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Duveneck Principal and Tardies

Original post made by Parent, Duveneck School, on Mar 15, 2011

What's with John Lents and his punctuality issue? He sends out letters when children get tardies. A tardy can even be due to a medical appt. or if a child feels ill in the morning and then feels good to go to school later. He is forcing parents to call their children in sick to avoid tardies. I agree that children should try to be on time to school, but it's not so easy to get the little ones ready in the morning, especially when we have younger ones to care for too and could have been up most of the night. Should he be harassing children and parents? Duveneck parents are not happy about this at all.

And then some families visit their countries for 3 weeks and it's approved?

Do all principals in PAUSD enforce tardies? I heard Duveneck has never made an issue of tardies in the past. Perhaps Mr. Lents wants to feel he is improving the school in some way?

Addison parent feedback?

Comments (20)

Posted by Susan
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 15, 2011 at 6:51 am

Good for the principal for setting the standard that students should be on time at the beginning of the school day.

Posted by stFrancisMom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 15, 2011 at 8:08 am

Way to go Mr. Lents ... late nights, sick child should be no excuses for not calling in ahead of time .. all it takes is a phone call before the schools starting time.

Keep this up !

Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 15, 2011 at 8:12 am

I suspect that this policy is as a result of a big problem in the school particularly if the parents are complaining.

Elementary school is the time to get into good school habits and yes it does involve the whole family. Late arrivals are a disruption to the classes and the school and in the case of an emergency it is vital that the school knows who is and who isn't on site at the time of an emergency, or even in the event of a serious accident outside the school as to who could possibly be involved. At another level if your child didn't arrive at school after you had waved them goodbye at your door, wouldn't you like to be alerted as soon as possible?

A quick phone call to the office to say that your child has a medical appointment or isn't feeling too well and you are waiting an hour before deciding whether to send them to school for the day is relatively easy and is just common good manners.

Get into the habit of taking school starting time seriously, your kids will benefit from it when they move on to secondary school.

Posted by former addison parent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 15, 2011 at 8:24 am

John is not harassing parents, he is doing his job. It's simple, get your child to school on time and call if he is going to be late. Students should be in the classroom and ready to work when school starts. He did the same thing at Addison, but only when there was truly a problem, so there must be a lot of parents who are ignoring the start time...

Parent said it well, students that are tardy disrupt the class. Students walk by themselves to school, if they don't make it, the parents need to know ASAP for safety reasons. Once they are in middle or high school, tardies will cost them a detention or Saturday school.

Posted by Addison parent
a resident of Addison School
on Mar 15, 2011 at 9:17 am

Let me get this straight, you're complaining that you have to call the school when your child is going to be late? Wow, find a real problem to address.

John was a great principal at Addison, and it looks like he's now doing a great job at Duveneck.

Posted by Another mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 15, 2011 at 9:41 am

Bravo! Mr. Lents! I am so glad to hear that you are holding parents and kids accountable now for showing up on time!! This teaches self discipline and respect!! Keep up the great work!!

Posted by Grandma
a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 15, 2011 at 10:07 am

Tardies go on your child's record; too many of them and you won't get into the college of your choice.

My son went all the way through high school never being late. Unfortunately, due to an error on the part of a teacher two tardies were assigned to his name. He spent a lot of time and energy trying to get those tardies removed from his record and failed.

Just watch out for your record, the School District can and will make mistakes.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Duveneck School
on Mar 15, 2011 at 10:18 am

I don't think you all understand. It's not a matter of phoning it in. Even if you phone it in, he counts it as a Tardy. And I am not talking about casually meandering in 10 minutes late. If a child is 1 minute to 3 hours late, it's a Tardy, tarnishing the school record. Doesn't matter if child had an appointment or not.

Not only that, by middle school, children are on time to class, so he is just harassing the parents.

So tell me why they allow children to visit their homeland for 3 weeks? Isn't that more lost academic time?

Parents would prefer Mr. Lents focus on something more important for the school.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Duveneck School
on Mar 15, 2011 at 10:23 am

Also, I am not talking about a child being consistently tardy. He wants NO tardies.

Another point: parents need to phone the office by 8:45AM and start time is 8:15. So if your child walks to school and is abducted, you won't know until an hour later. So he is not enforcing tardies for safety reasons.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Duveneck School
on Mar 15, 2011 at 10:24 am

Correcton: start time for Duveneck is 8:05.

Posted by former addison parent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 15, 2011 at 10:32 am

Elementary children don't have control over when they get to school, their parents do, hence "harassing" the parents. If your child has a doctor's appt, they shouldn't be marked late. Id Mr. Lents is being a stickler about being a little late, it must be a problem in multiple classrooms. Technically, students who "visit their homeland" are truant. Vacations are not supposed to be excused absences. Per the District "Absences with parent approval that do not qualify as excused absences are vacation, ski trips, home but not sick, care for siblings, etc. and shall be recorded as “Other,” but are not excused absences. "

BTW - I don't know why you assume middle school kids are on time, in middle school you can get 6 tardies in one day, one for each class.

Posted by Deep Throat
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 15, 2011 at 11:00 am

The Duveneck front office must be processing the attendance record incorrectly. I checked my child's attendance record and on the day he was ill and missed morning classes but was okay after lunch, they marked it as an Excused Absence, not a tardy.

The key is to use illness as an excuse. Don't tell them it's a doctor's appointment or dental appt. (I know, sometimes there are no after school appointments). Even though doctors and dentists are health-related, they don't count as excused absences. Just always tell them your child is sick if they have to miss any school at all. They cannot force a child to attend school when they are sick. This way, your child can have a clean record of excused absences.

Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 15, 2011 at 11:04 am

Sorry Dude - but you're the one that's causing the problem. Not the principal. Deal with it and get up a few minutes earlier...plan ahead, etc. Not too tough.

We've all had kids, sick/healthy, etc. Just like you need to plan to leave a few minutes earlier for school on a rainy day - just add some more buffer to your morning prep time.

Not rocket science.

Posted by Still laughing
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 15, 2011 at 11:04 am

"Tardies go on your child's record; too many of them and you won't get into the college of your choice."

This is laughably incorrect. Especially at the elementary school level.

Posted by mmmmMom
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 15, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Take this situation as a wake-up call (no pun intended!) that you need to get more organized - especially in the morning. Yes, it is difficult to do sometimes, but the problem will only get worse if you do not get on it @ this stage in the game. Bonus? You & your children will all be happier.

And as a former Addison parent, you should thank your lucky stars that John Lents is your principal. He is the BEST!!!

Posted by MidtownMom
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 15, 2011 at 1:24 pm

The three week vacations .. students get a thick binder with homework which is usually due on the day you return to school.

Posted by Grandma
a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 15, 2011 at 3:54 pm

John Lents is a great principal, he is just preparing your child for high school and the real world beyond.

If you allow your child to be tardy in elementary school, he will develop a bad habit and he'll be tardy as an adult. I'm all for a little discipline but sadly this parent is not.

Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2011 at 11:35 pm

One question -- does the school supervise the areas outside the classroom between 7:50 and 8:05? I hope this isn't one of those schools that expects everyone to show up in the last two minutes? If the school wants everyone to be there *on time*, they have a responsibility to supervise the outside area ("yard duty") for at least the length of time it takes for everyone to arrive -- 10-15 minutes, depending on how many locals walk to school. Safety first, before we worry about tardies.

Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 16, 2011 at 11:46 am

Yes - the schools have people out and about every morning. There's always someone supervising the drop-off zone and then there are usually 2 staff out supervising the play areas before school. It's been that way for decades.

Anon - did you have kids that attended PA schools? You would know otherwise!

Posted by Duveneck Mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 18, 2011 at 12:36 pm

Getting a letter is not harassing, it is merely notification. If you feel justified (for example, you have called about a morning doctor appointment), don't worry about it.

But please stop picking on our principal over this. And, other kids going on trips is not a concern for the rest of us (particularly because the school doesn't lose significant amounts of money as at most other schools).

We must respect our teachers and principals. They are doing their job. Let's us do our job.

I hope the teachers and principals know that 98% of the parents in Palo Alto appreciate all their hard work, diligence and notifications.

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