As of the 2019-20 school year, the Jericho School District will no longer accept summer school credits earned from the Windsor School, a private college preparatory middle and secondary school located in Flushing, Queens.
For many years, Jericho students have been attending Windsor during summer vacation in order to take advanced classes above their grade level and accelerate in a subject. The summer program at Windsor allows students to complete a full course in a variety of subjects over a span of six weeks. The students then take the New York State Regents examination upon completion of the course and must earn a score of 85 or above in order to receive credit from Jericho. In 2019, 131 Jericho students attended Windsor during the summer and 175 courses were taken.
At the November 2019 board of education meeting, Superintendent Henry Grishman explained his contention that Windsor was not a credible institution.
“The problem that we have with Windsor this year is that they incorrectly graded 18 Regents exams, which I think is indicative of the quality of the professional staff at Windsor,” he said.
Board of Education President William Ferro further explained the district’s position.
“As the board of education, we’re concerned because we consider the integrity of the education we provide here, and we want to know that if our students are taking classes elsewhere that those institutions maintain the same integrity,” he said.
Many residents who attended the meeting felt strongly that Windsor should still be an option available to Jericho students.
“Students should have the ability to be able to accelerate over the summer if they’re up to the challenge,”Sophomore Yana G. said.
Other parents and students are against accepting credits from Windsor. Jericho parent Kathy Yang sent her older child to Windsor, but has decided it is not an option for her second child.
“If a student feels that he or she needs to be accelerated or is prepared to take the stress and to put the hard work in, then such student should be given an option,” parent Suprabha Maltahar Jain said.
“I don’t think that a six-week course can give students a solid foundation,” Yang said. “So that’s why my younger one didn’t go to Windsor.”
Sophomore Matthew I. feels that attending summer school to advance may not be worth it.
“The benefit from Windsor doesn’t outweigh all of the unnecessary stress that these classes add to students to take harder courses earlier than they should,” he said.
At the December meeting, the decision to end the district’s policy of granting credits from Windsor was made without a board of trustees vote. Students may be awarded credit from other institutions, but it is up to the superintendent to make the determination, according to an existing policy. The New York State Commissioner of Education guidelines empower the superintendent of schools to determine if a student benefits academically by an alternative option and provide them the final say as to whether accepting credits from an institution like Windsor academically benefits students.
“We will no longer accept credits from the Windsor School,” Grishman said at the December meeting. “We will make our middle school administration aware of this for scheduling purposes and we will let our parent community know.”
Staff at the Windsor School were disheartened by Jericho’s decision to stop accepting credits from their summer program.
“We were informed by many parents from the Jericho School District that the students would no longer be attending our accredited summer school program,” James DeFeo, principal of the Windsor School, said. “It is unfortunate that we will not be welcoming new and returning students from the Jericho School District this summer. The Windsor School has truly enjoyed getting to know and working with so many students and their families over the years, and we hope that in the future students from the Jericho School District will attend our summer program once again. Our summer program has run for more than 40 years and will continue for many years to come, and we will always welcome students from the Jericho District back into our program.”
On Jan. 13, middle school principal Donald Gately sent an email to sixth- and seventh-grade parents explaining the district’s alternative acceleration option for science.
“The process will be similar to what is used to identify students for math double-acceleration,” Gately said.
A small number of students will be identified to take advanced courses based on staff recommendations, classroom performance, test scores. In addition to this email, the policy was announced at January’s board of education meeting.
—Submitted by Caroline Gross, Tyler Siegmann, Katie Tian and Michelle Wu, student-journalists for Jericho High School’s JerEcho publication