Board of Ed. rejects ACLU petition over NECAP

The Rhode Island Board of Education has voted down a petition to reconsider NECAP scores as graduation requirements.

The board rejected by a 5-6 vote a petition by the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union that would have held hearings to discuss the NECAP as a high school graduation requirement.

About 4,000 students, mostly from urban districts, failed to earn a passing score when they took the test last fall.

The ACLU filed suit against the board this summer, claiming members hadn't responded to the petition for hearings.

"But what I think was even more troubling was the fact that the Board of Education made this decision in complete secrecy. They discussed this in private. They took their vote in private. Nobody had the opportunity to learn why six members of this board felt that it should not have any public consideration of this very controversial issue," said Steve Brown, executive director of the Rhode Island chapter of the ACLU.

"This discussion has been going on since 2002. The first regulation came out for a test in 2008. So, it's not a new conversation because we're a new board. This is a conversation that's been going on for a long time," said Board of Education chairwoman Eva-Marie Mancuso.

Lawrence Purtill, the president of the National Education Association Rhode Island, said in a statement that he believes the NECAP should be revisited immediately with an open process and discussion.