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Truancy, is it really the problem?

Xochitl+Vega%2C+Don+Lugo+student%2C+photographer+Valerie+Torres
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Truancy, is it really the problem?

Xochitl Vega, Don Lugo student, photographer Valerie Torres

Xochitl Vega, Don Lugo student, photographer Valerie Torres

Xochitl Vega, Don Lugo student, photographer Valerie Torres

Xochitl Vega, Don Lugo student, photographer Valerie Torres

Valerie Torres, Reporter

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At Don Lugo there is something that all staff can agree on: truancy is a problem. In fact it’s one of the schools biggest problems. But are the staff going about it the right way? We all know the scene: someone is about to reach the back gate before the door closes and then- an office staff or security guard shuts the gate before they get in. Then, they have to walk all the way to the front office and back to a class in the math hallway. At first they were only 2 minutes late, but now they’re 8 minutes late.How could we fix this problem?

Truancy is the act of staying away from school without good reason, the California department of Education states that 10.8% of students are truant. After three truancies, Don Lugo gives students a detention. If truancy continues after the detention, they get Saturday school. But who’s to blame for students being late? Is it the students? The student’s source of transportation? Or is it the staff for not dealing with truancy a different way?

When asked about this, Don Lugo senior Destiny Torres states that she thinks the way that staff handles the late students is “dumb” and that they could be more considerate about it. Destiny suggests that the staff give till 7:35 for the gates to be open so those who have late rides or who have to walk to school, get to class quickly. She said that she doesn’t like having to walk all the way to the office when her class is next to the back gate.

Photographer Valerie Torres, Reporter

However, one student doesn’t speak for everyone. Don Lugo junior, Annie Bazilius doesn’t think that the truancy policy is all bad. “I think the school handles it well.” She does think that there is room for improvement though. Annie believes that security guards should wait by the gate and give late passes to students there. She also says that the detentions after the three truancies are unnecessary and there should be something different in place of it.

On the more extreme side of truancy punishment, some parents even get arrested in cases where students are gone too often. “Students who are chronically absent have a higher propensity to drop out, to be involved in juvenile crime and be on public support and assistance later on in life,” states superintendent Steve Tietjen in an interview with Merced Sun-Star about arrests due to truancy. But is that reason enough to arrest parents for their child’s absence?

Xochitl Vega, Don Lugo student, photographer Valerie Torres

In the defense of public schools, student attendance is necessary for school funds. In an article by KPBS they state that

“Of the 170 traditional schools in San Diego Unified, Hoover High lost out on the most money — $1.3 million — because of poor attendance.””

— Joanne Faryon (KPBS Reporter)

Students attendance is obviously important and we can see why schools stress attendance and coming to school on time. Maybe both sides can find a medium or make truancy punishments more lenient, while also ensuring students get the time in school they need. There are consequences to being truant, not only law wise but also in terms of your education. School is an essential, and not attending can result in serious consequences.

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