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Appleton students may be ticketed, fined for missing class

Posted at 6:54 PM, Mar 05, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-05 19:54:01-05

APPLETON (NBC 26) — Public middle and high school students in Appleton now face the risk of a police ticket and fine if they miss class.

  • Appleton Area School District says policy is aimed at improving safety, attendance
  • Appleton police say "hold open" no-trespassing ticket to be issued for missing class
  • Police say offenders who repeat within 30 days face $200.50 fine

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

A new Appleton Area School District policy for students caught out of class could result in a city fine. I’m your Appleton neighborhood reporter Olivia Acree with why the district's doing it and what it means for students.

The Appleton Area School District says it's been working this year to fix ongoing attendance problems. Now assistant superintendent Mike Hernandez says they're taking a new step to keep middle and high schoolers in class.

“If a student is still struggling and it still not being where they need to and through safety concerns, there is the possibility, and it is a last resort of receiving a hold open ticket,” said Hernandez.

Appleton police would issue the ticket and tell me this is how it works:

If a student doesn't go to class, they could receive a hold open no-trespassing ticket.

Police say the student must go 30 days without a repeat offense or they'll be fined $200.50.

“The things I'm concerned about the policy are the criminalization and who’s going to most impact,” said Anderson.

Jax Anderson is an Appleton parent.

“The stress in the mental health that these kids are under is only going to exasperate and get worse if we start criminalizing them this way,” said Anderson.

Anderson says her child goes to Einstein Middle School and the message shared with families was a bit confusing.

Something the district says it's clearing up.

“There was no ill intent on this, there was a mistake made and we are trying to work through with the principal with the assistant superintendent with the middle schools to rectify that,” said Hernandez.

Anderson says she'd like more open communication with the district to understand how they came up with the plan.

The district says the policy is in the best interest of all students.

And in a message to parents [the district] cited safety concerns when students are in buildings but not in class.

“We want to build a scaffold approach on this so that we continue to get better and as students meet these the ticket will then be dismissed it’ll be torn up and they’ll be no record of it,” said Hernandez.

The district says it wants families to know that the policy is a reminder of current attendance expectations.

In a message to parents of middle school students, the district explains they're also using detention, as well as other disciplinary actions, to deal with truancy.

The full message is copied in full below:

"Attending every class, every day, on time, unless ill, is critical for student success. Students were reminded of the expectations during Raider Time at the beginning of the semester and again this week. If a student needs to leave a class, they need to have a pass and return promptly to class. Leaving class without permission may result in an "OC" (out of compliance) attendance mark and placement on the no-pass list.

We want all students to be successful and work with students and families when students are having difficulties with attendance. There are safety concerns when students are in the building but not in class during their scheduled classes. Not following staff directives or being in unauthorized areas may lead to disciplinary actions such as detention, ISS, OSS, or a hold open ticket for trespassing from the Appleton Police Department. We ask that you continue to encourage consistent attendance with your students so they can be as successful as possible."