No Time for Tardies

At the start of the second semester, Westside High School enforced a new tardy policy that is not known by many students. Instead of teachers being able to decide the consequences for a student who is late to class, there is now a new school-wide policy that applies to everyone. While it does improve the policy on tardies by giving more structure for teachers and students, the new policy still isn’t effective enough to convince students to go to class on time. 

Last semester, students could show up late to the same class multiple times and receive minimal consequences, which were decided by the teacher. This semester, the new rules give structure to the policy and allow students to know how tardies will be handled. According to Principal Jay Opperman, it seems that the new rules don’t differ much from last semester.  

“In the past there was no set practice that we said [students] had to do,” Opperman said. “Some teachers did something very similar to what we’re doing [now], but other teachers had different approaches. We’re just having a consistent practice with how we deal with a student who struggles to be on time. At the third tardy in the class, it’s going to be a teacher-managed consequence, which would probably include a phone call home as part of that. Then, at the sixth [tardy], the teacher has a choice. If they still want to deal with it, that’s fine.”

The new policy establishes what consequences will be given if a student is late to class, which helps bring attention to the issue before it gets out of hand. This way it can hopefully be worked out between the student, teachers and the parents. 

However, not everyone believes that a call home on the third tardy is necessary. Freshman Marty Mormino said he believes the call home should be saved until the student is consistently late to their classes.

“I think it’s a bit of a stretch to call home for the third tardy, especially because they are just starting class and you aren’t missing anything,” Mormino said. “I would make it so on the third [tardy] it wouldn’t be a call home, you would just have to stay after class, sort of like a detention. I don’t think they need to directly call the parents for being late by a [few] minutes. I’ve been late to classes where the teachers don’t count the tardy because I didn’t really miss anything that was vital to the class.”

Students who believe missing the beginning of the class isn’t a big deal is one of the main issues with being late to class. The teachers giving the students no consequence is the other. It leads to students believing that the beginning of the class isn’t important, so if they are late, it won’t matter. This was another one of the main reasons for the new policy according to Opperman. He said that the beginning of a class can be essential because it sets the focus for what’s happening that day.

“Being on time takes multiple things,” Opperman said. “It depends on our teachers starting class right away and showing that the start of class is important. [We] want to encourage the start of class because this is where you learn what’s going on, what the focus is for the day and getting all students in the room.” 

Since this was the focus when deciding what the new policy should be, being late to class for the first time only results in a warning from your teacher to be on time. This allows teachers to explain to the student why exactly the start of class is important and is an improvement instead of just giving the student a detention. 

While the idea of enforcing a new tardy policy came from the staff, some teachers said they did not have a problem with how things were. Other teachers, such as math instructor Christine Goetz, said they thought that a new policy for being late was past due, and it was time that Westside High School became more strict about students being on time to class. 

“Most schools have a tardy policy like this,” Goetz said. “It [was] time Westside had one too. There were no guidelines for handling tardies, so it was up to each individual teacher. This will give [teachers] a little more consistency across the building, and students will be getting more out of the class.”

Although the new policy may appeal to some of the students and staff, most are used to the way things were before this new policy. For some people, it might be a wake up call. The policy brings structure to each class and lets students know how tardies will be handled. It could still be improved from what it is, but overall the new tardy policy is a step in the right direction. 


New Tardy Policy

1st tardy – reminder from teacher to be on time

2nd tardy – warning that next tardy will be communication home and consequence at teacher level

3rd tardy – communication home and consequence at teacher level

4th/5th tardy – teacher discretion of communication/consequence

6th tardy – turned over to dean for consequence