Administrators enforce policy change

Recovering attendance will no longer be an option if less than 90 percent


Sarah Luna

Students prepare to sign in for a three-hour long Saturday School session in the library.

Chris Remington, Staff Reporter

School administrators are changing the Saturday School system that many students have relied upon to help them fix attendance problems to satisfy graduation requirements, making it available to fewer students starting with the next school year.

The changes are in response to a state law passed in 2013 that changed the minimum attendance required to earn a credit for a high school course in Texas. The change in the law requires students to attend a class 90 percent of the days the class is offered instead of the minimum 75 percent that was required before.

For some students Saturday School is a simple if inconve- nient solution to fix attendance problems when they find out they have been absent too many times.

“There’s a very big push legislatively that says if you are not here than you have to retake the course,” assistant prin- cipal Shawn Mena said. “Saturday school is not here so that you can choose not to go to your class and come make it up.”

In the past, students get notified by an assistant principal that they have too many absences and are told they must at- tend a certain number of Saturday School sessions to make up the seat time that was missed. It’s a simple solution to a problem that can prevent students from graduating.

“Saturday school is an opportunity for students to earn back seat time because you have to have a minimum amount of percentage of actual seat time,” Regina McGough, school improvement facilitator said. “You have to physically be in the building.”

Under the changed system, students would be notified by an assistant principal that they have too many absences and that they can no longer make up the lost seat time, failing the course in total. Students would no longer be able to strike a deal with a principal because the new law requires 90 per- cent attendance.

“House Bill 5 says if you fall below that 90 percent you still lose credit however if you fall below the 75 percent mark there’s no chance for making up any credit,” interim principal Brandi Hosack said.

The House Bill 5 law has removed any flexibility that school administrators had in the past to make arrangements to make up lost seat team below the 90 percent mark, Ho- sack said. That includes other arrangements such as tutoring outside of the regular class day or community service hours.

Hosack said she wants every student to know that the rules are going to be different and strictly enforced next year. She warned students against accumulating too many unex- cused absences to avoid the risk of not graduating.

“Come to school every single day,” Hosack said. “There is nothing more important than graduation day and every single day you’re making a conscious decision that you’re going to graduate. Every day counts.”

With all the changes surrounding Saturday School, some might assume its going away. However, Saturday school is here to stay.