Administration reevaluates attendance, cell phone use

Practice changes, additions made to school policies

Senior+Sophia+Davenport+jokes+with+administrator+Jennifer+Thomas+in+the+student+office.+According+to+Assistant+Principal+Jessica+Busse%2C+only+seniors+are+able+to+leave+the+school+during+lunch+and+they+need+to+return+through+the+student+office+or+cafeteria+showing+their+student+ID.+
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Administration reevaluates attendance, cell phone use

Senior Sophia Davenport jokes with administrator Jennifer Thomas in the student office. According to Assistant Principal Jessica Busse, only seniors are able to leave the school during lunch and they need to return through the student office or cafeteria showing their student ID.

Senior Sophia Davenport jokes with administrator Jennifer Thomas in the student office. According to Assistant Principal Jessica Busse, only seniors are able to leave the school during lunch and they need to return through the student office or cafeteria showing their student ID.

Grace Farley

Senior Sophia Davenport jokes with administrator Jennifer Thomas in the student office. According to Assistant Principal Jessica Busse, only seniors are able to leave the school during lunch and they need to return through the student office or cafeteria showing their student ID.

Grace Farley

Grace Farley

Senior Sophia Davenport jokes with administrator Jennifer Thomas in the student office. According to Assistant Principal Jessica Busse, only seniors are able to leave the school during lunch and they need to return through the student office or cafeteria showing their student ID.

Abby Intveld and Dani Orloff

According to Assistant Principal Jessica Busse, after analyzing last year’s attendance data, the new administration felt they needed to solve the issues the data presented.

“When (Todd) Goggleye and I first started, we started looking at attendance and one of the data pieces was that we had 156 students who had missed at least 100 or more class periods,” Busse said. “We started talking about how we can stop kids before they get to that point, so avoid getting to 100. Mr. Goggleye and I are committed to meeting with all 156 students in these first couple weeks.”

Busse said the only change made to the attendance policy was the addition of contract pieces, which hadn’t been practiced in two years.  

“After five unexcused absences, students are eligible for a contract and then they can get one of their absences excused if they complete a week long attendance contract,” Busse said. “It was actually done in years past. We just kind of resurrected it.”

Busse said she feels the policies have always been in effect, however there are noticeable changes this year because the administration is committed to following through with them.

“Because we’re the only high school in St. Louis Park, we get to make our own rules, but the rules have been in existence, so we just want to follow them,” Busse said. “We want to also have the consistency because it shouldn’t be different for different kids.”

Senior Marian Mohamud said she was not aware of the intricacies of the policy prior to class discussions about it at the beginning of the school year.

“When my teacher told me the policy, I was surprised by how strict it was. I disagree with it, I don’t think it will be enforced or that students will really follow it,” Mohamud said.

According to Busse, the Grade Level Coordinators (GLCs) are responsible for tracking unexcused absence, sending the letters to teachers and making the contracts. In addition to addressing unexcused absences, the policy discusses consecutive excused absences.   

“If you have been absent 10 or more times with an excuse, we do ask that you bring in a doctor’s note,” Busse said. “Or, if we are seeing a pattern, we’ll ask for doctor’s notes just to kind of back up the excuses.”

Sophomore Maddy Doherty said she feels the attendance policy should keep the reality of the situation in mind.

“I think the (attendance policy) is a little too strict, especially since it is by semester, so unexcused absences will add up fast,” Doherty said.

According to Busse, the policy warns students and parents of the impact of low attendance, stating that missing three consecutive school days strongly predicts lower achievement and missing ten can lead to that student dropping out.  

“Those two things are things that we don’t want to here at St. Louis Park so we’re committed to working to avoid those,” Busse said.

Busse said she feels the conversations being initiated by the policy will help it succeed at the high school.

“Really that communication piece with students and the relationship piece that teachers and GLCs create with students (will help the policy be effective),” Busse said.

Doherty said she thinks the policy’s enforcement will move back towards last year’s practice.

“I don’t think people will really care about the policy and it won’t really be enforced or different from last year,” Doherty said.

Mohamud said she believes the abrupt change in enforcement will avert students from taking the policy seriously.

“It won’t work out, I don’t think students are going to listen since it changed from last year so much,” Mohamud said. “I wish it could be enforced like it was last year.”

According to Busse, in addition to altering the attendance policy, the assistant principals made additions to the high school cell phone policy to address non-compliance with the policy in classrooms.

“On the first incident we asked that teachers give a warning and asked students to put their phone away. Second incident the teacher can ask to take the phone for the rest of the hour,” Busse said. “On the third incident, a GLC or student office team member will take the phone for the rest of the day and then the fourth incident we’ll take the phone until a parent can.”

According to Busse, another ratification was made to the high school’s practice of the open campus policy for seniors.

“Seniors can leave through any door, they just have to show an ID or their schedule to somebody standing by the door to prove that they’re a senior,” Busse said. “They do have to come in through either the student office or the cafeteria. That somebody is at the door to monitor who is coming in and out.”

Busse said she strives to give every student the same access to success, which she believes stems from being present in class.  

“Class is where the education is taking place so if you are not in class you are not getting educated,” Busse said. “So, everything that we do is about keeping kids in class, so whether that is about discipline or attendance, they address the need to be in class.”

 

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