Unexcused Absences to Result in Lower Grades at Clarion Area

Scott Seeley

Scott Seeley

Published January 1, 1970 12:00 am

CLARION, Pa (EYT) — The Clarion Area School Board July 21 approved the 2015-16 student handbooks with several notable changes, including one that will turn unexcused student absences into a reduction in the grades for that quarter.

The new policy means students will see a three percent reduction in their grade for every day they are absent from school without an excuse during each nine-week quarter.

If a student misses a day of school and no excuse is provided within three days, it is considered an unexcused absence. Last year, students were not allowed to make up work assigned or due on the day of an unexcused absence.

Clarion Area High School Principal John Kimmel told the school board it is necessary to change the policy.

“Last year we had a significant number of students who missed several big assignments and lost all of those points, so it could be a huge impact. We also have some students figure out the system, so they choose to skip school on a day when they don’t have any major assignments. Under the new policy, that day means the same as any other day,” Kimmel said.

District Superintendent Mike Stahlman agreed the change is necessary.

“We’ve been brainstorming solutions to this all year long, and I think this is worth trying,” Stahlman said.

School board member Julie Hartley asked if the policy is based upon anything similar in other districts.

“We’re pretty much paving the way on this. I don’t know of any others which do this,” Kimmel said.

Parents won’t be surprised by the move, Kimmel said, because a phone call home will be made with each student absence, including information on the three percent grade reduction for unexcused absences.

Board member Tim Magrini asked about special circumstances.

“We had a bomb threat last year, and some parents kept their kids home out of fear. What about that?” Magrini asked.

Kimmel said if the district considers it to be an excused absence for any reason, the student will be allowed to make up all of their work and no grade reduction for the absence will take place.

Stahlman noted the district did excuse student absences last year in that circumstance when a parent indicated it was for that particular reason.

Other Notable Handbook Policy Changes

Other changes at the high school level include asking parents to contact the school office to reach their children during school hours.

“We want them to do that rather than calling or texting the student’s private cell phone,” Kimmel said.

The bullying policy was also changed to include parental involvement at all stages of discipline.

Elementary School Principal Roger Walter listed several changes in that student handbook, including a new discipline hierarchy.

“For kids up to third grade, we’re mostly still teaching them proper behavior, but at fourth grade and above, there are some consequences, but nothing major. We contact parents, and for first offense, it is recess time missed and spent in the office with me. I must note this is only when I become involved, which is supposed to be after the teacher makes several attempts to resolve this and has already spoken with a parent,” Walter said.

There is also a complete framework in place of how the district will react to specific student actions, Walter added.

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