By Lucy Tamarkin
Gone are the times when you could you slide by Adria at 8:31 without her noticing, or catch the sign-in sheet just in time as you rush through the door at 8:32. In a school filled with frequently tardy students, LREI introduced a new lateness policy midway through the second trimester that has stirred up a bit of commotion throughout the student body.
The new lateness system is now completely electronic, running each student’s name through a machine, cutting out the human element of tracking students’ tardiness. “The new system is linked with students swipe ins,” said vice principal Sarvjit Moonga.
Students are required to swipe in by 8:30, or an automated email will be sent to the student’s advisor, dean, and principal. Once the student reaches their fifth lateness, the automatic email is then sent to their parents as well. Once the student reaches their fifteenth lateness in a single trimester, parents are required to have a meeting with the vice principal.
The system was changed because “it was inconsistent,” Moonga explained. “There were kids who were late four times and would get in trouble, there were kids who were late fourteen times who didn’t get in trouble. It just seemed really unfair.” There was nothing keeping track of latenesses besides a piece of paper attached to a clipboard.
On days where Moonga happened to be standing by the front door, whether this was a student’s second time being late, or their twentieth, they would receive a disapproving look. He explained that “it’s not fair to give them a growl unless I particularly know [their situation]. So we have a new policy where we welcome all students the same and if there’s an issue we deal with it afterwards.”
Moonga made it clear that the last thing he wants is to make it personal. “My relationship with you should be one of being a senior, not a kid who’s late. You’ve been here four years and there’s more to you as a person than the X number of times you’ve been late. So I want that relationship to change,” he said.
Student reception has varied regarding the new policy thus far, some using the new system to improve their habits while others have noticed a flaw in the system that is being used to their disadvantage.
Senior Minnie Hutchins has expressed mixed feeling about the policy. While she only has three latenesses, she says that when she asks for a new swipe-in card, no one responds to her. “So I have to sign in on the iPad and if I’m in the building at 8:29 but there is a line to get to the iPad, and submit my name at 8:31, I am still counted late.”
This is a problem that other students have expressed since the recent switch from manual attendance to mechanic attendance. With the recent changes there is no room for exceptions. If you’re late, you’re late, even if it might be by just ten seconds.
While some students have struggled to adjust to the new demands, others have used it to their advantage as a way to improve their habitual tardiness. The strictness of the policy may seem annoying and unnecessary to some, but others have seen a huge improvement in their attendance since the policy was introduced.
Senior Patrick Faulkner always had a history of being late to school. “I always missed the E train by one or two minutes, and would always be late.” He said. When the policy was first introduced, he continued to miss the E train, arriving to school at 8:33 most days. His fifth lateness rolled around and his parents started receiving emails that they weren’t too happy about. “My mom kept on texting me every morning when she would receive the emails. Since that 8th lateness email, I have completely changed my morning routine. I always make sure to be out my door at 8:10 instead of 8:15; this way I am always on time and ready to catch the E train. Sometimes I’m even early.” In Patrick’s case, the new system is working just as it’s supposed to, but it is still far from flawless.
As students adjust to the new system, some students have questioned whether the mechanized system treats walking in at 8:31 the same as walking in at 8:50.
Technically, Moonga says, the system treats these two instances the same, but in terms of the student, “we absolutely treat it differently. If someone comes in at 8:50, we actually want a call from a parent as to why their child was so late.” If a student is particularly late, which is anywhere after around 8:38 Sarvjit will ask them into his office to explain why they are significantly late to school. “So in terms of numbers they are treated the same, but we actually treat the students differently,” Moonga explained.
He admitted that “the system is new and it will have some kinks and the kinks will work themselves out.” So although the new system is still settling in and people are adjusting to the changes, Moonga confirmed that since the switch, “generally fewer kids are late to school.”