“Students must make a consistent effort to master and demonstrate appropriate behavior for learning, which will in turn enable them to make the most out of their experience at Aragon.” So states the mission statement of the Behaviors for Learning. This notice is posted all over school, in classrooms, and in the summer Red Book, anywhere students and teachers will be able to see the announcement of a new tardy policy.
The expected behavior of Aragon students is to “be in class and ready to work when the bell rings.” But many have been late, either rushing in 30 seconds after the bell, or finishing a conversation in the hall for two minutes. Both the teachers and the administration found a need for a new policy.
Last Spring, the teachers and the administration formed a committee to discuss the Behaviors for Learning rules. Math and AVID teacher Don Bush, who is a member of the committee, says, “We set out to investigate the BFL policy, and see ‘What’s the problem?’”
Part of the problem was that students were getting up to 70 detentions per year. After a while, students don’t care about one more detention if they have too many. Another problem was that many students were unable to participate in extra-curricular activities like field trips, dances, and prom, because of stacking detentions.
The committee found that there were nearly 6,000 total detentions in the fall semester alone last year, and of those, 5,600 were detentions for tardies. “We saw that it wasn’t a detention problem, it was a tardy problem” adds Bush “We needed to come up with a plan that was reasonable and consistent.” Previous years have also seen a problem of inconsistencies with some teachers assigning detentions very strictly, and others not logging detentions at all, but handling tardies within the classroom.
The hope is for the new policy to create a balance between the role of the teachers and administration in enforcing the policy. Photography teacher Aimee Reed says, “it takes the pressure off the teachers because all we do is mark if someone’s late, then it goes to the administration.”
The tardies will be entered as they were in previous years by teachers into the Aeries system. After a student accumulates five tardies, they are given Saturday School. After ten tardies, the student will receive Saturday School, and need to meet with a member of the Administration. After 15 tardies, the student will have an Administration conference, and their attendance will have become a disciplinary issue. Tardies are essentially separate from other BFL rules in terms of serving detentions and Saturday School.
Last month, assemblies were held during fifth period for each grade, in order to make sure that every student knows the new rules of the tardy policy. Students were reminded of other BFL rules, such as mutual respect and academic integrity.
“I saw the new policy in the syllabus of every class. It seems pretty strict, because before Saturday School took away eight detentions, but now you have to go for five tardies,” senior Tania Gonzalez says of the new policy. Like many students, Gonzalez is rarely tardy. “I guess they’re being strict for those kids who are always late, but it’s negative for those who are occasionally late on accident.”
Senior Natalie Rodriguez has often been late up to 3 times a week because her parents have one car to drop off her younger siblings and herself, and she is the last to get to school, says “I really don’t like [the new policy], it’s not really going to solve anything because if you are late, it’s not always because you want to be.”
Bush reasons, “We made it so that for the first four tardies, there is no penalty, but at the fifth tardy, there is Saturday School.” The committee decided that Saturday School would be an effective and reasonable deterrent for students to not make tardies a habit.
The policy comes with some incentives for students to keep up good attendance. For those who had detentions on record from previous years, the new policy presents a clean slate because all detentions have been cleared. Also, with the exception of pending Saturday Schools, all students will have their records cleared at the semester. Bush says, “We know it’s tough, we know you have a valid reason, and we’re willing to reason.” Bush hopes the policy will simply make kids come to class on time. Reed says of last year that she did have a lot of tardies, and hopes the new policy works, adding, “Hopefully students don’t want to go to Saturday School, that’s the whole point.”