3 ON YOUR SIDE: Hazlehurst graduation-testing controversy - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

3 ON YOUR SIDE: Hazlehurst graduation-testing controversy

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Roslyn Anderson - bio | email

HAZLEHURST, MS (WLBT) – One Hazlehurst parent fears her child won't be graduating because of what she calls unfair testing practices, but district officials said the test results speak for themselves.

Sharon Burrell said her daughter Latoria left school in tears Tuesday after being told that she would not be graduating with her class.

The senior was among five students required to re-take an English test that was flagged by the computer as evidence of possible cheating.

Latoria re-tested in January and learned 10 days before graduation that she did not pass.

Her mother said others who failed are being allowed to graduate.

"I feel like if they're gonna let the other two march, and then my daughter should march also because she did pass that test, and I do have a copy of her results from her first test," said Sharon Burrell.

"I didn't cheat, and I didn't see anyone look off my paper," read Latoria Burrell from a copy of a statement she said she wrote February 8, 2010.

The senior said she and others were required by the school principal to prepare the statement about the testing controversy.

The 17-year-old said she met all requirements for graduation and made B's and C's throughout the year.

"I took it over again, and it wasn't the same test, and we failed.  And now they're saying two children can walk, and I can't.  I feel that ain't right.  I feel I should walk too if they let them walk," said Latoria.

WLBT has learned that five students re-tested, three passed and two failed.  Latoria was one of those two.

Her mother took her concerns to the district and the Mississippi Board of Education.

The state had taken over operation of the Hazlehurst Public School District.

District Conservator J. Reeves said policy prohibits discussing specific student cases.

"Students who have not passed the subject-area test for any reason are not allowed to participate in graduation.  If a child is attending graduation, it can be assumed their grades were passing grades," said Reeves.

Disappointing news for the 37-year-old mother of four who vowed to continue fighting so her daughter can march with her class May 21st.

Burrell said she will now contact an attorney and will seek legal action.

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