Monday, April 19, 2010

Tardy or Absent

I've been getting several phone calls a week from the new Ann Arbor Public Schools phone system. "You have an important message from the Ann Arbor Public Schools. To hear the message now, press one."

I guess I'm an important person. I've been getting a lot of important messages.

Upcoming meetings? √
Grades are coming home with other handouts? √
Missed classes? √
Tardy or Absent?
What the hell?

If my child has an unexcused absence--also known as cutting--I do want to know about it. If they are a couple of minutes late, well...maybe I should care, but quite honestly, sometimes it's for a good reason (changing out of gym the book depository...) Also, some teachers mark attendance in the first minute of class, others wait a few minutes. So a student could be two minutes late, and in Class A they are marked tardy and in Class B they are not.

Anyway, the point of this all? If my child has cut a class, then I do want to know.
When I get a message that says "Your child has been tardy or absent from 5th hour" (and yes, I got three of those last week)--all it does is strike needless anxiety in my heart. Let's focus on the word "or." Tardy? It's not going to put me in crisis mode. Unexcused absence? That I do need to know. Now I need to have a "discussion" with said student. So--tardy or absent? That means I have to have the discussion, even though maybe I don't need to have the discussion.

Um, AAPS, in case you haven't noticed, teens and parents have enough issues to "discuss." Can you change the message? Call a tardy a tardy, and an absence an absence. Leave out the "or." Thanks.


  1. Ruth,
    I apologize that the Schoolmessenger system has not worked well for you. The system does have some limitations and one is distinguishing between unexcused tardy and absence notations in PowerSchool. Schoolmessenger pulls the attendance data from PowerSchool every afternoon between 4 - 6pm then it sends it to the high school and middle school homes for all unexcused absences and tardies. Unexcused tardy and absences can and most likely will impact a students grade. The calls are to allow parents to call in excuses for the student, if appropriate, and to allow families to know that this is occuring. I understand that many times there is a good reason for an unexcused tardy or absence. This gives a parent the opportunity to rectify that situation by being made aware and contacting the school.

    You can go into PowerSchool, using the parent log in and clicking on "update contacts" to change the phone number or email and even to remove these contacts if you wish.

    As Schoolmessenger rolls out more updates we are hopeful that it will be able to distinguish between these two categories soon but it is likely that if a student has an unexcused tardy or absences a call will still go home to inform the parents.

    Liz Margolis

  2. Liz, I want to know about the unexcused absences, and I don't mind knowing about the tardies--I just don't like having them be in the same message--I like to know which it is. So, I will look forward to the updates that distinguish between the two.

  3. I just got a request to take this survey. You take it too!
    Dear AAPS Parent or Guardian,
    We are asking AAPS parents to assess the SchoolMessenger notification system which the district launched last February. Please take a few minutes to complete the Zoomerang survey. The url/link is below.

    Thank you! Liz Margolis, Director of Communications

  4. There is a big difference between a tardy and an unexcused absence and a distinction definitely needs to be made. It is therefore up to us as parents to take the next step and find out which one our child is being accused of. Occasional tardiness is bound to happen and still needs to be watched and warrants a discussion with our children whenever it occurs; however perpetual tardiness is another issue.