Mother dissatisfied with Buckner diploma for son

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Teenager transferred from South Oldham High School to Buckner Alt. before enrolling in Bluegrass ChalleNGe Academy

By Tracy Harris

A Crestwood student recently graduated from the Bluegrass ChalleNGe Academy, a National Guard program in Fort Knox.
Dakota Williams, 18, completed the 22-week program that includes academics, leadership and job skills in a quasi-military setting.
Started in 1999 as part of a national program, BCA holds two classes per year with about 100 students in each class.
Williams plans to attend Eastern Kentucky University this semester.
While proud of her son’s success at the academy, Williams’ mother is disappointed he won’t receive a diploma from his home school, South Oldham High.
Williams earned 20 credits from South Oldham before officials transferred him to Buckner Alternative for an undisclosed infraction.
He withdrew from BAHS in May 2012 and became a Bluegrass ChalleNGe Academy cadet in July.
BCA offers a credit recovery program and GED preparation classes for its cadets, who are primarily students who have dropped out or been expelled.
Some public school districts have policies for granting high school diplomas to BCA cadets.
But Williams’ mother Andrea said she has met resistance working with Oldham County School officials.
Andrea said between November and mid-December, district and school officials gave her varying requirements and policies for her son to receive a diploma from SOHS.
Finally, the Williams’ were told Dakota would receive a diploma from Buckner Alternative.
“If that was the plan all along,” Andrea asked, “Why make my child bust his ass at the last minute to meet South Oldham requirements?”
To meet SOHS requirements, school officials advised Williams to complete a physics course and a second semester of consumer math — which he did through courses at BCA.
But BAHS requires just 22 credits, including three credits each in science and math.
Superintendent Will Wells said the district can’t comment on a student’s confidential records, but there are specific reasons Williams will receive a BAHS diploma instead of one from SOHS.
Student disciplinary matters are private, as are juvenile court records.
However, Williams was arrested for drunk driving in May.
According to court records, Oldham County Police stopped Williams at 2 a.m. May 24 on I-71 south for having a broken tail light and failing to use his turn signal.
Several people were in the car with Williams and police noted all smelled like alcohol.
Williams had a blood alcohol level of .082, above the adult legal limit of .08 — but the limit for those under age 21 is .02.
Williams told police he had drank earlier but that it had been at least two hours before driving.
He is scheduled to appear in Oldham District Court court Jan. 30 — his case was delayed while he completed the Bluegrass ChalleNGe academy.
Wells says the district has followed policy in addressing Williams’ situation.
“If her goal is for her son to get a diploma so he can get on with his post-secondary plans,” Wells said, “then we are helping her do this by granting a diploma from the last school he was assigned to attend — BAHS.”
Andrea says she feels like her son is being treated like a criminal.
“He has worked his butt off the past 22 weeks to get his life together,” she said. “He went without driving, TV, video games, music, privacy, freedom, telephone and countless other things.”

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