Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hernando County schools consider stricter attendance policy

Hernando County students and parents could see changes in their attendance policy if the School Board approves recommendations from an attendance committee.

The revisions add teeth to the existing policy and were recommended as more research has proven the connection between attendance and success in the classroom, according to the attendance committee made up of assistant principals and guidance counselors that wrote the proposed changes.

"Students need to be there in order to get the instruction they need," said Dana Pearce, an assistant principal at Springstead High School who served on the committee. "We're being held accountable for them, and teachers are being held accountable, and that's going to hit their wallets at some point."

The first potential change addresses the amount of class time students are allowed to miss. Currently, this is determined by the number of days missed. The board will consider replacing this with a system that requires students to maintain a 90 percent attendance rate per class over the course of the school year.

The shift would put all high schools on the same playing field, Pearce said. Nature Coast Technical High School operates on a block system, with different classes on different days. So missing a full day at Nature Coast could mean missing more or less time in each class than at the other four high schools.

If students aren't present for the required amount of time, they could lose privileges such as parking, and attendance at prom and homecoming events, a change Pearce considers to be the most significant.

This system aims to take a more preventative approach because the students would start viewing the activities as incentives to come to school rather than privileges, said supervisor of high school curriculum Marcia Austin, who led the committee.

"The loss of privileges will serve as a warning as opposed to the current policy where students discover at the end of the semester that they are over the number of allowed absences," she said.

Excused absences don't factor into the percentage. But students would have an excused absence limit of five per semester. The valid reasons for excused absences will stay the same, including illness, death in the family and principal-approved vacations.

The committee originally removed vacations from the list, but the School Board recommended at a workshop in June to add it back in. But the board and administrators present at the workshop agreed that vacation excuses should not be granted during testing periods.

Austin said she hopes parents will plan trips around the school calendar.

The tardy policy could also change. Currently, a tardy counts as an absence if a student misses more than half a class. Now, students who miss more than 25 percent of the class will be considered absent.

Surrounding counties are starting to make shifts in their attendance enforcement as well.

Pasco County School District officials brought in a doctoral student from the University of South Florida to conduct research on dropout risk factors, which include attendance, said Carrie Morris, senior supervisor of student services. District officials are in the early stages of analyzing their current policies but plan to refine them over the next few years based on the research findings.

In Citrus County, administrators have recommended the School Board delete a section of the code that stipulates students may fail a class for accumulating more than five absences in a quarter, said Regina Allegretta, director of student services.

Feedback from teachers and principals showed that the 15-year-old penalty system was no longer effective. Allegretta said the district is putting together an attendance committee over the next year to come up with a more suitable solution.

"We're looking for alternative methods," she said. "We want to do what's best for the kids."

Contact Kathryn Varn at (352)754-6114 or kvarn@tampabay.com. Follow @kathrynvarn.

Hernando County schools consider stricter attendance policy 07/05/14 [Last modified: Saturday, July 5, 2014 8:40pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Editorial: Here's one way Florida courts can measure a quality education

    Editorials

    The question before the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee is whether Florida is following its constitutional duty to provide a high-quality education to public school students. The point was originally raised in a lawsuit brought by advocacy and parents groups and dismissed by a circuit judge in 2016. When it …

    The question before the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee is whether Florida is following its constitutional duty to provide a high-quality education to public school students.
  2. Paul Shanley, ex-priest in Boston sex abuse scandal, released from prison

    Nation

    BOSTON — A notorious figure in Boston's Roman Catholic priest sex abuse scandal was quietly released from prison Friday morning after completing a 12-year sentence for the rape of a boy in the 1980s.

    This undated identification photo released via the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board website shows Paul Shanley, released Friday from the Old Colony Correctional Center in Bridgewater, Mass. Shanley, now 86, was a figure in the Boston Roman Catholic priest sex abuse scandal. He was released after completing a 12-year sentence for the rape of a boy in the 1980s. [Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board via AP]
  3. Times recommends: Justin Bean for St. Petersburg City Council

    Editorials

    Eight candidates are running for St. Petersburg City Council in District 6, a diverse collection of neighborhoods that includes portions of the Old Northeast, downtown, the Old Southeast and Midtown. Any of them will have a tough time becoming as effective as Karl Nurse, who is term-limited and has a strong record on …

    The St. Petersburg City Council District 6 candidate with the best potential for growing into the job is Justin Bean, an up-and-coming young business leader who has been active on civic issues.
  4. Rookie Kendell Beckwith pleased with first Bucs practice

    Bucs

    Bucs rookie linebacker Kendell Beckwith is eight months and a week removed from November surgery to repair a torn ACL, so there was a proud sense of accomplishment in getting himself healthy enough to be on the field for the opening practice of training camp Friday.

    Bucs inside linebacker Kendell Beckwith (51) defends tight end Cameron Brate (84) during the first day of training camp. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  5. Criticism part of the game for Bucs' Gerald McCoy, who is chasing 'ghosts'

    Bucs

    Who crossed the line with their criticism of Gerald McCoy?

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy jokes with teammates during the first day of training camp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Friday, July 28, 2017.