Patrick Henry high school students demonstrate to maintain specialization courses

Principal Michelle Irwin says the district is trying to move away from course classification and remove the stigma associated with non-specialty courses.

SAN DIEGO — After public outrage, a new Patrick Henry High School Parents Facebook page with more than 500 members, and a protest over lunch Wednesday, High School Principal Patrick Henry decided to put a hold on the decision to scrap honors classes .

“We want to get more input from our parents and students before making any final changes,” said Michelle Irwin, Principal of Patrick Henry High School.

More than 2,000 students attend Patrick Henry High School, the largest high school in San Diego.

On Wednesday, dozens of students skipped lunch and protested Principal Irwin’s decision.

Students say admissions officers want to see that students can handle tougher courses like honors courses, and the grades they get in those courses are worth more when tabulating their GPA.

In February, the principal emailed parents, telling them she was cutting the class for fairness reasons. She pointed to the racial disparity between courses with honors and those without.

Principal Irwin says the district is trying to move away from course classification and remove the stigma associated with non-specialty courses.

But students who demonstrated at Patrick Henry High School on Wednesday say they need those specialization courses and are in academic competition with students from other schools who have them.

The district says Patrick Henry still offers specialty courses and advanced placement courses.

However, what is the difference?

For Advanced Placement or AP courses, students must pay for them and take a test at the end of the course. If they do well enough, they can earn college credit.

Students say honors courses are the stepping stone between regular courses and AP courses. Taking a specialized or AP course can increase a student’s GPA because the A’s and B’s they get are worth more than the “A” or “B” in a regular class.

Physics and English courses with specialization are cancelled. This means that students who struggle and those who excel will all be in the same class.

Students and parents say that one or both of these groups will not have their needs met in the shared classroom. And the students say they don’t know how it will work, since they have already had to choose courses for next year, without the specialization courses they had wished for.

Melbourne Romney is one of two students who started a petition that now has over 2,000 signatures.

CBS 8 informed him of the principal’s decision when he left school.

“We want further clarification on how she cuts it off,” Romney said. “What she wants to do… Looks like she used ambiguous language.”

This lack of communication and transparency is what has upset many families. Even after the principal’s announcement to suspend everything, they remain cautious.

Principal Irwin will host two Zoom meetings on honors and advanced classes.

The Zoom meeting will take place on Thursday, April 21 from 5 to 6 p.m. and Friday, April 22 from 9 to 10 a.m. To participate in the Zoom meeting, visit here.

CBS 8 will be on these Zoom Meetings and bring you the latest updates.

RELATED WATCH: Torrey Pines High School Installs First Vending Machine Offering Free Feminine Products (April 2022)

Martha K. Merrill