Being late is practically contagious in high school. Every student does it, but how far will schools go to discipline student tardiness.
Muskogee High School has become a recent target of nationwide controversy due to the lengths the school district are going through to increase attendance rates. According to the new policy, four or more unexcused tardies or absences within a four-week period will result in a $250 fine issued by the local attorney general. If the student then fails to pay the fine, they face up to 15 days of imprisonment.
Muskogee High School students missed 17.4 days in a period of 175 school days, compared to Bartlesville High school students missing an average of 12.6 days per student according to Schoolreportcard.org. These newly implemented punishments are what the district hopes will help kick students’ bad habits; however, negative punishments already in place, such as detention and suspension, are impactful enough, and if a school cannot get students under control through regular school punishments, then there is an issue with how they as a school district are handling it. Students who continue to show up late for school are obviously not swayed by state fines affecting their parents.
Additionally, not everyone can afford this fine. Students coming from high income families will not take the fines seriously, while kids whose families are already struggling to get by will face more struggles by this fine. Those who cannot afford the fine do not deserve to be imprisoned because of financial shortcomings. It is a public school, and it needs to cater to students of all backgrounds. Supporters of these repercussions are not considering what type of students they are punishing. Having such a severe consequence after a small amount of trouble may make students care less as they may see it as an a standard that is too high with the most crucial punishment coming too quickly. The disciplinary system of the school needs to be gradual with its ramifications while trying to understand why students are not showing up.
A handful of parents and faculty members view this as fit punishment. In Oklahoma, it is state law that after repeated cases of truancy, the student can be taken to court in order to issue disciplinary actions or fines. Parents and educators alike agree students need the incentive to attend school.
The problem that arises through monetary discipline against a questionable offense is that if they are going to charge up to $250 then there must be more of an offence than only four unexcused tardies in four weeks. The school should take better disciplinary actions because if they have time to send a case to an attorney then they have time to sit the kids’ parents down and have a discussion with them before taking more serious actions. A good way to also boost student attendance is positive reinforcement. It is a vital time in a high schooler’s life and they need to feel validated for their effort.