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PARENT GROUP WANTS AM.F. CITIZENSHIP POLICY ALTERED

A group of American Fork High School parents wants the school's citizenship policy changed because they say the policy is keeping students from graduating and causing many to drop out.

After two unexcused tardies and one unexcused absence, a student receives an F in citizenship. Students also can receive F's for fighting or other inappropriate behavior. As long as the student has an F in citizenship, he cannot receive credit for the class.However, before the end of each term students can change the F by doing makeup work with the teacher. If the student does not clear the F before the end of the term, the student must do eight hours of community service to receive credit.

At the Alpine School Board meeting Tuesday night, the group of parents said the policy is causing good students to drop out of school, miss graduation and be denied scholarship opportunities because of lost credit. Because two tardies carry the same weight as one absence, the policy encourages students to be absent instead of tardy. The policy also encourages students to forge excuses and to have friends call the school posing as parents, the group said.

"We're setting kids up to fail. We're setting kids up to be dishonest," said Dave Francom, spokesman for the group.

Francom said a telephone survey of 824 parents showed about 78 percent oppose the policy. About 58 percent of students have citizenship hours to make up; about 16 percent have dropped out of school."The parents don't feel good about it, the students don't feel good about it, the teachers don't feel good about it, and I doubt the administration feels good about it," Francom said.

The group proposed a new attendance policy they said will teach students the natural consequences of their actions. Instead of having credit deducted, students should simply be held responsible for what they miss by being tardy or absent. By giving class participation points and by giving pop quizzes at the beginning of class, teachers can encourage students to attend class and to be on time. A similar program being used at Provo High School is highly successful, Francom said.

"The students feel better about the school, they have incentive to attend and they are not attending because of force - they are attending because they want to be in class," Francom said.

The district will review the group's complaints and will form a committee of teachers, students and parents to meet with Principal Vern Henshaw and Gary Keetch, assistant superintendent of secondary education, to discuss the proposed policy and other possible changes.

"If we've gotten out of balance, then we need to come together and get back in balance," Henshaw told the parents.

Several students at Tuesday's meeting said that because the policy affects the students it should be the students who decide whether to keep the policy. One parent suggested having the students vote.

Two years ago, a group of Nebo School District parents protested against a similar citizenship policy. However, when the group's efforts became known, more parents came out in support of the policy than those against it.