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TAHS set to implement ‘Academic Detention’ for students not doing assigned school work

The Tyrone Area School Board heard a presentation at last night’s board work session by high school principal Tom Yoder about implementing a new program called “Academic Detention,” to add another layer to the school’s already established academic support programs.
It will be an addition to the High School Student Handbook (9-12 grades), pending board approval next Monday, and will begin on October 30, which is the first day of the second marking period.
Yoder explained to board members that the staff and school officials at the high school “overwhelming realized” that students were doing poorly in school, because those students were not doing the work assigned to them.
He said that many people feel that it’s the school’s responsibility to produce a socially inclined individual, as well as an educationally inclined individual to put out into the workforce. The new program will instill in students a stronger work ethic by taking uncooperative students, and having them understand that they will be held accountable for lesson participation, activities, assignments, projects, and homework.
“Kids who wind up in Academic Detention are the kids who won’t accept our other means of help,” stated Yoder. “We want them to carry the same work ethic when they leave school to go into the workplace, college, or vocational school.”
Academic Detention is for the students who refuse to complete their assignments or participate in the academic support program at the school. Those students will be referred by their teacher or advisor to the high school dean of students, Michael McKee, and then be assigned to the program.
The classroom teachers will refer a student to Academic Detention after three missed assignments or three refusals to participate in class, or one missed major project or test. Advisors will issue a referral after a student has a failing grade for three weeks or after attending Academic Support, but not taking it seriously.
Students may be assigned to after-school Academic Support or to the regular detention room. Both are mandatory for attendance. Excuses for missing Academic Detention, such as athletic, extra-curricular, work, carpool, or appointments will not be accepted, although certain circumstances might be considered excused depending on the situation.
Failure to attend Academic Detention will result in a Saturday detention for each missed detention. The discipline is heightened in accordance to the school district’s policies in the student handbook.
Superintendent Dr. William Miller said that a student needs to be disciplined to do their homework, and that research supports the fact that students who complete and understand worthy homework, will be more effective students who will succeed in the classroom.
“That’s what our initiative is,” explained Miller. “Regardless of anything in life, you need to make the commitment to do the task ahead of you, and you have a responsibility – that responsibility is to complete your assignments as part of the course work.”
He continued, “It carries on over in life. Kids, normally, a lot of them don’t like to do homework, but it’s a fact of life, and when you do the homework, understand it, and make the application as worthwhile homework, then you learn the subject.”
School board member and Educational Programs and Materials Committee Chairperson Pete Dutrow said that education is the first priority in the school district, and that he likes the academic support the district provides.
“It’s tremendous that we can open it up and have a specialty teacher in there to help these kids, and if that doesn’t work, then you take the next step,” noted Dutrow. “We have to do everything we can to help these kids learn.”
Yoder said that Academic Detention is ultimately designed to motivate kids that have the ability, but refuse to do the work. The school district has always had a policy dealing with academic non-compliance, which before fell under the policy of a student being insubordinate.
“What this policy does now is make it very clear to kids and parents that it’s not candy coated under anything else,” stated Yoder. “If you’re not doing your work or refusing to do it, then you’re going to be punished just like if you act out inappropriately.”
Yoder hopes that the Academic Detention program will become something more positive than negative at the high school. He said that kids often times when they become successful suddenly, then they feed off of that and want more of that success.
“Some of our students just maybe need that little push,” added Yoder.
All high school students will receive a copy of the new program if approved by the school board next week. School officials will meet with all four grades to explain the program and answer questions.