VANCOUVER – A Grade 12 Comox Valley student says her scholarship was revoked because she was unable to complete her final grad course by Aug. 31 due to the teachers’ strike.
Alannah Clark attends a distributed learning school called NIDES and only needs Biology 12 to graduate. She was planning to complete that over the summer as the school is open year-round, but due to the education dispute the school was closed.
The deadline for completing the grad course to be awarded the scholarship was Aug. 21 and Alannah missed the deadline.
So the district took away the Dogwood District/Authority Award, which is worth $1,000.
“In June, when the teachers started their rotating strikes, Alannah was worried that the full-on strike was coming, she realized it was going to be a problem for her to complete the course, so what she did at that point, she went to an independent distributed learning school to try and register there,” said Alannah’s mom Colleen.
“But the registration never happened, they had registration issues, I’m guessing they were probably overwhelmed with a lot of other students doing the same thing, so weeks went by and she never managed to get registered there, it was very frustrating.”
So Alannah was not able to meet her final grad requirements.
Colleen said the teachers at NIDES are amazing and even if Alannah did have access to the course she would not have been able to complete it without teacher support.
They found out last week that the Ministry of Education could not give her the scholarship.
“We are outraged and shocked because it was something that was completely out of her control,” said Colleen. “She’s a victim of the job action.”
They have spoken to their Superintendent and the school principal, among others, and they say there is nothing they can do.
“One thing that I have learned is that the ministry managed to support students by changing the dates of the provincial exams, because they’re required for graduation, so I’ve asked the question ‘if they can do that, why can they not see that it’s just as important to complete a course that’s required for grad?'” said Colleen.
“The only answer I keep getting is there’s no exceptions.”
Alannah is a local singer, songwriter and performer and was going to use the money to attend a jazz program at Capilano University.
Colleen said she just thinks it is extremely unfair that the deadline could not be moved for scholarship students due to the education dispute.
“It’s something she worked very hard for and she was very proud of herself on the day she got the award,” said Colleen.
Sherry Elwood, the Superintendent of Schools for the Comox Valley, said the reason the date was not moved is because it is not their date to move. “The criteria for that award is that you have to have graduated,” she said.
“Every student that receives that award across the province will have graduated.”
Elwood said Alannah withdrew from the course in the beginning of June and because she didn’t re-register in the course in time she was missing four credits to graduate.
Colleen said that the ministry has also changed some funding dates, which were fixed dates, so she is hoping if they can change those dates they could change the deadline date for the scholarship.
“It makes you kind of shake your head,” said Colleen, “because it’s supposed to be about the students.”
Elwood said they have offered to pay for Alannah to take a dual-credit course at North Island College so that she will meet her graduation requirements and then they will help her to apply for the scholarship for 2014 /15 year.
“It’s not the school district that’s not giving her the scholarship,” said Elwood. “She does not meet the requirements for graduation.”