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Tardy, early-leaving kids vex principal

January 08, 2001

Tardy, early-leaving kids vex principal



By TARA REILLY / Staff Writer


Principal Jill BurkhartThe rash of students at Clear Spring Elementary School who either arrive at school late or leave early is causing problems for the school's staff and disrupts the learning environment, according to Principal Jill Burkhart.

Burkhart said the problem has been mounting since the beginning of the school year. It's become so bad that she sent parents a letter in mid-December telling them it must stop.

"Leaving school early, arriving late or missing school for reasons other than medical or educational is unacceptable," she wrote. "This cannot continue. When a student leaves school early for non-school reasons, it's a disruption to the student, the teacher, the classroom and the school."

Parents often bring their children to school late and then pull them out of class early without plausible excuses, she said. Anywhere from three students or more a day are either tardy or are picked up from school early. The problem affects all grades, Burkhart said.

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"They oversleep, or they're going to visit grandma and parents and want to avoid traffic," she said. "I don't think parents realize how very important learning is in the beginning years."

When students come in late, she said, they miss valuable reading instruction. When they leave early, they miss class reviews and preparation for the next day, she said.

"That first half-hour is critical," Burkhart said. "We use every second we have to teach. It's real important that children are here. That can be real critical for a child who is struggling."

Students who miss class time must stay in for recess to make up the work. That causes teachers to lose their planning time, which is often spent during recess.

All students are required to have notes for missing school. Burkhart said she holds conferences with parents whose children miss a lot of class time.

So far, Burkhart said, her letter has not helped curb the problem at Clear Spring Elementary.

"I'm hoping we will see a decrease," she said.

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