Lisa Love had only been the principal of Harrisburg High School for a few months when she observed a troubling pattern among the pupils: the majority of them had a worrying amount of unexplained absences from class. She concluded that something had to be done to fix the situation, so a fresh method was required if new results were to be obtained.
The problem she has observed here as principal is that students are coming to school but not going to classes when they get there, Love stated. Many parents send their children to school, believing they are going to class. She needed to reach out since so many students were missing class.
Principal Lisa Love decided to suspend every single kid who had an unusually high number of unexplained absences from the school, which has historically battled with low test scores and graduation rates. Love said that she would be unable to enhance academic success at the school if pupils did not bother to show up.
If one is not in class, all one is here to do is create chaos in the school and disturb the work that they’re trying to do here…to focus on student achievement, Love said. And a lot of the time, doing transformational work requires one to do some radical things in order to get the attention of parents, the community, and pupils.
According to Assistant Principal Keith Edmonds, the threshold for “excessive” absences, which resulted in a suspension, was 35 missed courses in a 45-day period without giving adequate proof. That is a week’s worth of missed courses, or seven classes each day in a five-day week.
The pupils masked their absences from their parents by hanging around in toilets and vacant sections of the school. At this point, the process is just to weed out where their problems are so that they are able to tackle them, Edmonds said.
Superintendent Sybil Knight-Burney supported Principal Lisa Love’s decision to suspend half of the pupils at Harrisburg High School, saying it should serve as a “wake-up call” to parents in a school system whose graduation rates are more than 30% lower than the statewide average.
In order for them to get different results, they have to do something different, Knight-Burney said. They can’t keep doing the same ol’ same ol’ and then complain about the same ol’ results. That is, indeed, the meaning of insanity.
This was a difficult decision for her to make, said Principal Lisa Love of the suspensions. She needed to get the community’s attention to let them realise they were here. And they’re going to accomplish some amazing things for the children and community, and they desire this to be a school that everyone is proud of. And this was likely the wake-up call they needed to get there.
In a cohort with such a low graduation rate, the apparent cause is a lack of parental commitment. It seems that the moms and dads of Harrisburg High School students have no idea what their kids are doing all day. Perhaps all of those suspensions acted as the much-needed wake-up call.