Pasco school students might not lose extras for unexcused absences
Pasco schools superintendent Kurt Browning continues his fight to end tough consequences on students who have too many unexcused absences.
This time out, he has proposed eliminating a policy that currently takes away privileges such as participation in extracurricular activities for students who have five unexcused absences in a quarter, or 10 in a semester.
"We've got to take a different approach," Browning said Tuesday. "Some of those kids, when you start thinking about taking away athletics, some of the time that's all that keeps kids in school. We cannot teach kids when they are sitting at home or roaming the streets."
He suggested that deleting the language would allow teachers and principals more flexibility in determining the most effective response to student absenteeism, based on individual circumstances.
"If you are going to treat kids fairly, then you are going to treat them differently," deputy superintendent Ray Gadd added. "We want to see principals treat each student according to individual needs."
Board members, who balked a year ago at Browning's push to let students make up work missed during unexcused absences, said they could see the superintendent's point of view.
Participating in extracurriculars can motivate students, they said, and if the principal has the discretion to take away participation, that could make the difference to some. Others might respond to different consequences, they noted.
"I think this is much more oriented toward getting results," board member Alison Crumbley said of the superintendent's proposal.
At the same time, chairwoman Joanne Hurley worried that a more differentiated approach could lead to a lack of consistency. Students could face different results for the same infraction, she said.
"There has to be some continuity coming from administration," Hurley said, echoing her position from last year's debate on missed homework and unexcused absences.
Board members asked the administration to explore other ways of wording the rule, including possibly changing the language from saying students "shall" lose privileges to saying they "might" lose privileges. The code of conduct is expected to come back for a board vote in April.