Venice High School has strict attendance requirements for seniors when it comes to graduation ceremonies. Hamilton High School was in the news recently for its strict rules.
At the beginning of the school year, students from both Venice and Hamilton are forced to sign a senior contract saying they’ll adhere to rules concerning attendance, tardies, etc. Hamilton’s contract states: “It is imperative that seniors meet the goal of 96% attendance in all classes both semesters. 96% attendance means no more than 7 full day absences for the entire school year. This includes Excused AND Unexcused absences.”
If students at Hamilton miss more than the seven days, they aren’t allowed to walk the stage at graduation; whereas at Venice you are allowed 10 absences for both semesters, in any of your classes. For example, if you have 13 absences in your first period but only seven in the rest of your classes, you’re still ineligible to participate in the graduation ceremony.
At Venice, they exclude excused absences. According to Ms. Margo Oku, excused absences are any that are because of an illness or a legitimate excuse like a personal family problem, with either a note from a doctor or parent. Anything other than that, including family trip, are marked as unexcused.
Because of these binding rules, nearly 100 students at Hamilton are ineligible to participate in their graduation ceremony, including Kevin Jennings, a senior with a 4.0 GPA who’s attending to USC in the fall, according to a video on CBS Los Angeles, date.
Jennings said most of his absences were because of trips to colleges campuses, that were discussed with the principal beforehand, but still counted against him.
Jennings is obviously really upset that he isn’t able to walk the stage, especially because he’s the first male in his family to graduate, and because of his high GPA.
“That’s something my father want to see,” said Jennings to CBS Los Angeles in regard to his walking of the stage at graduation ceremony.
Hamilton senior Mica Thomas won’t be able to walk the stage either because she’s missed 8 days of school, which is one too many than what is allowed. Thomas had a doctor’s note for each one of her absences, according to CBS, but that was of no benefit because it doesn’t matter if the absences are excused or unexcused.
LAUSD released a statement in regards to this situation. “Hamilton High School like many schools in Los Angeles Unified understands and promotes the benefits of good attendance. The [senior] contract adheres to the district’s goal of 96% attendance achievement and provides information about eligibility for participating in all senior activities.”
At Hami, students can work off one absence a day through four hours of work on campus, like helping to clean it. At Venice, students can write an appeal letter claiming they deserve to participate in graduation.