CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. (WPRI) - Grades of ‘F' in four core subjects at Central Falls' Calcutt Middle School are not enough to hold students back, according to teachers who claim they were ordered to pass the failing students onto high school.
The controversy over what is known as ‘retention' provoked a series of emails between Calcutt's 8th grade team and the school's incoming principal, David Alba.
"To be clear," Alba responded in one of the emails. "The change I have made to the Calcutt retention policy is not a matter up for debate."
Target 12 has learned dozens of Calcutt Middle School students who failed two to three of their core classes of Math, Science, English and Social Studies will still become freshman. The district attracted national attention in 2010 when 88 teachers were fired, in part, over a graduation rate of 48 percent.
- Related: Central Falls High School fires all teachers
- Interactive: Timeline of CF High troubles
- Related: Obama weighs-in on CF teacher firings
Alba would not comment on the dispute. Central Falls' Superintendent Frances Gallo sent Target 12 an email in response to our questions about the policy.
"There is an internal discussion regarding whether or not student retention is or is not helpful," Gallo wrote. "Retention significantly increases the likelihood of a student dropping out of school."
But in the teachers' emails, they claim the opposite is true and that passing failing students sends the wrong message.
"You are essentially saying that failing 50% of the time and even 75% of the time is a standard in which Central Falls believes," the teachers wrote in one response to Alba.
Alba agreed that the failing students may not be as prepared for high school, but he backed up his policy by pointing to studies that he said indicated retention does not work.
"If retention was proven effective, I would support it," Alba wrote.
Teachers on the 8 th grade team who were contacted by Target 12 argued that graduating students who fail is also not effective.
Flags in Rhode Island are flying at half-staff to honor the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Rhode Islanders who are losing RIte Care coverage at the end of the month will be rolled into another plan and their first month's premium paid, state officials announced Friday.
The town of Westerly is set to receive a $900,000 federal grant to aid in the Hurricane Sandy recovery.
An event was held at the John Hope Settlement House in Providence Friday night for the recruits and community leaders and citizens.
UPDATE: Police say a 26 year-old man died in the Admiral Street crash.