Ditchers face joint detention

Chronicle Staff


By Jordan Freisleben

n the attendance board in Chalmers hangs the cut list, the list of students’names who will be receiving detention for their unexcused absences. Last week, the list took up significantly more space than usual, containing the names of more than 70 students who missed either part or all of Friday, April 16, due to the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Several other students who attended the festival were able to avoid the cut list by filling out an excused absence before missing school.

The 72 students assigned detention for missing school for Coachella will attend a separate detention tomorrow morning in Ahmanson Lecture Hall.

“The deans collectively agreed to have the Coachella detention separate from the rest,” Attendance Coordinator Gabriel Preciado said. “They thought that students shouldn’t miss [school] and that if they did, there would be repercussions.”

“If you choose to attend Coachella on Friday, you will not be permitted to attend sports practices or Cabaret rehearsal that afternoon/evening,” Dean Vanna Cairns warned students on behalf of the deans in a school-wide e-mail in advance of the event.

“My feeling is that this event is a little different from a club sport or going to visit colleges,” Preciado said. “There was conflict between how we were going to approach this situation based on what teachers thought we should do and proper procedure.”

“I feel bad for the teachers who have to reschedule tests or make tests harder. [Students] should respect the school day schedule and be in school for all the days they can be. The green form was a way to have absences excused but teachers may have thought it was inexcusable. The students were excused once deans got the green forms and signed off,” Preciado said. “The news that absences are excused with a green form got out kind of late.”

“If you didn’t fill out the proper paperwork, then you got detention and it’s deemed cuts,” Preciado said. “We honored the green form.”

In Cairns’ e-mail, she emphasized the Student Handbook rule that students who miss a class without being excused may receive a zero or failing grade for work during that period.

“We presume that there are assignments, quizzes, tests or papers due in your classes,” she wrote.  “At best, your make-up exams will be significantly harder.  At worst, the letter of the law will prevail.”

Despite the number of students given detention for missing school because of Coachella, Preciado believes that the rules regarding whether or not absences are excused should be malleable.

“We should limit [excused absences] to those who have outstanding attendance records. I think for this event, it should be in some ways earned.

“One side wants parents to create an open door with us. If we don’t allow [the absences] to be excused, it could lead to notes or reasons being untruthful,” he said.

Preciado hopes that students are honest with the attendance office regarding their reasons for missing school.