The Controversy Around the Tardy Policy

By: Kate Sinodis and Kushal Upreti

The tardy policy at Apex High School is a controversial topic. The teachers are in favor of it, but many students find it unfair. While it is true that the policy has been effective in cutting down tardies, some students find it extreme. 

The policy has been in effect since the school moved back to Laura Duncan in 2019, however, because of Covid, the policy seems new to many students and has been recently reinforced for this school year. The school tardy policy is in effect for the first 15 minutes of class. If a student arrives to class after the bell without a pass during that time period, then they must report to stairwell one on the floor that they have their class and fill out a tardy form. That student will then receive lunch detention for the first half of their lunch period the next day to serve their punishment.

Upon returning to the Laura Duncan campus, a group of teachers came together to create a tardy policy that they hoped would solve the excessive tardy problem experienced at Green Level. A large majority of teachers supported the policy and urged Ms. Hofmann to enforce it. After speaking with two current teachers at Apex High School, Ms. Nordt and Ms. George,  both think that the tardy policy is fair and has been helpful. They also  agree that a three strike rule, a change proposed by some students, might be a good thing; however, they belive it would be difficult to keep track of. Ms. George said that the current punishments are not much more than an inconvenience, but they are enough of a consequence for most students to want to be on time.

Ms. Baron, the ISS teacher and lunch detention supervisor, was interviewed and asked a few questions about what she thought about the policy. On average, she sees about 25 students in lunch detention every day, and those that do not serve their lunch detention are given ISS. She does believe that there are some situations where grace is warranted for students that are late, such as students that serve their lunch detention with a teacher to make up work, or students that are disabled and are just physically unable to make it to class on time. Ms. Baron says that “There are wonderful students who take responsibility for their actions and come to serve lunch detention for being tardy.”

 A poll was conducted among students from all grade levels, asking them anonymously about their thoughts on the policy and what changes they would make to it if they could. Forty-nine percent of students say that the policy affects them most when they get to school in the mornings, and only 5.9% of students say that the policy affects them when coming back from lunch. When asked if the policy was fair or not, 88.2% of students said that it was unfair and only 11.8% said that it was fair. When  students were asked how the policy affected them directly, many said that they were anxious trying to get to school on time in the morning, or even embarrassed by the fact that they were late. Other students said that because not all the bathroom stalls were open, they were unable to use the restroom between classes because the line was too long and if they were to wait, they would be late to class. Students that drive to school have even said that because of the tardy policy, they feel extra pressure to get to school on time, which causes them to drive unsafely on their way to school. Other students have even expressed that they would rather skip class altogether than get a tardy. The students that say the policy is unfair give reasons like they believe the punishment is too harsh, especially for first time offenders. There are also concerns with morning traffic. Students pointed out that it is out of their control whether or not there is an accident on a road near the school, but only students who ride the bus are protected if that happens; everyone else is at risk to get a tardy slip. Another issue  bothering students  is  that even if they are late by a minute, they still have to walk to the first stairwell to get a pass, which makes them miss even more class time than they already would have. To make it more fair, students think that a few changes would make the policy better, like a three strike rule, or giving extra time to get to class before first period. 

Mr. Hill, the administrator in charge of the tardy policy, explained that he thought the policy was fair and how it is helping around school. When the school was on the Green Level campus a few years ago, there was a huge issue with tardies. There would be about 130 students a day that were tardy, and because of the policy, that number has been reduced to around 25 tardy students per day. Not only does it get the kids to class, but the policy helps teachers by having students on time and ready to learn by the time the bell rings. The most instruction in a class happens during the first 15 or so minutes, which means that if students are late, they are missing important information for their class. Mr. Hill says that more often than not, if a student is trying to get to class on time, they will, but if they don’t, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are a bad student, it is not the end of the world to serve a lunch detention on occasion. 

Whether the Apex High School tardy policy is fair, as the administration and teachers that we spoke to said, or unfair like the students that we polled said, is a matter of opinion. The fact is that the data suggests that the policy is effective in drastically reducing tardies. At some point in the future, maybe amendments to the policy could be made that would make the policy less extreme to students but retain its effectiveness, however for now, this is the policy we have.

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