Letter sent to black students poorly worded, Woodford superintendent says

gkocher1@herald-leader.comDecember 13, 2012 

A controversial letter addressing the student achievement gap at Woodford County High School "was probably not worded as well as it should have been," Superintendent Scott Hawkins said Thursday.

The letter sent this week to 66 of 1,230 students said: "Dear parent or guardian, On Thursday, 13th at 8:30, we will be calling all our African American students down to the cafeteria. Our recent data shows gaps in particular groups of students including: free/reduced lunch, Hispanic, and African American, so we are calling these students down to offer some additional forms of support to them."

The wording angered some people, and by Wednesday evening the letter was the subject of many posts on Twitter and other social media. The meeting scheduled for Thursday was canceled, and parents were to have received automated calls Wednesday informing them of the cancellation, Hawkins said.

"The intentions were noble of what we were trying to do to help," Hawkins said. "But I think the wording of the letter was not what it needed to be and that caused a lot of people to be upset."

The letter was signed by assistant principal Jennifer Forgy, but a committee had planned and organized the meeting, Hawkins said. Hawkins said he didn't receive any calls but that the high school did.

"Hindsight is always 20-20. ... People had difficulty getting past that first sentence to be able to see what the purpose of the meeting was," Hawkins said. "But we had great intentions. It was to try to help kids.

"We wanted to work with them and provide information to them — give them their transcripts, give them their GPAs, give them information on scholarships and how that's directly tied to a GPA — and wanted to engage in a dialogue on what we could do to help them be more successful," Hawkins said.

The meeting has not been rescheduled, Hawkins said.

"We're taking a step back and try to include some more community folks and parents to see, OK, what's the best way for us to proceed in terms of attacking this issue?" Hawkins said. "Because at the end of the day, our goal is to help every student be successful, and that's what we're trying to do."

Greg Kocher: (859) 231-3305. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety.

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