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Guest Writer Sally Smith (Sally Smith Biography)

Parents of students enrolled in the International Baccalaureate programs at San Diego and Mission Bay high schools were notified that students are not required to register or pay for the $150 application fee or test fees.

Back on July 6, 2015 I posted on District Deeds a SPECIAL FEATURE – GUEST WRITER SALLY SMITH: California Department of Education DEMANDS That “San Diego Unified IB Program Must Revise Fee Information to Parents”

In that blog post I provided the California Department of Education (CDE) Ruling Document: IB FEES CDE JUNE 2015 that forced San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) Supt. Cindy Marten and Board of Education Members Richard Barerra, Marne Foster, John Lee Evans, Kevin Beiser and Michael McQuary to FOLLOW THE STATE LAW!

Letters were sent to parents because the California Department of Education mandated corrective action to comply with state Constitutional law.  Here are two samples of the letters:

IB Cover Letter Prospective Parents – SDHS

IB Cover Letter 15-16 – MBHS

The letter to Parents states:

For every school subject that has the IB curriculum, a course without the IB curriculum is available to students.  A student can enroll in, attend, and fully participate in a course with an underlying IB component, including both regular coursework and IB prescribed coursework, and receive full course credit towards a high school diploma, without paying any fee of any kind and without registering for, paying for or taking any end-of-course IB exams.

Unfortunately. in the typical SDUSD Supt. Marten and Board of Education NON-transparent fashion, the San Diego Unified School District has not posted this information on the schools’ websites so that parents have this information!

Past practice was to require students to pay for the IB application fee and exam fees. Parents were placed on payment plans, and resulting in bounced checks because the family did not have the money. Students were placed on indebtedness list and informed they could not participate in the graduation ceremony until they paid in full.

After reading the District Deeds posting of July 6, 2015, a parent questioned how many International Baccalaureate (IB) diplomas were received by students.

The answer to that question can be found in the district report presented by Executive Director of Secondary Schools Cheryl Hibbeln on October 27, 2015: REVISED District Accountability Report Presentation, 10-27-15

Here is a synopsis of the IB statistics for San Diego High and Mission Bay High:

Total IB diplomas for both schools
2013 – 45 IB Diplomas
2014 – 42 IB Diplomas
2015 – 56 IB Diplomas
San Diego High school
2013 – 32 IB Diplomas
2013 – 151 TOTAL Graduates
% of IB Diplomas: 21.2%
 2014 – 25 IB Diplomas
2014 – 130 TOTAL Graduates
% of IB Diplomas: 19.2%
2015 – 38 IB diplomas
Mission Bay High School
2013 – 13 IB diplomas
2013 – 273 TOTAL Graduates
% of IB Diplomas: 4.8%
 2014 – 17 IB diplomas
2014 – 274 TOTAL Graduates
% of IB Diplomas: 6.2%
2015 – 18 IB diplomas

Since it has been mandatory to pay for and sit for the exams, the report reveals a low rate of diplomas earned compared to the amount of money paid for licenses and teacher training by San Diego Unified School District.

Parents can (and should) evaluate the IB program at IB schools and decide if their children should enroll.

Thanks to the ruling by the CDE and informed SDUSD Stakeholders, now no parent need worry about coming up with hundreds of dollars to pay for IB exams nor be required to sign a payment contract and provide post-dated checks to district staff. The state Constitution provides for a free public education (Education Code section 49011 and Article IX, section 5 of the California Constitution)

Those laws require K-12 public schools to offer educational activities to students free of charge, and a “fee waiver” or “scholarship” program cannot cure unlawful pupil fees.

One more important fact…

An email from the UCSD admissions office states that its  admission practice does not “discriminate” against a student who cannot afford to take an IB examination because it does not require  that students take the examination. One option for students applying  to UCSD is to use the “Additional Comments” box immediately preceding the “Academic History” section of the UC freshman admission application  to explain why they could not afford the cost of an IB examination.  The application readers will carefully review and consider, in context, all information the student provides in the admission application.

Finally…beginning this year…it is a CHOICE for SDUSD students if they want to take the IB exams!



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