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The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

School issues record number of tardies due to Ventura traffic

Connor Tang
A line of commuters on Ventura Boulevard waits to turn left on Coldwater Canyon Avenue. A greater trend of tardy students has been reported by Student Discipline and Attendance Coordinator Gabriel Preciado since the beginning of the new year.

Student tardiness in recent months has tripled since the fall, according to data obtained from Student Discipline and Attendance Coordinator Gabriel Preciado.

Los Angeles (LA) experienced historic rainfall in the month of February, according to the LA Times. The inclement weather caused multiple roads, including Benedict Canyon Drive and parts of Mulholland Drive, to shut down. As a result, a larger number of non-school commuters from the San Fernando Valley and the Studio City community are traveling to the west side of LA via Coldwater Canyon Avenue, causing greater traffic congestion.

In September, 98 students were marked as late to their first class, according to attendance office data. The numbers increased twofold in the second quarter, with 186, 235 and 176 absences in the months of October, November and December, respectively, even with five days off in November and 11 in December due to school breaks.

In the months of January and February, there were 372 and 432 students late to their first class, respectively, a change nearly double the number of recorded tardies in the first and second quarters. Preciado said the recent tardiness of students has been unprecedented.

“It’s nothing like I’ve ever seen before,” Preciado said. “It’s an odd situation that we’re experiencing right now, with weather conditions and road closures. It’s one of the worst that I’ve ever seen in my 22 years here.”

Despite the increase in tardies and detentions, which occur when six tardies are accrued in one quarter, Head of Upper School Beth Slattery said the administration has been lenient toward traffic-related lateness.

“We’re not jamming anybody who is late because of traffic,” Slattery said. “Life happens, and traffic happens. Unless you’ve been abusing the attendance policy, nobody will get that mad.”

Since the increase in traffic, students have used alternative routes. For example, some walk to school from Halkirk Street — the nearest residential street to the north entrance — to bypass traffic on Coldwater Canyon Avenue. Others have made illegal left turns onto Dickens Street, which outlets onto Coldwater Canyon Avenue before the intersection on Ventura Boulevard, where most of the traffic is centralized.

While working the morning shift on Halkirk Street, Upper School Security Guard Rick McCormack said he has noticed a trend in poor driving behavior, both from students and non-school commuters. He said drivers have used the central turning lane on Coldwater Canyon Avenue to pass the flow of traffic, as well as others who make an illegal left turn off of Halkirk Street.

“First of all, the left turn on Halkirk is illegal from seven to 10,” McCormack said. “It’s a big safety problem because drivers who turn often get close to getting into an accident with the people that are speeding down the median. A lot of the problems that we’re seeing are sacrificing safety for expedience.”

Additionally, McCormack said that the effect of increased traffic has raised concern with residents of Halkirk Street.

“It upsets some of the neighbors,” McCormack said. “Some of them have complained to the school and some of the guards.”

There have already been 278 tardies reported from the attendance office in the month of March, as of March 13. On Tuesday, March 12, there were 56 reported tardies in a single morning, a number Preciado said was triple that seen on a single day in the first or second quarter, with consistent numbers throughout recent weeks.Preciado said he will continue to work with the administration to find solutions to an unusual situation.

“When the students that are never late are tardy almost every day, that’s how you know there’s a problem,” Preciado said. “It could be the weather. It could be that students are waking up late and are rushing to school. But at the end of the day, it’s a discipline thing, and Mrs. Slattery [and I] will continue to work on the numbers to make it more lenient.”

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Connor Tang, Editor-in-Chief

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