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A high school senior says Harding Charter Preparatory High School denied her the opportunity to take college classes next semester through concurrent enrollment. School leaders say she didn’t ask in time, and adding college classes to her schedule now may jeopardize her ability to graduate.

The Harding Independence school board denied her appeal Monday. So the student, whose name is Anne Daniel according to public documents, emailed members of the state Board of Education, who discussed her dilemma at its meeting Thursday.

Under state law, schools can’t prohibit a student who meets the requirements for concurrent enrollment from participating. One of the requirements is that students have a signed form from the school district no later than the spring of their senior year.

But Harding’s policy says seniors must get the letter from their principal in the spring of their junior year. That’s because Harding (which routinely ranks among the state’s best schools) requires 28 credits for graduation, above the state minimum of 23.

“There is no wiggle room for errors,” superintendent Steven Stefanick told the state board, explaining that if students and staff can plan ahead for concurrent enrollment, they can ensure students meet the graduation requirements, too.

Other students have requested concurrent enrollment past the deadline, and they were denied, so it would be unfair to not follow the district’s policy, Stefanick wrote to the student on Oct. 26.

Daniel had told him her financial situation has changed since her junior year and even one semester of concurrent enrollment could save her thousands in tuition. “I love and appreciate my classes at Harding, however, I need to act in my best interest for financial stability in the future,” she wrote.

Though state board members did not take action Thursday, their comments leaned toward pressing the school to acquiesce.

“Is there some exception to this?” board member Sarah Lepak asked. “If you have people who didn’t meet the deadline junior year?”

“This makes no sense. You’re telling them what’s best for them,” board member Brian Bobek said. The board is expected to revisit the issue at its next meeting.

Have a comment or a story tip? I’d love to hear from you via email or direct message.

— Jennifer Palmer

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