Education

QPS superintendent says music theory class 'a mistake'

By THE HERALD-WHIG STAFF
Posted: Mar. 23, 2019 5:10 pm Updated: Mar. 23, 2019 5:40 pm

QUINCY -- The superintendent of Quincy Public Schools says it was "a mistake" to continue offering a high school music theory class "as is" for many years even though it was done for the good of the music department.

Superintendent Roy Webb offered a response Saturday to articles, news items and social media posts about the Quincy High School class, taking complete responsibility for the course.

The class began about 25 years ago as an invitation-only, honors course that could be weighted, so music students still could compete for high honors, and it required heavy involvement in music with concerts, contests and private lessons.

"The intent was to solve a problem that was restricting highly intelligent music students. It was a good solution at the time," Webb said.

The class continued with no changes over the years, which "does not make it right and it is not meant to be an excuse," Webb said. "It was a mistake to continue the class as is for this many years."

When a parent raised concerns about the class this school year, the district reviewed what the parent said, analyzed the situation and agreed with the parent on many points.

"The course description in our course catalog did not match the actual class. The weighting of the course was not fair to all Quincy Senior High students," Webb said.

Webb, the principal and the music director eliminated the class, which was offered outside of the school day with no stipend or pay associated for staff.

Webb said he has seen words such as fraud and cover-up used in connection with the class.

"First there has been no cover-up," he said. "We did not eliminate the class because of media. It was closed well before any media was involved."

 

 

Superintendent Roy Webb's letter

Many of you have viewed or read articles, news items, and social media posts on the Quincy Senior High Music Theory Class. I would like to respond:


First, one positive item that has come out of this controversy, is opportunity I've had to get to know many of our music students, mostly seniors. I have admired their work ethic and talent on stage, but recently, I have spoken with them in person. They are amazing young people. They have analyzed this situation with maturity and thoughtfulness. They have great passion for music, our music program, and they care a great deal for each other. While they've been a bit split on this topic, both sides talk about the other with care and respect. They are a family in “A” Building. They want that legacy to remain for incoming Blue Devils.


About twenty-five years ago the orchestra and band were losing their best and brightest students because they could not take music classes and still compete for high honors at Quincy High School. The principal, band director, and orchestra director met and developed an invitation only, honors music course that could be weighted for high-functioning music students. The class would require the student to be heavily involved in music with concerts, contests, and private lessons. The rigor was designed, but not in the classroom. The intent was to solve a problem that was restricting highly intelligent music students. It was a good solution at the time.


That is how the class has operated for the last 25 years. To our generation of students, teachers, and administrators, it is the way it has always been. That does not make it right and it is not meant to be an excuse. But sometimes things just continue, and you do not really think about it. I could not spell music theory until a couple months ago. It was a mistake to continue the class as is for this many years. As superintendent, I sign off on the validity of all classes, so I am responsible for the course. I take full accountability of my action and will accept any disciplinary action the board of education requires.


This year we had a parent raise concern about the class. We reviewed what the parent said, analyzed the situation, and agreed with her on many points. The course description in our course catalogue did not match the actual class. The weighting of the course was not fair to all Quincy Senior High students.


Therefore, the principal, the music director, and I decided to eliminate the class. We may not have moved as fast as some would want, but there is a lot to weigh when making decisions for all students. A few students in the class had completed many of the requirements. We did eliminate the class well before any media or social media was involved. There is no cover up.


No teacher has gained monetarily from the course. It is done outside of the school day, and there are no stipends or pay associated. It has always been voluntary and an additional unpaid duty. It was done for the good of the music department.


I have seen words like fraud and cover-up to describe this issue. Those are strong words to throw around.


First, there has been no cover up. We did not eliminate the class because of media. It was closed well before any media was involved. Continuation of this class was a mistake. Again, I am responsible for the mistake and take complete accountability.


Respectfully,


Roy Webb