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00000177-6edd-df44-a377-6fff43070000WUNC's American Graduate Project is part of a nationwide public media conversation about the dropout crisis. We'll explore the issue through news reports, call-in programs and a forum produced with UNC-TV. Also as a part of this project we've partnered with the Durham Nativity School and YO: Durham to found the WUNC Youth Radio Club. These reports are part of American Graduate-Let’s Make it Happen!- a public media initiative to address the drop out crisis, supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and these generous funders: Project Funders:GlaxoSmithKlineThe Goodnight Educational FoundationJoseph M. Bryan Foundation State FarmThe Grable FoundationFarrington FoundationMore education stories from WUNC

Wake Schools Face Backlash from Families, Teachers Over Spring Break Makeup Days

Wren in Durham admires a snowman she and some neighbors made.
Catherine Brand

Wake County public school leaders say don't intend to change their decision to use spring break for snow makeup days, despite rising concerns from families and teachers.

Officials are assuring students and teachers that schools will do their best to make sure they aren’t penalized if they can’t attend those days.

An online petition has garnered more than 7,700 signatures, urging Wake County school leaders to “bring back spring break.” Many of the comments explain that they've already paid for their vacations and can’t get refunds.

“When WCPSS informed us that ‘Spring Break is safe’ we confirmed our vacation plans. Now we either have our kids miss school or we lose our deposit,” wrote Roger Wilson.

Wilson and others are upset over how officials handled the decision, as they initially promised families via Twitter that they wouldn’t touch spring break. That changed when families objected to scheduling the three makeup days on Good Friday and two Saturdays.

“We really struggled with this decision, and I do trust parents to make the best decisions for the families,” said Christine Kushner, chairwoman of the Wake County School Board.

Kushner said high school seniors seeking exemptions from some final exams will not be penalized for missing spring break. Likewise, students will have the opportunity to receive full credit for work they’ve missed.

That gives some relief to Alex Forman, a senior at Green Hope High School, who’s already scheduled a trip to Myrtle Beach with her family. But, still, she’s frustrated.

“We took a poll in my second period class and, literally, out of 30 kids, four people are going to be there for any of those three days,” she said. “It’s just a waste of time because, what are you even going to teach?”

Other school districts extended their school years, which Wake schools did last year, but officials said it’s not a preferred option because those days come after end-of-year-testing and often conflict with graduation time.

They also said the decision to cut into spring break was a difficult one and that the school calendars offer little flexibility. Regardless, they plan to review how they announce makeup days.

“We need to look at both our processes and our messaging to make sure that we are providing greater level of consistency for our families,” said Cathy Moore, deputy superintendent for school performance. 

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