Guest Editorial |

Guest Editorial

Students are being punished for excused absences

Lisa Wilson, Park City

What is a parent to say to a child who is doing their very best in school and is given an F for participation for taking an AP exam?

I have a sophomore who is trying to get into a top college. She takes a heavy course load, has over 100 hours of community service, and trains hard in a sport, all while remaining on Honor Roll. In Foods Class she got an F for the day for taking an AP history exam. She then read in The Park Record how the superintendent strongly supports Ms. Wright’s grading practices in Foods Class.

Our daughter attended the National Key Club Convention in Idaho. Key Club is a national community service organization. Key Club is the largest club in the high school with 200 members. It was tough to find kids willing to travel in a bus to Idaho for the convention. Out of 200 club members, only 12 attended. Our daughter was one of them. She knew she would receive an F for participation in class but decided it was the right thing to do. She chose to represent Park City High School at the National Key Club Convention and take an F for the day.

While at the convention she missed the Ski Team awards banquet. She had worked, trained and competed extremely hard all year. She was awarded the Sportsmanship Award. Her dad accepted the award on her behalf while she was representing PCHS at the National Level.

According to the high school Web site Policies Section and Agenda distributed to all students, the attendance policy says, "Students will be permitted the equivalent of 3 block periods of absences in each class for each quarter of the new year." Ms Wright’s disclosure says, "As per school policy, students are allowed three absences. Upon the 4th absence, students will not be allowed to make up work." All students and parents are required to sign that they have received a copy of the policy agenda and teacher disclosure statement at the beginning of the school year. Participation points are not mentioned.

According to the Utah Statue: "53A-11-903(c). — Notice to parents — Distribution of policies. Any significant change in a school’s conduct and discipline policy shall be distributed to students in the school and posted in the school in a prominent location."

Our daughter is disciplined or punished for excused absences. There has been no posting or distribution of the NEW discipline policy for attendance. It would appear the district is in violation of Utah State Law. The superintendent in an email said the Utah Distribution of policies law has "no relevance." I contacted the Division of Rules at the Utah State Capitol. The response: "It is true, as the statute states, that parents must receive notice of changes in a SCHOOL’S conduct/discipline policy."

Currently, a precedent has been set where the school district is no longer required to uphold the policies on the school Web site or teacher’s disclosure statement. The precedent has been set that a teacher may give an F for attendance for ALL absences, excused or unexcused.

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