East High School currently offers off-campus lunch to all its students, but frequently, students arrive to class late for their 5th period after lunch. A new policy this year aims to change that. According to the East Website, any student who receives three tardies for their 5th period will be assigned Saturday School, taking place from 8 AM to 12 PM. The new policy, however, has been controversial among many students, who argue that it is unfairly strict, isn’t an effective solution, and has caused more stress in their lunch period.
The policy was introduced by two new deans at East this year, Brian Edwards and Jonathon Losh. When assigning tardies, according to Edwards, the deans wait until the class bell rings, but will hold the doors for any students who are hustling. Once the doors are closed, students give their name and student ID to the deans, and if they get more than three tardies, they are assigned Saturday school. Parents are then notified, and if the student is unable to attend Saturday school, there is a meeting with parents to discuss an alternative. According to them, the policy so far has been very effective at increasing attendance, with Losh saying,
“We had over 200 kids late the first two days of school, that’s a lot of kids coming in late, [but now]...we’re down to about a hundred”. Edwards believed even that number was too high, saying that typically, the number was even lower, at about “30 plus or minus ten” per day. They also said that there had been discussions about extending the policy to first period.
“The reason we focused on lunch is [because] it was one of the areas that was identified by teachers as a primary concern” says Edwards, “but yes there is a discussion of first period classes.” There are, however, objections to extending the policy to first period. Gaby Muturi, a junior, agreed that having it in place would be effective in increasing attendance, but that it would cause a lot more outrage.
“Most kids rely on their parents to get to school, walking or buses even, public transportation is very unreliable, so having a kid have Saturday school just cause the RTD bus didn’t get there early enough, that shouldn’t be on the kids.”
The policy has received praise from teachers and some parents, but introducing Saturday School has been met with complaints from students. One of the biggest complaints is that the limit of three is too low to assign Saturday school. One student, felt that three tardies was unfair.
“Sometimes people just lose track of time. You can’t expect us to go off campus and not lose track of time, especially with how long those lines are. It feels like teachers have never experienced a full lunch line at Chipotle.” Losh and Edwards, however, believe three tardies is already generous, and that they would’ve gone lower if it weren’t for struggles in having too many students in Saturday school, with Edwards saying, “It has to be a system that works and so that’s how we settled on that number, I think that number is subject to change as we move forward.” Another complaint from students was about how it has affected their lunch period. Ariana Lavezza, a Junior, said that despite very rarely being late to 5th period, it had an adverse effect on her lunch. “I am very nervous about making it back in time because of the policy and it cuts my lunch short by quite a bit.” There was also doubt among students over whether or not the policy would last. A similar policy aimed at cracking down on attendance threatened to take away parking spots from anyone with an attendance rate lower than 90%, but it was never enforced. “I don’t think it will last. I definitely think people [will] fight against it” said the unnamed student.
Losh and Edwards applauded East students for their spirit and successes, but emphasized the need as a community to get better on attendance. “I’m guilty of being late to things as well,” says Losh, “so we can all work together to get better.” Edwards finished by saying, “There's a lot of potential that I feel like isn’t even realized in the building where we can be better at things, even though it is a very successful school and I think that most students enjoy their time here, so it’s welcoming, [and] I thank…students for that.” Saturday School’s effectiveness has received praise, but discontent from students hasn’t subsided, and its future at East, whether expanded or replaced, remains to be seen.