Muskogee High School in Tulsa are holding students accountable who are either tardy or absent from class by implementing fines and parents are furious.
“There’s no way that I could afford a $250 fine,” Johanna Hondy, a parent of one of the students told KTUL. “I don’t know anyone in this town who can afford that really.”
Oklahoma state law states that students who either late to class or don’t simply show up can be fined.
Kim Fleak, the Principal of Muskogee said the school has had “attendance issues” and hopefully this strategy is a way to make sure students are in class.
The principal told the news source, “So, this is one of those ways that we’re trying to combat. … It’s important to us that these kids are in school, in the class, receiving that instruction and having that time with teachers in seats.”
Superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools, Dr. Jarod Mendenhall explained to station KIJR that Muskogee’s attendance rate is extremely low. Other high schools in the Tulsa metro area had a pretty high attendance average. Jenks High School had 93% of their 3,500 students rate and Booker T. Washington High School had a 94% attendance rate out 1,340 students. However, Muskogee had an 89% attendance rate out of 1,500 students.
“After four absences within a four-week period, what we’re doing is sending a letter home to the parents of the student not attending school,” said Mendenhall.”
The fines at the high school can range from $25 to $250 according to officials.
“Attendance is really key to academic achievement. We know that students have to be in school for that to occur,” said the Tulsa superintendent.
Sophomore Abigail Cochran and her peers created a petition to change the form of punishment for students who may be late after the bell sounds off.
“People are going to be late. Going from one side of the campus to the other,” Cochran said.
The tenth grader said there should be “detention” or another way to chastise students.
“There are people wanting to drop out of school because of this, because they know they can’t pay these fines,” Cochran expressed.
The sophomore said if petition demands are not met then she and other Muskogee high school students are threatening to stage a walkout Sept. 13.