NEWS: Milford Adopts New Attendance Policy
Starting on October 1, there will be a new attendance policy in effect in Milford and at Jonathan Law High School.
Administrators and teachers will be closely monitoring the amount of time that the students miss or do not come to class. During the last two weeks in September, the administration is going to spend time rolling out the plan to put the new policy in action.
The new policy was created in part because last year 14% of Law’s students missed 18 or more days of school and administrators and the Board of Education felt that there should be new regulations on how many school days a student misses. The administrators feel that this policy will help decrease the amount of days that students miss in a year.
“When in class you get the most out of the academics,” Law Principal Mr. Thompson said. “I believe it will help; it won’t make everyone happy but my job is to make people get to class on time.”
One of the most important aspects of the program for students and parents is that there is no difference between “excused” and “unexcused” absences. Students must be current in the class to participate in the learning.
Under the new policy, students will lose credit when daily absences and period absences add up to 20 absences (daily and/or period) for a full year course. For those students who are also taking half year courses the allotted amount of absences allowed with be 10 daily and/ or period classes.
Here is a link to the full policy:
“It will kick start students getting to school on time and for them to be present in class,” attendance officer Mrs. Carr said. “If you’re skipping or missing that classes you’re going to lose credit for that class and you will need to retake that class somewhere down the road.”
The policy will challenge students to be in class and will help teachers deliver instruction to students. It will be new for everyone in the school but the goal is that it will create an atmosphere where class has a premium value.
The policy is to help students take responsibility of their learning and to make sure that the students will get to class on time and prepared.
“Ultimately this is going to help the students and to make sure that they are coming to school and getting their work done,” English teacher Miss Rosner said. “It is going to be a good thing even though it may be a little bit more documentation on our part.”
Parents of students will be notified at different points of the year when there is a potential loss of credit for the class.
There are differences between a full and half year course that will be taken if there is a threat of loss of credit for the course.
For a full year course, at the 25% threshold, which is at five absences, there will be a parent notification letter, the guidance counselor of the student will call the parents and there will be progress monitoring. At 50%, which is 10 absences, parents will get a letter and a phone call from the guidance counselor to discuss interventions so the student doesn’t lose credit.
When a student gets to 75%, a total of 15 absences, the parents will get the traditional call and letter but there will be the option of possible withdrawal from the class or the classes. Once a student gets to the 100% threshold, or all 20 absences, the loss of credit in the class is taken and the guidance counselor will call the parent about arranging a meeting to discuss the next steps once the credit is lost.
“I like the idea of having a 10 day policy which will give students plenty of time and leeway as a 10 day policy but I don’t like the fact that vacation is counted towards our excused absences which I think for some people can be a problem,” senior Peter Tournas said.
For half-year courses, when a student gets to the 25% threshold, which is three absences, parents will get a phone call and a letter and in the call from the guidance counselor they will set up a meeting with the parents regarding unexcused absences. At 50%, or five absences, the parents will get a letter and phone call from guidance to set up a meeting to talk about the unexcused absences and to discuss additional interventions.
Once a student gets to the 75% threshold, or seven absences, the traditional letter and phone call will take place and the need to set up a meeting to discuss if there is a chance of any credit recovery or the option to withdraw from the class or the classes. When a student gets to the 100% threshold, or 10 unexcused absences, there is loss of credit in the course and a phone call from guidance to arrange a meeting regarding further steps after the student has lost the credit.
If a student completes a course even though they lost the credit and they pass the student may go through with the next course in the sequence except for Algebra, Civics, and American History. The course will not be counted towards any required credit for graduation and the course grade will not be factored into the student’s GPA.
There are going to be some exceptions to the policy, such as if a student has a 504 plan, health plan, or a field trip through the school. These school approved absences do not count but the students are required to do the makeup work as expected per the attendance policy.
If a student is a junior or a senior and plan on going to visit a college, both grades get one approved absence as long as they have documentation stating that they went to visit the college. Field trips with documentation, nurse/medical dismissals, and guidance meetings are also considered approved absences.
If a student has a health issue or a chronic illness where it will directly impact the attendance, the parents are to contact the children’s guidance counselor or school nurse to discuss the possibility of a 504 plan or a health plan.
If there is a case that needs to be appealed, the appeal must be made within two weeks (10 days) of the notice that there was a loss of credit.
The case will be scheduled with the Attendance Review Board, which will be comprised of the principal, a counselor, and a teacher. The group will be as objective as possible towards the student and the decision of the hearing is final.
Within the new attendance policy, students and the parents will have responsibilities of their own to up hold so that there would not be a need to lose credit in a class or classes.
Students will also need to request missed work or exams from teachers as soon as they come back, to be handed in within five days and to give the office an absence note within five days of returning back to school.
“Sometimes I take days off, but now this schedule is going to prevent me from doing this,” senior Carol Phillips said. “I’m scared about days off now because it is so limited and I don’t want to lose my credit.”
The parents of students that attend Law will need to emphasize on the importance of going to school every day and to check regularly on Power School to check to make sure that their child is going to school and not missing a lot of school days. Parents will also need to make sure that they contact the school about any absences or any extended absences.
If a parent or guardian of a student does not respond to either the letter or the phone call to set up a meeting, the student may be referred to a community based organization for supporting family needs.
There may also be frequently scheduled home visits by school personnel and the School Based Resource Officer (SRO) to assess the situation on why the student is not showing up to school or to a class.
(Photo by Hayley Sanchez)