Parents notified of student skips next fall

By Hye-Jung Yang
Published: June 2010

In the fall, South will make use of its first parent connection program, which will automatically notify parents if their children skip class or are late to class, as well as keep them updated on missing homework and major grades. Called ParentConnect, the program will be instituted at South, Brown Middle School, and Williams Elementary School.

Teachers will have direct access to the software and will be able to directly enter any new information students whenever they are tardy or skips class.

Instead of leaving students in charge of their own grades and patterns of attendance, parents will receive notification e-mails alongside each update on their child, essentially tightening parental control over students.

Among other objectives, the program aims to minimize the number of errors caused by miscommunications.In the current system, teachers report any student who skips class to his or her house secretary or housemaster, who is then responsible for informing the student’s parents. Teachers will now have direct control over student attendance and grades with ParentConnect, however, there will likely be fewer mistakes in communication.

Since this program will have a great impact on how South functions, the software will only be instituted as a pilot program: if administrators view it as a failure by the end of the next school year, it will be dropped. In addition, parents will not be obligated to sign up for and use the program if they have no interest in doing so.

Despite these efforts for a smooth transition, however, there is a generally negative response to the program from students.Students mainly believe that the increased control that parents will have over their children will be detrimental, rather than beneficial, as the program will heighten stress levels and hinder the development of responsibility.

“I think as high school students, we should at this point be responsible for all our actions, lateness and homework included, junior Julia Miller said. “Even though it’s probably a good idea for parents to know, there usually isn’t much they can force their kids to do.

Junior Alissa Sage agreed. “I think that this policy should be taken into effect based on various individuals, not the school as a whole, she said. “With high school comes a sense of freedom, and if a kid is skipping every history class, then his or her parent needs to know about it. But I don’t think that a parent needs to be notified if [students] have a missing homework or are late just once.

After a lengthy process and much consideration, the Newton school committee decided that ParentConnect would be an asset to Newton schools.

While the committee will have another meeting about the program Monday, June 14, it is almost certain that South will implement the program next year. Despite the negative response from students, school committee members hope that the program will turn out to be successful.

Some students, although doubtful, are willing to give it a try.

“I think that it might be a good idea, if it might provide an incentive for people not to skip since their parents might be notified, junior Adrian Montagut said. “But at the same time, it erodes student-faculty trust.

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