Students Praise New Tardy and Absence Policies


Mr. Hand excuses a student from a tardy-related detention

Julia Sandquist


Mr. Hand excuses a student from a tardy-related detention
Mr. Hand excuses a student from a tardy-related detention (Photo/ Brenna Manning).

At the conclusion of the 2014-2015 school year, Walpole High’s Handbook Committee, consisting of students, faculty, and administration members, sat down to evaluate potential changes to the handbook for next year. Out of all the topics of discussioncoffee, privilege cards, the academic dishonesty policythe conversation always circled back to one glaring issue: the tardy and attendance policy. After much deliberation, the committee formulated a new policy designed to be fair and increase attendance at Walpole High.

The new tardy policy states that if a student is late to class, he or she must sign in at the attendance office, but if the student is tardy to homeroom, he or she would go to their homeroom as usual. Also, for every third time a student arrives late to school, whether that is to homeroom or class, he or she will be assigned an official detention. However, once a student receives an hour for a third tardy, he or she may see either assistant principal, Bryan Hand or Lee Tobey, and they may excuse them from the detention as long as the student was present and on time to school for the previous ten consecutive days.

Under the much stricter tardy policy last year, students who arrived to homeroom late two times would not have to sign in to the attendance office. However, on the student’s third offense, he or she had to serve a detention that same day. Additionally, students could only come into school late after homeroom one time before they must serve a detention. Although the numbers reset at the end of every semester, many students believed the policy was unfair and instead of promoting timeliness and attendance, the policy actually encouraged absences.

“Last year, I received two tardies because I was late to homeroom. One morning, I was running late to school, and I just went back home because I would rather miss a day of school than receive a detention,” said senior Lisa Regan.

The attendance and tardy policy have been adjusted numerous times but not always successfully. With the adjustment of the policy for the 2014-2015 school year came 9.4% increase in absences from the 2013-2014 school year. In addition, last year, there were 158 detentions issued to students who had a 3rd tardy to homeroom and 474 detentions issued to students who arrived late to school after homeroom.

The attendance policy has also been modified to become more efficient for Walpole High students. Last year, a student was allowed 6 unexcused absences per class in a semester. If one had more than six unexcused absences, he or she would lose 2.5 credits for the class. This year, a student is allowed up to eight absences per class for each semester, and it does not matter if they are unexcused or excused. For any other absence after the eighth, a student must provide appropriate documentation to avoid losing 2.5 credits for the class.

“It was difficult to keep track of students’ documentation that excused them from absences last year,” said Assistant Principal Brian Hand. “By creating a policy that disregards whether the absences are excused or unexcused for the first eight absences, we will have less absence notes to track down and the system is more organized.”

So far, the new policies have been popular among students and faculty because they are more reasonable if a student is late or absent to school.

“I am relieved that I no longer have to stress or rush in the morning if I am not on time,” sophomore Libby Foley said.  “I am glad that administration listened to faculty and student opinions to resolve the issues with the old tardy and attendance policy.”