, Newburyport, MA

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January 24, 2013

School delay causes 161 tardies

Misunderstanding over start time leads to widespread lateness


Hamond said any student with the maximum number of tardy days or absences who was mistakenly late on Tuesday would be looked at on a case-by-case basis. But he added that he didn’t plan on holding a late arrival on Tuesday against students from a disciplinary perspective, especially for those students who arrived by 10 a.m.

Since Tuesday, many parents have criticized school officials for not communicating its snow-delay policies effectively enough. One parent, who asked to remain unnamed, said that having one-quarter of the student body show up late was a clear indicator that the school wasn’t doing a good enough job getting the word out and that no student should be punished as a result.

“This was the school’s fault,” the parent said. “You have (161) kids late; that’s a miscommunication.”

One student shed light on the situation by taking a cellphone picture of the line of tardy students and turning it into a flier with the caption, “You thought you were on time … .” The student went on to post the flier all over the school, but was asked to stop because school officials were concerned that he was using too much school paper.

Hamond said the school has worked to notify parents of its snow-delay policy, but acknowledged that improvements could be made. He said Amesbury High has had the same snow-delay policy for the 12 years he has been with the school. The policy is spelled out in the student handbook and has been communicated regularly through monthly newsletters, he said.

Regardless, he acknowledged that while it’s not unusual for some students to miss the memo and show up late on days when school is delayed due to the weather, the volume of tardy students on Tuesday was far greater than normal. As a result, some measures would need to be explored to help better communicate with families in the future, he said.

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