By Natalie Adams
With the start of the 2018-2019 school year, the Arundel High administration introduced a new tardy policy. Now, students who are late to first period, will receive a 30 minute detention during Pride Period, which they will serve in the cafeteria. Students can choose which day they serve the detention within the week that they receive it. If they receive multiple detentions, they must serve each detention separately.
Ms. Mikeska, one of Arundel’s assistant principals, said that the administration made this change because, “kids were missing instruction time in the classroom, and the longer a kid is in the hallway, the more instruction they’re missing… It creates conflicts in terms of the kid’s academic success, but also creates an issue in terms of the safe environment in the hallways, the positive relationships between teachers and students, and we needed to find a mechanism that was not only going to get kids into classes faster, but also support teachers and get kids what they need.”
According to Mikeska, administrators feel that there’s a better chance of students serving detention during Pride Period than after school. “We also reserve the after school for the next step up on the ladder, so if you’re not serving during Pride Period, you might do an after school, or if behavior-wise something bigger happens in school, we might skip the Pride Period and go straight to the after school detention,” she said.
If students are not attending detention, the administration has another plan of action. “If kids aren’t changing that behavior then there might be something bigger that we don’t know… We’re gonna meet with an administrator, with a counselor, with our PPW… We’re gonna meet with parents and the student, and figure out what’s the actual problem… If we’re not changing the behavior, then there’s obviously another issue at hand,” explained Mikeska. She said the goal of detentions is not to punish students, but to persuade them to move forward.
The administration is trying to be flexible by giving students a week to serve their detention, and by allowing students to do school work, read, draw, put their head down, and even listen to music during detention. The only thing students are not allowed to do is talk.
Mikeska also said that she hopes “to see positive relationships formed between teachers and students, and students wanting to get to class on time.” But, some students claim that the threat of detention does not make them want to get to class on time–it has the opposite effect. Jessica Lockner, a senior who has been given detention for being late, stated, “If I know I’m gonna be late, [the policy] makes me not want to come to school.” She believes that students “are gonna do what they want regardless of getting detentions, being suspended, expelled, etc.”
Alex Edache, a senior, feels that the policy, “takes away from the time we have to get academic help ‘cause not everyone can stay after school.” He added that he thinks that if students have to serve detention during Pride, they will not have time to get academic assistance.
Another senior, Isaiah Johnson, said, “I don’t like [the new policy] at all because there’s a lot of clutter in the hallways and we don’t have enough time to get to our class.” Johnson also thinks that if students had two or three more minutes to get to class, fewer people would be late, therefore reducing the need for detentions.
Students have expressed several other aspects of the policy they are concerned about. Lockner and Edache both stated that the reasons students are late are not taken into account, specifically the ability to get a ride to school. Lockner also said that it is unfair to receive a detention for only being a minute late.
Johnson and Lockner both said they would prefer to serve detention after school to ensure enough time for help from teachers during Pride Period. Even with the ability to do school work during detention, Johnson feels that it is not the same because the teacher is not there to help.