Parent dismissals by phone are no longer accepted due to a recent rise in false dismissal calls over the past year or so.
This new policy, announced in December 2013 on the APS website, was generated by Principal Lord and the rest of the administration with the approval of the School Committee, according to Ms. Pilla, administrative secretary. Pilla also stated that it was created to stop students from impersonating their parents to dismiss themselves by phone. Other nearby high schools experiencing the same problem have similar policies, said Mr. Seide, assistant principal.
According to Seide, these false calls are technically viewed as forgery. The AHS Student Handbook states that “a student using a forged attendance note, corridor pass, or progress report and any class or school document will be given up to 5detentions for the first violation. Additional violations will result in suspension(s) depending on the student’s overall discipline record.”
As for the false dismissals in the past, there’s more of an issue there than it may seem. “I think it’s more than just responding to incidents where it’s happened, it’s also a security thing,” said Seide. “We are responsible for every student in the building between 7:45 and 2:05 and we have to have a sense of [….] where people are and [whether] they’re in the right place. If we can’t be 100 percent sure that a parent has signed someone out, even if we’re only 99 percent sure, that’s not good enough. We need a communication in writing to a parent. It’s more than just responding to when kids have broken a rule, it’s making sure that our bases are covered.”
Accepted forms of dismissal are an email or fax with an electronic signature, a parent with I.D. coming to the office to pick up their child, or a handwritten note signed by the parent, said administrative secretary Ms. Rivera. All notes must have the name and grade of the student being dismissed, along with the time of the dismissal and its reason. Contact information of the adult dismissing the student is also required.
Not only does the new policy get rid of the possibility of students dismissing themselves by phone, it may also discourage students from trying to dismiss themselves period. When asked his opinion on the matter, Seide stated, “We hope so. I think it would have that effect, just the structure in place would kind of assure that. That’s the hope.”
Though some of the student community at AHS, and even a portion of the parent community, haven’t heard a ton on the new policy — there’s only a “quick link” to a post about it on the AHS website and it has only very recently been announced on the TVs in the cafeteria — many seem to be adjusting smoothly.
“I’ve never faced any issues so far,” said Taylor Fitzgerald, parent. “I actually find it much quicker and easier than calling. I haven’t heard from any parents who have had an issue. I enjoy the policy.”
Some students, however, see a few flaws in the new policy. “I think that will be a problem in the case of an emergency,” Maggie Shea, freshman, said. “What if a student needs to be dismissed suddenly, and the parent doesn’t have a computer with them? It’s almost like they’re trapped at school.”
The administration has found solutions to such problems, however. Rivera said, “If the parent doesn’t have access to a laptop then the parent would have to come into the main office to dismiss the student.”
And if the parent needs the student to drive him or herself home? “We have [also] had parents text us dismissal notes if a computer is not available to them,” stated Pilla. “The parent usually calls us first and we verify their cell phone number with the one on file; [it’s] similar to the way we verify parents’ email addresses.”
By Rachel McIntosh