Minneapolis Public Schools are revealing more details of a settlement with students who were taught by unqualified teachers at Broadway High School. Some students also lost credits towards graduation when the district changed core credits to electives.
The settlement announced yesterday affects 657 students who attended the high school, which served pregnant teens and teens with children. Students will be eligible to access some of the $404,934 compensation fund set up by the district as a result of a class action lawsuit. The money can be spent on educational costs.
MPR News spoke with Minneapolis Public Schools Assistant General Counsel Cedrick Frazier about the settlement, which is posted in edited form below.
MPR News: When will the settlement be filed?
Cedrick Frazier: We’re in the process for filing now. Last check, documents have been submitted for filing. They’re being processed at the moment. Then after that we’ll be assigned a judge.
We’re hoping by the end of this calendar year that the settlement will be approved. At the beginning of the calendar year for 2014, we’ll send notices out. Then the students will be able to begin the process of accessing the funds.
MPR News: There are quite a few students eligible for this. How are you going to track them all down and let them know that this money is available?
Frazier: We have their last known address from the time they were enrolled at the district. We will send the notice along with the settlement terms to those last known addresses. They do have the potential to opt out if they would like or to challenge the settlement.
We’ll also provide public notice in media publications like the Star Tribune, Insight News, Spokesman-Recorder and other media outlets.
MPR News: Many of these Broadway students were already struggling to stay in school with kids or dealing with pregnancy. Other than the money, how much guidance will the district be providing those who were knocked off course?
Frazier: They’ll also be able to access our education counseling services here at the district, as well as they can use the resources to access external educational services for guidance as well.
MPR News: There were 657 students potentially impacted here, do we know how many have already completed high school?
Frazier: There have been some. We’re still compiling some of that information.
As you know this is a transient population, meaning that quite a few of these students were in and out of the program, meaning they were enrolled and possibly dropped out. Or they were enrolled at the Broadway program and maybe transitioned into a more traditional high school setting. It’s taking some time to track to see where each student ended up.
[When] we learned of the incident and did an investigation and put parameters in place to correct everything. Knowing that we had to reclassify some core credits with elective credits, at that time we did implement some compensatory programs to allow students to reclaim the credits that had been reclassified. Some students did take advantage of that. And we do know that quite a few of those students graduated.
Those programs were simply extended day programs, so you could start classes at zero hour [before first period] and take some extra courses, or you could extend your day past the traditional day for that program and take other courses. We also offered Saturday courses, and we also offered at-home counseling for students as well.
MPR News: What action did the district take against the administrators who were in charge of the school at the time?
Frazier: The only action in the district we learned would happen and the only action was that there was a resignation of the coordinator at the time. Some of the individuals who were employed at the time since then have left the district.
MPR News: How has the district changed how Broadway High School functions?
Frazier: The program was fresh-started, revamped, new teachers, new administrator. And this was back when we learned about the situation.
Currently we’re making sure that we’re diligent about doing audits internally to make sure that all classes are taught by licensed instructors, or instructors who are required to teach those courses, and make sure that students are taking the correct courses they need to transition to graduation.
Because of certain funds we get from the state, we’ve been audited by the Department of Education. Those audits have come back very positive, in fact I believe that one audit noted that Broadway school was one of the programs that showed a significant increase in math scores
MPR News: What steps is the district taking to prevent similar things from happening at other schools?
Frazier: Similar to what we’re doing at Broadway, constant monitoring. We have our HR department that does a monthly audit to make sure that everyone is appropriately licensed in the areas they’re supposed to teach.