The student handbook says, “students are responsible for attending classes on time as scheduled. Consequences for class cuts include a grade of zero for any work due or completed during the missed class. The student will also be assigned to LOFT (Loss of Free Time) for two bands for each class cut, or two Communities for students without a free band.”
But is the policy working?
Jody Emerson is U-32’s associate principal. On average, Jody says that only two students skip class a day.
Jody said the policy is effective for some students, but “for other situations it’s not.”
“Sometimes,” she said, “there is something else going on and that student needs a different kind of support.”
The different routine for middle and high school is that “if a middle school student is skipping class, we are immediately looking for them trying to figure out where they might be,” Jody said. “It’s a safety issue more than anything else.” The supervision for the middle school “needs to be a little tighter than a high school student,” says Jody.
A student who doesn’t have a free band will get assigned a Community for skipping class. “Instead of staying after in a detention where you might fall asleep or you might be able to do school work, it’s a conversation about why, and about everything that happened so it goes through restorative questions at community,” Jody said. During Community, question are asked. For example, what happened? What were you thinking at the time? What have you thought about since? Who’s been impacted? And what do you need to move forward? Community is a way to talk about what happened and anything you would want to say to a teacher so they can understand why you skipped class.
A Teacher’s View
Christiana Martin, a social studies teacher, explained the steps she has to take as a teacher when a student is absent from her class. First, they have to take attendance, then check how many students absences were unexcused. After these steps, the teacher emails Erik Bennett, Dean of Students, to report the student absences from class.
“I had a student skip my class last year,” Christiana said. “I was really frustrated because the student was supposed to do group work that day.”
When students skip class they affect that class. For example, if the class is doing group work on that day someone skipped, the group may have needed their help. The student would also miss the lessons the teacher has provided.
“You gave yourself a free period when you didn’t have one,” Christiana said. “Technically, you should go and sit with the teacher the entire class period you missed and redo the lesson, but that is not realistic.” She doesn’t think it benefits student to sit in a room for a whole band. They would just stay behind in their work, when they could be seeing their teacher to make up the lesson.
A Student’s View
Many students who skip show up for the start of class, then leave, “to go to the bathroom.”
“I’ll leave for 20 minutes or half an hour,” an anonymous skipper said, “and they don’t really notice”
A lot of the students like their free bands. “I feel like if they knew the consequences, then maybe they wouldn’t do it,” an anonymous skipper said. “Last year I got caught and I had to serve detention for it.” Students at U-32 skip everyday. In the whole school, there are probably 20 students who skip class a day. “I would say over two definitely,” the skipper said. The skipper was surprised when Jody said that the average was two students skipping.
Teachers take attendance in the morning seeing who’s here and who’s not. The skipper felt like U-32 didn’t really care about the attendance, because so many people get away with skipping. “I think if they wanted to stop the skipping then they would definitely do something,” stated the skipper.
Does U-32 give a good understanding of what the system is? “To be honest I don’t even exactly know what the system is,” the skipper stated. Should the school give students a clearer understanding of the consequences of skipping classes so they know the consequences for their choices? Students should also make use of the school’s resources, like the student handbook to look at the policy so they have a good understanding of the system.