In January, the administration imposed a set of new punishments for students who arrive at school any later than 7:50 AM.

Under the new late policy, latenesses are not excused for any reason other than a doctor’s appointment.

Students who are more than 20 minutes late will automatically have a lunch detention. The student’s status for the that class will remain as a recorded absence.

In addition, a student can only arrive late three times per semester without consequences if they arrive before 8:10 AM (less than 20 minutes late).

After three of these unexcused tardies in the semester, students would have to report to the office for lunch and then to their teacher’s room for an extra lunch detention.

The final and most severe consequence for excessive (more than 10) latenesses is the removal of 10 percent—equal to 1 letter grade—from a student’s grade.

Before that point, a meeting with the student’s parents occurs when the student has reached seven unexcused tardies.

The previous late policy’s primary consequence was the elimination of a free block. However, because some people already have study halls, this was not always the most effective punishment.

There are several components of the previous late policy that will continue under the new policy. Late students must bring a doctor’s note or face the consequences.

Additionally, the number of latenesses last through both quarters of the semester, meaning that there isn’t a “clean slate” until the following semester.

Head of School Dr. Julie Sherrill spoke for the faculty in a special student meeting in early January to announce the new penalties.

Sherrill said, “The issue for me is flat out a lot of people are coming to school late. A lot of people are coming late which negatively impacts the teachers and students that are here on time.”

Another idea for a new late policy was the addition of community service hours for each lateness. If a student was late one time, they would have to complete the mandatory community service quota, and an additional hour for their lateness. Kevin Rolle and Dr. Michelle Berry, who were part of the group of faculty that came up with this late policy, had some comments.

Rolle said, “The additional community service was also discussed, but as a group we went with grade deduction. It might have been related to the entire block absences.”

Berry said, “We do not think community service should be viewed as a punishment. The grade deduction is probably the highest motivating force on campus.”

Both teachers have seen a significant difference so far in that the overall amount of tardies has dropped.

Berry said, “There is already a change that can be seen.” Rolle has also seen a change. He said, “I have seen a difference, and my students have been on time so far.”

Students say the policy is unfair, since arrival time depends on many factors. Many of which are not under the student’s control: including traffic, parents, siblings, and weather conditions.

Junior Ben Showard-Guerrero said, “I think it’s incredibly stupid to relate grades with lateness. Parents not being allowed to call in is just ridiculous. There is a ton of things that could make you late that are not directly related to you being sick.”

Guerrero added, “Also on top of that you get marked off for being late to study hall/free block when their main argument is that we are missing out on class time or taking up time, but free block/study hall is our time and we should be able to choose what to do with it.  If that means sleeping in a little bit or staying home then we should be able to do that.”

Junior Spencer Martin said, “I understand that people should be on time, but the issue is that you can’t predict everything.” He continued, “These harsh punishments are okay for people who are late more than 10 minutes often. However, it seems a little strict for the people who are two or three minutes late here and there.”

Some students feel that this new late policy may cause students to miss entire blocks or even days, considering the fact that they will receive a lunch detention and an absence for that specific block.

Senior Davis Byrne said, “Lunch detention after being 20 minutes late one time may cause more kids to miss entire blocks or days, so they aren’t late.”

Some students feel that lunch detentions are actually less productive when compared to a regular lunch period. Byrne said, “The no electronics rule during lunch detention doesn’t allow students to catch up on work that is online and is then counter productive.”

There is no doubt that this new policy has resulted in fewer latenesses, students remain very upset about the unintentional consequences that the policy might have.