Errors in administrative procedures and administrative shortcomings have led to a plethora of attendance issues at Waxahachie High School. It's a failure that district's new superintendent and her staff have already begun to address.
Waxahachie ISD has already contracted former administrator Robert Woodhouse to oversee the day-to-day administrative operations at the high school, while current principal Adan Casas is on special assignment for superintendent Dr. Bonny Cain.
This personnel change comes shortly after an internal investigation began mid-week and continued through Friday in relation to attendance credits for Waxahachie High School students.
According to section 25.092 of the Texas Education Code, a student must have attended 90 percent of the class days offered in order to promote up to the next grade or graduate. Furthermore, if the student is in attendance for at least 75 percent but less than 90 percent of the days class is offered, he or she may be given credit or a final grade if the student completes an attendance make-up plan approved by the school principal.
The local Waxahachie ISD board policy reflects the same outline and requirements as the TEC.
Unfortunately, the Waxahachie High School administration has failed to hold students to those standards — or even promptly notify parents when their students have missed too many classes.
Cain expressed frustration that students who could have otherwise made up for their missed class time have been unable to do so, because of the lapses by the administration.
Because of the error, students and parents did not receive timely notices on attendance issues and were not afforded the opportunity to make up the necessary time, a situation that is particularly crucial for seniors nearing graduation. The district will now begin notifying parents next week.
"Not only do we have seniors who should be doing the make-up seat time, but there was also an arbitrary cut off time where some students were 'excused' by administration [to make up the time]," Cain said. "The violations were at the point that a self-report needed to be made to TEA."
According to Cain, TEA might grant WHS seniors and juniors a waiver for the high school administration's "cut-off time," but the district continues to work with TEA on the students who were not placed on the principal's plan.
"But it appears that sophomores and freshmen will have to make up portions of time missed as determined by a campus attendance committee," the superintendent added.
Cain further explained that — of what appears to be an approximate 200 WHS seniors who could have made up their attendance — only about half of the students were put on a "principal plan" that the district should have implemented to make up for the poor attendance.
Waxahachie ISD currently utilizes an attendance committee that recommends students make up absences in order to receive credits to advance to the next grade level. However, the high school administration set its own arbitrary date for students to forgive missed class time.
"We need to get an exact list and exact count so as to make certain those students not under the TEA possible waiver start making up their time," Cain emphasized
Cain also noted that it appears the practice may have begun as far back as four years based on information gathered during the early stages of the internal investigation currently underway.