Photo Illustration by Devlin Ott
A Crackdown on Tardies at SDA
October 30, 2018
Twenty-eight students received detentions last Wednesday after hour lunch when assistant principals Katie Bendix, Celeste Barnette, and Robert Caughey caught them late to class. This was the first impromptu “tardy sweep” conducted by SDA administration in order to reduce unexcused absences.
Teachers and students had a lot to say about the tardy sweep. “As long as the students are within ten minutes of the bell they shouldn’t make students go to detention,” sophomore Mila Kennedy said. “Teachers should be able to handle minor tardies, and if it got out of hand then there’s a reason to get the school administration involved.”
Math teacher Paul Brice felt that the surprise factor of the tardy sweep may have been somewhat unfair, for there was no warning for the impending punishment. “[The students punished during the tardy sweep] have just gotten detention while no one else has gotten detention for being tardy,” Brice said.
Despite the suddenness of it all, Brice was in favor of the whole event. “It creates an attitude where they will not be tardy in the future.”
Brice, however, wants school officials to take a close look at the data they have gathered. “Those kids are still tardy. They don’t care… Is [the tardy sweep] changing behavior? Or is it just a punishment?” he asked.
Sophomore Annabelle Brider said she felt that students deserved a warning beforehand as well. “They maybe need to have students spread the word or maybe enforce it more… either get the word out or do it more often so that people will start to think ‘oh, we better get back before they start to catch us,’” Brider said. “For some kids who are normally tardy… this is fair. But for a lot of kids who have pristine attendance and pristine records…[they] don’t deserve detention for one little mess-up.”
Under regular circumstances, students would receive two hours of detention for every ten tardies and four hours for every seven truancies per quarter in accordance with the SDA Loss of Privileges Policy.
Some students felt that in an effort to get to class on time they would lose some of their lunch period. “Asking me to get from [the PAC] to my third period class, the corner of the P-buildings, before the bell rings is asking to take away from the 35 minutes I’m promised for lunch,” junior Aubree Stanfield said.
English and AVID teacher Ellen diCristina saw the sweep as potential for eliminating the number of tardies she deals with on a daily basis. “…I have several students who are absent to my third-period class…Hopefully, the tardy sweep will encourage kids to get to class on time. Teachers should be aware ahead of time so we can cooperate and make sure the chronic offenders are the ones who are facing the greater consequences.”
The rate of tardiness at SDA has been steadily increasing, Caughey said. “As long as I have been here, there hasn’t been a truancy system… I have been wanting to do this for a while.”
Caughey stated that he regards having all students on time to school as one of his main goals. He said he “is excited to support students and teachers”, emphasizing how this ‘tardy sweep’ is meant to “benefit teachers who lecture bell-to-bell,” and in effect, achieving a “higher level of education,” by, letting “the negative consequences [of the tardy sweeps] motivate [the students].”
These negative consequences include detentions after school, which were reportedly chosen as they are the “most inconveniencing and easiest to dish out,” Caughey said. The detentions issued on Wednesday were served the following day for an hour.
These sweeps are to become more common, said Caughey; they will remain spontaneous, and not just during hour lunch. “I want students to hustle every day.”
Improvements to the system are already being discussed, including incorporating the campus supervisors into the sweeps in order to cover more ground. Additionally, they talked about having attendance incentives for those who consistently show up to school on time. “Like a bagel,” said Caughey. “I don’t know.”
Caughey hopes to see a reduction in truancies as they monitor the data throughout the continuous practice of these ‘tardy sweeps’.
Despite all this, the message which the tardy sweep intended to send was all there. Brider said, “I think it is nice to raise awareness that you should be back at school on time, you should be here right when they tell you to.”
Student reporter Taylor Lee contributed to this story.