Attendance revisited

This morning, I took the opportunity (as I often do when the Legislature is in session) to review a list of education-related bills under consideration by our General Assembly.  One in particular jumped out at me in a bad way, even though I know the sponsor to be a thoughtful and intelligent person.

SB3896/HB3826 (Burchett, McCord) would dictate that "For each five (5) times a student is tardy to school in a school year, the student shall be counted as having been absent one (1) day from school."  The implications of absences can be quite serious — affecting school funding, as well as consequences up to and including families’ referral to juvenile court.

I’ve discussed my concerns about the attendance policy (here, here and here, to start) at length, but this bill would intensify the problem.  Consider for a moment the following situation, which occurred just this week:  the mother of an 11-year old receives a referral to "campus court," administered by the juvenile court in Anderson County.

The crime?  Little Johnny was tardy 10 times over the last six months.  "Tardy," in this child’s classroom and many others, is defined as "not being in one’s seat when the bell rings."  He was delivered to school in plenty of time, ate breakfast, stopped by the library and his locker… but managed to get distracted along the way and wasn’t in his seat when the bell rang.

On those ten days over a six-month period, he missed — at most — ten minutes of homeroom.  No instructional time at all.  However, if this bill should pass, that would equate to two full days (roughly 14 hours’ worth) of absences for the purpose of school funding as well as little Johnny’s attendance record. 

Remember to e-mail your state senators and representatives about things that are important to you; it does make a difference.  I already have.

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And don’t worry about Little Johnny.  The safeguards we put into place last January (to ensure that families are not frivolously referred to court for attendance matters) worked, and the court referral was cancelled.  The letter never should have gone out to begin with, but with a little oversight, the problem was fixed in time.

4 Responses to “Attendance revisited”

  1. on 14 Feb 2008 at 5:54 pm girlfriend

    The system does work if you let it. Sometimes you just have to give it a nudge.

  2. on 14 Feb 2008 at 7:10 pm Joel

    I like stories with (somewhat) happy endings.

  3. […] Citizen Netmom’s got a problem with Sen. Burchett’s proposed new attendance policy: […]

  4. on 26 Mar 2008 at 10:39 am concernedmom

    The system is flawed . My daughter attends an Anderson County school. So far she has nine absence four in which I have turned in a Dr’s note and the others I have turned in parent notes. The attedance policy states that six missed days can be excused by parent note then after that a doctors note. But the school is only excusing six days they are saying that’s all they can excuse that it doesn’t matter wether or not the first six missed days are accompinied by a parent note or dr’s note that after six they have a have a Dr’s note for every day missed. Which is not in line with what the policy says. I should have been able to excuse all five days with my notes and the dr notes would have covered four and she would have no unexused days. I have called the school, and the Central Office (no help) I just emailed some of the board memmbers for clarification . I am very confused I think I am right but I need someone elses opinion… and on top of this I got a parent link call yesterday stating that she has 3 or more unexused abscences so I called them back and currently awaiting a call back

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