Attendance policy updated

Rules and regulations promote timeliness among students

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Walking into school, students arrive early to be in class on time. “I hate the [updated] attendance policy; it’s unfair. Say you are on vacation and it’s a five day vacation, it affects you,” junior Selena Dooda said. The updated rules and regulations promote timeliness and clarifies excused and unexcused absences.

Lauren Devereux, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Utica Community Schools (UCS) raises expectations for students and their attendance with an update to the rules and regulations under the attendance policy.

“It’s a radical change. The district policy hasn’t changed, but the rules and regulations did and how it’s enforced,” May said. “It’s something that should have been done or that has needed to be done for a while. The attendance policy has been pretty relaxed in the district and they wanted to make it consistent across the buildings.”

Attendance rules and regulations address the number of unexcused absences per semester and introduces the magic number 10 the maximum number of unexcused absences before a student is placed on credit review. Additionally, tardies are now factored into unexcused absences after three occur in a class; and not every absence counts as an excused one. 

Absences fall into two categories: excused and unexcused. Excused reasons include: student illness, doctor-ordered bed rest, pre-arranged court appearances, death in the immediate family, pre-arranged and approved family vacations and medical appointments.

“Attendance is what it really boils down to. Attendance is the key to the success of students. If they’re here, they’re more likely to be successful than if they aren’t here,” May said. 

If a student becomes close to 10 absences, they will receive a letter stating credit may be lost. The appeal process begins with a mandatory meeting with a student’s associate principal once they are close to reaching the 10 absences. Students have two choices: ignore the letter and information and risk losing credit or continue with the appeal process. 

I think that it’s a little strict, but I understand why [the district] changed it. I think more people will show up and not skip,” sophomore Ella Skope said. “A con would be people that have after school activities that sometimes go into school hours. I am on a cheer team and I’m going to be handling it by making sure if it’s not necessary to leave early, I won’t; but if I have to, [I’ll] try to limit the amount of times I leave early.” 

The update on tardies and early dismissals counting as absences is to cut down those two things happening at the beginning and ends of classes, according to May. Now, every third tardy counts as one absence; and early dismissals, no matter how long, count as an absence. 

“A good thing about it is that a lot of kids have unexcused absences or if their parents call them in a lot, they will be held more accountable for their work and they are kind of forced to actually be here,” senior Christina Elezovic said. 

Reasons for early dismissals are more strict as well, including: if a doctor’s note is not brought in or the reason doesn’t match the previously called in excused reason.

“I like the idea that they are making students more accountable for tardies, as well as their grades being important, so I think the tardy policy is great. I like the attendance policy, I’ve always liked it, especially when they are going to enforce it now,” physical education teacher Lisa Doherty said. “The hard part I have, being a mom, being a coach, being a teacher, is the early dismissal policy that they are implementing as being [absences], because there are some kids that do need to leave early for various reasons and they don’t get that opportunity now because it could affect their attendance; so that part to me is a little tough.”

If students or parents have questions or need clarification regarding the updated attendance policy, they can look at the student handbook or direct any questions to associate principal Scott May in the front office.