CCISD exemption policy questioned

To The Editor:

Last Thursday morning our son was very ill and definitely needed to stay home from school. But he was very concerned that the missed time might cost him the right to be exempt from his finals. Our son has been an A/B student his entire high school career and is getting closer to graduation day. My wife assured him that excused absences did not count against this exemption from finals. It has always been this way. But he persisted that the school had recently told them that the rules had changed.

After making our son go back to bed, my wife called and spoke at various times with the vice-principal and principal of Calhoun High School as well as the assistant superintendent. We were alarmed to find out that the school had indeed changed the rules for students to exempt out of their finals. The change was to treat all absences the same. Excused absences signed by a doctor would no longer be honored when determining exemptions.

We took our son to the doctor that morning and he was diagnosed with the flu. My wife shared the new rule with the doctor who was appalled by the change and was going to call the school herself and complain. She said there is no way he should be anywhere near a school. Bear in mind that absences can still be excused with a doctor’s note, it is just that they are not excused with respect to exempting finals.

So now when a student becomes ill, they have to consider attending school anyway in order to keep the option for exemption available. This is a ludicrous position to impose on our students. Then if they go to school and pass on the flu, strep to another student; then, that student is forced to make a similar decision. No student should ever be put in a position to decide whether to go to school sick or lose their exempt status.

Secondly, this decision was made when our seniors only have four months remaining until their absolute final tests. Each student was asked to sign their handbook at the beginning of the school year agreeing and being bound by the rules for the school year. Little did they know that the school was not bound by the same rules. Significant changes to the handbook should be handled over the summer and introduced in the next school year.

Finally, the method with which the school decided to convey this change was to hold an assembly and tell the students. How many of your students came home and told you about this change? I believe our son would never have thought to tell us of the change had he not become extremely ill. So, no letter was sent home to the parents. Nothing was posted online for the parents to read. We know this fact because we were referred to the online site and found nothing. When my wife spoke to each of the people mentioned previously, she was referred to the online site for the high school. So we looked at the site and found no information about the change. My wife communicated this to the assistant superintendent who was supposed to call the high school and get it resolved. Again, did anyone know about this? How does it affect your student?

Our son spent much of the evening in the Edna emergency room with severe dehydration due to the severe strain of the flu he had contracted and was unable to keep anything down- including medicine on his stomach. His face had no color, his body was shaking and cramping from the dehydration. Imagine had we sent him to school that day to help him protect his exemption-which is important to him.

This change was poorly contemplated, poorly timed, and poorly implemented! The students at Calhoun High School deserve much better.

Micheal W. Hart