Calculus student says snafu adds up to trouble
BY STEVE METSCH firstname.lastname@example.org January 8, 2013 9:06PM
Danielle Wallace, a Rich Central High School honor roll student, is enrolled in a program at Prairie State College. The Country Club Hills teen was placed in a class that was beyond her abilities due to a bookkeeping error. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 10, 2013 5:59PM
The high cost of college is a constant worry for many Southland high school students and their parents.
But the concerns for one Country Club Hills family are being multiplied — ironically because of a math class.
Rich Central High School senior Danielle Wallace and her mother are worried that a scheduling mistake by school officials could cost Danielle a chance at some college scholarships.
Officials at Prairie State College, where Wallace took the class in question, acknowledged there’s an issue but say Rich Central was responsible for fixing it. Rich Central officials were mostly mum Tuesday.
Taking part in an Early College Initiative program at Prairie State College, Danielle said she should have been in a pre-calculus class during the recently completed fall semester. Instead, she said, Rich Central enrolled her in calculus, a more difficult class, even for an honor student.
Danielle and Prairie State officials say they asked Rich Central officials several times to correct the error, but nothing was done — even as Danielle continuously was being marked absent from the pre-calculus class.
Danielle wound up failing the calculus class, dropping her grade-point average to 3.32 — shy of the 3.5 needed to get into the National Honor Society and have a chance at more college scholarships.
“It definitely helps with scholarships and opens doors,” she said of being in the honor society.
The 18-year-old has been booted from the Early College Initiative program for the same reason.
She and her mother, Alysia Wallace, are not happy.
Danielle said Prairie State officials told Rich Central an error had been made.
“This is really a Rich Central issue,” Prairie State spokeswoman Jennifer Stoner said Tuesday. “Rich Central is the one. It’s up to them to have the student in the right class.”
Rich Township High School District 227 officials were mostly mum Tuesday. Asked why Danielle, who said she complained for weeks about being in the wrong class, was not moved, Assistant Supt. Jennifer Norrell, who is in charge of student learning and accountability, declined to address the issue.
“It’s actually a student issue because it’s related to the child’s grade,” she said. “I can’t even give any information on this. I can’t discuss academic records on a particular student.”
All Danielle wants is the chance to take pre-calculus in the spring semester. The early college program kicks off next week.
Danielle knew from the get-go something was wrong when she started the calculus class at Prairie State.
“I took an entry test last year and was told I should be in pre-calculus. When I got the (class) schedule, I thought it looked weird,” she said. “Friends of mine from the pre-calculus class told me the teacher called my name every day.”
Alysia Wallace said she knew something involving her daughter was wrong when Rich Central alerted her that Danielle had not been attending the pre-calculus class.
“She’s not one to ditch classes,” Wallace said.
Danielle said she told some of her teachers at Rich Central about the mistake. She told her counselor, Sean Smith, at Prairie State. Smith contacted Rich Central, “but nothing got done,” Danielle said.
Smith did not return a call Tuesday.
Danielle said she even mentioned the mistake to Norrell, who visited Prairie State one day to chat with District 227 students in the program.
“She said she’d get back to me. She never did,” Danielle said.
Danielle “just missed” a passing grade.
”Although the classwork was over my head, I tried hard,” she said.
Had Danielle earned a C, her GPA would be at 3.5, her mother said. Danielle, who is interested in attending Columbia College in downtown Chicago, thinks she would’ve hit that mark had she been in pre-calculus.
A senior class delegate to the Rich Central student council and former sax player in the school’s band, Danielle said, “A mistake was made and I hope they can change it.
“If I get back into the program,” she said, “I probably will do a lot better, even if I have to take calculus again.”
Alysia Wallace said she is scheduled to meet with District 227 Supt. Donna Simpson Leak about the issue on Jan. 14.