RPS Board Votes Down Attendance Policy Changes

Updated: 04/22/2014 11:14 PM
Created: 04/22/2014 11:10 PM
By: Laura Lee

(ABC 6 News) -- It was a hotly debated topic Tuesday night at the Rochester Public School Board meeting.
Parents upset over a new policy regarding student attendance to include family vacations and visits to colleges as unexcused absences. 

Nearly a dozen parents expressed their concerns Tuesday and the school board listened.

"This is a significant policy change," says Karen Holleman, who is not only a concerned parent, but a former teacher.

One by one, parents stepped up and voiced their opposition to the new language in RPS's attendance policy.

"If we are limited to when we take vacation, it makes it much more difficult," says Jacquie Armstrong, who says her work schedule conflicts with when she can take time off to be with her children.

"My parents are also from Canada, so its either my kids come with or they stay back to not face disciplinary action from the school," says Armstrong.

After hours of discussion in front of a packed board room, RPS board members voted down the new proposals to the student attendance policy stating changes to the language needs to be made.
"Parents, they own their kids' education and want their kids to succeed," says Holleman, "we want the policy to be less restrictive and fair."

"I just didn't think it was well thought through," says Armstrong.

At points during the meeting board members debated each other on the language, citing that the district needed to be more transparent in their reasoning for the new revisions.
"What evidence do we have to create these restrictions," asks RPS Board Member Julie Workman of Superintendent Michael Munoz.
"These align with recommendations from the Minnesota School Board Association," says Munoz.
Board members did agree that the language needed to be changed to allow room for discretion among educators.

"I hope that there is a solution that works for Rochester families in general," says Armstrong.

District leaders did have 30 days to review these new changes, however, with Tuesday's vote, board members will have to make changes and review the policy again.  

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