The county School Board recently tightened its attendance policy to make it tougher to skip classes, but some HHS students say the change goes too far.
The policy revision approved last month and apparently aimed at students who arrive to school late or check out early is proving to be a real head-scratcher for students, staff, and teachers.
Under the change, if a student misses less than 3 hours and 16 minutes (that’s check in before 11:16 a.m. or check out after 11:44 a.m.), the absence is counted “unexcused” unless the student has a doctor/medical note.
A parent note isn’t enough anymore if the absence falls within the time parameters set by the board. So a simple tardy - arriving soon after the morning bell - will now require a doctor's note to be excused.
However, if the absence is for more than the 3 hours and 16 minutes, it is considered an “all day absence” and a parent note is all that is needed for it to be excused.
Confusing, we know. But a small piece of paper taped above the counter in the school front office helps boil things down a bit. It states, in bold letters, “A parent note may only be used to excuse a full day of absence.”
The policy switch has its supporters.
“It’s encouraging students to bring in doctors' notes and to come to school,” HHS attendance clerk Cheri Glor told The Ville News. “If you’re not in school, you’re not learning the material.”
Others, though, think the School Board changed the policy without enough consideration. They say unexcused absences affect students’ status for exam exemptions and school activities, and revisions to the policy shouldn’t be done without a lot of input and discussion.
“They’re basically saying they’d rather have kids miss a full day of school instead of them just missing a single block or two,” remarked senior Jalen Sands. “It’s ridiculous and makes no sense.”
Fellow seniors Haley Gentry-Hawkins and Alexias Ehiemua shared her sentiments.
“I can understand that they’re trying to cut down on people skipping, but it’s unfair,” Ehiemua said.
Gentry-Hawkins added, “You can’t always schedule a doctor’s appointment the day you are sick. You don’t always need to go to a doctor for your sickness.”
Story by Kiya Whitlow and Isabella Logue
A security breach with the ACT website delayed students at HHS and other Tennessee high school from taking the high-stakes test this week.
On Friday (Sept. 28) - four days before the scheduled ACT test date in Tennessee - an email to HHS faculty and staff announced that the test would have to be postponed because of the breach, which occurred in another state.
All of Tennessee and multiple districts across the country had to halt tests.
At HHS, where every student was to either take a practice ACT or the real test on Tuesday (Oct. 2), the delay affected students and teachers, who had to adjust their lesson plans.
“I am disappointed that the schoolwide ACT got cancelled because I think the practice ACT is a very valuable teaching tool for teachers of underclassmen,” said math teacher Jennifer Kotler.
“All students need to understand that the ACT is a test that you prepare for all throughout high school and not just cram for your junior year,” Kotler added.
HHS officials have said the entire school will still take the ACT – either as practice or the real thing – on the rescheduled date, which is expected to be either Oct. 16 or Oct. 30.
Story by Daniel Keatts-Thompson and Bella McBride