BURBANK : District May Reinstate Attendance Policy

John Burroughs High School students may have to hustle to class when they return to school in the fall.

The Burbank Unified School District Board of Education is considering reinstating a tough attendance policy at the school in which students could fail courses for skipping class or being late. While Burbank High School officials have said they will not use the policy, John Burroughs administrators are excited by the prospect.

"It does make a major difference in student behavior," said Ron Lipari, assistant principal at John Burroughs High, where the policy had been given a one-year trial two years ago.

Without the tough policy in the 1992-93 school year, attendance at John Burroughs worsened, Lipari said. Average daily attendance dropped from 93% when the policy was in effect to 90% this past year, he said, adding that unexcused absences jumped from 12,000 incidents in 1991-92 to 29,000.

The policy, in which students can be failed for missing a class five times or being late 10 times, is meant to prepare the teen-agers for the world of work.

"If you didn't show up for work and didn't call in, how long would you have a job?" Lipari said.

John Burroughs Principal Tim Buchanan presented his school's request for the policy change at last week's board meeting. The school board is expected to vote on the issue next week.

The policy change would not require teachers to give students a failing grade, Pierce said. State law forbids any policy that forces teachers to give students a failing grade, he said.

"The grade that a teacher gives is the professional responsibility of the teacher," Pierce said.

Buchanan made the request because in order to give a failing grade for being late or absence, it had to be part of district policy. High school students who are late or skip class now are disciplined in other ways such as with Saturday detention or in-house suspension, Lipari said.

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