The administration implemented a new school-wide policy this week that aims to crack down on tardiness, tightening consequences for students who arrive late to class unexcused.
Under the new policy, teachers will lock the doors to the classroom once the bell rings, and tardy students will receive detention slips.
The tardy policy is part of a greater effort to decrease the number of students who fail a class due to loss of credit (LC). After the policy dramatically decreased tardiness within the ninth-grade academy, the administration decided to expand the policy to the entire school. "We want students in class so they do not receive an LC," said ninth-grade administrator James Short. "It would be an injustice to students to have them go to class all semester just to LC because they are late a few times."
MCPS policy states that students with five or more unexcused absences in a semester will not receive credit. Three unexcused tardies are treated as one unexcused absence.
Short stressed that the new policy is not meant to be punitive. "The reason behind it is academic performance and instruction," he said. "Students are coming in to class anywhere from three to 20 minutes after the late bell. It's not only disrupting class, but they have to get caught up."
Late students without a legitimate pass must get a detention slip from their administrator before they can return to class. They then have to attend after-school detention, which is administered on either Tuesday or Thursday in room 234.
For students who are repeatedly tardy for class, additional consequences will be left up to the administrator. Administrative action could include additional detention, a parent and student conference or in-school suspension.
Short said that the policy is not intended to be punitive. "The only time it becomes punitive is if students are insubordinate," he said. "We're trying to reinforce what is already a requirement — getting to class on time."
The decision to expand the policy to the whole school was due in part to the relative success the administration has had with the freshmen. Short suggested last month that ninth-graders be given detention for being tardy after observing that some freshmen were "cavalier" when told to go to class.
There was a noticeable decrease in the number of tardy freshmen once the policy was put into action. "The first day, the line for getting detention slips was out the door," said Cedric Boatman, the security guard in charge of the ninth grade. "The next day, the halls were cleared, and people were running to class."
Short believes the policy could be instrumental in reducing incidents that occur during the passing period. "Data shows that most conflicts occur between students when they are in a common area and not in class," said Short.
In response to the new policy, the SGA submitted a formal appeal to Principal Phillip Gainous on Monday to suspend the policy, contesting that it was put into place without any student input, violating MCPS regulations regarding the formulation of new policies. Gainous has 10 days to respond with a written decision, according to MCPS policy.
SGA President Eric Hysen believes the policy is severe and unnecessary. "The SGA is concerned that it is heavy-handed and comes amidst recent changes in bell times that could result in students getting unnecessary detentions," he said.
Hysen said the SGA has other less punitive ideas in mind to combat the problem of late students, including putting clocks in the hallways. If needed, Hysen is willing to take the SGA's appeal to the Superintendent.
Kathy Jee. Kathy Jee is a junior in the Magnet Program and is excited to be a part of the wonderful Silver Chips staff. When not in school, she enjoys playing basketball and obsessing over "American Idol." She is looking forward to another stressful year of school... More »