When a new principal took power at Harrisburg High School, she quickly used her authority to do something she always wanted to do. Within a matter of days, half of the school had been suspended. And when you realize the cause of her “shocking” punishment, you’ll admit that she did the right thing. Students need to understand that their actions (or lack of action in this case) come with consequences. And when you walk down the wrong path for too long, those consequences are not so great.
Because students kept racking up unexcused absences, Principal Lisa Love handed out 500 suspension notices to students on Monday. With 1,100 students enrolled in the school, classes are about half empty now… For the first time in a while, students can actually hear the teachers’ lessons.
About 100 students served in-school suspensions, while the remaining 400 suffered tougher disciplinary action. Meanwhile, parents are springing to action to explain why their children have missed so much school – something they should have done long before.
Principal Love promised to be harder on students and has already delivered on her promise.
“The problem I’ve noticed here as principal is that students are coming to school but they are not going to classes when they get here,” said Love, who began leading the school at the end of January. “Many parents send their kids to school and they’re thinking they’re going to class. I needed to reach out because of the enormous number not going to class.”
On Wednesday, school officials met with parents to explain their new, no-tolerance stance on tardiness and absences. Because the school has long struggling with graduation rates and test score, Principal Love is using more discipline to crack the students into shape.
“Instead of reporting to class, students congregate in hallways, restrooms, gymnasiums and other nooks and corners of the expansive school building,” Love said.
Love chose the “radical” route because she wanted to get the students and their parents’ attention. Not only does the community disrespect education, they don’t value it. Principal Love hopes to change that
“If you’re not in class, all you’re here to do then is to wreak havoc upon the school and disrupt the work that we are trying to do here,” she said. “And that’s to focus on student achievement.”
Assistant Principal Keith Edmonds supports his hard-nosed boss. Many students at the under-performing high school have missed 35 classes in the last 45 days. Missing 35 classes is equivalent to missing an entire week of education.
“This was a hard decision for me to make,” Love said. “But I had to get the attention of the community to let them know that we are here. And we’re about to do some wonderful things for students and the community and we want this to be a school that everyone is proud of. And this was probably the eye opener we needed to make that happen.”
Do you think students will finally value their education and learn?
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