Rival schools have it easier than Lancers

SINCE the latest attendance policy was launched at the beginning of the 2015-16 school year, many students as well as teachers have expressed their feelings about it. Many Lancers do not mind the policy, while others express very negative feelings towards it.

Administration seems to believe that the attendance policy works perfectly fine, but students do not seem to share this belief. But if students want to have a strong argument against it, they need to have proof that something else could work better.

Looking at the attendance policies in place at other schools in the area and comparing them to Granger’s may be an effective way to propose a new solution that will please teachers, administrators, and students alike.

At Hunter High and Kearns High, two of Granger’s rival schools, their policies seem to follow Granite School District’s default for the most part. Hunter has a similarity with Granger when it comes to charging money for tardies, though. After being tardy five times, a student must pay off a $5 tardy ticket or attend detention. Unexcused absences cost nothing at either school.

Cyprus High School, though, has adopted a similar policy to that of Granger High School. Students are charged two dollars for every tardy, and five dollars for every unexcused absence. They also detail in their student handbook that there are ways to work off the fines, just like students can at Granger.

At Jordan School District’s West Jordan High School, punishments focus on time more than money. “If you sluff, you get suspended. If you’re late too many times, you get suspended,” Elizabeth MacKay, a West Jordan student, said. “If you have three unexcused absences, you have to pay two dollars to go to attendance school to make those absences up,” MacKay said. Attendance school at West Jordan lasts for two hours after school, and those two hours make up three unexcused absences.

“Let the students suffer the consequences of the real world if they don’t show up to class,” Jordan Lopez (11) said. Some students feel as though being charged money for poor attendance doesn’t teach them anything, it just earns the school more money. “If I am not attending school, I lose education. The school shouldn’t benefit from my faults,” Lopez said.

For many students, it’s not clear where the attendance fine money goes or what programs it supports.

“The money earned from students paying attendance fines goes towards paying for Saturday school,” Mr. Beck said. Though there is Saturday school once or twice every month, students still find the fines excessive and expensive. Not all students can attend Saturday school, so if they have excessive fines but cannot attend, they’re out of luck.

In Granite School District, student more often come from low-income families than most other districts in the state. According to the nctq.org website, 45% of students in the district were on free or reduced lunch during the 2013-14 school year, more recent data not being available yet online. It is interesting that students that come from low-income families are being charged so heavily for their poor attendance. Some families can’t even pay for student lunches, let alone heavy attendance fees.

In Salt Lake School District, 61% of students receive free or reduced lunch. East High School, located in the Salt Lake District, gives students an incomplete grade if they have too many unexcused absences. Students are also required to serve thirty minutes of detention for every tardy they acquire. They do not charge any money to their low-income students unless a student fails to show up for detention.

Teachers and administrators may argue that if students improved their attendance, they would not have to worry about paying fees. But it’s not that simple. Sure, there is a handful of students who miss class on purpose and should suffer consequences. But other students sometimes have to miss class even if they don’t want to.

Of course, there should be some sort of penalty for bad attendance, but simply charging money isn’t going to teach students a lesson. Sending students to detention or attendance school would be much more effective. If a student decides to not spend time in class, it would make more sense for students to make up that missed class with their time instead of their money.

If there was data showing that Granger High’s attendance policy was more effective than previous policies or other policies in place at neighboring schools, that would be one thing. But students have not been shown any proof of that, and the fact that other policies in place at other schools seem to work just as well makes many question why administration believes charging money is the most effective option. The policy has good intentions behind it and is not all bad, but it is causing some problems for low-income families that should not be ignored.