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Judge Says Hernando Broke the Law and Injured Three Chocachatti Students, Parent’s Reaction

HERNANDO – Three Chocachatti Elementary honor roll students will not join their fourth grade class, despite a ruling from a Leon County Judge last week who said the Hernando County School District broke the law, harmed the children, and ordered their immediate promotion.

The controversy began earlier this year, when fourteen children across the state were held back due to opting out of the Florida Standard Assessment (FSA) test. Attorney Andrea Mogensen filed a lawsuit against 7 school districts and the Department of Education on behalf of the plaintiffs. ORIGINAL STORY

Last Friday Judge Karen Gievers ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and stated that the combined conduct of County School Boards and Florida Department of Education caused injury to the children. She further states that as long as the children are retained the injury will continue.

Gievers ordered that Hernando County “Immediately follow the law” but the district filed an appeal and are standing by their decision to remove the students from Chocachatti.

Moments after receiving the devastating news from Principal, Lara Silva, we met the parents and their daughters to find out what they had to say about the decision.

Melinda Hohman says when she and the other parents finally met with Silva, she seemed to be unaware of the Judge’s ruling and had to “make a few phone calls” before giving them the bad news.

Brandy Kinkade says they were all told by Silva to take their children to the school they are zoned for because “they are not coming here.”

Pam Everett says Superintendent Dr. Lori Romano is “not doing what is best for the kids… It’s what’s best for her.” Everett goes on to say Romano’s decision is “a political one” and questions why she would hold three honor roll students back, knowing that she is breaking the law in doing so.

We contacted School Board Members Mark Johnson and Gus Guadagnino but both said they would not be allowed to comment at this time. Guadagnino says he may be able to comment in a few days.

Attempts to contact Dr. Romano have gone unanswered.

Madelynn Kinkade, Hailey Everett, and Maddison Hohman held their honor roll certificates high during the interview and they remain hopeful that they will soon join their fourth grade class.

We will bring more on this story as it develops.

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  • The blame of them getting released from CES lies on the shoulders of the parents, not the principal, not the board members, not Donald Trump. Our daughter was lucky enough to attend that school and we made sure that she followed the rules to stay in that school. We appreciated the opportunity she had and embraced the experience instead of picking at it.
    Maybe the parents should have followed the old saying “pick your battles”, because this one backfired on them.
    On the positive side, there are three new CES students that will have a great educational experience.

    Wednesday, 31 August 2016, 8:54 pm
  • I’m just following this story marginally. Yes, our kids attended Hernando schools. Yes, they followed all of the rules imposed on them including taking all state-required tests. Yes, the tests suck but our kids passed all of them. Neither of them ever had a referral to the principal’s office. One is now at a FL University. The other also intends to attend college.

    My question is simple: If this test is allegedly designed for fifth and sixth graders and it’s so ‘flawed’…
    WHY weren’t there huge numbers of children who failed and were held back because of it?

    The answer is easy. There isn’t a statistically significant deviation and the test was not flawed. A few parents got sucked into this ‘Opt Out’ movement based upon flawed information and now their children are suffering because of their poor judgement.

    There is no reason why parents choosing to instruct their children to not take state-mandated tests when everyone else plays by the rules…should be rewarded.

    And it’s just costing the county legal fees,too.Which means we get to pay for it ultimately.

    Again…WHERE are all of the kids who took this ‘flawed’ test and were held back?

    Wednesday, 31 August 2016, 7:34 pm
  • Well said and long overdue ‘Proud CES Parent’! I constantly see comments posted by Dennis Purdy that are nothing but negative. They lack substance and never offer up anything constructive, just bashing one after another. Like a crotchety old man that hates everything and everyone!

    Wednesday, 31 August 2016, 4:53 pm
  • I am discouraged by the comments regarding CES and its staff members. These parents need to fight at the state level, not local. The School Board has nothing to do with curriculum. Also Mrs. Silva is a human. She has a job and does it well and most importantly loves these kids. If any of you work outside your home you may understand that their are policies and procedures put in place that you have to follow in order to keep that job.

    On another note to Dennis Purdy, you are a very evil man. You have no children in the school district and yet you infer that you’re some kind of expert. You attend every school board meeting, county meeting, etc. and with what intention? To help, to influence with positivity. No- name calling, swearing, personal attacks? You need to get a life or consider being a part of the solution not a cancer!

    Wednesday, 31 August 2016, 7:43 am
  • Please, please know all the facts before commenting. This is such an u fortunate situation and the bottom line is that these students are being caused undue stress over this! I teach at Chocachatti and have worked for Mrs. Silva for four years. She does things by the book. Always. She was following district directives and definitely does NOT deserve the horrible things being said about her!!!

    Tuesday, 30 August 2016, 11:17 pm
  • In order to receive federal funding you must use C9mmon Core, call it FSA it is Common Core. Second it isn’t an option to teach to get a higher grade, it is required. Third Federal did away with No Child left Behind and allowed states to reduce the number of test given. The only non options are those state test at 3rd grade, 8th grade, Algebra 1 EOC, and 10th ELA EOC. The state allowed each district to find a way to reduce the amount of exams given at their discretion. Just not those calculated in School Grade or Graduation Requirement. Lastly if you look back to the 1940 or even 1960 elementary students were taught botany to help the farms, Latin and forgiveness languages were learned in elementary grades for better retention rates (See California duel language taught classes. Half day in Spanish and half in English all 4 subjects). Students have had less and less taught them as the years progress but more exams. As far as the parents go, to get I to that school is like getting into Challenger. Their rights to attend honor roll or not is strictly up to the district. It does have an attendance policy that they enforce with everyone. The district has a right to an appeal and during that time do no have to follow the ruling. As far as school board goes, he can state a comment may be made in a few days simply on the notion of the lawyers stating a ruling on the appeal will be in a few days. As far as funding, Hernando School District receives way less than it should based on the states budget formula. All I am saying is that as a parent, I completely agree you have the right to not have them take the test. They are your children and you are suppose to know best, however if that is the case look into private schools that are not under the state regulations of testing. In fact there is program called step up for students that help parents pay for it, if you qualify. Last note, shaming the girls is completely wrong. They earned those grades I assure you since 80% of their grade is based in assessments alone. No test can determine that aspect for them. They are more than a test and should be told such daily.

    Tuesday, 30 August 2016, 9:38 pm
  • The parents knew by not allowing their child to take the test there would be consequences the consequences being that they would be held back and or if they did not report to school there spot would be given away. If the children are smart enough to be on the honor roll they’re smart enough to pass the test. Lowering the standard only hurts their child. If the child’s parent(s) can do a better job educating their child then they have every right to home-school them if not follow the rules and standards that every other child in Hernando County has to follow.

    Tuesday, 30 August 2016, 6:35 pm
  • I hope everyone that reads this story take it with them to the vote for your school commish and county officials.

    Tuesday, 30 August 2016, 2:29 pm
  • More injury will be inflected on these children if they are just promoted to the next grade without the proper knowledge and testing is important in the educational system. If these children’s parents say that they did good during the whole year then why can’t they pass a reading test at the end of the year. Too many young students are finishing school without the proper ability to compete in the real world, Welcome to the New America.

    Tuesday, 30 August 2016, 1:17 pm
    • No one is against testing. It is the narrow curriculum, lack of recess, art, and music, and constant drill and kill that is destroying learning. I think you have no idea what is going on in schools lately. By the way, it is not “they did good.” It is “they did well.”

      Wednesday, 31 August 2016, 9:37 pm
  • I feel sorry for those kids. They are the ones who are caught in the middle of this mess and they should be in school and not having to worry about “taking a stand”. They are children.

    Tuesday, 30 August 2016, 9:13 am
    • I agree. Florida lawmakers are disgusting for tying teacher pay to their performance. That is why we opt out.

      Wednesday, 31 August 2016, 9:36 pm
  • Way too Proud Parent, I’m very familiar with the so called movement. It’s much like the movement that eradicated FCAT and created this mess we have now. I can certainly see flaws with many of the required tests but I would never make my children miss opportunity so that I could ‘stick it to DOE’. That’s selfish and ridiculous and not to mention, if this THIRD GRADE test was based on 5th and 6th grade material, then why did 75% of students at CES score a level 3 or higher? The raw data just doesn’t back up your rants. These parents seem more political then the district. The district is simply complying with a DOE mandate. Sure, this test and many others are flawed, but my kids will still take them and understand that every situation in life isn’t always ideal. As a parent I find it very important to see how my child measures up to other students in the same grade on a standardized test. If my honor student doesn’t measure up to the majority… then we have a problem. It’s the parents in this situation that truly harmed these kids. Forcing them to miss a required test, keeping them from school, and forfeiting their place at a good school…and for what? an article in the local paper?

    Monday, 29 August 2016, 11:29 pm
    • Not, not for an article but to bring back public education in this state.

      Wednesday, 31 August 2016, 9:35 pm
  • I have been involved in SAC, Scool Advisory Council, at Chocahatti for a couple years now and we have discussed the states requirements when students ‘opt out’ of the State mandated test. If these parents instructed their kids not to take the test and not cooperate with the other options to pass then they set these kids up for failure.

    Then by not allowing them to attend the first week of class they forced the school to drop them from the rolls. Again, this is the parents fault.

    I am all in favor of changing the laws about these tests but this is not the way to do it. Don’t force your children to be legal pawns in a game against the state.

    One thing I know for certain from my time around this school is that Ms Silva cares about every student in her school. She is a good principal struggling with a bad system. And she certainly doesn’t deserve the terrible things that have been said about her.

    Monday, 29 August 2016, 9:10 pm
    • Some of the people commenting clearly have not been following or grasp what this fight has been about if they are blaming parents. Come on…really?! You should be commending the parents for standing up for what is right for everyone’s children! What kind of country would we be if no one ever stood up for injustice and fought those in power to do the right thing?

      Sadly, I figured something like this would happen. Of course they had their bases covered. Of course they would either win or get one final hit in to ensure students/parents didn’t get everything they wanted.

      If you didn’t go ahead and enroll in 3rd grade, you’re place was “lost” and you would have to go to another school. If you had of enrolled the students, you could have had your spot-in 3rd grade (exactly how they wanted it). Cause guess what? If you had of attended in 3rd-you’re 3rd grade spot was “saved”. No matter what the ruling ended up being, they were fully prepared to not have a “spot” in 4th grade and you’re choice would have been: Either stay in 3rd there or go to a different school in 4th.

      They are in power. They stacked the deck against the students. It’s nothing but a power play using the kids as pawns in order to get their way or punish & get revenge if they lose. This is what happens when corrupt people are placed in positions of power. This is why revolts start. It takes a few strong people to stand up & fight for the sheeple who just blindly follow the pack so that they don’t have to suffer. I don’t have a dog in this fight, but I have been quietly following and I admire your courage & resolve.

      Tuesday, 30 August 2016, 10:52 am
  • Principal*** 🙂

    Monday, 29 August 2016, 8:16 pm
  • @Mark, The parents aren’t scumbags, they are taking a stand that could make a difference for all Florida children. I don’t think you know much about the FSA, Common Core, or the data mining of our children. Quote of the day: Better to remain silent and thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.

    Monday, 29 August 2016, 8:04 pm
  • This goes to show how bad of parents these mother’s are. They are not confident that there children will do good on a test. so decide to throw a fit and put there kids through this. It’s not about themselves its about the kids. Stop using your kids for attention

    Monday, 29 August 2016, 7:34 pm
    • Where did you get that insane idea? The tests are garbage. Essays graded by people hired on Craig’s list. My son always got 4s and 5s on the FCAT. But we stopped having him take the test for your kid. Say thanks.

      Wednesday, 31 August 2016, 9:34 pm
  • I guess it no longer matters of kids learn anything in school anymore, Just pass them into the next grade anyway because the government will be giving them everything they want for free except for the dwindling taxpayers that will be paying the bill, Welcome to the new American schools where they don’t even want to call, Boys and Girls, Boys and Girls anymore.

    Monday, 29 August 2016, 6:50 pm
    • No, it DOES matter. That is why we opt out. I am sorry but the testing only narrows the curriculum to what is on the test. Our children aren’t even reading novels in high school because of test prep and common core. You really should look into this more before passing judgment. And thank these parents.

      Wednesday, 31 August 2016, 9:33 pm
  • The students parents were informed last week before the magnet deadline both in person, on the phone and in writing that the magnet spot would be relinquished if the students were not in attendance at least one day in the first 5 days of school. The spots were not filled until the 9th day giving them a chance to put them in school and they stood firm and kept them home all the way up until today.

    Monday, 29 August 2016, 6:12 pm
  • These students were being homeschooled on a 4th grade level until the judgment came in! The parents didn’t want their FOURTH grade students falling behind sitting in a 3rd grade class!! This why they were not at chocachatti! Don’t pass judgment when you don’t know all of the details! While I do t see an issue w the test personally l, everyone has their point of view & they didn’t want their children participating in a test that is used mainly for political reasons! These parents are NOT scumbags as someone mentioned! They are standing up for what they believe in! I for one think it takes A LOT of courage to go against most & still fight for what you believe!!

    Monday, 29 August 2016, 6:09 pm
  • This school always “parent shames” when they don’t get their way or come under attack. This school is more of a place for irrational and emotional decisions are made rather than what is right. I always told my daughter that those teachers are there to make sure she gets an education so dont ever let anything they say to others bother you. Yeah , the gossip is more of what they talk about rather than helping a child learn. And that principle is a complete joke. She is an empty suit. No substance at all. I have no time for these people but when I keep seeing them under attack, I understand how frustrating it is for the parents and kids.

    Monday, 29 August 2016, 5:52 pm
  • The loser parents should have let their children take the test. None of this would have happened. This is 100% on the scumbag parents for doing this to their children. The consequences were known all along. These parents are uneducated scumbags!

    Monday, 29 August 2016, 5:29 pm
    • Agree 100%!!! If your student is honor role what’s the problem?

      Tuesday, 30 August 2016, 3:41 pm
      • Well, the judge who heard the evidence said the district are losers. And, my son is an honor student but they are not teaching him anything. They do drill and kill all day instead of teach art, music, literature, and history. Is that really what you think honors students should be doing?

        Wednesday, 31 August 2016, 9:29 pm
  • At this point a judgement HAS been made, and the school board is found guilty. They HAVE to comply, but as usual they do what they want. Always have. This does not surprise me in the least. I agree with Benjamin Martin….time to clean house. They all need to go, including little miss Lori Romano. The school board has been much better served in the years past by other superintendents. And for those of you dissin’ on the girls being ‘honor roll’ students….honor roll students HAVE to maintain A/B’s (no C’s) ALL YEAR to be on Honor roll. So yeah…these girls have EARNED their status, so knock off your slamming these girls. Shame on you.
    These parents took a stand because the state of FL has made it all about testing now…and not really what the kids DO KNOW. These tests are to determine what grade the damn SCHOOL gets for the year, and what grade HERNANDO CO. school system gets for their funding each yr. Those of you who are NOT in the public school system have NOT seen the new CORE curriculum they introduced a couple yrs. ago. They have students in 3rd grade and up doing the equivalent of what used to be high school math yrs. ago. It’s ridiculous to force so much on them at such an early age. I sat through some of the meetings w/teachers to review this math! It’s mind blowing on such a young age, but….IT GETS THE SCHOOL A HIGHER GRADE, and the school district a HIGHER GRADE if these students are forced to learn this. It makes the district ‘look good’. They BOTH are scored on a percentage level by how well their students do. And if a school scores lower than a ‘B’ the school is scolded and punished by their superintendents. Many of these kids just DON’T GET IT – they are too young. As I said earlier…. it’s no longer about what’s best for the kids, or to really test what they DO KNOW, it’s all about making the school system look better….period. I HATE this public school system. It sucks! These kids deserve better. :/

    Monday, 29 August 2016, 5:06 pm
    • Oh good let’s teach our children to defy authority and be in the court system to stand up for deliberate defiance. And then people wonder why a “Productive Citizen” is hard to come by these days! Next they’ll be refusing book reports and science projects because they can just take it to court. Absolutely Ridiculous!!

      Tuesday, 30 August 2016, 3:44 pm
      • It is about civil disobedience. Our children are bright enough to understand the difference. We are protesting the high stakes (tying scores to teacher pay) and the constant test prep. My son is not getting as good of an education as I did years ago because all they do is teach to the test. Guess what? Classic literature is not on the test.

        Wednesday, 31 August 2016, 9:26 pm
  • Suckitup, you should read up on the output movement before passing judgement. It is more than just not taking one test. And it is not about our precious snowflakes. The test is flawed and based on a 5th or 6th grade level. NOT THIRD GRADR LEVEL. the test is BS. Again read up on why we are doing this… The Opt Out Florida Network.

    Monday, 29 August 2016, 4:54 pm
  • Maybe I missed it, but has a single school board member stepped up for the kids? Vote them all out, with this, and the continued adherence to illegal Federal mandates, NONE of them deserve to draw a paycheck!

    Monday, 29 August 2016, 4:19 pm
  • Sounds like another example of parents teaching their kids to disregard the rules and do whatever you want. The test was required and is the only check and balance that your kid’s teacher actually taught them the skills necessary and didn’t just hand out passing grades (yes, that happens when there’s no way to check). The consequences were known, multiple chances were given and how irresponsible they were to keep their kids out of school. Kudos to the district for standing their ground an not caving to whining parents. Hmm…Sounds like these parents are nervous that the tests will show that their kids aren’t ‘honors’ after all. If taking a test is such a problem, these kids will never make it through high school much less college.

    Monday, 29 August 2016, 4:16 pm
    • Not sure how that is your conclusion when the judge who heard the evidence found that it was the district that did not follow the rules. As far as the test goes, no one is against testing – the issue is the high stakes attached to the test. By the way, my son always did well on tests but we started opting out as a protest against the narrow curriculum and constant test prep.

      Wednesday, 31 August 2016, 9:24 pm
  • Hernando County School Board broke the law? Surely you jest. :))

    Monday, 29 August 2016, 4:13 pm
  • In case anyone is interested, here is a link to the judgement.

    Monday, 29 August 2016, 4:09 pm
  • We need to clean house with the school board in thevery next election!

    Monday, 29 August 2016, 2:50 pm
  • This is pure crock! Honor Roll students being held back because of one test? What is the purpose of the school for, anyway? Right now, it looks like a lot of financial padding for the school board and its higher-ups and not for the students. Time to replace them all.

    Monday, 29 August 2016, 1:57 pm
  • Policy for magnet school’s is that student must be in attendance within the first five days of school or they lose their spot there. The school didn’t keep the kids from coming to school, the parents did. The parents were fully aware of this attendance policy, but didn’t bring their kids to school. Them losing their spots at this school has nothing to do with testing, alleged retaliation, or promotion. It shouldn’t be a part of this story. The parents made this choice and are now acting as if they had no idea. Ridiculous!

    Monday, 29 August 2016, 1:48 pm
    • No, the district knew there was pending litigation. And the judge who heard all the evidence agreed with the parents.

      Wednesday, 31 August 2016, 9:21 pm
  • Oh, he has spoken alright. Lied out his *** like the deviant creep he is.

    Monday, 29 August 2016, 1:47 pm
  • Hes a current member of the school board and if they are still in litigation. Meaning there is an appeal he can not speak on anything that they are asking him to.

    Monday, 29 August 2016, 1:09 pm
    • Abbieq I do not think you are correct. If pending litigation is preventing him from speaking, then why would he indicate that he might be able to speak in a few days? I think he is waiting for the election to be over and then he will come out with a statement indicating that he feels strongly both ways. I would have respected him much more if he would have taken a stand. Guess he can’t put that salary in jeopardy.

      Tuesday, 30 August 2016, 8:58 am
  • “Guadagnino says he may be able to comment in a few days.” Right, until after the election. Who is “not allowing” you to comment. Sorry, but you do not sound like a leader.

    Monday, 29 August 2016, 12:40 pm

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