Exemption Policy Drama

Will Archer, Writer

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Thursday, students were shocked to hear about a change in the exemption policy only three days until the first midterms. The new policy states that any student with even one unexcused absence automatically cannot exempt the midterm of that class. The response from the students was overwhelmingly negative, and had it not been rolled back Friday morning, it would have affected a large portion of the students (including yours truly). The new policy has been in the Student Handbook all year, which all students and parents are required to sign. Many teachers even went through the entire 50-page book in their classrooms during advisement, yet no one was aware of the policy until Thursday, including many teachers. So what happened?

Administration claimed this policy had been in effect since the inception** of the exam exemption policy, however if one looks at handbooks of previous years, it isn’t mentioned. Apparently, it was intended to be understood without discussion or mentioning at all. Regardless of the rule’s presence in past years, it wasn’t enforced by the vast majority of teachers. There have been instances where certain teachers wouldn’t allow students to exempt because of an unexcused absence, but those are few and far between. Furthermore, there were other changes to the exemption policy this year that were emphasized heavily by teachers at the beginning of the year, namely the changes in the grade requirements. However, this change to the policy, which would have been the one that affected the most students, wasn’t mentioned at all. Both students and parents were unprepared. Many of those who just found this out Thursday would’ve been studying for midterms weeks in advance had they known they needed to take all of them.

One of the telltale signs of a failing school is the attendance rate. If the attendance rate is low, then the school is considered failing. This is important because it’s the main purpose of the exemption policy. It provides an incentive for the students to attend school, and it works VERY well. As many students know, we have become obsessive over attendance, to the point where some students show up to school when they are sick. Students here at Cartersville REALLY want to exempt their midterms and finals, and sometimes work entire semesters to achieve that goal. The policy is meant to reward students who attend school regularly, but with unexcused absences blocking exemption altogether, it punishes them.

Thursday, it remained unclear what actions, if any would be taken by Dr. Feuerbach and the rest of the school. There was no doubt there would be a flood of angry parents in the office, demanding different things be done. It’s doubtful that the situation would have been nearly the same if these students and parents had known in advance to avoid unexcused absences. The fact that parent excuses are only valid for up to three days after the absence wasn’t helping the situation at all. Alongside the parents, many teachers were angered by the policy and said they refused to enforce it. This morning, to little surprise, Dr. Feuerbach sent out an email to all teachers notifying them that the policy had been changed.

TL;DR, students Thursday discovered a new exemption policy that blocked any student with an unexcused absence from exempting their midterm. After considerable outrage from parents, students, and teachers alike, the policy was changed Friday morning. Don’t worry, if you thought you were able to exempt before Thursday, then you can still exempt now, regardless of unexcused absences.

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Exemption Policy Drama