Student attendance
still a vexing problem

by Glenn Taylor
Northern News Services

INUVIK (Nov 28/97) - The student attendance policy at Samuel Hearne is failing.

The policy is bureaucratic and unwieldy, according to principal Bernie MacLean. And with student attendance still a critical problem, the District Education Authority is looking for a fresh approach to the problem.

The current attendance policy is difficult to administer because of the various punishment levels meted out for each late or absence, said MacLean.

"It's become a major administrative burden," agreed DEA member Bob Simpson. "But (attendance) is a serious problem. For some reasons, kids aren't showing up on time, or sometimes at all."

Consider the "late" policy, for example: students receive warnings for the first three offences, detentions for the next three, parents are contacted for lates 7-9, heavier detentions follow for lates 10-12, after which escalating suspensions take effect. A similar tiered system for absences was also implemented.

A new system is needed, said Simpson, one that doesn't tie up administration with paperwork determining punishment levels for students.

DEA chair Arlene Hansen agreed the policy may need reworking. "This was a test for us," said Hansen. "If it's not working, we're willing to try something else."

The DEA is also considering a drug and alcohol policy for students. In its current draft form, the policy would hand out automatic 20-day suspensions for possession, and other measures for suspicion of use.

"If you think the school is an alcohol- and drug-free environment," said Hansen, "you're wrong."