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High school students in the Niagara Falls City School District will follow a new attendance policy, approved by the School Board Thursday in a move described by one official as a "more realistic approach" to learning.

"We had a policy that penalized students for taking field trips and visiting colleges," said Don J. King, board president, after the unanimous approval of the attendance motion.

"This is a more realistic approach," King said. "It takes into account the whole student. I don't think a student should be penalized for visiting a college he may choose to attend. There's more to teaching than what takes place in the classroom."

The former policy, King explained, considered college visits and most field trips as unexcused absences. Under provisions of the new policy, students will be monitored for attendance at the classroom level by the instructor.

Any student who illegally misses up to five days of school or classes will have a parent or guardian notified by phone. A letter requesting a meeting with parents or guardians will be sent home if students who illegally miss up to 10 days of school. Any student who has accumulated up to 15 illegal absences will be referred to an administrator, who will file a PINS (Person In Need of Supervision) petition in Family Court.

If the attendance pattern of the student does not improve after the referral to Family Court, the building principal may request a superintendent's hearing.

In other business, the board renewed an agreement with the Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center for nurse practitioner services. The one-year contract calls for the district to pay not more than $141,500 for the service.

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