New Tardy Policy

It’s become a huge problem, interrupts learning, and can now get you in some seri­ous trouble… tardiness. “It’s a disturbance,” says Vice-Principal Leah Pat­ton, “Students don’t re­alize, but it takes time to catch kids up and give them their work when they come in late.” That’s the prime rea­son that Wauwatosa West decided to imple­ment a new tardy policy.

The new plan was taken from Wauwatosa East, where its success made it worth trying. “It cut the amount of tardies from about 1200 a year to only about 600,” said Patton.

The new policy differs from West’s old plan in that it includes parent meetings and a truancy citation, while taking away the possibility of suspension. “It didn’t make sense to keep kids from school when the goal was to increase at­tendance and being on time,” Patton comments. Another new difference is that parent excuses do not count; the only way to excuse a tardy is by hav­ing a doctor’s note from an early appointment.

But the policy “isn’t unfair,” Patton insists, “We understand that sometimes you’re late because of a situation you can’t control, like a big car accident, or a snow storm. While those are acceptable reasons for being late, traffic or sleeping in is not.” Pat­ton explained that many kids complain about the traffic on Center Street, saying that it is the school district’s problem for having built three schools all on the same road. “You know what, students have to plan ac­cordingly,” she says, “You know there’ll be traffic, so you have to give your­self enough time to get through it and to school.”
And so far, the new tardy to school policy seems to be working. Af­ter a month of using the new policy, West has seen a decrease from around 60 tardy students a day to about only 25-30.

While students understand that being tardy is a problem, there aren’t many who are in favor of the policy. A wide range of students, from freshman to seniors, expressed their dissatisfaction with the newly established tardy program. Most seem to find the fact that parent excuses don’t count, and that a first offense already includes a detention, extremely unfair. Freshman David Bruck is of this opinion and said, “I take the bus to school, and if it’s late, I’m late. And if it’s early and I miss it, I’m still late. And then if my parents call in, I’m not excused.” Senior Laura Shively also expressed her frustration; “I understand they want to cut down on tardiness to class, but I find it frustrating that my legal guardian, who is responsible for me, has no say in the decision.”

On the other end of the spectrum, another freshman, Nathan Eggenburger, passionately disagreed and said, “Education is a privilege. Many have to go without if. If you’re able to go to school, do so and be on time because all it does is benefit you for the rest of your life.”

When asked about the new “tardy to the party” incentive, a drawing that allows five first hour classes to win fruit and doughnuts, students and teachers have mixed feelings. Sophomore Alex Mowbray feels that the tardy party is an insulting incentive, saying she feels administration is “treating us like babies.” German teacher Karen Awve comments, “I think it can rally a class…but it’s not really doing anything for my first hour. The same people are late each day.” This problem has been experienced by other teachers as well. This was seconded by sophomore Adam Polivka, who added, “I always get to class on time, so it doesn’t really do anything for me.”

However, whatever your personal feelings about the new tardy policy and resulting incentives may be, the plan is here to stay.