Empathy guides tardy, detention policy changes


Valerie Larsen

Last March, ETHS announced a variety of substantial changes for the upcoming 2021-2022 school year to support student wellbeing, including revisions to the tardy and detention policy. The changes are a part of a greater administrative initiative to focus on restorative practices and make the school a more compassionate environment upon returning to school from online learning. 

“[The pandemic] has provided an opportunity for us to really pause and to think about what we’ve been doing,” Assistant Superintendent and Principal Marcus Campbell stated in a webinar from April 2021, entitled “Preparing for 2021-22 School Year.” “We wanted to come back with change, changes that we always maybe have been thinking about, but also have a more humane and empathetic approach to returning back to school, while fully in person, with compassion.”

Starting in August, all detentions, tardies, and social probation will be cleared, and teachers, rather than safety officers, will issue tardies. 

“I feel like it is an important change because it reinforces the energy at our school where [administration] care[s] more about having us in the classroom and ready to learn instead of just being late,” Student Representative Barbara Tomaradze said. 

In previous years, many students have critiqued the tardy policy, claiming that the process of finding a safety officer, getting a pass and traveling back to class is simply unproductive and a waste of time. However, the new changes absolve students of mistakes they may have made prior to the pandemic in addition to making this process more effective.

“Clearing the detentions is giving us a second chance and having us start back from normal because we missed one whole year, so it wouldn’t have been easy to still get consequences for stuff we did two years ago,” Tomaradze explained. 

The newfound focus on restorative practices for the upcoming school year will hopefully impact the racial inequities that still exist at ETHS. 

“Before, when we had the other tardy policy, we had to leave class to get a tardy which makes you more late, and then you miss more academics, which, since Black people get more tardies due to racial bias, it just puts Black [students] further behind in [their] education,” ETHS Black Student Union President Serena Brown said. 

Even further, in 2018, Black students at ETHS made up 64 percent of out-of-school suspensions but only 29 percent of the student population according to Miseducation, a project by ProPublica. 

“If they’re really focussing on restorative justice, hopefully Black students will get less suspensions because, like I said, it is biased when they’re way overrepresented in the number of suspensions compared to the [population] at the school,” Brown said. “If you’re uncomfortable in your environment, if you’re uncomfortable in your school, of course you’re going to mess up more… you’re on edge all the time. But knowing that the school is focusing on making it a better place automatically takes that weight off of Black students’ shoulders.” 

For more information on changes for the upcoming school year, refer to the ETHS website or watch “Preparing for 2021-22 School Year” on the ETHS Youtube channel.