Fairmont takes aim at truancy

FAIRMONT – Fairmont Area students are skipping more class, and have been late and truant more often, compared to last school year.

This has not gone unnoticed by administrators.

On Tuesday, Fairmont Area School Board approved changes to the student handbook intended to reverse the trends. Jake Tietje, dean of students, said focusing on attendance issues will help students prepare for real life.

New consequences in the policy manual are as follows:

o A student may not participate in any activity or program if he has an unexcused absence from any class during the day. The same is true if the student is kicked out of class for poor behavior, or suspended for another reason.

o If a student wants to participate in an activity, he must be in school, with a note, by 12:10 p.m.

o As for the number of excused absences allowed in a semester, the number has been lowered from 12 to 10, and parents will be notified after the fifth, eighth and 10th absence.

Changes to the tardy and partial absences section include: 15 minutes of detention for each unexcused partial absence, and 15 minutes of detention for every three tardies. For each additional unexcused tardy, 15 minutes will be assigned.

A partial absence is defined as 5 to 15 minutes late to class. Tardy is considered one second to five minutes late.

Tietje said the district also will crack down on pre-arranged absence forms for students on vacation, making college visits or attending non-school education opportunities. Failure to turn in the forms could result in unexcused absences for the time period. No excused absences will be allowed during state mandated testing.

Student ID badges also were put under the microscope this year.

The policy states students will be required to have an ID badge with them at all times, and will not be allowed to leave the classroom unless they are able to present one to the teacher.

The district also is going to crack down on allowing its students into sporting events and activities without their badges. Badges must be presented or a student will be charged admission.

Tietje reiterated that the policy changes are intended to help students prepare for the workforce, when they will be required to attend work regularly and promptly. He is also asking for parents help in the matter.

“We hope parents are responsible to help us out with this,” he said.