ROXBURY, NJ – Roxbury students should "have a voice” in their school schedule says an online petition created by two Roxbury High School sophomores.
The petition, published Sunday on change.org, is titled "Signatures of Roxbury High School to Hear The Students Voices." As of 11 a.m. Monday, it had received about 650 signatures.
The petition was created by students Delany Scalara, 15, and Vanessa Suarez, 16, who hope to get 1,000 signatures.
“It has come to our attention that recently a decision has been made to change our current school schedule,” says the petition. “The new schedule will be six hours, two days a week, while on the virtual days students will have to be on their Chromebooks the full school day. These changes are being made with the intention that it would benefit the students, but without any feedback or input from the students themselves.”
The new “Phase II Hybrid” schedule discussed in the petition was revealed Oct. 15 by Roxbury Schools Superintendent Loretta Radulic. It is scheduled to begin Nov. 16, replacing the current system of alternating, 4-hour-long, in-classroom days with fully virtual instruction on Mondays.
Radulic circulated a survey earlier this year, before adopting the first school reopening plan, seeking parent input. That didn’t happen before the second phase plan was announced.
However, throughout the COVID-19 upheaval, the superintendent has stressed that parents and students should feel free to propose ideas and express concerns. A number of parents have done so at Roxbury Board of Education meetings.
In an email today, Radulic insisted the school administration does take into account students’ ideas.
“We are always interested in hearing our students' perspectives,” she said. “To that end, the principal has plans to meet with students and a survey about their most recent learning experiences is forthcoming.”
Nevertheless, Suarez and Scalara contend students have not been afforded enough opportunity to weigh-in on the schedule changes.
“Moving into the second half of the year, many (students) are just starting to adapt to this new way of life,” says their petition. “This being said, students would like to have a voice and be granted the opportunity to be considered in the future plans that impact our education.”
The petition asserts that more student involvement, prior to a scheduling decision, “will help students to buy into it and become a model for other schools to follow.”
Roxbury High School Principal Dominick Miller addressed the petition in a Monday morning letter to students.
"First, I applaud the students that created this petition to advocate for the Roxbury High School student body," Miller wrote. "I would hope that our students understand that they can approach any teacher, counselor, or administrator with concerns regarding our school. Many of you know that my door is always open and that your administrative team will always be accessible to you all."
The principal, noting that student safety, health and well-being, is the administration's "main priority," stressed that the district needed "a plan to move forward." However, he said he was open to listening to students' ideas at a meeting of the Phase II Student Committee on Wednesday.
Although the petition contends the administration did not give students enough input, it ends on a polite note: “We appreciate all of the efforts put into making the school year as successful as possible, why not make it better?”
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