The new state Board of Education is well-known for trying to tamp down public discussion of the NECAP high stakes graduation requirement and today it will be in Superior Court defending itself against allegations from high school students, civil libertarians and other various equality activists who say it went too far in trying to silence the debate.
The ACLU, the Providence Student Union and others are seeking $5,000 from the Board of Education for “engaging in a knowing and/or willful violation of the Open Meetings Act,” according to the law suit, when the Board dealt with a petition to redress the high stakes testing issue earlier this year. The plaintiffs are also asking that whatever conversations happened behind closed doors be makde public.
Both parties are expected before Judge Luis Matos at 2 p.m. today in Providence.
“As a result of the high stakes testing requirement, scheduled to take effect in 2014, approximately 4,000 students face the risk of not graduating next year because of their scores on the current test, known as the NECAP,” according to the RI ACLU’s blog. “Yet to this day, despite repeated pleas from parents, students and community groups, the Board has refused to publicly discuss the requirement.”
The lawsuit contends the Board illegally addressed the petition in closed session. It is the second time the ACLU has accused the Board of Education of circumventing public scrutiny on the issue of high stakes testing. Only weeks before this suit, a judge forced the Board of Education to hold a planned private “retreat” publicly instead.
Earlier this year, a wide range of community groups that advocate for racial equality, social justice, disabled children and/or civil liberties asked the Board of Education to revisit its decision to make a passing or improving on a standardized test a condition of graduation. Despite widespread concern that a high stakes graduation requirement would unfairly punish students from lackluster school districts and place a greater burden on non-traditional learners, like students on the autism spectrum or English language learners, the Board declined the request.