Opinion: CHS should not limit off-campus appeals

Starting this year, CHS admin has granted Off-Campus Passes to juniors and seniors each five weeks based on grades and attendance. While the official policy allows one appeal per semester for upperclassmen who have been denied a pass, for whatever reason, this policy has not been strictly enforced. However, according to Principal Amy Aviv, admin will be enforcing the policy next year. Despite good intentions, this system of inappropriate restrictions will only be detrimental to the well-being of the student body and the district as a whole. 

Just like the official policy this year, beginning in the fall, students will only be allowed to appeal for an Off-Campus Pass once per semester. This appeal allows students to challenge an instance in which they did not qualify for an Off-Campus Pass with an explanation of why they were ineligible. For example, if a student was absent for more than two full days due to illness, he or she could appeal using that reason. 

This is technically not a policy change. However, admin has not strictly enforced the once-per-semester appeal, meaning students have appealed multiple times throughout the semester. According to Aviv, enforcement will be tightened next year, a decision that will only cause more problems than it solves.

For example, the tightened system indirectly encourages students to go to school sick out of fear of losing their pass. If a student is sick and misses three days of school within the first five weeks of the year, he or she can appeal when it comes time and receive an Off-Campus Pass. If that student gets sick again two weeks later and misses another three days of school, that student will not be able to appeal successfully. Because of this, assuming the student is aware of the off-campus policy, he or she might choose to come to school on the third day of sickness against better judgment to avoid exceeding the absence limit. Depending on the severity of the illness, this could have serious consequences to the student’s health, as well as spreading sickness throughout the student body. 

Even if this student chooses to stay home for a third day and doesn’t receive the Off-Campus Pass, CHS still faces a safety problem. Students in this situation may be motivated to attempt to sneak off campus during lunch or fifth or sixth period support. With increased security measures, sneaking off could mean climbing fences and other dangerous behaviors. In addition, sneaking off campus might lead to increased unexcused absences, which in turn negates the entire idea of the Off-Campus Pass privilege bettering attendance rates. 

Student health and safety should be CHS’ number one concern, and while it certainly was not the policy’s intent, enforcing once-per-semester appeals will lead to the exact opposite through encouraging illness and delinquency. Although admin has sound intentions, given the Pandora’s box that will be if this new policy is implemented, no administrator, either at CHS, LVUSD or otherwise, should view limiting appeals as an attendance solution. Instead, students should have unlimited appeals, meaning those with genuine reasons for absence will be awarded off-campus privileges and those without will not.