Davis County School Board Attendance Proclamation
What is the Attendance Proclamation?
At the 16 September, 2014 Davis County School Board meeting, the school board adopted an Attendance Proclamation for Davis County schools. Davis for Local Education contacted the county superintendent and school board about controversial statements within the proclamation that are not in harmony with the values of Davis County citizens and our systems of governance. A copy of the official proclamation can be viewed here.
Video of the 16 September Board Meeting is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBxKvs0Ys6Q.
Board Opposition to the Proclamation
Precinct 3 board member Peter Cannon was the only board member to vote against the proclamation. Read the Davis County Board Brief for the 16 September, 2014 School Board meeting for comments from board members in favor of the proclamation as well as Mr. Cannon's dissenting comments.
Mr. Cannon's comments from that Board Brief are included here as well:
Board member Peter Cannon, who cast the lone dissenting vote, said he was offended that he’d be asked to vote on such a proclamation. He believed it would encourage students who are ill to attend school. He also questioned the source of the proclamation, pointing out he didn’t agree with part of the proclamation that indicated low-income students and children of color are particularly hit hard by the impact of chronic absences.
“I don’t think our district would have written such a thing,” Cannon said. “I think we’ve gotten that from someone else. And there may be a political agenda behind it.“ If we vote against this proclamation, we’re not saying, ‘Kids, stay away from school. We don’t think you should attend.’ That is not what we are saying. It is certainly not what I’m saying if I vote against it,” Cannon said. “What we are saying is that we don’t need to tell our teachers (and our administrators) by an official proclamation… to encourage kids to attend school. They are doing a wonderful job at doing that already; an outstanding job as a matter of fact. I think our attendance probably rates as good or better than anybody else in the state.“ And so we are the last people you need a proclamation from — from a school board — to say something that is just as obvious as the nose on your face.”
Davis for Local Education Statement on the Proclamation
Davis for Local Ed Director Carie Valentine addressed the Davis County School Board on October 21st, 2014 regarding the controversial Attendance Proclamation. Her full comments are included below.
Video of Carie's comments are available here starting at 19 minutes and 30 seconds into the video clip : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=md_CEe556WA&feature=em-share_video_user
Note that an abbreviated version of these remarks were presented to the school board at the meeting because of time constraints. However, the county superintendent and school board members were all provided the full remarks via email.
My name is Carie Valentine and I represent a newly formed citizen group called Davis for Locally Directed Education. Our goal is to increase awareness of public education policy in our precincts and to partner with schools and you, the board, to improve parental input in policy decisions. At the September 16 Davis School Board Meeting this body voted to approve a Proclamation on Attendance. It is our belief that this should have been better researched prior to being approved. It is also not clear whether this is a proclamation or a resolution which was brought up at that meeting by Board Member Larry Smith and was left unanswered. I have spent many hours looking into this and am here to present my findings.
First, this proclamation comes from AttendanceWorks.org, a California liberal think tank. The wording is taken verbatim from their example proclamation on attendance. I don’t know who from the board was first presented with this proclamation nor do I know how it came to be on the agenda but it concerns me that the board did not take the time to research its origin and come up with language that would represent the communities in Davis County.
Second, I have read most of what the Attendance Works position is on attendance policy and have found it is not in harmony with the values of Davis County citizens and our systems of governance. Just one example comes from their recommendations for how Community Health Providers can get involved with monitoring a child’s school attendance. From their website; Health Care Providers should “Work with school staff to reach out to chronically absent students and their families to identify and address barriers to attendance, especially since a health professional can contact families with little stigma. If possible, conduct home visits which are especially effective for creating rapport and finding out the challenges to getting to school.”For Attendance Works to suggest that Health Care Providers should be working with schools to address attendance not only violates HIPPA laws, but places our doctors and nurses in a position of reporting on patients rather than the focus of caring for their health care needs. It is not my doctor’s responsibility to report on my family to the schools about our family decisions on attendance. It is also not their place to coordinate with the school on the attendance of my child.
When a parent enrolls their child in school they do not relinquish decision making power over that child anymore than they would if they took them to a scout activity or dance class. The schools have the privilege of educating Davis County children because their parents give them permission to do so. The state also backs up this fact in Title 53A-15-1402 “A student's parent or guardian is the primary person responsible for the education of the student, and the state is in a secondary and supportive role to the parent or guardian.”Using the proclamation from AttendanceWorks.org sends a message that this board supports the ideology that they espouse. This ideology is contrary to our desire in Davis County to support liberty and free will. Reporting by our health care providers to the schools on attendance is something that has been practiced and is currently practiced in countries that do not share the fundamental rights of liberty afforded to Americans.
I am sure that is not the intention of the board to align itself with an organization that promotes this type of policy. Davis County attendance policy is clearly spelled out in the information each parent gets from their child’s school at the beginning of each school year. It says: COMPULSORY EDUCATION REQUIREMENT"A parent or legal guardian having custody over a school age minor is required under State law to enroll and send a school-age minor to a public or established private school during the school year in the district in which the minor resides. The process of education requires continuity of instruction, class participation and study. Frequent absences from classes disrupt the instructional process. Parents/guardians are encouraged to work with the school in promoting regular attendance of all students.Teachers do a great job of emphasizing the need for students to be in class to learn also."
No other statement is needed. Davis County for Locally Directed Education requests that the Proclamation on Attendance be amended to read:NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that as the Board of Education of Davis School District, we proclaim that our schools will stand with the nation and the State of Utah in recognizing September as “Attendance Awareness Month.” Thank you.