TAMPA — Plant High School has successfully challenged the state and boosted the B grade it received in December.
"We called (the Department of Education) to let them know there was an error," superintendent MaryEllen Elia said Tuesday. "Plant High School is now an A-rated school."
School Board members applauded the news at Tuesday's board meeting, and voiced astonishment at the news that a single student's scores had tipped the balance.
"One student could do that to a school's grade?" asked member Jack Lamb.
It could indeed. Elia said the error involved a misinterpretation of the student's status under the state's new grading formula for high schools.
The Department of Education quickly acknowledged the mistake, prompting cheers at Plant High.
"They're very happy," Elia said.
Boundary cheats, beware
In other news Tuesday, board members said the district should do more to catch parents who cheat to enroll children in schools outside their attendance area.
"We're penalizing the people who try to play by the rules," said member Candy Olson. "My concern is people who choose to lie."
She suggested auditing popular, overcrowded schools such as Plant, where some families who live elsewhere may be using business addresses or false records to register kids.
Board members agreed to start by asking parents at registration to provide multiple forms of identification — and perhaps declare whether they own property with a homestead exemption — before turning to central office audits, which require a policy change. The district staff will research the issue for a future meeting.
Tom Marshall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3400.