Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

January 15, 2014

Tardy policy stands

Hutson questions 'double jeopardy'

CROSSVILLE — Stressing communication as the key for parents, students and school administrators to work out problems in the attendance policy, the policy committee recommended no more changes to the policy.

Scott Maddox, principal of Stone Memorial High School, said, "If there are extenuating circumstances, we can excuse an absence if they will communicate with us."

Sandy Brewer, 3rd District representative, added, "If there is a problem the parent feels strongly enough they need to take the child out of school and they explain it to you, I can't imagine our principals not allowing it."

"If they tell you before hand," Maddox said. "If they do it and then come back and tell you, there's a problem."

Vivian Hutson, 6th District representative, questioned a policy at the high school of charging a student with two tardies if a parent signs the student out and back in during the same school day, and said she felt it was creating a "double jeopardy" for the student.

"He's saying, 'Why take me back if I'm going to get a tardy,'" Hutson said. "I can see how this could be an issue. If they're making the effort to come back, they shouldn't get two tardies. I think there will be a lot who just stay home."

But the attendance policy now does not allow work to be made up for unexcused absences, and a child not returning to school could face a penalty of missed grades and assignments.

Janet Graham, K-12 curriculum supervisor, explained that if the student leaves school for an excused reason, such as a dental appointment or medical appointment, and returns, the times are recorded but there is no penalty.

If the student is signed out and then returns later in the day, but the absence is for a non-excused reason, the student is charged a tardy for leaving and a tardy when they return. After four tardies, students face disciplinary action, including detention, and those tardies can add up, making the student ineligible for exam exemptions or triggering a summons to truancy court.

Josh Stone, 4th District representative, said after some discussion, "There was a decision made and, to me, it's really no different than not going to class on time. I don't feel that it needs to change."

Richard Janeway, 2nd District representative, said part of the purpose of the school system was to prepare students for the "real world," where being late for work, leaving work early, or not showing up at all would result in penalties, including loss of a job.

"At work, you're there or you're not. After three, you're going to get coaching. After six, you're terminated," he said. "If a student is being checked out and it isn't for a doctor's appointment or something like that, it should be unexcused. There are lots of appointments you can schedule after school. What are we teaching our children that we will accept and then, when they go into the real world, it's not that way?"

Brewer noted the policy now allowed for absences from school to be excused if they are requested in advance with proper documentation. The policy also allows for excused absences should there be, in the opinion of the principal, an emergency the student has no control over.

She questioned something that might come up unexpectedly, such as a child needing to be signed out to testify in court regarding custody during a divorce proceeding, or other such matters.

Graham said the schools always comply with requests of the court. She added there might be other special circumstances, such as a parent receiving an award and the family wanting the children to be present.

"We don't discourage those kinds of things, but they've got to communicate with us before hand," Graham said.

Finding out weeks or months after the tardies were charged that there was a reason for the student to be signed out that may have been excused is often what happens, Graham explained. At that time, there is little administration can do to resolve the situation, she said.

"We're not unreasonable people," Graham said. "What usually happens is we've had an extreme amount of time lapse and they've not communicated with us. Then it becomes an unexcused tardy and they have to take a test. That's when they get excited about it."

Tim Claflin, school safety supervisor, questioned if tardies which were tracked for those students merely late to class, but not late for school or leaving early, were tracked differently.

"The judge will ask 'Why is the kid in front of me for truancy when he's not truant?'" Claflin said.

Graham said attendance clerks had the ability to check if the tardies were for being late to school or for being late to class after they arrived at school. She believed procedural guidance to attendance clerks could be provided to resolve that situation.

The committee noted the policy did not state that the 13 tardies that would trigger an appearance in truancy court are unexcused tardies.

The committee is also considering development of a non-retaliation policy to protect employees who report possible ethical violations, as well as discouraging false accusations. The policy would be referenced in other policies, such as the ethics policies, and would also outline what someone should do if they believe they have been retaliated against.

Susan Huneycutt, assistant director of human resources, proposed a new policy or a simple statement to add to the existing ethics policy.

"A separate policy says you strongly believe retaliation shouldn't happen, but it also notes the consequences for making a false accusation, and it lets people know what that is," Huneycutt said.

The committee will discuss the policy next month after it has been reviewed by the Tennessee School Boards Association and BOE Attorney Earl Patton.

The complaint policy was approved with changes to the times permitted for each step of the process, with the committee changing the time to file a complaint 20 calendar days, instead of 20 school days. Stone was concerned specifying school days in the policy could allow a complaint at the end of a school year to continue into the following school year.

"We need to resolve a complaint as close as possible to situation," Stone said. "I don't want something to linger because of the language of the policy."

Brewer agreed, adding, "We need to know if there is a problem right away."

Janeway explained the committee had recommended changing many of the time requirements in half to speed up the process to resolve a complaint.

Janeway said the proposed policy changes had been reviewed by Patton and TSBA, and both believed the changes to be in line with statutory requirements.

The committee agreed to recommend the changes to the full board for consideration.


Text Only
Area News
  • Summer winding down in Tennessee

    July 25, 2014

  • Celebrating a year of writing our area's history

    Now that this column has passed its first birthday, I’d like to send thanks to those of you from our county and around the country who have sent messages and questions about things you’ve read in the Uncle Gib section. It is hard to cover many of these events in 500 words, and I try not go cover the same event more than three weeks. Research must be cut way down, and the most interesting information on each subject included.

    July 25, 2014

  • IMG_1806.jpg Celebrate Farmers Market Week Aug. 3-9

    Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has declared August 3 through 9, 2014, “National Farmers Market Week.” Throughout the week, USDA will celebrate the nation’s thousands of farmers markets, farmers who make them possible and the communities that host them.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ayers2.jpg County OKs resolution for CMC/Covenant refinance deal

    Cumberland County commissioners passed a resolution Monday evening giving its approval for Covenant Health to refund its bonds to refinance $40 million for Cumberland Medical Center.
    The request was made by Covenant Health, a Tennessee nonprofit corporation which now operates Cumberland Medical Center.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Plea includes ban from all Wal-Mart stores

    A Crossville man who was facing two counts of theft of more than $500, relating to shoplifting incidents at the Crossville Wal-mart, has entered a guilty plea, and part of his sentence is being banned from all Wal-Mart stores.

    July 24, 2014

  • Forgery charges net six months in jail

    A Crossville woman already on parole because of a felony theft conviction has pleaded guilty to two felony counts relating to forged checks and received a split sentence with six months to be serve in jail.

    July 24, 2014

  • Unfunded mandates a challenge for schools

    Director of Schools Donald Andrews has expressed local concerns regarding unfunded state mandates in education to Gov. Bill Haslam in an informal meeting between the governor and area administrators and teachers.

    July 24, 2014

  • IMG_3745.jpg Vote early to avoid delays

    Cumberland County Election Administrator Suzanne Smith is encouraging Cumberland County voters to take advantage of the early voting period, which continues through Aug. 2 at the Election Commission Office at 2 S. Main St.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • state park boat dock.jpg Showcase of driving tours set today at Cumberland Mountain

    Discover the hidden gems of The Promised Land and Pie in the Sky Trails during the showcase 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, at Cumberland Mountain State Park. This special event is free and open to the public.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • waterfest2013.jpg Get on the water this weekend

    Volunteers from the Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association offer basic instruction for kayakers at the 2013 Waterfest. This year’s event is set for Saturday at Meadow Park Lake from 2 to 8 p.m. There will be activities for the whole family, with food, exhibits, kids games, live music and water activities, with TSRA instructors offering rides on canoes, kayaks and sit-on-top kayaks. There will also be pontoon tours of Meadow Park Lake from 3 to 7 p.m., offering a chance to look for wildlife. The University of Tennessee Concrete Canoe Team will be demonstrating their craft, as well, at 2:30 p.m.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo 1 Link

Marketplace Marquee
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice
Graduation 2014