Should controversial tardy policy be expanded?


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Should controversial tardy policy be expanded?

By Michael Lopardi. CREATED Nov 14, 2013

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Clark County high school students showed up late to classes nearly 8,000 times during the first week of school this year, according to the district.

In some cases, their parents are now facing the consequences.

When students at Western High School are late their parent must show up to school by the next day and sign in the student.

"If it's at least three times, but with one time and every one time, I don't agree with it," said Richard Johnson, a parent at Western High School. 

Western started the policy around October when the school said students were late to classes nearly 1,500 times a day, school district spokeswoman Melinda Malone said. Parents who don't show up should expect a phone call home but the student can still attend class.

"It's good from that view to get the parents involved but I don't necessarily believe you have to sign in off the first offense," Johnson said, noting his daughter has not had problems being late.

The district said the school is flexible with parents' schedules. But when the new rules took effect, some upset parents turned to Action News looking for an explanation.

"Not fun at all because I had to get up and call my work. I had to be late," said parent Juan Diaz in an Oct. 10 interview.

Malone said the district office logged 7,895 tardy reports for high school students during the first seven days of the school year. The numbers include 46 of the district's 49 high schools. Three schools are not included because they have both middle and high school students.

Supporters said the changes at Western are making a difference. Since our last story in October, Malone said the number of tardy offenses at the school dropped to around 100 each day. When Centennial High School started the rules a few years ago, the number of times students were late to classes dropped from around 1,900 a day to around 30, Malone said.

"If it will keep the kids from being tardy from school I think it's a good thing," said Western High School parent Danyelle Smith.

Smith understands other parents have busy schedules.

"I sympathize but I think it's a good policy," Smith said. "If it's going to keep the kids in check to keep the kids in school, then as a parent, you do what you have to do."

The school district said fewer than ten schools are using the policy. Some have used it for years, including Arbor View High School.

"We find that through different policies we've tried, this is the most effective and we see that simply by our halls being cleared when the bell rings," said Denise Tomchek, assistant principal at Arbor View.

Tomchek said the school started the rules about three years ago. But is it fair that parents face the consequences?

"We see the parent as a huge piece of the puzzle of the success of students here at Arbor View," Tomchek said.

The assistant principal said the policy is about accountability that starts at home. Tomchek said being late disrupts the classroom, impacts a student's learning and could be the start of a bad habit.

"In the real world situation, if you arrive late to work everyday, I think you'd find yourself unemployed," said Tomchek.

If the policy is so effective, why not implement it district-wide?

Malone, the district spokeswoman, said CCSD allows individual schools to set their own tardy policies. The district wants principals to have flexibility in deciding what works for them.

"What works here at Arbor View may not work at every other school," Tomchek said. "I think the administration at the school sit down with their staff and they come up with some policies that they feel would best suit their climate."

Back at Western, we shared the updated tardy numbers with parent Richard Johnson.

"It might turn out to be a good thing," Johnson said.

CCSD keeps track of tardy numbers at the district office, Malone said. While schools can manage their own tardy policies, district rules make it clear that showing up late can have serious consequences. Middle and high school students who are more than 30 minutes late can be marked absent, according to district rules. Chronic absentees can face punishments ranging from lost credit to repeating a grade.