Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Fourteen-year-old Lauren Lee recently got some great news in a progress report sent home from Sherwood High School in Montgomery County. The freshman got an “A” in a tough honors-level geometry course.

Not bad, thought Lauren’s mother, Lauren Asbury, especially considering that her daughter never attended the school.

“She doesn’t go to Sherwood,” explained Mrs. Asbury. “She goes to Good Counsel High School.”

Lauren, who lives in Olney, has never attended Sherwood High School in Sandy Spring, but that hasn’t stopped teachers she’s never met from giving her high marks.

Two of the four teachers at Sherwood whose classes Lauren never attended gave her A’s anyway, according to the Sept. 26 progress report school officials recently mailed home.

“It was kind of funny at first,” Mrs. Asbury said. “But then it’s really scary when you think about it. I mean, if they thought my daughter was really going to school there, then why didn’t anybody call me?”

Even more troublesome, Mrs. Asbury added, is that teachers are giving out grades to students who don’t show up.

“She did get an incomplete grade in physics,” Mrs. Asbury said. “At least the physics teacher got it right.”

Rounding out the bizarre progress report, Sherwood teachers also gave Lauren an “A” in physical education and an “NC” in art, which means the course is a non-credit class.

Telephone calls to Sherwood administrators seeking an explanation weren’t returned yesterday. Mrs. Asbury said she’s had trouble getting answers, too.

“I called up a guidance counselor who was pretty appalled by it,” Mrs. Asbury said. “She said it was scary. But I never heard back” from the school.

That’s not exactly true, however.

Even though Mrs. Asbury hasn’t gotten a call from Sherwood administrators to discuss Lauren’s progress report, she has been getting calls from the school’s automated telephone message machines.

Every few weeks, the messages update Mrs. Asbury on upcoming school events and other information. The calls continue despite Mrs. Asbury’s repeated requests to Sherwood officials to stop calling.

“They have to know by now she doesn’t go there,” Mrs. Asbury said.

Mrs. Asbury thinks the confusion started when school administrators from Rosa M. Parks Middle School in Olney, where Lauren was a student for the past two years, sent Lauren’s school records to Sherwood High.

Mrs. Asbury told school officials then that she was sending Lauren to Good Counsel High School, a Catholic school in Wheaton, instead. But it seems Sherwood officials haven’t taken no for an answer.

Although Lauren is flattered by the “A” she got in honors geometry, her mother has other concerns.

“I’ve called the school,” Mrs. Asbury said, “because I want to make sure no truant officers start coming after us.”

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