Richmond Schools discuss attendance policy changes

Richmond Schools discuss attendance policy changes
Updated: Jul. 16, 2018 at 11:25 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - School officials in Richmond are discussing changes to your child's attendance policy, after several high school seniors missed too many classes to graduate but still received their diplomas.

"We need everyone to understand that right now, the biggest thing we can do to accelerate student achievement is to get our kids to come to school every day," said Harry Hughes, Chief of Schools at Richmond Public Schools (RPS).

Student Attendance is an issue RPS is trying to get to the root of after several seniors graduated, despite missing too many classes. The 2012 attendance policy has not been enforced in years.

Hughes presented recommendations for attendance policy revisions that aim to solve this issue once and for all.

Here how those revisions break down: if a student has 18 or more excused or unexcused absences, or misses 18 class periods of a course in one semester, that student will not receive course credit.

This is a change from the previous 2012 policy, which considered six or more unexcused absences per semester punishable by failure of a course.

Hughes believes enforcing a policy like this could add hundreds of hours in lost instructional time per student back to the school day.

The recommendation also mentions high school students who exceeded the number of allowed absences could choose to enroll in credit recovery courses or summer classes.

"We cannot just be mediocre as a school," said parent Jenny Aghomo. "We can't be mediocre as a district. We cannot be mediocre. Our teachers can't be mediocre, and we can't let our students be mediocre."

Aghomo says whatever policy gets enforced should be one everyone is on board with.

"You have to really make sure that everybody knows about it, knows exactly what's going to be expected and exactly what the consequences will be," said Aghomo.

"There's at least one very significant difference between this coming year and last year, and that's that everyone will know about the policy," said RPS Superintendent Jason Kamras.

The so-called "bathroom blitz" to fix up Richmond school bathrooms was also on the table Monday night. School board members hope to have an online sign-up sheet live by the end of the week, so anyone who wants to help fix up the bathrooms can pitch in.

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