The pressing issue of tardiness at Bell High
April 11, 2019
Heavy traffic at the front of the school during drop-offs and pick-ups jeopardizes student attendance and safety, according to students.
At Bell High School, the morning air is filled with blaring car horns and the sound of hundreds of scuttling feet from late students. Kids are arriving at school late, interrupting classes and tarnishing their attendance.
According to Frank Miranda, a Magnet Senior, the substantial amount of traffic during morning drop-off is to blame. Miranda drives to school and says that he usually arrives at school around 7:00 but does not get to class until almost 7:30 because it takes him over twenty minutes to get from Flora Ave to the parking lot on Pine Ave. “I have to get here at 7:00 and don’t get into school until 7:29,” says Miranda.
As a senior, Miranda’s biggest worry is his graduation eligibility; too many tardies and seniors can’t graduate. Miranda says that the school should work harder at implementing ways to help traffic flow, like opening other points of entrance, including the baseball gate on Pine Ave. He believes that more entrances will significantly help improve student attendance by relieving the build-up of traffic at the front of the school caused by parents dropping off students at the same place.
However, not all school administration believes that traffic is to blame for tardiness. According to Mrs. Franco, attendance counselor, tardiness rates are “still about the same,” since closing the baseball gate on Pine Ave. According to Franco, on average there are “anywhere between a hundred and two hundred and something” students arriving to school late. These numbers have not varied greatly since closing the side entrances. Therefore, to administration, traffic is not the real issue to blame for tardiness.
Nonetheless, many seniors do not share the same viewpoints as administration. Tardiness is a prevalent issue, with traffic being a major component of the problem. According to Magnet Senior, Alissa Tapia, it is frustrating to know that many seniors may not be able to walk the stage at graduation because of their attendance. “I don’t think…being tardy to school is a reflection of kid’s work” Alissa states. She believes that telling students they can not walk the stage because they are late to class is “[administration] punishing students because they aren’t getting money.”
“It’s really frustrating. I’m passing all my classes, my GPA is fine, so why is it that I’m being told that I can’t walk the stage or participate in senior activities? I want administration to take into account that [tardiness] is not a reflection of kid’s academic achievements,” Alissa states. “Why is one minute late to class equivalent to ‘you can’t walk to stage?’”
Moreover, there is the concern of safety for the students. Without any supervision at crosswalks and a slew of cars, vehicles are itching to move forward and out of traffic, putting students at the risk of being hit. On multiple occasions, impatient drivers have almost hit students crossing the street.
On February 8th, one student was not as lucky to be “almost” hit. Only a few minutes after school, a 10th grade Bell High School student was hit on her walk home, on the crossing of Clarkson Ave and Bell Pl. Although the seriousness of her injuries were not revealed, she was rushed to the hospital via Ambulance at 2:57 pm, Friday afternoon. An eyewitness claimed that “the car didn’t see her” because she was in the driver’s blind spot, and in consequence, “he hit her and she flew,” motioning that she flew about 5 feet in front of the vehicle.
Administration says that the student was on her phone, not paying attention to traffic. However, administration was not at the scene, but called over by Bell Police. It was confirmed by eyewitnesses that the student’s phone was “in her back pocket.”
The school should be lenient towards students who are often late to school by a few minutes.
There are some valid reasons for a student getting to school late often. It might be hard for parents to get their children out of the house fast enough, to then drop them off at their schools on time. Some students might also have siblings who go to different schools which forces parents to drive to each school to drop their children off.
Additionally, there might be students whose parents work early in the morning making it hard for them to get their children to school on time. Sometimes the parents leave their oldest child in charge of getting their siblings out of the house and walking them to school, while the school remains expectant that the oldest child still has to get to school before the bell. There are also some situations where the parent do not own a car, forcing the student to walk to school when they might not live close by.
Students should talk to their attendance counselor about their situation if they have valid reasons for being late all the time.
“Fewer than 10 out of the hundreds of students who walk in late, have came and talked to me,” Attendance Counselor Ms. Franco says.
Some students have valid reasons for being late, but they do not do anything about it. They should really talk with their attendance counselor because tardies can affect their ability to participate in events and graduation. No one at the school can guess exactly why a student is late, so it is really up to the student to talk with their counselor. If students talk with their attendance counselor, they can come up with a solution so they won’t get penalized for being late all the time.
The school should better communicate with students that if they have valid reasons for being late they can talk with counselors to figure out a solution to their problems. The school can make announcements in the morning when students who are late walk in, so they can talk with their counselor about their frequent tardiness. The school could also set up a sign in the morning when students are walking in so they are aware that they can talk to their counselors about why they are always late to come up with a solution.