UPDATE:  My child has been in the forth grade for a while now, and has made excellent grades.  His last report card contained 3 A’s 1 B and a C.  Take that Ramona, Tracy, Randy, and Mike AND SHOVE IT! 

UPDATE TAKE 2:  Unfortunately, this did not last long.  In fifth grade, my child was given zeros on days he missed due to our religious beliefs.  He was then refused textbooks, despite protests.  After two weeks of no textbook, he was failing science.  I pulled him out immediately, placed him in an umbrella school, and began Abeka curriculum.  His level is atrocious.  When I pulled him from fifth grade, his level was that of third grade-when I put him in.  It was a great deal of work, but he is doing much better now!  He missed several important items that we are having to go back and teach on the side.  The homeschool requirements changed so much, that it was apparent TN no longer wants independent homeschoolers.  As against it as I was, I just used an umbrella anyway.  I can get testing through them, and they provide legal assistance when the board bullies rear their ugly heads, so it does help.  I have contacted the school board at the state level, and there is nothing to be done.  My advice-stay away from South Fentress Elementary, and Fentress county schools in general.  I have heard from other homeschool parents that the school board is telling parents falsehoods.  They are telling them that they can come into their house at any time and inspect things.  THIS IS NOT TRUE!!!  Know your rights!  I also recently read where the school board donated a fire truck.  The school board that doesn’t use Box Tops, will donate a large vehicle, and yet requires fund raisers?!?!  Shame on you Fentress County Board of Education, and shame on you TN for allowing such a corrupt and horrible place of power to exist!

And now begins the original post:

We moved from Knoxville, as most of you know, where my child was public schooled.  We homeschooled him when we moved.  It just made it all easier.  The time came to put him back into public.  I contacted Randy Clark and was told it would be better all around to place him in school at the end of the year rather than at the beginning of next year.  I assumed I could trust them, after all I trusted the Fountain City staff, and my mother was a teacher for 20 years or more.  I was told by several parents who homeschooled around here not to put him back in, and especially not South Fentress.  I didn’t want to believe their stories.  It couldn’t happen to me.

But it did.

I will make this as brief as possible.  If you want more detailed information, please ask.

He was tested where he was scored at a 5.3 grade level.  They put him in the 3rd grade due to his age.  They REALLY fought on this and would NOT put him in the 4th grade.  I went along with it.  I was going to give them a try.  They failed.

A few weeks later we are in a conference where he is failing because, and I quote, “Well, he’s silly.”  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  I didn’t take the meeting too seriously b/c of my past experience I knew they couldn’t possibly get away with something this ridiculous.  I was not given a single piece of work to back anything up other than a list of present grade averages for the subjects.  The only other thing I ever saw was homework, which didn’t even count towards his score.  He was also enrolled in speech in this meeting, which I had no problem with, and agreed with enrollment.

I didn’t worry about it.  I had to go back to work and we were having our own problems.  I really didn’t want to “take on City Hall” as my friend put it…not again.  (I won the last time too).  He was unable to pick up his report card from the school because we were given the wrong information about the last week of his school’s schedule and such.

We, his parents who have been homeschooling him for over 2 years, thought long and hard with prayer as to what to do about retaining him or not and how we felt about it.  We decided to let him go on to the fourth grade.  And we said as such when the school sent home a paper asking our opinion.

I had to call and call and call to get the stupid Board of Education to do their blasted job of mailing me his report card.  His teacher-Ramona Hall-hadn’t even turned it in.  So I waited about 2 weeks.  I get the report card and it shows him as retained.  It also showed him as testing at a 3.7 grade level just 6 weeks after his initial exam.  I am now mad.  I call, and then I wait for FOUR WEEKS to get called back.  When Mike Jones did call back to tell me that they were waiting for his records because his teacher still had not given said records to them, it was NOT to apologize for taking so long.  This man doesn’t know what an apology is.

When they did get the records, and finally called me, the first words out of his mouth were, “I’ve been trying to get a hold of you.  You’ve been on the phone for 15 minutes!”  What a jerk!  We then have a “conversation” where I am largely ignored and finally personally insulted with him saying, “I’m glad you’re putting him in public school.”  “Why is that?”  “Because I don’t think you can sufficiently educate your child doing what you’re doing.”  Remember how I called him a jerk?  To top it all off, he hadn’t even looked at my child’s record, only the note attached to the front.

So, we have a meeting where I learned he had the handshake of a turnip and he thought himself to be wonderful.  Before this meeting, I had a chat with legal services at the Department of Education for Tennessee.  I was told I could record the whole meeting on tape without their knowledge.  So I did.  Here is what happened:

Every time I said something logical that proved my point beyond the shadow of a doubt, one of them would say the same thing in their own words in order to make it look like their idea, and then the other would agree with them as though it was their idea (these two were Randy and Tracy).  I played along.  I wasn’t there to win an argument.  I was there to get my child placed in the correct grade.

Mike Jones played every trick of making us wait (I over heard the conversation he had with someone about making us wait), trying to find a common ground with my husband “So, you’re a cattle man!”  My husband saw through it all.  Like I said, this isn’t the first time I’ve taken on City Hall and won, nor is it the first time my husband has been along for the ride.  Tracy-the principal at the school, whose husband is also the county judge, and Randy Clark were both there.

Randy Clark criticized my placement of him in the latter part of the school year.  I reminded him it was his recommendation.  He then said, well yes, it was preferable to him wasting three months.  I then argued that it was not three months, it was 6 weeks, and it was not wasted thank you very much.

Tracy wanted him retained because of his age, at which point I informed her how I felt about that stupidity.  She then argued that he gave the wrong year of his birth when tested for placement and how that was a great concern for her.  I rolled my eyes, and presently laugh at the ludicrousy of it.  (that’s the best you can come up with?!?  Wow-that is sad!)

Not really, because what was even sadder is when they tried to figure out his final grades prior to the inclusion of the TCAP scores.  For one, the TCAPS were not taken into account.  I was able to prove that to them with simple algebra.  They, on the other hand, couldn’t figure any of this out on their own because the scores weren’t sitting in front of them.  THAT was REAL sad!!!  (and they’re in charge of teaching my child?)

So…THEN I had had enough of their stupidity and informed them how I felt about it all at which point Tracy informed me that she had indeed already passed him into the fourth grade.  You have GOT to be kidding me!  (remember what I said earlier about it all being their idea?)  If that were true, than you would not have argued this over the past hour, nor would his report card have said otherwise.  Of course given the barrel of monkeys I had to deal with, I wouldn’t doubt that being the case.  Idiots.

I had my opinions as to why they so desperately wanted to retain my child.  Many think it’s because he was homeschooled and they either need to unhomeschool him or make an example of him like they do all the other children that are homeschooled and enter into public later.  Others think it’s because they’re lazy and want a kid that will get easy A’s.  At this point I don’t care what their reason was, it was wrong.

We will give Fentress County schools one more try.  NOT the other way around (they actually said they would give my child a chance), and the next year the local private school may just gain a new applicant.  I am NOT alone in this.  MANY Fentress county parents have pulled their children to homeschool them because of the retention policies.  This needs to stop-NOW!!!