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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Pinellas attendance policy up for discussion, just later

To the relief of many teachers, Pinellas County School Board members Tuesday talked about the policy governing student attendance.

And perhaps to the same teachers' disappointment, board members and administration decided to talk about it more later.

Superintendent Julie Janssen told board members her staff will tighten the language in the general student attendance policy found on page 7 of the Student Code of Conduct and bring it to the board to consider.

For example, instead of using the word "may" in the sentence, "Students who have been absent five (5) days or more in a grading period may be required to bring a doctor's note for each absence," Janssen suggested it would say "will."

And instead of saying, "Too many absences will lead to a referral to the school's Child Study Team...," perhaps the policy will actually spell out what "too many absences" is.

Beyond that, Janssen said that during another workshop on Aug. 17, she will bring a revised exam exemption policy to the board to discuss.

Up until 2009-10, the exam exemption was only provided to high school students who hadn't missed more than nine days of school and had an A or a B. But the board changed that to deal with swine flu concerns, removing the attendance requirement.

Currently, high school students who have an A or B in the first and second six weeks and have a provisional grade of A or B in the third six weeks are not required to take the final exam.

Teachers complain that the change means students stop coming to class. And in an age when government officials want teachers to be increasingly accountable for the performance of their students, teachers say, the attendance policy must have teeth.

[Last modified: Tuesday, July 13, 2010 10:09am]


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