Tardy policies create unfair expectations for students


Suha Ashfaq

Opinion Editor Jeffrey Dratch writes that the tardy policies are unfair because they don’t consider external factors that can cause a student to be late for class.

Jeffrey Dratch, Opinion Editor

Algonquin began implementing various new attendance policies, especially surrounding tardies, in the fall of 2021. While a policy hoping to decrease tardiness sounds like a great idea in theory, it is being executed in a poor way, prioritizing punishment over presence in class.

Students who have three unexcused tardies per term will receive one detention, while five tardies per term warrant two detentions and a loss of senior privileges for 20 days, according to page 32 of the Student Handbook. These policies allow for very little room for mistakes and expect students to always be on time for school. Making students stay after for a detention can cause them to miss their after school activities, such as clubs or sports, which are what keep some students going and feeling connected to Algonquin.

What administrators didn’t take into account when creating these policies is that many students don’t have power over something out of their control happening, such as morning traffic, accidents or emergencies, and the three tardy policy is just not lenient enough. In a Harbinger survey of 149 students via Google Forms on  December 12-15, 2022, students were asked “Do you think the new ARHS tardy policies (disciplinary action taken after 3 tardies per term) put in place are fair to students?” 57% of respondents answered believe the policies are “completely unfair” or “somewhat unfair.” This input shows the common belief schoolwide that tardy policies need to be revisited. 

It is impossible to predict the obstacles students face on their way to school, and this can cause students to be late to school. Additionally, when asked “If you have had a tardy this year: why were you late to school,” 67% of respondents answered “Traffic/problem encountered on the way to school.” 

When I wake up and leave my house with sufficient time to get to school, sometimes I face construction, excessive traffic, car accidents or car troubles that cause me to arrive at school late. Although these circumstances might make me just five minutes late to school, it still counts as an unexcused absence, ultimately affecting my attendance record. 

In the same survey, students were asked “If you have had a tardy this year: how late were you to school? (If you were tardy more than once, on average, how late were you?” Out of 88 respondents, 76% said they were less than ten minutes late, a time that causes students to miss very little  class time, but still leads to detention.

Additionally, as mentioned in class meetings at the beginning of the 2022-23 academic year, these tardiness policies have been put in place in order to ensure that students are spending as much time learning and in class as possible.

But the way that the disciplinary actions are conducted by administrators completely contradicts this idea. The majority of the time, students will be called down to administrators’ offices during class time to discuss their tardies and receive discipline. However, a policy designed to make sure students aren’t missing class and maximizing their time learning leads students to end up missing more class time discussing these tardies.

The true hypocrisy present in our school’s tardy policy is the real reason why it should be eliminated or changed. There needs to be more leeway in these policies, allowing students to at least explain themselves for why they were late, possibly eliminating disciplinary action. Allowing students a 5-10 minute grace period that won’t affect their attendance would also create for a more fair school environment.

Being present in class and learning is extremely important to achieving a quality education. However, the current attendance policies at Algonquin surrounding tardies do not take many factors into account, and are not ultimately fair to students.