In an effort to control excessive absences, Niles West has implemented a Social Probation Rule, which states that if a student exceeds 12 excused absences and four unexcused absences each semester, they will not be permitted to participate in extracurricular activities, including, clubs, sports, and even Homecoming or Prom.
This new rule was originally thought of during the last school year, according to dean Mark Rigby. However, the district decided to put it into action during this school year. The four unexcused absences account for when students decide to cut class, ditch school, and miss a whole class, without their parents’ permission or the school’s permission. The 12 excused absences only account for when parents and/or guardians call a student out from school or a single class due to sickness, family issues, and other emergencies. School-related field trips, activities trips, and sports trips do not count. The main reason for putting this rule into effect was to make sure that everyone comes to school, and stays in school, unless they have a legitimate reason not to do so.
“Our goal is to insure that people understand the importance of going to school. Getting kids here is our utmost priority,” Rigby said.
This new rule will stop students from staying at home due to reasons such as ‘I feel sick this morning’ or ‘I don’t feel like going today because I forgot to do my homework’. Jessica Ogulnik, the student activities director, said that excuses such as these are not going to be taken into account any longer since academics are much more important. There is also the fact that missing even one day of school leads to missing tons of work, which eventually piles on and on and on, and this could be a negative impact on a student’s grades.
“Nobody that excels only in extra-curriculars will be able to succeed in their future life endeavors… school should always come first. I do think it is very important to be in your actual classes, there are many many studies that show that students that are in their classes far outperform their peers which miss instruction,” Ogulnik said.
Exceptions will be made to this rule in cases of very urgent emergencies, such as hospitalization of the student. Out-of-school suspension and going home after a nurse’s visit will also count as an excused absence. Rigby said that he thinks this rule is very fair and makes sense because 12 excused absences are many days of missed classes, and there should not be a simple reason for missing so many days. Of course, there are situations that come up, but those situations need to be addressed by the student and their family to the school in order for exceptions to be made.
This new rule means that students will now have to balance out their absences if they wish to take an extended vacation during spring break and winter break, since these extended days missed will also be accounted for as an excused absence. Students who have doctor’s appointments during the school day and need to be called out for a period or two also need to keep their abscences in check, and if possible, try to have these appointments after the school day, so as not to miss any important class periods. If a student receives a cut slip by accident, even though he/she was called out, that student will have to take responsibility in order to prevent an unexcused absence from being recorded.
Ogulnik said that she thinks most of the adults in the school will agree to this new policy, and some students may agree too, especially with the fact that it isn’t very likely for a student to miss 12 days of school each semester, unless there’s a dire emergency.
“I think it’s [the rule] is fair. I mean, how many people can get sick for 12 days?” said junior Lia Isono.