School stiffens credit policy 

Fewer students will graduate from Peninsula High School this year thanks to a new policy that makes it harder for them to receive credits.

Until this year, the continuation school in San Bruno allowed students to take accelerated classes in order to catch up on credits. Students could receive credits for a class in just 12 weeks, rather than spending 18 weeks on a single class, as conventional schools do.

But concerns over the credit-earning system at the school inspired a change in that policy, requiring students to attend a class for a semester, as they do in most high schools. In order to catch up on classes, the students must take online courses on a personal computer or at the library.

The concerns arose after district officials discovered some students were receiving more credits than they should for some classes, and a Blue Ribbon Panel was put together to bring the system it in line with the state’s education code.

According to Principal Don Scatena, who has been at the school since November, administrators were worried the students weren’t receiving the education they deserved.

“We want to make sure [that] when we send a student out there with a diploma, we say they have a certain basic level of skills so an employer and a college knows they can do well,” he said.

However, the new system seems to have resulted in more students forgoing classes entirely and either dropping out or taking the GED.

According to Scatena, about 50 students will graduate from the school next week, compared to more than 70 last year.

One of those graduates will be senior Matt Chiechi, who had a difficult time at Hillsdale High and Aragon High before finding his way to Peninsula last year. He said none of the students were informed of the change in policy until they arrived at school on the first day.

“They changed our whole system and they didn’t really give anybody a heads up,” he said. I don’t know how many kids I’ve seen drop out this year. This is supposed to be a school where we can go and feel comfortable and catch up with our grades, and now it’s just an average high school where it’s hard to catch up.”

Chiechi pointed to a plan in the works to sell the 41-acre campus to help pay off the district’s debt as a potential motivation for
the change.

“It really felt like they’re setting us up to fail,” he said, “so when it comes time to sell the property, there wouldn’t be as much of a fight — they can just say look at the numbers, look at how many dropouts they have, look how many kids are failing.”

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Katie Worth

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