Updates to the Attendance Policy

Some students make the decision to skip class. Sophia Juhler photo.

This year, new procedures are being followed to promote attendance.

Principal Stephen Pettit believes that it’s very important for students to attend all of their classes.

“Learning is a social endeavor,” said Pettit. “The most learning occurs when you have the opportunity to engage in curriculum and discussion with other students trying to learn. When you’re not in school you don’t get that opportunity.”

However, he recognizes that this isn’t always possible.

“There are legitimate reasons for students to not come to school and these are called excused absences. Students can have a pattern of excused absences that are completely legitimate and there are times when we decide that students are trying to avoid school. Our attendance policy is mainly trying to focus on unexcused absences but also school avoidance,” said Pettit.

Counselor Valerie Powell works with students to improve their attendance.

“If there are legit reasons for a student who has attendance issues and a teacher is made aware of the situation, they will usually help the student develop a plan as well to get caught up or be able to complete things outside of class as well,” said Powell.

However, if unexcused absences become a pattern, other interventions take place.

According to Southeast Polk’s Board Policy 501, “If a student is absent and unexcused eight days from any given class, the student may be dropped from that class… If a student is absent and unexcused eight days in four or more individual classes, the student will be dropped from the regular school program and referred to alternate programming pursuant to the district’s plan for at-risk students.”

“Every situation is different and decisions are made based on those situations, but if students end up missing class too often they may be dropped from the course because there may come a time that it’s not possible to make up work to earn a passing grade,” said Powell. 

If a student is dropped from a course, they will not receive credit for the class and may receive an F depending on when the class is dropped.

“Our expectation for attendance is for students to come to school every day and when students come to school for all of their classes,” said Pettit.

Pettit also made sure to clarify that this policy does not affect most students.

“I think for the majority of students and families, what we do works,” said Pettit. “If there would be an unexcused absence through communication usually we can keep it from being a pattern. If it doesn’t work, that’s when we begin seeing a pattern and have to start using other strategies to reverse the patterns and bring up attendance.”