LANCASTER – Rather than slashing grades or banning students from school sports or proms because of excessive absences, high school district officials are recommending that they be given more time to attend school on Saturdays to make up missed classes. Currently Antelope Valley Union High School District students who have more than 10 unexcused absences have until the end of the semester to clear absences, but a proposed revision of the district’s attendance policy would lengthen that time by about nine weeks. “We have recommended a change in the amount of time that students have to attend voluntary Saturday school to get the student back in good standing and receive credit,” said Larry Freise, coordinator of attendance and special projects. “The new policy gives them a window of time after the semester has ended to get rid of absences.” The district is reviewing its attendance policy because thousands of students have lost academic credit for classes in which they had passing grades but too many unexcused absences. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREOregon Ducks football players get stuck on Disney ride during Rose Bowl eventIn spring 2005, nearly 1,700 students at district schools lost credit in one or more classes because they had more than 10 unexcused absences, even if their grades were otherwise passable. Their grade for that class shows up as an “N,” for no credit. In the first semester of this school year, more than 1,300 students received no credit for excessive unexcused absences. Absences for illness and other times when the student has an excuse do not count toward the 10-absence maximum. Under the proposed revision, students would have until the beginning of the fourth quarter after the end of the first semester to make up absences, a period that is typically about nine weeks, Freise said. After the end of the second semester, students can clear up absences in the week between the end of school and the start of summer school, when the district would run morning and afternoon sessions of Saturday school during the week, Freise said. The board is scheduled to take action on the proposal at Wednesday’s meeting. Rather than penalize students academically, district administrators had considered penalizing students who repeatedly ditch class by banning them from activities such as school sports and proms, as a way to keep teens in school. Freise said the district’s attendance committee rejected that approach because extracurricular activities are not evenly shared across all grade levels. For example, juniors and seniors go to the prom but freshmen and sophomores typically don’t, unless invited. “Seniors have grad night. Seniors have a lot of things going. Freshmen don’t have a lot of things going except sports and some clubs,” Freise said. “The committee didn’t feel denying access to those things was enough of a dissuader to keep them in school on a regular basis.” District officials have noted that students with absences already over the 10-day limit have no incentive to continue going to class. The current policy has been in effect since 2000. Before that, students lost credit if they were absent 15 days, and that counted all absences, excused and unexcused. The students denied credit because of the attendance policy are crowding summer school and other programs the district has set up for students who are failing their classes and need extra help academically. [email protected] (661) 267-5744160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!