Editorial: Is it excusable?

West High should improve the tardy policy by increasing its flexibility.


Sachiko Goto

The Editorial Board voted 11-4 against the current tardy policy at West.

West High instituted a new tardy policy in December, along with a series of rewards for “No Tardy December.” While the extra incentives are no longer in place, the tardy policy has stuck around. As of print time, a student who is tardy must report to the Main Office or West Wing Office to scan their ID and get a pass before they will be let into their classroom. The tardy policy aims to encourage getting to class on time and decrease the number of students in the hallway during class time. The policy successfully cut the number of unexcused tardies in half for the months of December and January. While the Editorial Board believes that the current tardy policy provides a solid foundation, it has drawbacks that should be resolved through increased flexibility. 

First, West administration should add more pass stations. One of the main concerns about the current policy is the increased amount of class time tardy students miss. The unnecessarily long time it takes to walk to one of the offices, wait in line, obtain a pass, walk back to the classroom, get someone to open the locked door and finally hand the tardy slip to the teacher often causes even more missed instructional time than before the policy was established. Currently, students can only obtain passes at the Main Office and the West Wing office, located on the first and bottom floors respectively. However, both of these are far away from the top floor. To minimize wasted time, there should be a pass station on all three floors. 

Another necessary change is the return to the old tardy system for first period. For many students, getting to school in the morning is hectic. Put locked doors and long pass lines on top of that, and the first-period experience becomes all the more distressing. External factors out of students’ control, such as weather conditions and the dependence on others for transportation, cause more students to be late to first period than any other class period. This creates longer pass lines and keeps students out of class for more time. To account for these nuances, classroom doors should remain unlocked, and students should not be required to get a tardy pass for first period. While late students would still be marked tardy — keeping the incentive to arrive on time — these changes will ensure students are able to get into class as soon as possible if they do get to school late. The current policy punishes students for factors that may be out of their control; leniency for first period is a necessary compromise.

Finally, the current restrictions on restroom usage should be abolished. As of publication date, students are not allowed to use the bathroom durings the first and last ten minutes of class. Before the tardy policy was implemented, most teachers were forgiving if students arrived a little late to class after having used the bathroom. Some teachers even encouraged it so they didn’t have to write a pass for those students and have them miss instructional time later. However, with the new tardy policy, using the bathroom during passing time suddenly has much higher stakes. The combination of these two policies restricts bathroom breaks to a small window of time in the middle of class, which is usually the most productive part. Also, many teachers use the laminated hall pass as a bathroom pass, further restricting bathroom usage to one student at a time. This is unreasonable. While teachers will almost always grant exceptions for urgent situations, this shouldn’t be necessary. The current bathroom policies are inconsistently enforced, with some teachers granting bathroom requests during the no-bathroom times. Instead of having the bathroom expectations be different from teacher to teacher, West should officially remove the rules about which times students can use the bathrooms, as long as they have a pass with them when they go.

The tardy policy has effectively decreased unexcused tardies, making it a good foundation. However, the tardy policy isn’t perfect for West, which may be because it wasn’t created specifically for our school — a quick Google search shows that similar policies of locking classroom doors and sweeping students out of the hallways have been implemented at many other schools. It should be tailored to work better for West by adding a pass station to the top floor, dismissing parts of the policy for first period and revising the current bathroom policy. The changes we have suggested won’t resolve every issue students have with the current tardy policy though, so it’s important for both students and administrators to work together to create a better environment. No policy will work for every student. If you have legitimate concerns about this policy, make sure to advocate for yourself and work with a teacher or administrator to come to an agreement. The administration has already done this for a few students by giving them permanent passes. They should continue to hear out students’ needs and provide accommodations as necessary to create a more equitable school environment.