New Lateness Policy: Is It Effective?

Jeanyna Garcia, Reporter

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When a student is tardy to class, they are marked late in the attendance sheet and usually face detention or community service after school. Depending on the severity or amount of latenesses, the student is subject to parent conferences with the dean or has privileges revoked. This is what CSS’ standard lateness policy resembled a year ago. Flash forward to now, students who are more than two minutes late report to the cafeteria instead of their first period classroom and thus, miss class altogether.

Before the end of the midwinter recess, Dean Puritz announced to the middle and high school student body that students will no longer report to their first period classes if they are more than two minutes late. After a student swipes in at 8:03 a.m., they are to head to the cafeteria and remain there until 8:45 a.m. According to Dean Puritz, the purpose of this stricter lateness policy is to more effectively enforce punctuality, which former lateness policies failed to do.

“Being on time is a highly valuable life skill in the world outside of high school” explained Puritz. “Unfortunately, our former lateness policies have been futile in enforcing promptness: No matter how many detentions a student received, students kept coming late. Thus, we eliminated detention. Then we proceeded to the three strike rule: the first time a student was late, they were excused. The second time, they received a warning; and lastly, the third time resulted in a conference with the student and their parent.”

He could only express praise towards the policy’s outcomes.

“I’ve witnessed around a 45% decrease in tardiness” said Puritz. “Before, I had around three pages’ worth of late students. Now, I have about half of that length.”

Though he does admit that not all faculty members view the lateness policy entirely in a positive light. One of these members is Professor Harrigan, who teaches Music and Health to freshmen and sophomores. While Harrigan believes that this policy fosters ethical habits, she does point out that certain class structures make it difficult for late students to learn the missed material independently.

“As we progress to learning about the circle of fifths,” explained Harrigan. “Students are expected to know how to distinguish each key. When a student is absent for these auditory lessons, it is much more difficult for them to catch up on what they missed. After all, you can’t ask your peers to describe a sound and expect to suddenly know the circle of fifths.”

Professor Lennon, another high school teacher, also shares mixed feelings. Lennon believes that the policy’s effectiveness worked for a while, before the lateness returned back to normal.

“It seems that people who are habitually late are still not coming to class. I don’t know if they are skipping or in the cafeteria.”

She also claims that the lateness policy is, ironically, hurting more students than helping them. “The students that are being targeted are just giving up too quickly; they are not getting the education they need.”

Other professors also report seeing short-lived outcomes of the lateness policy, as this anonymous professor observed.

“I see no difference in terms of the amount of chronic cutters and latecomers; there are students who continue to cut my class regardless of the strict consequences awaiting them. If they are late and there isn’t a medical excuse, they get a zero for participation and forfeit their do-now quiz.”

Most middle-school teachers expressed a sense of dismay towards the policy, arguing that the policy is much harsher towards younger students. Professor McGuinness, who teaches eighth grade U.S. History, affirms that the new rule works differently for distinct age groups.

“The policy is beneficial for the higher grades, especially since they take it upon themselves to decide when they’ll arrive to class. On the other hand, the younger students are severely impacted because they’re missing out on 80% of their class time. It becomes even more harmful when they miss out on tests.”

Professor Schultz, who teaches eighth grade Algebra, also agrees that age makes a difference in addressing lateness.

“It is a weird case for 8th grade at CSS because some classes, like mine, are half middle school and half high school. I don’t know how I would feel about the punitive aspect of the system if I taught sixth or seventh graders, however.”

An anonymous middle-school professor went as far to claim that the new lateness policy is not suited for middle school.

“If a middle schooler is not motivated by grades, they just end up with a free morning. Middle school students are not mentally mature enough to understand that missing class is a consequence, not a reward” stated the teacher with grave concern. “It’s ironic that we punish students who miss class time due to lateness, by having them miss even more class time.”

For the most part, the faculty, which teaches higher grades, seem to agree on the ends of the policy.

“I’ve noticed that the students who formerly arrived fifteen to twenty minutes late are now arriving two to three minutes late,” reported Schultz gleefully.

“Lateness is quite an issue and I believe that this policy is two-fold: students are developing good habits and a strong study ethic. Being late to school is almost like cutting class,” affirmed Harrigan.

Reiterating the importance of promptness is something that latecomers need.

“As a student, I would be hyperventilating on the occasions I was running even one minute late to class” stated Professor Martin. “What latecomers do not realize is that every minute in the classroom is for them.  The lateness policy is a policy I will uphold because it reinforces a habit for life.”

Professor Terranova, who teaches high school, exclaims, “Nothing has worked in the past, but things are working now!”

There is a divide, however, on what the means of this policy should be. The majority of the teachers believe that this policy may be too punitive for younger students who may not realize the consequences of their actions. In addition, some say that chronic latecomers may become even more discouraged from being on time: Isolating students from the class creates a further divide between the student and the class. The consequences aren’t only limited to missing class; late students are expected to make up their work during the week.

It seems that multiple lateness policies are going to be needed to address each grade’s specific needs lest the policy faces a tragic ending like its ancestors.

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