Student newspaper of Kirkwood High School.

The Kirkwood Call

Amending attendance

Quentin Stepp, copy editor

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Last year, had a student missed school for a few days or even a few weeks due to illness, some out of town sports tournament or just about any other excused reason, there might not have been any consequences. Work could be made up, content could be re-taught and tests could be retaken. Well, that’s all about to change because KHS is implementing a new attendance policy for the first time. Now, missing more than 10 days of school could result in a student having to drop a class.

“We’ve never really had an attendance policy,” Mike Wade, associate principal, said. “Now, if you miss a certain amount of days, you’re going to lose credit and you can’t pass the course you’re in. If you miss 10 days, even if it’s excused, then you don’t get credit for that course and you’ll be moved to a study block.”

In the previous policy, there was no written limit to the amount of excused absences allowed for students. In the new one, excused absences include death of a student’s immediate family, religious observances, illness, vacation, court appearances and medical appointments. But even if someone were to miss 10 days due to one of these reasons, they’d still risk losing credit for the semester. While there is a process to appeal this decision, some students are wary of the consequences it could have for athletes who travel for their sport.

art by Catherine McCandless

“I don’t think it’s justified for students who have a more athletic career,” Saylor Smith, junior, said. “I, personally, don’t have a huge career with athletics but for those who plan on being recruited by a college and playing with a college, need to go to these showcases which can last up to three or four days and there could be multiple trips a month.”

Victoria Coombes, junior, said she didn’t think KHS had an attendance problem in the past years, but Wade disagrees. Wade said the majority of what the administrators deal with behaviorally is attendance related issues.

“If we didn’t have any attendance issues, we’d have no discipline or very little discipline at all,” Wade said. “Eighty-five percent of our discipline is attendance related: tardies or single period skips.”

Wade said if a student were to miss 10 days because of sports, illness or some other excused absence, they could appeal the decision in an attempt to get back into the class. According to the policy itself, when a student does miss 10 days of a class, their parents will be notified and they will be required to set up a conference with their grade level administrator to either discuss being returned to the class or “discuss possible alternative learning experiences to regain lost credit,” the policy says.

But even when a student is allowed by administrators to return to class, they would have already missed potentially more than just 10 days. Every hour a student spends in a study block instead of the class they were previously in, waiting for their conference with their parents and grade level administrator, is an hour that could have been spent learning in their old class.

“In the past, you could miss 50 days and you’d be allowed to make everything up,” Wade said. “Well that’s going to change. That policy is the biggest change, I think, in a long time.”

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Student newspaper of Kirkwood High School.
Amending attendance