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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Florida Virtual School says no evolution exceptions

In response to Monday’s Gradebook post, the Florida Virtual School just issued a statement saying its teachers do not allow FVS students to opt out of lessons in which they disagree – in this case, one involving evolution – without taking a zero on the assignment. An FVS spokeswoman also told the Gradebook that the student in question actually did the evolution-related assignment, but the girl made it clear in writing that while scientists may believe in evolution, she did not.

Here’s the three-paragraph statement from FVS Chief Learning Officer Pam Birtolo: “We’re a public school and follow the Sunshine State Standards that explicitly list the components of evolution that must be included in classroom instruction.

“Just as they can in traditional public schools, parents have the right to request that their child be allowed to opt-out of lessons with which they disagree. Students in all public schools are free to discuss or bring into the discussion their personal viewpoints.

“We do not modify our course content or the relevant tests based upon requests by parents or students. When these special circumstances arise, parents are notified that their child will receive a zero for the missed lessons.”

FVS spokeswoman Jodie Pozo-Olano said no special exception was made for the student in question, who lives in Brevard County. “She did the work,” Pozo-Olano said. “She just expressed her opinion, which is allowed.”

The student and her family were the subject of a World Net Daily story that was highlighted late last week by Florida Citizens for Science. The story quoted Elaine McCall, principal of Florida Virtual Global Schools (which is under FVS, and serves out-of-state students) as saying, “If you have a homeschooled student, we have alternative assignments or we would excuse the student from those assignments and they wouldn’t be counted in the grade book.”

Pozo-Olano said McCall was misquoted.


[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:24am]


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