Tanana Chiefs to investigate Nenana school

Posted: Sunday, January 07, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- The Tanana Chiefs Conference will investigate the Nenana City Public School after receiving complaints that a high percentage of Native students have dropped out.

The Nenana Native Council requested the review.

Council members say half of minority high school students withdrew from the school in the last two years and the school has few Native teachers.

Nenana City School District Superintendent Terry Bentley said he welcomes the review.

''Our school district feels good about what is going on down here,'' Bentley said. ''I think the majority of our parents are happy with what is going on down here.''

Former Nenana school board member Mike Holz doesn't agree.

Holz has two Native children. He bought a house and moved to Fairbanks so they wouldn't have to go to high school in Nenana. Three other Native high school students from Nenana now live with him and attend school in Fairbanks.

Karen Lord, a member of the Native council and the new task force, said Native students are disciplined more harshly and are suspended from extracurricular activities more often.

Bentley said the school is not biased against Native students. He said two Native students graduated last year.

''If we are doing harm to Native students we are doing harm to every student because what we do for one we do for all,'' Bentley said. ''We base what we are doing upon what is good for the kids.''

The Nenana school drew the attention of state Department of Education and Early Development officials last fall when they learned the school had not administered the new high school exit exam.

School officials say they simply forgot to administer the test, which this year's junior class must pass in order to earn a diploma.

Eleven students eligible for the test missed the opportunity to take it.

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