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Absence changes approved for middle-school handbook

Published: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 2:49 p.m. CDT

Changes are coming to Clarke’s middle-school handbook, and students might want to take heed.

Two changes include jurisdictional and behavior expectations and attendance and policy procedures.

Sogard

Clarke Middle School Principal Jeff Sogard spoke about the handbook during a June 10 school-board meeting.

In the handbook, there will be a statement of jurisdictional and behavior expectations.

“I wanted to put this in here,” Sogard said. “I borrowed it, stole it, or however you want to say it, from Mrs. Antisdel. She has this in her high-school handbook ... it talks about behavior expectations, and it clearly defines them. So, that’s why I liked it and would like to use it.”

The statement reads, “The board, administration and employees expect students to conduct themselves in a manner fitting to their age level and maturity and with respect and consideration for the rights of others. Students are expected to treat teachers, other employees, students, visitors and guests with respect and courtesy, so that all may be safe within the school environment.”

Unexcused absences

Then, there’s the written changes for unexcused absences.

“I wanted to make this (change) after talking with several people … I wanted to make things a little more clearer,” Sogard said. “We had some issues this year with unexcused absences and tardies, and I wanted to clear that up and make it as clearly defined as possible — what exactly is an unexcused absence and the consequences you read there.”

Sogard added, in the previous handbook, consequences for unexcused absences had been up to the discretion of the principal.

Now, the consequences for students are in writing.

The consequence for a first unexcused absence is a 30-minute detention. The second unexcused absence is a 60-minute detention. The third unexcused absence, and each one thereafter, is a one-day, in-school suspension.

Tardies

Students who are not in their assigned instructional area when the bell rings will be considered tardy, unless properly excused by a teacher or the office.

When it comes to tardies, students who are late to first period are to report to the office for a pass. Unexcused tardies, for all classes, may carry an automatic penalty of detention.

After the third unexcused tardy, and each one thereafter, a 30-minute detention time will be assigned. Tardiness to class will be handled by the teachers on an individual basis.

After eight tardies, students will be referred to the truancy officer and/or administration.

Excessive absenteeism

Excessive absenteeism is any absence beyond 10 days or individual class meetings per semester. In the event of excessive absenteeism, students will be referred to the truancy officer and/or administration, and a parent meeting will be scheduled.

Students will also be required to provide evidence or written verification, such as a note from a doctor, of each absence following the referral. If documentation is not submitted to the office, the absence will be considered unexcused.

The school administration has discretion on all matters of attendance.

“I think it helps if we can define things and make it as clear as possible to people,” Sogard said. “So, if I have to meet with a parent, I can say, ‘Look, this was his second unexcused absence. It says right here in the handbook what the consequence is going to be.’ It makes it clearer for both the students and the parents.”

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