Infographic by John Wei
“Better late than never”— this saying has become this year’s theme as more and more students are arriving late to class. The new tardy policy may be to blame.
Principal Bill Atterberry came into the school year shocked by the disproportionately high number of suspensions stemming from students being late to class. His main issue with the previous tardy policy was the lack of adult intervention until the student became suspended.
In the past two years, the tardy policy has been that after one tardy, a detention would be the immediate consequence. However, many students neglect to attend detention and had to attend Saturday School. If the student did not attend Saturday school, then the student would receive a suspension.
Atterberry consolidated a new plan to reduce the number of tardies by incorporating a technology feature into the system— a call home to parents.
The current tardy policy states that if a student is late the first time, a warning is given. The second time the student is tardy results in a detention and a call home to parents. If the student is tardy a third time, the consequence is an in-school suspension.
The new policy was aimed at reducing the high number of suspensions, but now the number of tardies have become inflated.
Freshman Erik Solis has been tardy more than 50 times this year.
“My auntie doesn’t have time to give me a ride,” Solis said. “I ride my scooter, but I’m still tardy.”
Solis says that the attendance office has contacted his parents to inform them about his recurring behavior. So far, Solis says he has received three in school suspensions in the past year for his late attendance.
In the 2012-2013 school year, there were 2,240 reported tardies in the entire year. In the first quarter of the 2013-2014 school year, there were 5,844 reported tardies. Of the 5,844 tardies, 3,404 tardies were in first period alone.
“They’re taking advantage of the system,” Atterberry said. “We have to crack down and treat kids like kids.”
According to the Discipline Offense and Action Counts provided by the attendance office, there have been roughly 125 total suspensions have been issued since the beginning of the 2013 school year. During the 2012-2013 school year, 962 total suspensions occurred. At this pace, the total suspensions at the end of the 2013-2014 school year will be about one-third of the total suspensions last year.
“I think the reduction of suspensions is good, but the number of tardies is horrible,” secretary Kathy Shelton said.
Although the number of suspensions subsided, Atterberry is working to institute a new action plan. This time, Atterberry says there will be no “freebies”—students will receive a call home and detention after the first tardy.
“I think it’s [new policy] good, but I’m not sure it’s good to change during the year,” Shelton said. “I think it’s confusing for the kids.”
The in-school suspension aspect of the current policy was not a part of the previous policy. Because students are mandated to attend school on the day they are suspended, they have the opportunity to complete assignments.
Another problem Atterberry observes with students being late to first period is their parents.
“There doesn’t seem to be an urgency for parents getting here on time,” Atterberry said, noting that one of the parents carried Starbucks in her hand after the late bell had already rung for first period to start.
The new policy will not be in effect until next semester. Although there is no way of completely eliminating tardies, Atterberry is confident that the inflation of the number of tardies will be dramatically reduced.