The amount of unexcused absences compelled Principal Lisa Love of Harrisburg High School to delve out an alarming number of suspension notices. Rather than showing up to class, several students have opted to spend time in the hallways, bathrooms, gymnasiums, and other areas of the school. Love said she could not improve academic achievement there if students don’t show up to class.
As a result, about 500 students are facing suspension. That’s nearly half the school.
At least 100 students served one-day suspensions already. The school’s officials are working with the parents of the remaining students. Many parents have provided documentation to explain the absences.
“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. And that’s to focus on student achievement,” Principal Love said.
Understandably, not everyone agrees with the principal’s decision regarding the unexcused absences.
At least one parent voiced her concern about preventing students from attending class as punishment for missing class. “What does that teach them?” said Shanelle Franklin, whose daughter is one of the students who has been threatened with suspension. “They’ve got senior projects to do.”
Assistant Principal Keith Edmonds says that when news of the suspensions began to spread, parents started showing up at the school in order to provide documentation for absences in order to help their children avoid the penalty. Moving forward, students who choose to continue to skip class may miss prom or graduation ceremonies, Edmonds said. Students with more than 15 unexcused absences can’t go to prom. Principal Love said that parents who are concerned about their child’s status regarding the suspensions should contact the school before purchasing expensive items for the event.
Although the suspensions might not well-received, Love hopes for a positive outcome. She sees it as an opportunity to connect with parents concerning this important matter. She also plans to meet parents by hosting meetings next month.
“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.”
For more information on the suspensions, watch the video below:
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