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Change the Attendance policy

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Children are being punished for missing school to attend the funerals of loved ones, visit seriously and terminally ill family members, and taking time to grieve when they have lost someone dear to them. The punishments include pulling them out of class for in school suspension (ISS), Saturday detention, and threats of expulsion for unexcused absences or tardies. Harmony Public School states that its standard is "excellence", punishing children who need empathy, support, and inclusion undermines any attempt to achieve that standard. The current rules segregate the child, impact their social and scholastic life, and can even impact care-givers' jobs as they have to rearrange their lives even further after a death or illness in the family to accommodate their child's punishment.

 

What brought this to our attention:

Our daughter is a Junior at Harmony in Austin, Texas and is currently facing in school suspension AND Saturday detention for unexcused absences and tardies after a series of tragedies in our family. She takes her scholastic life very seriously, maintaining a GPA above 4.0. Though she is widely respected by both teachers and administrators at her campus she is being punished.

On November 29th, 2012 my husband's step-mother passed away. All three of our children had known her as their grandmother and loved her dearly, but our daughter had a particularly close relationship with her and her loss was very difficult.

On December 27th, 2012 my father was taken by liver cancer. He lived down the street from us and was an active part of the children's lives. Having already lost one grandparent the month before our children were overcome with grief.

On January 15th, 2013 our youngest child, our 13yr old son, had to be hospitalized for a week after trying to harm himself.

Any one of these trying times would be hard on a family, having them all happen on top of each other was devastating. Yet, as the administrator in charge of attendance told us, the school's hands are tied by their attendance policy. There is no room for simple human understanding, for empathy, or exceptions.

Schools should be safe havens for our children, places that aid us in readying the next generation for the world ahead of them, and leading with understanding and support for emotional health should be a part of that.



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