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Attendance policy draws criticism

Students, parents and teachers criticized attendance policies during a meeting of the City of Tonawanda School Board on Tuesday night.

High school senior Daniel Wark, who raised the issue initially during the public comment period, criticized the high school attendance policy for seniors, who lose special privileges if they miss five days of school, unless the student was visiting a college or was on a field trip.

Wark noted that one of his friends was hospitalized for more than a week and lost her privileges, despite the student earning high grades in her classes.

On occasion, students receive an exception if there is a death in the family.

Senior privileges are revoked only for one quarterly marking period.

School Board members considered revisiting the policy, which was devised by students and building administrators several years ago.

"My biggest concern is that it's not right for the kids who are working," said board President James Weber.

Teacher and senior class adviser Robin Sesnie, who helped develop the policy, took exception to comments on senior privileges.

"It's unfortunate, but each case is unique," she said. "The policy was supposed to help attendance, but if we keep making exceptions, then there's no point."

Wark's father, Dean, defended his son's position.

"He stood up for himself, and I respect him for that," the father said. "He's not looking for something for himself, because he'll graduate [by that time the policy changes]. He's looking for what's right."

Teachers also complained about the attendance policy at the high school, complaining it has been loosely enforced as the district searches for a new principal.

In other news, Superintendent Barbara Peters announced that Sharon Lansing, assistant superintendent for pupil personnel services, has accepted a position with the Lockport City School District.

Peters said she will form a search committee to find a replacement.

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