A high school principal in Pennsylvania has suspended nearly half of the student population after an alarming number of unexcused absences.
About 500 students at Harrisburg High School have received suspension notices as the school’s principal has begun cracking down on the issue of unexcused absences among students.
According to PennLive, at least 100 of the students issued suspension notices have served one-day suspensions following Principal Lisa Love’s effort to crackdown on the problem.
Love says that students are coming to school, but are not showing up to class.
“The problem I’ve noticed here as principal is that students are coming to school but they are not going to classes when they get here,” Love said. “Many parents send their kids to school and they’re thinking they’re going to class. I needed to reach out because of the enormous number not going to class.”
Rather than showing up to class, many students have taken to spending time in the hallways, bathrooms, gymnasiums, and other areas of the school. Love said that she wanted to do something “radical” in order to let students know that this is not okay.
“If you’re not in class, all you’re here to do then is to wreak havoc upon the school and disrupt the work that we are trying to do here. And that’s to focus on student achievement,” the principal said.
School officials spoke with reporters in an informal news conference prior to meeting with parents. Officials explained that the school has new expectations for its students, as the school has struggled with a low graduation rate and poor test scores for some time, according to Fox News.
Assistant Principal Keith Edmonds says that the school issued notices for excessive absences for students who have missed at least 35 classes in the marking period of 45 days, or nine weeks. Missing 35 classes is equal to a week of unexcused absences, as students are scheduled for seven classes each day.
Edmonds says that when news of the suspensions began to spread, parents started showing up at the school to provide documentation for absences in order to help their children avoid the penalty.
“This was a hard decision for me to make,” Love said. “But I had to get the attention of the community to let them know that we are here. And we’re about to do some wonderful things for students and the community and we want this to be a school that everyone is proud of. And this was probably the eye opener we needed to make that happen.”