The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

July 7, 2014

Moms say they’ll listen to cyber school pitch

HERMITAGE — Two Hermitage mothers of girls who attend cyber charter schools said they would at least listen to local officials about attending the newly forming Hermitage School District Cyber School.

“We’ll see,” said Diane Adams, mother of a 16-year-old.

“It’s a possibility,” said Susan Davis, mother of 16-year-old Hannah.

However, both moms said school officials would have to overcome the problems that led them to enroll their daughters in cyber schools in the first place.

Hermitage school officials said the immediate goal of forming a cyber school is to save money on the cost of paying outside cyber schools, with a longer range goal of getting students back into the classroom.

Hannah, who is entering her junior year, said she doesn’t have much interest in leaving Commonwealth Connections Academy Charter School. It’s much easier to get one-one-one time with a teacher than it was at Hickory, she said.

“I definitely like it a lot better than public school,” Hannah said.

Hannah started attending Connections Academy after becoming ill and being unable to attend school. The district provided her a tutor but school officials were not sending work home for her, and her grades started dropping.

She also was bullied at Hickory, Susan Davis said, and the family was unhappy with the response of officials to those claims.

With a year of experience of Connections Academy under Hannah’s belt, her grades have gone back up.

“The best thing we ever did,” Susan Davis said. “I was really disappointed with how they (Hermitage officials) handled her situation. I lost faith in public schools. They forgot about her. They were going to let her fail.”

Adams said her daughter was harassed by students and she had a hard time getting the girl to go to school.

In response to both mothers’ claims, Hermitage School District Superintendent Dr. Daniel Bell, said:

“I feel badly, as well as our whole administrative team does, that a few of our parents feel that their child’s needs were not met to their satisfaction. It is a goal of our district that we meet the needs of each of our students. We welcome a conversation with the parents to see what we could plan to do to further meet their child’s academic needs.”

Hannah had to give up some things when she left Hickory, most notably cheerleading and choir. She has found a musical outlet singing and playing guitar with local folk musician Chuck Thorpe.

She is not allowed to attend Mercer County Career Center as a cyber school student – she is interested in cosmetology – but Bell said Hermitage cyber school students could attend the center.

Adams said she is happy with the education her daughter is getting at Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School, the improvement in her grades and the interaction between cyber school officials and herself.

“If she’s not attending, they’ll call me immediately,” Adams said. “We talk a lot.”

Adams said she would like her daughter to graduate with her class.

“I would have liked for her to go Hickory for at least her senior year, but we’ll see,” Adams said.

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