A suspension is one of the second most serious punishment most schools enforce – except for a few Texas schools who resort to corporal punishment. Besides expelling students from the school, a suspension is supposed to make students feel the consequence of their bad behavior. But all too often, suspending a student just gives them an excuse to not come to school. Because Harrisburg High School in Pennsylvania had a huge problem with unexcused absences, the new high school principal, Lisa Love, decided to get serious. She wanted her students to understand that skipping class had consequences. So she decided to suspend half of the students in the school.
Lisa decided to target the students with the worst school attendance records. She poured through the books and identified the students who missed 35 classes during a nine-week period. That’s a lot of class to miss and it’s going to reflect poorly on their final grades – not to mention their high school graduation rate.
With seven classes a day, missing 35 classes is like missing an entire week of school. And these students weren’t sick or out of class for a good excuse, they were abusing the rules and skipping because they thought it was cool.
Principal Love issued at least 100 suspension notices to the students with these dastardly attendance records. But she was only getting started with her tough love methods.
Love wants the students parents to know the truth. Because the kids leave home and go to school every day, their parents assume they’re attending class. But they are not. Often they skip certain classes and hang out in the hallways or leave the school grounds to smoke cigarettes or marijuana. But when Principal Love issued the suspension notices, she made sure the students’ parents got involved.
Principal Love is sick of having to deal with the kids who skip class. Instead of getting their education and making a positive impact on society, these idle students are vandalizing the school and disrupting the other students who do want to learn. It makes it hard for the students who do want to graduate from high school and go onto lead successful lives.
Although Principal Love seems eager to put a stop to truancy, her method might not be wise. Organizations like City year, a non-profit AmeriCorps program, sends volunteers into schools that can call parents and notify them when their children are not in class. It seems that Principal Love’s main motivation for suspending half of her students is to make sure the parents know what they’re up to when they pretend to be going to school. Suspending students for absenteeism just gives the students more time away from class.
Plus, parents these days advocate for their children despite what teachers and principals say. After issuing so many suspensions, Principal Love was greeted with a flood of parents with “excuse” notes to get their kids out of the suspension. The parents didn’t care that their kids were skipping class and not learning.
Perhaps, Harrisburg High School needs a security staff to make sure students aren’t wandering the halls when they should be learning.
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