The Morgan County School Board approved a new high school attendance policy.
“Attendance is always a difficult thing,” said Morgan High School Principal Wade Murdock.
It is not rare to see students with as many as 30 absences in one class for one trimester, Murdock said. However, some students with that many absences are still able to pull a passing grade out of a class. Murdock said that state office of education officials suggested Morgan High School do a better job at attaching class participation to grades.
“It’s gotta hurt if kids aren’t in class,” Murdock said. “If a kid has 30 or 40 absences, it should hurt a kid’s grade.”
According to state office of education officials, Morgan High School cannot withhold issuing a grade in a class due to attendance issues, Murdock said. Likewise, the district cannot withhold a diploma because a student has attendance issues.
A diploma and a grade is a student’s property, but participation in graduation ceremonies is a service, Murdock said. As such, school officials can deny a student the ability to participate in graduation ceremonies unless they pay their fine associated with their tardies and absences.
Currently, students can pay a fee to make up their tardies. However, there are other options that enable students to work off tardies.
Boardmember Jody Hipwell said fining students doesn’t seem to be working.
Murdock said he has seen some success in offering students the ability to dismiss a tardy after 10 days of perfect attendance.
“Basically, we have to do a better job and take attendance more seriously,” Murdock said.