Rock Falls High School tackles chronic tardiness

Principal Michael Berentes listens as Interim Assistant Principal Kristina Smith makes a presentation on the revisions being made to the student handbook during a meeting Wednesday of the Rock Falls High School board of education.

ROCK FALLS – Chronic tardiness from students won’t be tolerated when Rock Falls High School reconvenes in 2022-23.

“Kids don’t feel it’s important to be on time,” said Kristina Smith, interim assistant principal, who gave an update on her project to remove loopholes from the student handbook.

One student had 50 tardies in a single semester, she said.

“I’m over it,” she said, making her report to the board of education at its April meeting.

The board was receptive to the effort to beef up enforcement.

“Let’s prepare them for reality,” board Vice President John Howard said.

Principal Mike Berentes said: “It’s going to be a rude awakening for a lot of them.”

The goal is to break the cycle of tardiness, Smith explained. Starting with the spring 2022 semester, the administration took a stricter approach to tardiness. She proposed that 25 tardies automatically trigger an in-school suspension.

Another area that’s getting a second look is study hall supervision. Students who are not passing classes will be placed in a restricted area where their laptops can be monitored electronically. Students who are working on online classes for credit recovery so they can stay on track to graduate will be moved to a downstairs room.

Smith said the rules governing open campus will be simplified and made clearer.

Another section of the handbook that needs clarifying covers excused absences. Each student is entitled to five days for health reasons. The excused absence can be for a physical illness or mental health reasons, regardless, the limit is still five total.

Some thought that the state mandate to include mental health care as a valid excuse meant students were entitled to five additional days, which wasn’t the case, Smith said.

Troy Taylor

Troy E. Taylor

Was named editor for and the Gazette and Telegraph in 2021. An Illinois native, he has been a reporter or editor in daily newspapers since 1989.