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August 29, 2012

Centennial Administration Announces New Social Probation Policy

by The Centinal

By Roni Adar & Megan Wolter     Editors-in-Chief

Many students and parents are curious about the new tardy policy that Centennial has put in place.  In previous years, when students would be tardy to class or have an unexcused absence, they would receive minutes.  Students would then have to serve these minutes in order to go to sporting events, extracurricular activities and dances.   Although if they got to a certain amount of minutes, students would be placed on the social probation list making them ineligible to attend school functions until they served the amount of time due to the school.  Principal Greg Johnson and many of the Associate Principals didn’t like this system because, “the only reason minutes worked was because of social probation. Kids would get minutes and it would build up over time and when a dance or a big event came around they would start to care. Students didn’t care about being tardy because they knew they could still attend as long as they served minutes. [Having them serve minutes] wasn’t changing their behavior. So we came up with a policy that would change the behavior of the students.”

The new policy states that if a student receives “four tardy slips, two unexcused absences, two Discipline Referrals, one suspension, or is failing multiple classes” they will be placed on the social probation list.  Moreover, there is “no way to get off [social probation] once you’re on it.  You can’t go serve minutes to get off of the list; you can’t stay in for lunch.  You have to not get any tardy slips, unexcused absences,  Dean Referrals and keep your grades up.  Once you are on social probation, you are there for two [full] weeks.”

“We’ve been talking about a new policy since sometime between November and January of last year.  We knew we couldn’t roll it out last year because we didn’t want to do it midway through the year. We were talking about it for a few months.” commented Johnson on how long he and the administration have been working on this new policy.   He is hoping that, “it [the new tardy policy] gets people to class on time…[because] we’ve had a huge numbers of kids in the past serving minutes before these big events. It’ll help because instead of serving those minutes it will make sure that those same students will be getting their butts to class on time.”

One of the biggest questions is why did the administration choose to change the policy? Granted, the old one wasn’t perfect, but to many, it seemed to work.  Johnson’s response was simple: “I don’t care about if you can serve minutes, but I do care about you being in class on time. I do care about you guys not ditching your classes. The idea is that’s the only way that you’re not on it [the social probation list].”  The scariest part came when Principal Johnson started mentioning the statistics to back up the administration’s decision.  “The number of overall minutes the students in our school owed us was over 100,000 minutes. It was something like 56% to 57 % of the student population was on the social probation list. It was worse at the end of the year than it was at the beginning of the year. All the evidence told us that it wasn’t working.  If detentions were working then there would be fewer [overall minutes to serve].”

Now that the new policy has been pieced together, some have worried about it having major flaws.  It has been mentioned that if a student misses one period once a week, with the new system, nothing would happen.  “Not necessarily,”  Johnson replied.  “A few different things could happen but you wouldn’t necessarily get on the social probation list.  The student’s Associate Principal could possibly give them another consequence if it continues to happen. It’s up to their AP [what the consequence will be] after having conversations with them.”

Another question has been that the new system will be too hard and at the same time, too lenient. Johnson’s response was simple, “this policy is meant for kids who are ditching school on a regular basis. We’re not pretending it’s going to fix all of the attendance issues. We think that this could also help us address those kids who are absent from time to time.”

Another addition to the policy of helping with attendance issues is interventions.  “The district has assigned us a Tardy Interventionalist. Our assistant principals are working with that person to try and figure out what steps would be taken. We do that already for behavioral stuff. We could do anything from talk with the teacher to visit them at home, but those are for really extreme situations. The types of interventions that we’re talking about would be for kids who were tardy or absent on extreme levels.”

            It appears that the staff has had some mixed emotions.  “Some people like it, some don’t, just like anything new, but I’m happy to try something new because it [the old attendance policy] wasn’t working before.” He also said that, “we want to give it a chance to work and it wasn’t finalized until this summer.  It was shared with the staff the Monday before school started and the students will be hearing about it today in their gym classes.”

            Lastly, if the new tardy policy doesn’t work, will we go back to the old one?  Johnson’s answer is a straight up no.  “There is no way that I would agree to going back wholly to the old system.”  Also the school, “will still be calling home whenever a student is tardy or absent to class [and] it [the new policy] puts a little bit more pressure on families to make sure the kids are coming to school on time.”

Please leave a comment below with your thoughts on the new tardy policy!

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