St. John’s truancy policy tightened

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 21, 2010

By David Vitrano


RESERVE – Although the St. John Parish Student Code of Conduct and Attendance Handbook remains largely unchanged, two topics that have received increased attention lately have spurred the majority of the alterations that are present.

As the district tries to crack down on truancy, language in the code reflects this effort.

Under the newly adopted regulations, elementary students must be present for at least 167 days during the upcoming school year. This means a K-8 student can miss no more than 11 days to be eligible to receive credit for courses taken.

On the high school level, students must be present for no fewer than 85 days per semester. Students missing more than five days per semester will not be eligible to receive course credit.

The new version of the handbook also tightens the language regarding the measures taken against a habitually truant student, saying that student will be reported to the Child Welfare and Attendance Office as well as to the parish’s family or juvenile court.

The handbook goes on to detail that the sixth time a student is tardy will result in a referral to the Child Welfare and Attendance Office with the penalty for subsequent tardies rising from there.

Extenuating circumstances may be granted for serious illness, a death in the family or a natural disaster or catastrophe, and students in danger of failing because of excessive absences may be allowed to make up missed class time.

As might be expected, the ever-evolving world of technology has also caused the modification of the section of the handbook governing student offenses.

In the new regulations, the usage of cellular phones, DVD players, portable music players, handheld gaming devices and video or audio recording devices is restricted.

Elementary students may not use such items during the school day, and high school students may not use them during instructional time. A first offense can result in anything from alternative to suspension to expulsion.

The section dealing with bullying and its consequences has also been updated.

Bullying complaints must be forwarded to the school’s principal, and all parties involved must be interviewed within three days of the complaint.

The families of the students involved will be informed of the outcome of the investigation within three days.

Regarding school uniforms, the policies are virtually unchanged. The only exception is that shoes may now be either black, white or a combination of both, and the colors for undershirts for high school students — black, white gray or gold for East St. John and black, white, gray or navy for West St. John — are now suggested, not mandatory.

For more information on the student handbook, visit