Teachers hope Danville committee looks at early pickup, consequences

Teachers hope Danville committee looks at early pickup, consequences

DANVILLE — When one of Kim Lindsay’s second-graders at Northeast Elementary Magnet School arrives late to school, she gives the student an unexcused tardy.

According to Danville schools’ student handbook, first-time K-5 offenders get a warning. Repeat offenders get a detention, and their parents are called into the school for a meeting.
But Lindsay said there’s no consequence when parents pick up their children from school before the end of the day, something that seems to be occurring more frequently.
“It’s getting to be a real problem,” she said, adding parents “will show up anywhere from 5 minutes to a half hour early. The problem is, we are teaching up to the dismissal time. If a child leaves early, he or she misses that instruction.”
Lindsay first raised the concern at the Ownership in Education Committee’s January meeting. The Ownership in Education manual outlines students’ rights and responsibilities and consequences for breaking the rules, and each year a committee of staff, parents, students and other community members review it and make suggestions to improve it and keep it up to date.
This year’s committee has been reviewing the handbook since November. It will recommend any proposed changes to the school board this spring.
So far, the committee has looked at making sure the schools’ attendance and tardy policies are consistent throughout the district, among other things. Lindsay and other teachers hope it will continue discussing the early pickup problem and possible consequences at its next meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Danville High School library, 202 E. Fairchild St.
Danville elementary schools start at 8 a.m. and dismiss at 2:15 p.m., except on scheduled “early-out” days.
“If I have someone come in 2 minutes late in the morning, I give them a detention,” Lindsay said. “But if a parent comes in 20 minutes early to pick up their child, there’s nothing I can do. There’s no punishment.”
Allowances are made for excused absences such as doctor appointments. But too many times, teachers said, the reasons don’t seem valid.
According to teachers, parents have said they need to run errands, get to another child’s sporting event or after-school activity on time or are trying to avoid the traffic queue after school. One parent even said her daughter had to get her hair done.
“Or we don’t get a reason,” Lindsay said.
Teachers said they have tried to explain to parents the importance of keeping their kids in school, sometimes to no avail. That’s why they think consequences should be considered.
“We don’t want to make things difficult for parents,” Lindsay said. “But this should be a warning to them that we do take instruction seriously.”
At the last meeting, members discussed applying the same consequences for unexcused tardiness to unexcused early pickups.
For middle school students, the consequence for the first offense is a warning; the second, a detention up to 30 minutes; the third, a dismissal pending parent conference. Repeated offenses may lead to an out-of-school suspension up to five days.
For high school students, the consequence for the first and second offenses are a detention up to 55 minutes, and the third and fourth, a dismissal pending parent conference. Repeated offenses may lead to an out-of-school suspension up to 10 days.
Lindsay’s class has physical education during the last period. She said P.E. teacher Beckey Burgoyne works with students up until 2:10 p.m. And Lindsay sometimes works with small groups of students on math or reading during that time.
 “Some people think, ‘Oh, it’s just 10 minutes.’ But the majority of teachers are instructing right up to the end of the day. Every minute of the day should count. That’s what we use as our mantra here at Northeast,” Lindsay said.
“The end of the day is also when you’re getting your homework ready to take home, you’re getting your agenda book filled out. It’s really an important time of the day,” added Burgoyne, who used to be a classroom teacher.
Following Tuesday’s meeting, the committee will hold public forums on any proposed changes at 6 p.m. March 5 at North Ridge Middle School, 1619 N. Jackson St., and 6 p.m. March 7 at South View, 133 E. Ninth St. A final meeting will be held in April.


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sweet caroline wrote on February 11, 2013 at 12:02 pm

It seems like a catch 22.  As a parent, I don't want my children to be given consequences for my picking them up early.  However, I only pick them up early if it is truly a doctor's appointment or something that has to take place during school hours. 

I can definitely see the teachers' point of view.  They work so hard to make sure their students are given a good education, and it is distressing to them when the students have to leave early or arrive late.

SocialinPurple wrote on February 11, 2013 at 10:02 pm

How does suspending a child for up to 10 days help improve the child's attendance? I don't like all of this focus on punishing the child or their parents. How does punishing someone motivate them to want to change? The cliche, "You win more flies with honey than you do vinegar" is true for a reason. Surely this school district can look into restorative practices for student infractions (not just tardiness but all sorts of issues that land children at risk of being suspended). 

Why not have the child and the parent write an essay about why school attendance is important? Maybe you could require that the essay include a certain amount of sources and maybe have the child talk about what they miss out on when they miss school.

Teachers could also deduct points from the child's grade.

If the problem is really that widespread, maybe the school can hold a contest for students who arrive to school on time and are also not checked out early. All of the students' names can be put into a raffle and a prize is given out. It may not convince the parents but maybe the students can say, "I don't want to be picked up early today."

Another note: Detention for being 2 minutes lates seems unreasonable, especially since children oftentimes cannot help the fact that they need someone else to get them to school.