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New Principal Suspends Half Of The School - Parents And Kids Freak Out

There are a lot of public schools that are struggling with kids falling through the cracks. One school in Pennsylvania was dealing with a high number of truancy cases. In addition to very low test scores and graduation rates, a lot of people felt that something needed to be done. The new principal took her position in January, and she decided to do something drastic.

Lisa Love, the new principal at Harrisburg High School, came in and wanted to send a message that there are things the school wasn't going to put up with anymore. One of those things is truancy. In a school of 1,100, Love issued over 500 suspension slips.

Parents and their kids were sent into a tailspin. Many worried moms and dads went rushing to the school office to present proof that would allow absences to be excused. Others were in an uproar and called to complain. Principal Love called them all together for a group meeting so that she could explain the situation.

The meeting had just started when there was a slight hitch: a fire alarm was set off. The building had to be evacuated. Love said it wasn't a planned fire drill, and that the staff would be reviewing the school security videos to see what (or who) set it off. In the meantime, she reconvened the meeting and explained to everyone what her intentions were.

"The problem I've noticed here as principal is that students are coming to school but they are not going to classes when they get here," said Love. "Many parents send their kids to school and they're thinking they're going to class. I needed to reach out because of the enormous number not going to class."

"If you're not in class, all you're here to do then is to wreak havoc upon the school and disrupt the work that we are trying to do here," added Love. "And that's to focus on student achievement."

According to Assistant Principal Keith Edmonds, a line had to be drawn in the sand. In a 45-day marking period, students have seven classes per day. If they missed 35 classes in any marking period without providing proper documentation to have their absence excused, they were considered to be in excessive absence.

Edmonds notes that special education students were dealt with separately, but it still left them with 500 students marked for excessive absences. The school had to do something.

Love sure got attention for taking a stand, and she's hoping it'll be a wake-up call for many students. Those who have not been able to have absences excused will have to deal with the one-day suspension for now.

In time, though, the school plans to get even stricter. Unexcused absences can result in students being banned from prom or from walking down the aisle at graduation with their fellow classmates.

"This was a hard decision for me to make," Love said of the suspensions, "but I had to get the attention of the community to let them know that we are here. And we're about to do some wonderful things for students and the community and we want this to be a school that everyone is proud of. And this was probably the eye opener we needed to make that happen."

Some parents question the wisdom of the suspensions. "What does that teach them?" said Shanelle Franklin, who doesn't understand how excessive absences are punished by being given yet another day off. "They've got senior projects to do."

Source: Fox News Insider, PennLive
Photo: Fox News Screenshot

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