The first day of the 2018-19 school year was started by students and teachers filing into the auditorium. Assistant Principal Fred Unsicker took some time to address students and staff of a new change that has made its way to the handbook. This change, which involves the attendance of the students, was formed in hopes of improving our school attendance rate.
Last year, English teacher Carol Fullington’s speech class was assigned to rewrite the school’s prior attendance policy. Unsicker and Principal Chad Johnson liked their new policy idea and decided to put it into effect.
“Her speech class did a significant amount of research into other schools’ attendance policies, and they also looked at Indiana Code related to attendance. Once they had their proposal written, I spent some time talking to them and doing some of my own research on attendance policy, and Mr. Johnson and I really liked the suggested changes,” said Unsicker.
The new policy features many changes that will now affect what does and does not count as excused absences. The absences are now classified into three categories, professionally excused absence, parent or guardian excused absence and unexcused absence. The professionally excused absence is the only absence that does not count towards the student’s total absence number.
In years past, a call was automatically made to a student’s home after five to seven absences, and on the eighth absence, a meeting was set up with the principal and parent.
“This year, we changed it to placing phone calls at absence 4 and 6. This allows more time to work with students and parents on absences. Also new this year, on absence 6, students will be placed on an Attendance Contract,” said Unsicker.
The Attendance Contract states that absences seven, eight and nine will all result in a Friday school. If a student reaches nine absences, the school will then notify Orange County Probation for being habitually truant (absent). Once a student reaches the tenth absence, they will lose credit in the course.
“I really do believe this change will make an improvement in our attendance rate. We were just under 95% last year, and I believe we can close in on 98%. So far this year, we are right at 96% for the entire school. In the research I did, schools who had more strict attendance codes had better attendance percentages at the end of the year,” said Unsicker.
Unsicker would like to thank Fullington’s class for all the help in rewriting this policy and encourages students to notify the office if you know you will be missing school.
Story by Maggie Vincent