Berkeley High Beat: BHS Students Push For Attendance Policy Changes By Rio Bauce

Tuesday February 21, 2006

In the past week, Berkeley High School (BHS) student leadership has made changes to the school’s controversial attendance policy. 

Previously, a student had three days after an absence to clear it. After the three days, the student would be unable to excuse the absence and it would be marked as a “cut,” otherwise known as an “unexcused absence.” 

“Under the old attendance policy,” said Noah Praskins, BHS sophomore and school senator, “if you were absent for a four-day period, the first day would be marked as an unexcused absence. Now, you have five full school days after you return to school to clear your absence. This makes the system more student-friendly, as it should be.” 

Praskins is part of student leadership at BHS. Teal Miller, student representative for the School Board, meets with students every Monday to discuss issues that affect them. 

For a while, there was very little response to the pleas of Miller to students asking them to bring their concerns to her. Finally, the leadership had an idea that history teachers would pass out cards to their students and the students would write down issues that they want student leadership to deal with. 

“We got a relatively small amount of feedback,” remarked Praskins. “However, remarks about the attendance policy were helpful. Many kids were unhappy about the fact that they didn't have enough time to excuse their absences. It was something that we actually had power over.” 

And so Miller, Praskins, and other senators worked on an item for the Shared Governance Committee (a committee which consists of BHS department heads, the principal, and the vice principals that focuses on school issues). 

Praskins noted, “Everyone was in full support. If I can recall, the vote to approve the modified attendance policy was unanimous.” 

Following the vote of the Shared Governance Committee, the item went to the school board, where it was well received and approved. 

Some students didn’t see the necessity for attendance policy reform. 

“I didn’t really have a problem with the attendance policy before,” said sophomore Anna Akullian, “but I think that it is good that people have longer to clear their absences now. But I don’t know how much of a difference it'll make.” 

Nonetheless, this is seen as a measure to make the attendance system at BHS more friendly and many see this as a big improvement in the right direction. 


Rio Bauce is a sophomore at Berkeley High School. Comments, suggestions, and story ideas may be submitted to baucer@gmail.com.