Policy aims to curb truancy in Hayden

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— Hayden School District officials think too many high school students are taking too many days off during the school year.

When students return to school in September, they likely will be subject to a new attendance policy. The policy would limit the numbers= of absences a student can have in a given semester. Missing a class more than 10 times could result in a student not receiving credit for the class, according to the policy.

"We had multiple numbers of kids that went over the 10 days that we are proposing for a semester," Hayden High School Principal Troy Zabel said. "We have a fair amount of attendance concerns that have prompted this."

The policy would affect only high school students. After five excused or unexcused absences, a letter would be sent to the parents or guardians of the student, according to the policy. After seven absences, an administrator would meet with the parents and student, and the student would be subject to an attendance contract. Students could appeal whether certain absences, such as those resulting from an emergency or serious illness, would be counted against them.

The policy also states that five unexcused tardies equal one absence.

The problem is not just students skipping class, Zabel said. In some cases, the parents must bear some of the blame, Zabel said at a School Board meeting earlier this month. Some parents repeatedly excuse their student from class.

Zabel said there is no record of the school ever having an attendance policy. A state statute that limits the number of unexcused absences to 10 is inadequate, he said.

"It only deals with unexcused absences, and parents excuse them," he said.

School Board member Jody Camilletti said parents need to be reminded of the state attendance policy. Board member Kurt Frentress said parents should be held accountable for allowing their children to miss too much school.

"If you know parents are doing that, I guess you have to take them to task," Frentress said. "I think if you slam someone for writing an excuse letter, I think that will get around."

The School Board has spent the past year reviewing the policy. The board could adopt the policy at its June 21 meeting.

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