Unjust attendance rules hinder high school experience

By: Katherine Kerr

Parties, games, dances – all of these events are what come to mind when the average student envisions their high school life. Seldom does a student look forward to drawn out days behind a desk when the excitement of high school sets in.

This school year, new rules regarding attendance may affect some students’ prom plans. Any student that has had an unexcused absence between the dates of March 22 and April 27 and/or an absence on Friday, March 23 may not be eligible to attend.  Although attendance is an important factor in a student’s education and that should be recognized, it should not keep a student from enjoying a vital moment of their high school career- prom.

Each year, there are inevitably one or more students with extenuating circumstances that keep them from coming to school the required number of days. These circumstances could range anywhere from transportation issues to a death in the family, or even to a serious illness. Coincidentally, these circumstances could sometimes fall on the days that administrators require students to be in attendance. Although administrators may say that these obstacles aren’t important enough to keep students from school on these days, this decision is ultimately the parent’s choice. These students should not be punished for things that are not under their control.

As a parent, there are certain responsibilities one must take on. These responsibilities include taking care of and providing for the child, as well as doing what they believe to be in the child’s best interest. Regardless of the reason, it is ultimately the parent’s decision if a student should or should not be in school on any given day. Afterall, these parents cook, clean, pay for vehicles to get to school each morning and take care of their students when they are sick.  When we step foot into school each morning, these tasks should not be forgotten.

Administrators do not take over the role of our parents from 7:40 to 2:26; they are here to simply give us the push towards achieving our academic goals and doing the right thing. While Indiana state law does state that a parent can and should be prosecuted by administration for taking their child out of school too many days each year, it does not specify which specific school days.

This year, like many others I’ve spent at New Albany High School, rules pertaining to prom as well as other events were not released until weeks into the school year. Because of this delay, parents began making plans that they were unaware would hinder their child’s prom experience. Administrators always tell students to reference their handbook when in doubt, but fail to mention that some of these rules are not even mentioned. The attendance rules and regulations for this 2011-2012 school year’s handbook contain no references to prom, especially none that regard the Friday before spring break or any dates between March 22 and April 27.

Although students, as well as parents, should always be aware of the seriousness of missing too much school, school administrators should not dictate which specific days these students are allowed to miss. With these new rules arising in the middle of the school year rather than at the beginning, it leaves little to no time for students and parents to plan accordingly. Next year, for the sake of the sophomores, juniors and seniors of 2012-2013, hopefully the handbooks will include all necessary requirements for all events – not just prom. These situations may deserve administrative attention when they become a problem, but they could easily be taken care of with better communication between administrators and students earlier in the school year.

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