WATERBURY, Conn. – Every school district has those few students who lag behind a grade or two, but 2,000 of them?
That’s approximately the number of students that might have to repeat their current grade in Waterbury, Conn., under the city’s newly enforced absenteeism policy, WFSB.com reported Thursday.
The current policy prevents students with 19 or more unexcused absences from advancing to the next grade.
"These kids shouldn't be advancing — end of discussion — unless I hear otherwise," Board of Education President Patrick J. Hayes Jr. told Channel 3 Eyewitness News Monday. "It would make a mockery of the whole system."
About 2,025 of the 18,200 students in the district have missed 18 or more schools days, about 10 percent of the total school year, the channel reported. The majority of those absences were among high school students, where roughly a third of the student body at Crosby High School missed too many days to be elevated to the next grade.
Although parents continue to submit end-of-year notes in an attempt to excuse students for months at a time, the notes are ineffective because the new policy only accepts doctors' notes if the doctor identifies a critical or chronic illness, and if the note is handed over immediately when the student returns to school.
WFSB.com reported that school administrators adopted the strict policy last year after recognizing the number of excuses at the end of last year. An average of 1,500 students missed school each day during the 2005-2006 academic year and officials were concerned principals were waiving too many absences.
Some administrators strongly believe there should be exceptions under certain circumstances.
Some students that have already been held back once should be exempt so they dodge repeating the grade once more, Superintendent David L. Snead told Channel 3 Eyewitness News.