An online petition started by an Evanston Township High School student is asking the school to “End Tardiness Rollover Policy, Give Students a Fresh Start.”

That policy, in the ETHS handbook, says that if a student accumulates more than 10 tardies (for arriving late to class), the student “will not be allowed to attend or participate in any school-sponsored activity that is not academically related/required until consequences are fulfilled as determined by their dean.”

More than ten tardies puts the student on Detention Probation.

That means no sports, no clubs, and not being allowed to leave campus for lunch until the tardies are cleared.

And if not cleared, the tardies carry over from one school year to the next.

The petition was posted by a student who says she is an ETHS senior named Lyana Hyman, and has generated more than 1,200 signatures.

Petition on site.

The student’s narrative on the petition says the rollover policy has had “a profound negative impact on students like myself who have struggled with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.”

Students have five or 10 minutes to go from class to class, depending on the day.

Hyman states that due to depression and anxiety, “I often found myself arriving late to school and struggling to make it to my classes on time.” The student says she has been unable to clear all of the accumulated tardies, thus “robbing me of the full high school experience” such as the prom.

The petition, signed by more than 1,200 people (some students, some non-students) asks ETHS to reconsider the rollover policy, and instead implement a “fresh start” where tardies are “reset” (wiped off the books) at the beginning of each academic year.

The goal, says the narrative, is to “alleviate unnecessary stress and anxiety for students” and create a healthier learning environment.

The petition does not mention, however, that ETHS, according to the school handbook, says “there are many opportunities for students to clear Tardies” via programs such as AM Support, Academic Study Center, Wildkit Academy, and others before, during, and after school, plus on the weekend.

Attending Wildkit Academy, a Saturday school for student who need help, for example, can clear eight tardies if a student attends twice.

ETHS also has five mental health days per year which students can utilize without a doctor’s note, and there is also school-based mental health support.

School spokesperson Takumi Iseda tells Evanston Now that ETHS has consistently had the same tardiness policy, except for the year after remote learning.

Iseda says every ETHS student has a grade-level support team (counselor, dean, social worker, and school psychologist), whose duties include “working with students to help address the causes of chronic tardiness and [explaining] the frequent opportunities to clear tardies.”

She also says that the school “continues to welcome feedback” on how to students can get the most out of high school and preparation for post-high school life.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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