Mother wants Ben Davis University to offer full virtual option

Posted at 10:53 PM, Aug 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-13 00:20:16-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Students in Wayne Township are back at school but not all are attending in person.

The district has several models in order to reduce capacity inside school buildings. One mother is upset that the Ben Davis University High School does not have an option for her kids to attend fully virtual.

Stephanie Hagan is upset because she does not feel comfortable sending her two sons, who are high-risk, back into the school building. She wants the district to offer a complete virtual option for the Ben Davis University students.

"My oldest son is a type I diabetic, my youngest son has asthma and a chronic cough," Hagan said.

Both of Hagan's sons attend Ben Davis University High School. Students who attend the school are on the hybrid schedule which requires two days a week in person and three days of virtual learning. The goal is to reduce capacity in school buildings.

"It's not right to force them to put themselves at risk like that," Hagan said.

Students at BDU are early college high school students on a track to get their associate degree through Vincennes University. Wayne Township Superintendent Dr. Jeff Butts said it has never been an option to recreate the early college program virtually.

"In order to have an early college program that is geared toward an associate degree you have to have specifically-credentialed staff that are offering a wide array of courses specific to those degree tracks," Butts said. "Those courses are not available and will not be available at the virtual high school that is geared toward a high school diploma."

If students want to attend school virtually, they have the option to enroll in the Achieve Virtual Education Academy, which offers AP classes and dual credit courses, but this option is not geared toward earning an associate degree.

Vincennes University President Dr. Chuck Johnson issued the following statement:

Vincennes University is proud of our long-standing partnerships with MSD Wayne Township. Our Early College program with Ben Davis University High School has been a phenomenal success and we are also proud of our many dual credit offerings with other Wayne Township schools, including Achieve Virtual Academy. We would welcome the opportunity to explore the development of more Early College pathways for Wayne Township students, including through the Achieve Virtual Academy, but that is not something that can be done in time for this academic year.

"My oldest son it's his senior year," Hagan said. "He's done all this work and he's already said if he gets forced out of the program there's no guarantee he's going to go back to college work for this but it could be taken away at no fault of your own."

Hagan's biggest concern is the health and future of her family. She wants her sons to be able to continue attending Ben Davis University, but she's worried if they attend in person they could end up in the hospital with COVID-19.

Butts said there are only 200 kids in the three-story building at Ben Davis University which allows them to follow CDC social distancing guidelines. He said he believes it's one of the safest buildings in the district.