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New attendance policy doesn't pass

A proposed policy to tighten up Hamburg School District attendance rules was sent back for revisions after some members of the Hamburg School Board complained that it was too strict.

In particular, board members meeting Tuesday objected to a section of the policy that said students with an absence considered unexcused would not be allowed to make up the work.

Superintendent Mark Crawford noted that last June, shortly before graduation, several students were scrambling to make up work they had missed while cutting classes -- time spent, instead, hanging out at a local coffee shop.

Board members had qualms about the policy's wording and questioned what constitutes an excused and an unexcused absence.

Board member Gregory Wichlacz noted he plans to take his children out of school to attend a family wedding in California and is concerned about the consequences.

"This doesn't seem like a good idea. What are we saying with this -- that students can't make up work?" he said.

Board member Diane Reynolds added that she removed her daughter from school to attend a convention with her and the girl was able to hear former President Bill Clinton speak.

Crawford conceded that a family vacation can provide life experiences that are not only memorable but enhance a child's education.

Board President Stephanie Moses suggested that the district provide a form for parents to fill out if they know their child will be out of school for an unexcused absence, such as a vacation.

Crawford said district officials plan to "clean up" the policy's wording to draw a distinction between cutting classes and family vacations -- even though both are considered unexcused absences. The district's High School Core Team recommended the policy changes as a way to reduce truancy and unexcused absences.

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