Attendance Policy: Reasonable or Nuisance?

School attendance is vital:  It can have many positive and negative effects on one’s education. Studies have shown that students who attend school regularly and have low absences and tardies are more motivated and are less likely to drop out of high school than those who skip class and are late to their classes often.

With this statistic in mind, the North East Independent School District has put forth some strict and controversial policies regarding attendance at all public middle schools and high schools in the district. On campus, some of the important rules are as followed:

  • A student cannot leave campus without a blue slip. A parent must send or fax a note for the student to leave, or a parent must come on campus and pick up their child through the Attendance Office.
  • If a student leave campus, claiming to attend a doctor’s visit, that student has two days to bring back a doctor’s note.
  • Student’s must sign in or out at the Attendance Office whenever exiting or entering the building.
  • If a student misses more than five minutes of a class, the student is marked as absent rather than tardy; before five minutes, the student is marked as tardy.

When it comes to exam exemptions, the rules become more complex and tricky. If a student has a low number of excused absences and/or tardies, and has a A or B average in the class, he or she is able to exempt up to three exams from three different classes; those exams include semester and final exams. However a student who is in an Advanced Placement (AP) course, cannot exempt the first semester exam, due to the preparation for the AP exam later in the year. Much confusion has been stirred on what exactly is excused when it comes to absences. To clarify what absences are considered excused, here are some of the basic rules, courtesy of the Attendance Office:

  • Observation of religious holy days
  • Pursuing citizenship
  • College or university visit (2 per junior and senior year)
  • Natural disasters, weather or road conditions, as declared by the district
  • Emergencies recognized and approved by the principal
  • Attendance to an authorized school function

Unexcused absences are situations such as missing the bus, car problems, babysitting, jobs, vacations, personal celebrations and non-school affiliated fine arts productions.

Tyler Starley, a freshman believes that sick days should not be counted against any student due to the fact that “sickness does come up every once in a while.”

Some students feel as though the rules are unfair because of the unexpected situations that come about once in a while and how such little events are on the excused list.

“I think that we should have more days off because sometimes the absences are for doctors’ notes,” sophomore Valery Assad said.  “If you are a good student and cannot exempt because of going to the doctor many times, then that is crazy.”

Freshman Andrea Marmolejo thinks that families have a big influence on absences.

“I think we should have more days to miss when it comes to exemptions because people have to travel, and a lot of the times it is not optional,” Marmolejo said.

Whether you agree or not, these rules made by the district are to protect everyone and to make sure that students attend school when they are supposed to.

About Alex Walker

Alex Walker is a senior at Ronald Reagan High School. This is her second year at Reagan, but her first year on the Recorder Staff. She can be reached at

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