Granite District high school principals continued their quest Tuesday for a citizenship credit that would make students responsible for acceptable behavior, as well as academic progress.
The principals, represented by Richard H. Haacke of Kearns and David R. Richards of Skyline, presented to the Granite Board of Education a proposal that would require students to earn a citizenship credit as a condition for graduation.The board gave tentative support for the concept but said they needed more time to study the details. Such programs aimed at student behavior have been controversial in some districts and have led to legal action in some cases.
Several Utah districts in which citizenship performance is required have reported improved grades and more satisfaction on the part of students, teachers and parents.
Haacke said he believes the Granite principals have developed a "realistic plan" that offers several options for both students and teachers. It does not provide "absolutes" but provides for gray areas, he said.
The plan is aimed at emphasizing the responsibilities of students and parents for punctuality in class and acceptable behavior in and around the schools.
Each student could earn .25 unit of credit for each term, divided into 32 units in schools on a seven-period schedule and 35 units for those with eight periods. The seven-period schools would require a total of 28 units for graduation and the eight-period schools 31 units, giving students some leeway but also requiring them to change unacceptable behaviors.
Behaviors leading to U (unsatisfactory) grades would include excessive unexplained absences or tardiness, truancy, disrepect for school authorities, disruption of learning activities for others, possession, use or being under the influence of controlled substances, use of vulgarity or profanity, vandalism or theft of either private or public property, fighting or harassment of others.
Five absences in an eight-period schedule or eight in a seven-period schedule would result in a U grade. Four tardies would bring the same result. Schools would have the option of giving a U for two episodes of truancy.
The program includes an appeals procedure, including meeting with a pirncipal or his designee and then with a committee representing teachers, students and a counselor.
Make-up credit could be earned by attending a special class or classes taught in the evening through adult education, performing satisfactory school service determined by the school administration, attending classes after school, volunteering for community service approved by the school, attending the district's parent/teen program or undergoing similar counseling or participating in a program developed by the affected teacher.
Teachers see their ability to run more orderly classes as "their hope and salvation," said Haacke.
Board President Gary C. Swensen somewhat reluctantly agreed to wait two weeks to take an official vote on the matter but said he believes most parents, teachers and students want improved citizenship in their schools. The principals were advised to get additional input from everyone concerned, and school board members also were to discuss the issue with constituents between now and the next meeting.