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Strict attendance policy may prevent students from graduating

By Anne Forester | Posted - Feb. 15, 2011 at 5:40 p.m.

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ALPINE -- One high school's attendance policy is coming under scrutiny from parents who say even kids who make good grades may not graduate.

Some students at Lone Peak High School in Alpine say they're worried they won't graduate: If they rack up too many absences it means no credit for that class, even if they've done the work.

Like most students, Damien Hayes -- a senior at Lone Peak -- doesn't have 100 percent attendance. If he's sick or out of class for a school function, he still has to make up his absences.

If he doesn't, it means he won't get credit for his classes.

"Kind of pointless. We're, like, being punished," Damien said. "We get the grade, we should get the credit."

Student are allowed four absences per quarter. If they rack up more than that, no matter the reason, it's a "no credit" or NC for the classes they've missed -- even if they've done the work.

Students have the chance to make up the absences in attendance school, which is held an hour before school starts.

But attendance school isn't offered all the time.

"They don't even supply enough attendance schools to get rid of them all, so you're stuck with them," Hayes said.

"Chair time and grades shouldn't really be affiliated, and that's how I feel," said Damien's mother Colleen Hayes. "They get kind of buried and feel like there is no hope. They say, ‘I have to go to how many attendance schools?' And say, ‘I can't do it, I'm done.'"

Colleen says that's what happened to her other son -- Damien's older brother -- his senior year in high school, so he left and worked on packets to graduate early.

Alpine School District says the attendance policy at Lone Peak isn't to prevent students from graduating, it's to teach them responsibility.

"The bottom line is there is a state law, the compulsory attendance law that students do need to be in school," said district spokesperson Rhonda Bromley. "So we need to get them here so we can educate them so we can help them graduate."

The district says there is an appeals process for students who miss more than the allowed number of absences.

Of course, the district says, if a student is sick then they want them to stay home, otherwise they should be in school.


Anne Forester


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