LAMAR COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - The following is a release from Lamar County School District Superintendent Tess R. Smith:
We realize that a recent letter from one of our high schools regarding absences has caused confusion and raised concern with parents. We understand the concern and regret that the important message the letter attempted to convey has caused issues.
Excessive absenteeism is a serious issue for our school district as it directly correlates to our state funding. We currently allow students with excessive absences the opportunity to make up for their lost time by attending Saturday sessions or certain after-school programs. This policy requires overtime pay for educators and cost the district $40,000 in 2016-2017 alone.
During a recent handbook review with our principals, ways to improve attendance – and ideas on how to recoup district expenses for makeup sessions – were discussed. A policy of charging $5 per hour to students in need of makeup sessions was proposed.
This proposal, which would only affect students who are absent without a valid excuse, has not yet been brought before the school board for approval and was shared prematurely which is solely my fault. Although I plan to ask the board to address the proposal, it may not be approved this year. Parents should disregard the letter. I apologize for the inconvenience.