84°F
weather icon Cloudy

Las Vegas family suing to get son an extra year of high school

The parents of a high school student have filed a lawsuit seeking to get him classified as a junior instead of a senior so he can have another year of high school.

The plaintiff’s lawsuit lays out a tale of pandemic homeschooling, a disconnect between Clark County School District’s curriculum and grade level classifications, and their frustration with the district’s bureaucracy.

They are concerned that his lack of sufficient high school credits and education will affect his ability to graduate and succeed in college.

“It’s like they’re trying to rob my son of getting an education,” Kenneth Goodwin, the father of student Kenneth Goodwin Jr., said of the district.

CCSD spokesperson Mauricio Marin said the district does not comment on pending litigation.

The chain of events that led to the lawsuit may have started in the summer of 2020, when parents Goodwin and Unique Chappell decided to homeschool their son because of the COVID-19 pandemic and concerns about his academic performance. He was struggling with behavioral issues and his writing, Goodwin said.

At the time, Goodwin Jr., who will turn 18 on July 1, was an eighth grader. While being homeschooled for two years, he remained an eighth grader, according to the lawsuit. Goodwin said that his son stayed in eighth grade because his tutor didn’t think he was a strong enough student to go to high school.

The district had acknowledged that Goodwin Jr. was going to be homeschooled, but it still enrolled him as a ninth grader at Legacy High School for the 2020-21 year, according to the lawsuit.

“Goodwin Jr. never attended one single day at Legacy High School,” the lawsuit states. “However, this alleged enrollment has been wrongfully used by the Defendants to deny the relief sought by the plaintiffs.”

By 2022, he had improved academically and his behavior was better, Goodwin said, so the family sent him back to in-person school.

His parents enrolled him at Desert Pines High School, where he was provided a ninth grade curriculum. However, according to the lawsuit, he was actually designated as a 10th grader, and no one got his parents’ permission for the change. Goodwin said even his son didn’t know; the family found out from a report card that listed Goodwin Jr. as a 10th grader.

After he completed a ninth grade curriculum during the 2022-23 year, he was then classified as an eleventh grader the following year. While he was in 11th grade, he took 10th grade classes, Goodwin said.

This means that when Goodwin Jr. starts school in the fall, he will be considered a high school senior, but the lawsuit said he would only have an 11th grade educational level at the time he’s scheduled to graduate.

Push for extra year

Gus Flangas, the attorney representing the family, said Goodwin Jr. is a skilled athlete who plays football and has received unofficial scholarship offers. Flangas said Goodwin Jr. and his parents want him to have an education so he’ll be ready for college.

Goodwin said his son won’t be able to get those college scholarships without an extra year because he won’t have enough credits.

The school district told the family that Goodwin Jr. can take summer courses, according to the lawsuit. Goodwin said that if his son doesn’t take summer and night classes, plus 11th and 12th grade core classes during the academic year, or takes them and doesn’t earn the credits, he won’t be able to graduate.

“That’s ultimately just taking away from him being a kid, trying to load up everything at once over their mistake,” he said.

The lawsuit said that the student’s parents, alongside their legal counsel, attempted to fix the situation for nearly a year, “only to be stonewalled at every juncture by the school district.”

‘Bounced around for months on end’

The plaintiffs said they struggled to get in contact with someone with the district, and when they did, were eventually told that their son would not be reclassified.

“I was bounced around for months on end” from one department to another, said Flangas. “It seems that nobody wants to take responsibility for anything.”

The school district told parents in a letter that Goodwin Jr. had met the requirements to start high school the year he began homeschooling and that being homeschooled does not change the expectation that a student progresses to the next year, the lawsuit said.

According to Flangas, CCSD said Goodwin Jr. couldn’t be reclassified because of district and state policies. He said he had done his own research and couldn’t find any such policies.

Contact Noble Brigham at nbrigham@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BrighamNoble on X. Contact Estelle Atkinson at eatkinson@reviewjournal.com or 610-810-8450.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST