LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. – The Limestone County School Board is cracking down on students who make a habit of missing extreme amounts of school without reason. Come November, they will implement a state attendance policy that will hit high school students where it hurts, potentially taking away their freedom to drive.
Stricter regulations come after a year where the district experienced a 1% drop in attendance. Last year, Limestone County Schools changed its exit exam policy. In the past, students with exceptional attendance records and good grades were able to forgo the exit exam test as a reward for good attendance. However, they noticed a trend where some high school students were graduating without having ever taken an exit exam. They decided to do away with the old reward to better prepare students for college testing. That’s where the issues began to show with unexcused absences in the high schools.
“We just want our students to be prepared for success and be held accountable,” explains Limestone County Schools Superintendent Tom Sisk.
In order to do this, the school board has decided to implement this new policy where a student’s driver license will be in jeopardy. Superintendent Sisk explains, “Students who have 15 unexcused absences in a class, in a semester, will be subject to having their license suspended.”
Meaning students who accumulate 15 unexcused absences within one semester will be held accountable for their tardiness with the loss of their Alabama driver license. This does not include sick or excused absences. Students must then show good attendance to earn back their privilege to drive from the state.
“Some students will say, ‘I’ll just quit school,’” said Superintendent Sisk. “Well that’s fine. At 17, we will petition the court to take your license and you won’t be able to hold an Alabama driver’s license until you’re 19.”
However, this is a last resort for the district. The school board is working to promote incentives for students who have good attendance. Long term rewards include paid college visits and school trips to local attractions.
The goal is to reinforce students that their dedication to education in their number one priority. The board hopes this new policy will help improve attendance while improving college readiness. Schools plan to educate, communicate and motivate students and parents during the month of October before implementation of the new policy begins in November.