Grady Vocational High School may be running out of gas.
Education Department officials believe Grady’s 49 percent four-year graduation rate is unacceptable and could necessitate the school’s closure. But students say that while they are getting a good education, they need an extra year to complete the required high school curriculum and vocational training, which can last up to three hours a day.
Grady’s five-year graduation rate is 70 percent, according to Assistant Principal Susan Caprio.
It’s an “unfair but unfortunate reality” that Grady is measured in the same way as traditional high schools without a vocational component, said Principal Carlston Gray.
The disappointing four-year graduation rate has led the city to consider several restructuring options, including firing the principal, replacing half of the teachers or closing the school altogether. Education officials will visit the school, located on Brighton Fourth Road off Brighton Sixth Street, in the fall to announce their decision, Gray said.
In the meantime, Gray has hatched a plan to save Grady.
Teachers are “monitoring every single senior” and routinely contact their parents if necessary. The goal is to keep students on track so this year’s graduation rate increases to 56 percent, thereby hopefully persuading the city to keep the school open.
If Grady is allowed to remain open with Gray at the helm, the principal will try to boost the four-year graduation rate by seeking approval to implement dual credit courses, which allow students to earn credit for math and vocational subjects simultaneously, or to have Grady designated as a five-year high school.
No matter what the future holds for Grady, teachers hope the city will preserve the “important” vocational programs.
“Not every kid was born to go to college and not every kid is academically inclined and wants a professional career,” said Richard Pazian, who teaches a heating, ventilation and air conditioning course. “At Grady, a whole world of opportunity is opened up to kids.”