This story was produced in collaboration with Minneapolis Schools Voices.
On November 7, Justice Page Middle School parents received an update that the school’s tardy policy would be changing. The policy has left some parents feeling lost amid the new school policies and frustrated with the ramifications of the policy on their students.
The new tardy block will consider tardies over a two-or-three-week tardy block. Students with the highest number of tardies in each block will be required to make up the time missed.
If students do not make up for the missed time on Saturdays, they will be penalized with “silent lunch and no movement for multiple days at school.”
The policy reads, “At Saturday School, students will have the option to complete missing work or perform community service around the building. Students who do not attend Saturday School will have a silent lunch and no movement for multiple days at school.”
Dulce De La Rosa, a Justice Page parent and the president of the Latino Parent Advisory Committee said through a translator, “In reality, I cannot find anything good about this new policy. I don’t know how it helps to make trust. I don’t understand how it will help to make my child feel respected. I don’t understand any good to come of this policy."
For some parents the new tardy policy is confusing and frustrating, a symbol of the ways in which some are feeling invisibilized and ignored.
“I thought the new policy was absurd,” said De La Rosa. “In reality, I thought it was outrageous, I thought it was insulting, it made me frustrated. I felt angry and the reality of the situation is that they are not taking into consideration the parent’s opinion.”
De La Rosa’s concerns are echoed by other Justice Page parents. Jennifer Davis, also a member of LPAC and the parent of an eighth-grade student, heard about the policy via an email sent to parents.
“I was mortified. The first thing I did was contact the District Liaison that I’m most comfortable with through LPAC and then I reached out to the President of the District Parent Advisory Council. I let them know that I didn’t agree with it and I asked for their support in challenging the decision making,” said Davis, who has worked for the last 15 years in early childhood education spaces.
De La Rosa said she spoke with some other parents, and her eighth-grade son, but they cautioned her to not bother responding.
“I’ve tried to talk with parents, and they say the same thing [as my son], ‘just leave it, we don’t understand why you’re working so hard to improve the public schools, they don’t listen and we feel ignored,’” said De La Rosa. “I would expect the principal of the school to listen, to hold parent meetings, and to have the conversation. I would expect the principal to include us and to be less of an authoritarian.”
Requests to talk with the Justice Page administration have gone unanswered.
Davis notes that the school has prioritized justice in its amenities and in its messaging.
“I have been deeply involved in interrupting the school-to-prison pipelines. This policy goes against everything that I have been working for. I cannot accept it for my daughter and I cannot accept it for anyone’s children,” said Davis. “I think parents need to know that this is backsliding if we are talking about really advancing the intellectual capacity and the full potential of all children in a school.”
The MPS Attendance and Tardy Policy notes that schools may develop their own positive-attendance recognition plans. The policy, which lays out a variety of different notes to keep in mind for each school when developing such a tardy policy, notes that all such policies must be in line with the values laid out in the district’s policy. It also notes that notice must be given to all parents and students along with the attendance policy.
The MPS Attendance and Tardy Policy lays out that every district school can make their own tardy policies. Anthony Middle School, for example, says that students who receive more than four unexcused tardies will receive after-school detention. Five detentions will require additional interventions and a referral to the Student Strategy Team. At Washburn High School, unexcused tardies can result in any one of three responses: no credit for missed work due to the tardy, contacting parents, and/or a referral to the dean.
The new tardy policy launched November 7. The next three-week tardy block launches November 28. The first scheduled Saturday School will be held on December 3.
Minneapolis Public Schools directed Minneapolis Schools Voices to their tardy policy on the website and did not make an administrator available for an interview. Justice Page Middle School was also contacted for an interview and they did not respond.
Below is the full email sent to parents on November 7:
Hello Justice Page families:
As we look to ensure high academic success for all students at Justice Page, we are keeping in mind the importance of students being in class on time for both students and teachers. Being in class when the bell rings ensures students understand all directions and content and ensures teachers can continue quality instruction with minimal interruptions.
As a result, we are looking to count and enforce consequences for students with excessive unexcused tardies.
Starting Monday, November 7, we have begun counting tardies over a two- or three-week period. Students who accumulate the highest number of unexcused tardies (which is usually two or more unexcused tardies per day, every day) will be required to attend Saturday School at Justice Page on the following Saturday. The first scheduled Saturday School day will be December 3rd. We will connect with families of students attending Saturday School by the Tuesday of that week.
At Saturday School, students will have the option to complete missing work or perform community service around the building. Students who do not attend Saturday School will have a silent lunch and no movement for multiple days at school.
After this period, the next three-week period for tardy counts will start November 28th and will continue until December 16. Tardies accumulated during this current period will not roll over to the following period. Tardies caused by bus transportation issues will not be marked as unexcused.
Please reach out to me if you have any questions on your student and their attendance at Justice Page.
Justice Page Middle School