At least 23 Jordan High School students were given Fs in many classes last semester in "retaliation" for charges that the school was unsafe and academically unsound, a group of parents alleged Monday.
Charges that the Los Angeles Unified School District has "illegally retaliated" against the students were made in a complaint filed Monday with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.
The students who received the failing grades had remained out of school for months because they said they were afraid of gang attacks and had requested transfers to other schools that they considered safer. In granting the transfers, district officials said they wanted to help the students get back in school.
"Parents were really outraged" when they received the report cards with the failing grades a few weeks ago, said Leslie Dutton, president of the American Assn. of Women, a Santa Monica-based organization that has been supporting the parents. "(The school) could have given them an incomplete (instead). To have these fails go on their record . . . this is wrong."
The school never tried to find out why the students were absent, Dutton added.
Jordan Principal Grace B. Strauther said: "I'm sure some of them (the students) got some failing grades." But she could not say how many had received Fs or give the exact reason why the low marks may have been issued.
District spokeswoman Diana Munatones denied that the district has retaliated in any way against the students or their parents. "Every action the district has taken was to accommodate students and see to their welfare," she said. "The failing grades were not retaliation. . . . It is inappropriate to keep students out of school for any extended length of time."
Strauther said district policy forbids giving Fs for absences alone. But it does allow a teacher to issue an F if a student consistently fails to turn in class work or make up assignments that were missed.
A student who plans a prolonged absence, such as for medical reasons, can request that class work be sent home. But "to my knowledge," Strauther said, "we did not get requests from those parents for work at home."
According to the complaint, comments in the media by district officials have slandered the students and parents who sought transfers out of Jordan, which is in Watts. The district denied the charge.
It is the second civil rights complaint the parents have brought against the district and the school since February.
The first complaint alleged that the district discriminates against black students at Jordan High by providing an unsafe and academically inferior environment. The American Assn. of Women helped 23 students who said they were afraid to attend Jordan obtain transfers to other schools.
According to Dutton, the new schools that the students were transferred to are helping them make up credits.