Administration cracks down on tardies and cuts

September 5, 2013 — by Gitika Nalwa and Helen Wong

This year, the administration has altered the school attendance policy, making the consequences for cuts and tardies more severe.

This year, the administration has altered the school attendance policy, making the consequences for cuts and tardies more severe.

“[The policy] was changed because our data clearly showed that our number one discipline issue at Saratoga High is attendance,” assistant principal Kevin Mount said.

Last semester, the attendance office noticed around 5,000 single-period cuts. Administrators decided that something had to be done.

“Kids aren’t in class when they’re supposed to be in class and that means we don’t know where they are, and probably their parents don’t know where they are either,” Mount said.

Parents and teachers both worry when students cut class, since they cannot keep track of the student’s location. Plus, students cannot learn if they do not attend school, Mount said.

“The most important ingredient to being successful is being in class,” Mount said. “So, I think that what we needed to do was sharpen the attendance policy.”

Tardies and cuts were a persistent and ever-growing problem at the school. ”You know, kids are late here, and they’re rather cavalier about it,” Mount said.

The new policy ensures that a student who receives anywhere from one to three tardies across their schedule may receive a teacher assigned consequence, a lunch detention or an after school detention. There are similar consequences for cuts.

Instead of just one Saturday school after three cuts in one class, there will now be more immediate, direct consequences, such as detention for each cut.

“[Lunchtime detentions are] probably, for upperclassmen, a big deterrent as they like going off campus during lunch — it’s one of the perks of being an upperclassman,” Mount said.

The administration has also come up with other ways to encourage compliance with the new school attendance policy, such as after-school detention for students who are involved in after-school sports.

Junior Dan Kawadri said the revised policy is much tougher than before.

“The new policy leaves little room for the occasional traffic stall or accidental sleep-in,” Kawadri said. “However, I do believe it'll give students more of an incentive to get to their classes.”

Junior Supriya Khandekar believes that the changes are for the better.

“I think that although it is definitely stricter than last year's policy, it will motivate students to take attendance more seriously,” Khandekar said.

The administration acknowledges that students will probably discipline themselves better, since the punishments are targeted at taking time away from activities that students enjoy.

“It’s something they probably don’t want to have to explain to their coach — that I wasn’t at practice on time today because I got in trouble for cutting class,” Mount said.

Saturday schools in the previous system, Mount explained, were not effective.

“What do you do on weekends? You study, right?,” Mount said. “So, Saturday School isn’t something that kids get all upset about. They think, ‘Oh, I’ll just get it over with and do my studying at the same time.’”

Students could previously cut all their classes on a Friday, a Monday and a Tuesday and still escape serious trouble. With the old policy, three cuts merited a Saturday school.

“You got a five-day weekend and nothing would happen,” Mount said.

Under the new policy, any cut is one cut too many.

“We want kids to be in class, and so we’re trying to find another way to motivate kids, and hold kids accountable for being in class,” Mount said. “That’s the whole arithmetic of it.”

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