Pasco school district revises proposal on unexcused absences
Pasco schools superintendent Kurt Browning has revised his recommendation to eliminate mandatory penalties for students who have unexcused absences.
Following School Board member suggestions, Browning has decided not to strike the entire section on consequences from the Student Code of Conduct. Instead, he has proposed replacing the "shall" in the wording with the more permissive "may," essentially giving principals and teachers more leeway to choose the best course of action for each student.
Browning's administration has aimed for more than a year to decrease the punishment for missed days, under the premise that in many instances those punishments -- such as not playing in interscholastic sports -- simply serve to keep students away. His team also has asked to allow students to make up all work missed during unexcused absences, contending that the goal is to have students learn material and not penalize them just because they weren't there.
It has backed away from the makeup work proposal for the time being, keeping its rule focused on students with excused absences and making no mention about unexcused absences.
Board members have said they see both sides of the situation. They want to take into account individual children's circumstances, which might be beyond their control, while also not creating a system that creates too much added work for teachers and takes away accountability for students.
This latest language is the administration's attempt to balance the competing interests. It goes to the School Board for the first of two public hearings on Tuesday.