Monday, October 7, 2013

New Hall Pass Policy is a Terror to the Halls

Michael Iverson
Staff Writer

With the onset of a new high school principal, a slough of critical reception has come from students who despise new policies; especially the new bathroom pass policy. The policy, which requires a student to have their agenda signed to leave a classroom, replaces the former policy of teacher bathroom sign out sheets. As teachers and students alike are a bit frazzled by Mr. Malone’s new policy, which has been carried over from the Middle School, the policy has many questioning the benefits of the new system.
 The new policy, declared by Mr. Malone but not explicitly stated in the student handbook, has many students declaring it as an “immature” and “unnecessary” policy from the middle school. Amongst the reactions are those stating that “We are not middle schoolers” and therefore should “not be treated like Middle Schoolers.” With this in mind, many students have sought to undermine the passport program and unveil its flaws. Some of these comments including that “If the hall pass is used daily, you will run out of spaces.” and “If I don’t have my hall pass, I can’t leave and then what? Do I just pee in my seat?”
 Among the concerns is the argument that when there is a fire drill, teachers no longer have a definite record of where students are. Such documentation is pivotal in the event of an emergency because rescue must work quickly to not only clear the building but to also free anyone trapped inside. In the heat, and the stress, of the moment it is very likely that students and teachers who are fleeing from the building will forget, at least temporarily until they reach the sidewalk and do a headcount, that someone is missing from the class. Furthermore, the absence of the sheet won’t provide the information of where a student is definitely located during the emergency. And since many teachers simply sign at a glance, it is likely they would not know the missing student’s location. This within itself is extremely hazardous, and even life threatening, in an emergency situation.
 For everyone who is hopeful, a policy change is still possible. The student handbook states:
“If a student must leave class, a hall pass is to be issued by the teacher and the student must sign out and in upon his/her return to class. Students found in the hallways without passes will be returned to their classroom and disciplined, if appropriate.”
 The handbook never explicitly requires the use of an agenda passport system. Although passports allow the luxury of minimal classroom interruption for classroom breaks, since many teachers only require the agenda book to be signed without having the student raise their hand and then ask to leave, the dangers of the policy severely outweigh the benefits. Students and teachers should continue to voice their concerns towards the system to Mr. Malone if there is to be any change.

3 comments:

  1. Valid points made. As principal, I want the same as you do...safety for our students. When I made my visits last year and in previous years, I noticed students in the halls during instructional time with no pass whatsoever. How safe is that? In many cases, students would simply take a an item from the teacher desk as their hall pass. I saw a student walk the hallway with a 2x4 piece of wood as the bathroom pass from a class. I don't think that is too safe. Do you? My idea of having an Agenda Book serves as a passport and a reminder for students to record their important information. I want students to get in the habit of planning, preparing and being accountable for there whereabouts. It's really a small thing that we will get used to. I have been pleased with what I am seeing for the first 2 months of school. During class time, halls are clear and students are in the classroom learning! We are going to have a great year and more great years to come!

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    1. Thank you for your response and thank you for taking the time to read through the articles in the Lion's Tale. However, I, and many others, still have some questions and points of contention that we would like to address. Firstly, I do not quite see how a new hall pass system, that requires more class time to be taken for sign out, alleviates any distraction in the class or the wandering issue. In last year's rules, teachers were supposed to approve a student to leave a room and above is true for this year as well. So perhaps the only reasons halls are more clear, and from what I've seen the number of times people use the bathrooms in class is still the same as last year, is because teachers now do not want students leaving to go to the bathroom because it interrupts and distracts instructional time due to the new system. On that front, it means students are now sitting in class having to use the facilities with no options but to disrupt class and everyone in it. Once again a "Should I just pee in my pants?" issue. Secondly, on the topic of safety, I don't see how an agenda you carry with you is more safe than a sign out sheet that teachers have with them. Again, in the event of an emergency where people are panicking, fast reporting on where missing people are is imperative. Not only because a teacher may completely forget that a student is missing until minutes after when they are able to calm a panic class, take attendance and then realize someone is missing but also because once that information is found out, the teacher still may not know or remember where the student actually is. Once again, critical information to save lives. Lastly, having students use an agenda as a way to promote planning and writing done homework is a good strategy, however forcing the same agenda to be the sole way for a student to use the bathroom or leave class is not. We’re all human, and we all forget things. The problem lies in the fact that if you forget your agenda, most teachers won’t allow you to leave, and once again the “Should i just pee in my pants?” issue is brought about. I also don’t see how it promotes students to be aware of their whereabouts, considering every student should know where they are if they have asked to leave. Another issue is that many students, such as myself, use technology or third party agendas rather than the school given ones because they allow for more flexibility or are better suited for that particular person. This now brings about the problem that many students, such as myself, do not regularly travel with the school given agenda book because they simply have no practical use for it. The solution for that is simple; hall passes that teachers administer. Perhaps the solution does not lay in last year’s plan or this year’s, but a compromise in between. If each teacher retained a sign out sheet, safety is increased, and if every teacher has a uniformed hall pass that the main office administers to classrooms for use then the issue of faulty passes is solved. While I do not believe the new system is entirely bad, I do believe that the negatives significantly outweigh the positives especially when considering safety, which should be among any school’s top priority.

      Thank you for taking the time to read the article and my response,
      Mikey Iverson

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  2. Some of Mr. Malone's comments are quite revealing to say the least. What does it say when students were found in the hall without a pass or a 2x4 piece of wood? It says some administrators were asleep at the wheel. It begs the question, was the former principal and our present superintendent aware of this obvious breach of security?

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