Palo Alto High School is experimenting with a new type of Saturday School. Instead of the traditional detention-like atmosphere, the new Saturday School system will be a Tutorial-esque environment, where struggling students can get help with school from teachers, according to Dean of Students Craig Tuana. It is not mandatory for anyone, and is mainly focused around helping students who are having trouble in class. Thus, the mandatory Saturday School is no longer a consequence for cutting class.
At these sessions, there will be a teacher representing each subject at each Tutorial. History teacher Debbie Whitson, math teacher Radu Toma, science teacher Ronnie Farrell, English teacher Kirk Hinton and language teacher Josep Vericat helped about 40 students for about four hours on the first Saturday school, which was early in the second quarter. The idea to have these Saturday tutorials has been discussed since last April in the Site Council.
“The reaction has been positive from the students’ standpoint who attended the first Saturday tutorial,” Tuana said.
The reason for the change, according to Tuana, was the ineffectiveness of the past Saturday School policy, which gave students a mandatory Saturday School after three unexcused absences.
“We determined that Saturday School did not have the impact we were looking for on changing students’ attendance pattern[s],” Tuana said. “So we decided to change our approach.”
So does this mean that one can cut classes without suffering any consequences?
According to Tuana, teachers still have the ability to suspend the student’s right to make up any tests or assignments they missed due to an unexcused absence. Furthermore, parents will continue to be notified of unexcused absences with calls or emails home, and meetings with the administration will take place if the problem persists. In an extreme situation, the district’s attorney can also be notified, in which case it would evolve into a legal issue.
“It is vital students do not cut classes,” Tuana said.