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'Attendance team' gets credit for improvement in tardies and truancies

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

McCOOK, Nebraska -- Tardies/truancies issues have have improved since the implementation of the new "attendance team" at McCook High School.

During 'Positive Comments" at the regular McCook School Board meeting Monday night, Board President Tom Bredvick noted how attendance problems have decreased at the high school. He gave credit to members MHS Principal Jerry Smith, Resource Officer John Smith, Activities Director Darin Nichols and LIFT Program Administrator, Jeff Gross.

"It was not a huge issue before, but now things are looking really good," he told board members.

Bredvick also thanked sponsors who travel with school clubs to out-of-town activities.

Other comments made during the "Positive Comments" portion of the meeting included:

* Diane Lyons: told of how out-of-town visitors who saw the McCook High School marching band at the Heritage Days Parade were impressed at its size and professional appearance.

* Sandy Krysl: thanked volunteers who helped out at the recent "Health Fitness Day" for elementary students.

* Larry Shields: thanked Scott Johnson and Dan Shiers for their time and effort on the district's new phone system.

* Teresa Thomas: recently attended a PTO meeting and was impressed with the ideas and enthusiasm generated. She also noted that the MHS band was rated as superior at the recent Harvest of Harmony competition.

* Shane Messersmith: commended FFA students, who created a float that won the Youth Division at the Heritage Days Parade. "Great detail and effort were put into it," he said.

nSuperintendent Grant Norgaard: thanked Chad Brening who is helping to build a wall for the new Ag classroom.

* Business Manager Rick Haney: the district's new automated phone system is up and running.The system incorporates 234 phones in the district that are now all connected and will allow the public and staff to communicate more efficiently and rapidly, as well as address safety concerns, he said.

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I wonder if sending threatening letters to parents of very sick children is part of their new policies targeting truancies?? I was very upset to get one of these letters after our child had heart surgery a couple weeks ago. Fortunately a visit to the school eventually resolved our issue, but considering the school knew where we were and what was going on, I didn't appreciate coming home from Omaha Children's Hospital to find a letter stating they had called the county attorney on us and were considering calling Child Protective Services for neglect.

-- Posted by kpachner on Tue, Oct 11, 2011, at 9:58 PM

The school MUST send out the letters as it is part of the state law that has been in place over the past couple of years. This is a state requirement.

-- Posted by dennis on Wed, Oct 12, 2011, at 8:40 AM

OF COURSE Mr. Smith and Mr. Gross are willing to take credit for something like this...I would expect nothing less.

-- Posted by speak-e-z on Wed, Oct 12, 2011, at 11:42 AM

Would a cover letter explaining just that be too difficult?

-- Posted by croswind on Wed, Oct 12, 2011, at 3:15 PM

the cover letter speaks to the requirement and references the state law by number and verbiage.

-- Posted by dennis on Wed, Oct 12, 2011, at 5:18 PM

kpachner - Wasn't your husband the SRO officer last year? The letter that was sent to your son is the same letter that was sent out last year to students for excessive absences. This letter is sent in accordance with a State Statute, which means it is not optional. The letter must be sent regardless of the reason for the absences.

Speak-e-z - Who do you think should get credit for this? I believe that the people who are directly involved should get the credit, therefore the credit was placed right where is was due.

-- Posted by wapiti on Thu, Oct 13, 2011, at 4:27 PM

It maybe state statue but it doesn't make it right. Her son is just went through a major surgery they told the school ahead of time he would be missing and then to get a letter saying we called the county attorney and maybe calling CPS. That's uncalled for.

What is the penalty for not sending out the letter?

-- Posted by npwinder on Thu, Oct 13, 2011, at 5:45 PM

I'm not sure what my husband being last year's SRO has to do with this conversation. My point is that NO parent with a legitimately ill child should be sent this letter. I have researched the law, and it does state that the County Attorney is to be notified when a student has missed 20 days in a school year. I also want to point out that the SRO does not have anything to do with sending these letters out, this is solely done by the school. Also, according to our school's policy, I believe they were required to have a meeting with us prior to sending out the letter. Additionally, the letter we received stated that the County Attorney had been notified. However, when I went to visit with the school I was told that they really didn't notify the County Attorney. I don't really appreciate a letter filled with threats that never did occur. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that our situation never reached the County Attorney's desk, just not sure what the point is of putting that statement in the letter if it didn't happen. Also, the letter we received stated that "Child Protective Services could also file a child neglect charge against the parent." This was particularly offensive as my child is certainly not neglected. In fact, we have spent two years trying to find out what was wrong with him and get the medical help he needed. But my main point is that the law and the school need to clearly define exceptions to turning situations like this over to the County Attorney and CPS to accommodate chronically or seriously ill children. Unfortunately for our child he had a very rare condition that took a long time to diagnose and I don't feel that the school totally understood that. I do want to say though, that his teachers have been absolutely wonderful with helping him to reach his (and our) academic goals.

-- Posted by kpachner on Fri, Oct 14, 2011, at 7:47 AM

My question back to you wapiti, is who do you think they'd blame if it didn't work? The teachers and the parents. All hat, no cattle.

-- Posted by speak-e-z on Fri, Oct 14, 2011, at 12:05 PM

We got one of those letters..... In fact, if your child is out for multiple sports throughout the school year, you most certainly will, as volleyball, basketball and especially track, will pull your student out of school in excess of 20 days. A school function can actually get your child a truancy letter.... Ironic to some degree.

I have to admit that the first thing that went through my head after reading that letter, was an accounting of her actual days sick, then misc. not there that day due to non-school related activities. My count was 4. I asked my daughter what this was about, handing her the letter and she promptly replied.... "Uh...... Dad, sports?". Then I was agitated. The school sponsors these things and then we get that Child Protection Agency threat. I was ticked off to no end.

Later, that school year, my daughter asked if she could go to a track meet and my response, "We're already on the County Attorney's list for truancy.... No!".

My point? Although its maddening, that letter sure seemed to work on me. Imagine how well it works for families who's child does miss just for lack of wanting to attend class.

In short,----- Maddening but effective.

-- Posted by Nick Mercy on Wed, Oct 19, 2011, at 7:04 PM

I respect the fact that there is a state law that must be obeyed. However, I think some common sense needs to be applied when sending out these letters. Last year my father died suddenly and my children were out of school for 5 days and because of that they had to send the letter stating this fact and that more absences could result in further action. I called one school and asked why this instance wasn't taken into consideration when the letter was sent. I was informed that they knew this but the requirement was to send the letter. What I found interesting is that one out of the 2 schools my children were in sent the letter and one did not. Putting the family thru more hassle and stress after their child was in Omaha was uncalled for. I know them and I can tell you that they were only trying to provide the best thing for their son and spent lots of time with their son to get him to feeling better to go back to school. And I agree, this has nothing to do with her husband being the former SRO!!!!

-- Posted by love2liveinmccook on Wed, Oct 19, 2011, at 10:12 PM

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