60% Of Senior Class Makes Non-Participation List; Appeal Forms Create Frustration Within Students

Zoe Woodrick, Editor-In-Chief

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Edited on Saturday, March 12 at 7:21 p.m.

About sixty percent of the senior class has been put on the non-participation list for senior events, according to assistant principal Emily Bautista. 

This list excludes those on the list from events such as Prom, Spring Fling, the Senior Dinner, and other events. This week, Bautista confirmed that students will still be able to walk the stage at graduation. 

Last week, students were given appeal papers notifying them that they were on this list; the notification also gave them information on how they can appeal being excluded from events.

If seniors qualify for the non-participation list, they cannot attend events like prom, and other events. At the beginning of the school year, students may have already bought pre-paid packages for events throughout the school year. If students don’t make up the hours related to absences and tardies, events within the packages will be refunded, according to Bautista. 

On each student’s non-participation list notification, information related to days tardy, excused absences, and unexcused absences were listed. The amount it totals to, based on an equation shown on students’ appeal forms, determines the number of hours needed to be made up by students. 

Unexcused absences and tardiness count towards non-participation for senior events, though excused absences do not. Excused absences in this situation are medical absences only, according to Bautista. Both parents and doctors can provide notes to excuse absences. 

Students can make up for the absences by campus beautification, teacher assistance, or lunch detention and intervention based on what they have on their notification. Any excused medical absences are subtracted from student-required service hours.

“The only sanctioned hours to make up absences are through campus beautification or supporting your teachers,” said Bautista. 

Club events and other activities that grant regular community service do not count to make up hours. 

Students can find out what absences they have excused and unexcused through Parent Portal. The ways to excuse absences, as well as qualify for the non-participation list were determined by Venice administration, according to Bautista. 

Last Friday, Bautista spoke at a Class of 2023 meeting to clear up questions about the non-participation list. Following this event, where many students expressed concern and frustration with this policy, senior Hitesh Sharma, the Class of 2023 president, wrote a letter to principal Cynthia Headrick about the frustrations the senior class has with the appeal process. 

In the letter, Sharma wrote that “regardless of how much the administration is worried about the school’s finances in the face of attendance, I promise it’s not worth damaging the already fragile relationship that exists between the school’s administrators and its students.”

Each student that shows up to school generates money from the state. 

Following that meeting, many students felt their questions were left unanswered. Sharma explained that student frustration was reasonable and called for administrators to directly answer questions asked by students regarding the appeals and the list. 

“We wish our questions to be answered directly, as opposed to adopting a strategy of avoidance,” Sharma said in the letter. 

According to Sharma, a lot more students attended the Class of 2023 meeting than usual, since this was their opportunity to ask questions about the forms. 

Senior Celine Essaied was at this meeting and asked questions to Bautista. She feels her questions were not answered clearly, and that the meeting was unhelpful in clearing up concerns about the list and appeals. 

“When I confronted admin about these issues, none of my questions were answered and were completely avoided,” she said. My question was thorough and backed up with evidence from the LAUSD website, and it was avoided.”

Essaied finds the situation unfair and unaccommodating to students who have kept stable grades and participation. 

“It sucks having a student who has contributed so much to the school and maintained straight As be told that I can’t participate in vital senior events,” said Essaied. 

Essaied feels that it is unfair that mental health absences are not considered medical reasons, which are the only excused absences regarding the list. 

“The school loves to talk about mental health, but when it came to seniors taking days off of school because of mental health it became a huge deal,” she said. 

The senior has experienced several issues trying to make up hours to appeal being on the non-participation list. 

“When trying to make up my tardies at lunch detention, I was not allowed to enter because they were at full capacity,” she said.

“How does the school expect us to go through with the appeal process if they are making it nothing but difficult for us?”

According to Bautista, lunch detentions have gotten full, so students who do not get to go to the lunch detentions can participate in other ways that hours can be made up such as campus beautification. 

Senior Brianna Rosales-Sanchez received an appeal letter for being on the  non-participation list as well. Rosales-Sanchez had already spent money on senior activities that she is now being excluded from. 

I think that our admin genuinely believes they’ve handled this situation fairly, but I’d say otherwise,” she said. “We’re being told two months before one of the biggest events of our senior year that we can’t go because of absences.” 

During the meeting, it was said that these policies currently influencing the senior non-participation list were agreed to in the student agreement contract. 

The contract was given to students in the fall, and discussed during a behavior assembly, said Bautista. 

Under the Student Responsibilities for Venice High School, a standard is listed as ‘have good attendance.’ On the website, the section of responsibilities does not specify how many absences and tardies are acceptable and does not mention the non-participation list. 

“They claim to have told the senior class about this policy a while ago, but if you ask any senior, they wouldn’t have a clue when this policy was mentioned,” said Rosales-Sanchez. 

Many students including both Essaied and Rosales-Sanchez said that the policy administration has been speaking about was not properly stated and informed to Venice students.