Signing Off To Sign Out Of OHS

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When students at Orono High School reach the age of 18, they have the ability to sign out of school. However, there are steps that they must follow to reach this point. If the privilege is abused, this privilege may also be taken away.

The first step a student must follow upon turning 18, if they want to be able to sign- out, is to get a form from the office. This form is the gateway into associate principal Caryn Boyd’s office for approval. The form is labeled 18-Year-Old Consent Form. If the student is not 18, they must be legally emancipated (when a minor has gained legal independence from their parents)  to sign-out. If they are legally emancipated, they need to show legal documentation. A parent signature is required, unless the student is legally emancipated, to complete this form.

“It makes it less of a hassle for my parents and I’m able to sign out during study halls. Education is priority,” senior Mitchell Underdahl said.

The next step would be to have a meeting with Boyd. She must approve for the student to be allowed to sign out. If she does not approve (possible reasons include poor attendance record, multiple unexcused absences, apparent lack of responsibility, etc.), the student must continue to have their guardians call the attendance line or write notes for any tardiness or absences.

“Here at school, you are still your parent’s child and we have to follow state law. State law requires the school districts to have and maintain one and only one attendance policy for every student that is enrolled in the district, no matter how old and what grade you’re in,” Boyd said.

If a student is approved to sign out, they must still bring in a note in advance for their absence. There is a small sheet of paper that the student needs to fill out before getting the absence excused. Excused absences include: illness, medical or dental treatment, pre-arranged family trips, pre-arranged college visits, etc.

“You have to have an actual reason to sign out, it’s not like you can just leave,” senior Lance O’Connor said.

The student, although they have the ability to sign out, has the responsibility to attend classes everyday that school is in session.

“Right now, on average, I have about three solid students who sign out per day, but by the time May rolls around, it will be about 15-20 students per day,” administrative assistant to associate principal and attendance administrator Heather DeLong said.

The Student Assistance Team (SAT) monitors students absences. If students are deemed as Monitored Attendance (when students have multiple absences to the point of needing to be monitored) and have unexcused absences, they may not be able to make up assignments missed, according to OHS Student Handbook.

“Even though a student is 18, they still fall under Minnesota Statute to be attending school until they graduate,” DeLong said.

Orono School’s Board Policy 503 and the Spartan Student and Parent Handbook also dictate that a student must attend school until they graduate.

There are advantages to having this sign-out policy in place. Parents do not have to work with the attendance line. In addition to this, students earn a new understanding of work ethic by having this new responsibility.

“If it’s an appointment or something parents don’t have to call or sign them out. If it’s convenient for them and they like it, I think it’s fine,” math teacher Nathan Porter said.

The possible dangers of this are based on integrity and safety. The students must leave through the office and say where they will be for their own safety. Once students begin to abuse this responsibility for getting food with friends instead of going to a doctor’s appointment, they lose integrity and possibly even their privilege to sign out. Just as the students are given the right to leave, the power can just as easily be taken away.

“If a student abuses the privilege, then I can take it away,” Boyd said.

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