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Tampa Bay parents concerned after state education leaders send out student performance letters

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – With some children learning at home during the pandemic, a lot of attention has been placed on the quality of that education. Some Florida parents are receiving letters from state education leaders saying their children are not doing well and should return to in-person learning.

Stacia Ennis was one of those parents.

“My child’s teachers, not this letter, are going to dictate what I do for my son,” said Ennis.

She was shocked to receive the letter from the district, outlining her son’s poor performance. She told 8 On Your Side he’s doing well considering his disabilities and she hasn’t had any negative feedback from instructors.

“They probably should’ve inquired with our educators. They’re the ones testing these kids. They know what they’re learning and what progress they’re making. Not one of my son’s teachers were asked about this at all,” she said.

The letter recommends that her child return to in-person learning immediately, an option she said isn’t viable.

“Right now it’s not appropriate for my son to be in a brick and mortar school period. He has a heart defect. He has epilepsy. He has immune deficiency and an autoimmune condition,” she said.

Ennis questions how other parents will handle this type of information.

“People are going to receive this letter and how many kids is it going to force back to school,” she said.

The letter does state that parents have the option to keep their child enrolled in e-learning. Leaders with the Florida Department of Education tell 8 On Your Side the letter is routine. It makes parents aware of their student’s performance and gives them an alternate option to improve their scores.

But Ennis said there are other ways to help students, especially those who are high risk and cannot attend school.

“If this is routine, why not ask the teachers? Ask the professional educators what they think about their students. None of that was done.”

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