MHS committee looks to make adjustments to attendance

Megan Burns, Print Editor-In-Chief


  After identifying the issue of excessive unexcused absences, MHS staff members hope to increase school attendance by modifying their approach to the problem.

  “What we’ve been talking about is saying that once a student has 15 unexcused absences and five clear actions have been taken to try to correct the attendance problem, then a student may be removed from a class,” Ryan Buck, English teacher and member of the attendance committee said.

  The committee is looking to possibly make an adjustment to how the school handles students missing class, stated Associate Principal of Operations Mike Souza.

  “We are not looking to reinvent the wheel with this,” Souza said. “Many surrounding high schools have policies in place that we are using as resources as we move forward with this work.”

  Buck noted that MHS already has positive, tier-one interventions in place, in which staff members develop relationships and have conversations with students “so they feel a sense of belonging in the class.”

  “I think the main reason behind taking the actions we’ve been discussing as a committee is to help students realize that actions have consequences, and there are lessons beyond just academics that may be missed as a result of any absence,” Buck said. “If you miss, it will be noticed.”

  The adjustments to the attendance policy include a five-step process. According to Special Education Teacher Payton Berg, the school has started implementing the first step.

  “Within this step, teachers/staff make parent/guardian contact when a student has been marked as ‘unexcused absent’ in their class three or more times,” Berg said. “The committee has made changes to ensure that teachers and staff are able to make contact with parent(s)/guardian(s) to discuss the attendance issue.”

  Logistics for the rest of the plan are still being worked through by the committee. Berg stated that they are “hoping to complete and start implementing the new policy next school year.”

  There are still some issues that need to be worked out for this change, according to Buck.

  “[An issue] that we need to discuss and begin planning is what may happen once the 15 and five have been exhausted,” Buck said. “Where will students go if they’re removed from class? What happens to their grades?” 

  Yet, this change does bring advantages, like having a policy supporting the importance of being in class.

  Buck stated that “[we can now] have a bit more infrastructure that supports the importance of showing up and doing your best, which are important to learn and promote for life after high school.”