cohort of 8th grade students. This accelerated math course resulted in a cohort of students having an academic co requisite to take an elective Advanced Placement math course, Advanced Placement Statistics, in their freshman or sophomore years. According to the Board approved Program of Studies, this course is for juniors and seniors.

In December of this year, it was discovered that the high school administration had erroneously allowed a few Freshman and Sophomore students to enroll in this course in violation of the Board approved Program of Studies, and despite the fact that other equally qualified freshman and sophomore students were not able to enroll. At the same time, the high school administration also allowed a few freshman and sophomore students to enroll in Advanced Placement Fine Arts classes despite those students not satisfying either the course and grade level prerequisites as set forth in the Board approved Program of Studies. These actions resulted in select students in the classes of 2020 and 2021 having an impermissible and insurmountable advantage over their classmates in the college admission selection process.

When faced with the far-reaching unintended and negative effects of those decisions, the Administrative Team had numerous meetings in an to attempt to try to find a solution that would not only minimize any potential negative effect on individual students and maintain the integrity of the Board approved Program of Studies, but also ensure that all students were on a level playing field and afforded the same academic opportunities to make their college application materials (specifically their transcripts and grade point averages) as attractive as possible. In addition there were also numerous meetings over a period of months with the families of the students that were affected to discuss the situation and possible solutions.

Ultimately, the Board approved a course of action that not only ensured that the Program of Studies would be consistently followed, but also corrected, to the extent possible, the advantages that were inadvertently created for a select number of students. Since that time, the Director of Guidance and the High School Administration have also put additional measures in place to insure that a similar situation does not occur in the future.

I look forward to enjoying the end of the year festivities with you as we bring the school year to a close and celebrate all the wonderful accomplishments of our students.

Most Sincerely,

Anne Mucci, Ed. D.