Under pressure from home-school parents and advocates, Baylor University announced it has resolved five cases of home-school graduates who were admitted by the school but then told they must be 18 years of age or possess a GED certificate in order to be enrolled this fall.
As WorldNetDaily first reported last week, the perceived “bait and switch” on Baylor’s part left students like 17-year-old Alec Woloszyn with a dilemma. He’s too young to be eligible to take the General Education Development test in his home state of Wisconsin. This meant Alec, who had turned down offers and a scholarship from other colleges and quit his job, would not have been able to enroll for fall classes.
“We’ve found workarounds for the five cases,” Baylor spokesman Larry Brumley told WorldNetDaily. “They’re not ideal situations; they’ve taken creativity in resolving, and some compromises have been made by students. But the bottom line is we’re getting them into Baylor. That’s what they want. That’s what we want.”
Brumley would not go into details of the specific cases but said the workarounds include “taking the GED or delaying enrollment a semester or two in order to satisfy the U.S. Department of Education regulations.”
Brumley stresses Baylor, itself, is between a rock and a hard place over the issue.
“We’re in a difficult position,” he said. “By not following the law, we risk the financial aid of thousands of students – millions of dollars.
“It’s not at all an issue of Baylor’s admissions policy. We have been very responsive to home-schoolers’ concerns. In fact, in 1996 Baylor dropped its own requirement that students take the GED specifically in response to concerns of parents of home-schoolers.”
At the heart of the issue, according to Baylor officials, is a contradiction between federal and state laws regarding admissions criteria, in accordance with Title IV of the Higher Education Act and its amendments.
According to a statement released by Baylor:
“Under these federal laws, Baylor may admit as regular students only those persons who:
- have a high-school diploma, or
- have the equivalent of a high-school diploma, or
- are beyond the age of compulsory school attendance in the state in which the institution is physically located.”
Baylor’s associate general counsel, Charlie Beckenhauer, explains that in the absence of a high-school diploma, as is the case with home-school graduates, state laws kick in. But with states that don’t recognize home-school graduates, as is the case with Texas, where Baylor is located, the GED and/or the compulsory age become the key requirements for admissions, according to Beckenhauer.
Brumley added that the university recently learned, through an external review, that Texas had raised its compulsory attendance age from 17 to 18. It was this revelation that prompted the snag with the recently admitted home-schoolers.
Brumley said Beckenhauer is in “daily contact” with officials from the U. S. Department of Education over this issue and is also seeking clarification from the Texas Education Agency and the Texas attorney general.
Tim Lambert, president of the Texas Home School Coalition, contends Baylor’s “policy reversal” ahead of this clarification is “premature” and calls the belated age and GED requirements an “artificial bureaucratic hurdle.”
“I’m pleased they’re accomodating the students. I just hope it’s a reversal of policy on their part,” Lambert told WorldNetDaily upon hearing the cases had been resolved.
“What is so troubling about this,” stated Lambert, “is that they changed a policy in midstream with little or no concern for the students and families involved. We find it appalling that a major university such as Baylor would accept home-school graduates, give them scholarships and/or take their money for registration, and then tell them they could not attend the university.”
For the Woloszyn family, that’s water under the bridge.
“They went to lengths to get the situation rectified. We’re happy it’s resolved,” Guy Woloszyn told WND. Woloszyn says he doesn’t feel comfortable disclosing the details of the resolution that now allows his son, Alec, to attend Baylor in the fall.
“It’s not the details that matter. What matters is that they honored their agreement. Alec returned from Russia on Tuesday, and we had the good news to tell him as far as he’s still going. And they’ve promised that if snags develop while he’s there, they’ll give them the utmost attention.”
As for the future, Brumley is confident the problem of conflicting “ground rules” will be fixed. He expects public pressure will cause the Bush administration to address the situation.
“I’m optimistic this will get cleaned up. Nobody wants home-schoolers to be denied enrollment.”