Students at the district’s International Baccalaureate, a prestigious Swiss program, have been going without Mandarin Chinese instruction, a key part of education in the program, since September, according to school district documents obtained through a records request.
Superintendent Eileen Shafer’s spokesman Paul Brubaker said the district has two Mandarin instructors at the program. One, who returned after teaching at the school last year, and another whose hiring was approved by the school board in September.
Brubaker said the second teacher, a native of China, is in the process of going through a U.S. Department of Homeland Security background check before she can teach at International High School.
“The returning teacher has a been working on a modified schedule since recovering from an injury earlier this year. She is in the school building every day, alternating mornings and afternoons,” said Brubaker on Dec. 2, 2019.
When asked how many days did substitutes manage the classes if not the full first marking period? Brubaker did not respond.
Public records contradict Brubaker’s assertions that the Mandarin Chinese instructor is in the school building every day. District documents released on Dec. 11, 2019 in response to an open records request show the Mandarin Chinese instructor had been out on sick leave on the very day Brubaker made his statement on behalf of Shafer.
Records show from Sept. 5 through Dec. 2, 2019, the Mandarin instructor had been mostly out on sick and workers compensation leave. During that period, the teacher had been in the classroom 11 half-days, according to district records.
“There are some areas where they are not 100% truthful,” said school board member-elect Corey Teague. He faced some backlash for criticizing the International Baccalaureate (IB) program after school officials revealed just one student earned a Swiss diploma via the program.
School board president Oshin Castillo and vice president Nakima Redmon said they were not aware of the situation.
“Being honest, I don’t know anything about it,” said Redmon.
Castillo said she would seek answers from the superintendent.
Some of the students, who went without Mandarin Chinese instruction for much of the first marking period, received high marks.
“For those times when a substitute has managed classes, the IB program’s administrators have kept the Mandarin students moving forward with assignments and grading. The first marking period grade distribution among the students indicates that some students earned grades of A- or higher, and others earned grades that were lower,” said Brubaker.
School board member Emanuel Capers questioned the district’s grading process for the students, who were not provided Mandarin Chinese instruction for the marking period.
“Who was the supervisor? Do they have credentials in Mandarin? Are they qualified to teach Mandarin?” asked Capers. “This is a matter of concern for me. What’s the plan here? How are these kids learning?”