Hank Investigates: BPS Exam School Admissions Miscalculation

BOSTON (WHDH) - They worked hard, got good grades, and applied to top-notch schools. But Hank reveals an error resulted in dozens of local students getting rejected when they should have been accepted. And some may have no idea. Hank Investigates.

Boston Latin Academy is one of the gems of the city’s public school system.

Monica dreamed of going there with her friends.

She knew she needed a good grade point average and a good score on the entrance exam to get in.

Her mom, Noreen, is a Boston Public School teacher and says her daughter worked hard.

“She was student council president in sixth grade. She’s always gotten A’s and B’s,” Noreen says.

But last year, the family got the shocking news: Monica didn’t get accepted into Boston Latin Academy! She was devastated.

“She felt that she wasn’t very good in school. She actually thought she was stupid. It was really upsetting to her,” Noreen says.

Disappointed, Noreen paid thousands of dollars to send her daughter to a private middle school last year.

Then weeks ago, Noreen got a surprising call from BPS: they’d discovered the Boston Latin Academy rejection was a mistake.

“I just could not believe the news, that they were calling me, saying that she actually should have gotten in,” Noreen says.

“How did they explain that?” Hank asked.

“They said was that there was a mistake in the calculation of the GPA’s. I was flabbergasted,” Noreen says.

BPS admits it and says: “This was a human error made in the calculation of GPAs when we switched to a new student database in 2018.”

“We are very sorry and apologetic that this occurred, but very grateful we’ve found it,” Monica Roberts, Chief of Student, Family and Community Advancement for Boston Public Schools says.

Bottom line: 152 students like Monica, who applied for a spot in one of the city’s three prestigious “exam schools” were incorrectly told they did not qualify for the school they wanted or didn’t get into an exam school at all.

“I’m angry that they did this to my daughter,” Noreen says.

Then Noreen got an email from BPS saying, “Monica is now qualified to attend Boston Latin Academy” and invited her to change schools.

“She was like, what? Why is this coming out now? I can’t believe this. They want me to switch schools now? This is crazy,” Noreen says.

BPS tells us it’s still trying to contact all the families of the students hurt by the math mistake and offer them a spot in an exam school now.

So just as classes are starting, families like Monica’s are faced with a dilemma: should their kids switch schools at the last minute?

“We can’t believe that they would make such a horrible, horrible mistake that is something that’s so important for kids,” Noreen says.

BPS tells Hank parents like Noreen, who’ve paid for private school tuition because of their major miscalculation, should let them know.

“You understand the mistake has caused financial hardships for people?” Hank asked.

“For some families, it has, yes,” Roberts says.

“Is there a possibility of them getting their deposits back and their tuition back?” Hank asked.

“I think that is certainly possible. It is part of the conversations we are having,” Roberts says.

BPS also tells us 168 other students were mistakenly admitted to an exam school. These students will not be told about the error and will continue to attend. The school system has now changed how it handles the GPA calculations, so this doesn’t happen again.

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