School policy under fire after 1st-grader tardy

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GRANTS PASS, Ore. (KOIN 6) — A first-grader made to sit alone during lunch because of tardiness is forcing the Grants Pass school district to revisit its policy.

The first-grader’s grandmother, Laura Hoover, posted pictures and text on Facebook Wednesday morning.“…Sometimes he’s a couple minutes late to school. Yesterday, he was 1 minute late and this is what his momma discovered they do to punish him! They have done this to him 6 times for something that is out of this baby’s control! They make a mockery of him in front of the other students! The principal is responsible for this. His mom found him there, crying, and took him home for the day. …”

Grants Pass Superintendent John Higgins in a photo from the district website, Feb. 26, 2015

Superintendent John Higgins of Grants Pass School District 7 said all their elementary schools have their own protocol on how to deal with absenteeism and tardiness.

This boy goes to Lincoln Elementary School, Higgins confirmed. He said students who are tardy there four or more times get what is called “make up time.”

All parents are given a newsletter to outline their protocol on absenteeism and tardiness, Higgins said.

In a statement, the district said their policy “…is intended to provide the students (who have) an above average level of tardiness, supervised additional learning time in a non-distracting setting. It was never intended to isolate or stigmatize students.”

However, in light of the situation, Higgins said the district is reviewing their tardiness protocol.

He added the parents of the first-grader will meet with school officials later in the day. The boy’s father confirmed to KOIN 6 News they would meet with officials later in the day, but declined comment at this time.Below is the full statement released by the Grants Pass School District:There has been considerable general and social media attention regarding the Lincoln Elementary School Attendance/Tardy Academic Catch-up Protocol which is intended to help support students address learning gaps arising from chronic tardiness/absenteeism. Principal Fitzsimmons immediately reached out the parents involved in order to meet and we are looking forward to addressing their concerns regarding Lincoln’s current practice in this area. Lincoln’s current attendance support protocol was communicated to parents via newsletter and is intended to provide the students with an above average level of tardiness, supervised additional learning time in a non-distracting setting. It was never intended to isolate or stigmatize students. The District is taking the concerns raised very seriously and are reviewing alternative approaches for Lincoln Elementary to accomplish this worthwhile objective while avoiding any chance of adversely impacting a child which was never intended. Lincoln Elementary is a warm and caring learning community receiving Student Success Champion School recognition from the Oregon Department of Education in 2012 as an inspiring example of what is possible when teachers, administrators, parents, students, and communities come together behind a shared vision of excellence for all students.The District is open to constructive criticism with respect to current practices which can almost always be addressed and resolved informally. Modifications are already being made to the Lincoln tardiness support protocol in order to ensure “catch-up” learning opportunities are being provided in a supportive and caring setting.  In order to minimize the disruption of Lincoln’s ongoing educational process, please submit any additional concerns or input to the District Office at info@grantspass.k12.or.us.

This 1st-grader was forced to sit alone at lunch because he was tardy at Lincoln Elementary in Grants Pass, Feb. 25, 2015 (Courtesy to KOIN 6 News via Facebook)

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