Friday, May 27, 2011

Present and Accounted For

In my last post, I mentioned that my son, James, has never missed a day of school. Not one single day.

His goal of perfect attendance was established in sixth grade. He had just been recognized for 6 years of perfect attendance (not counting kindergarten) and decided that he was half-way there. Why not go all the way? An article about a local girl winning a car for outstanding attendance may have influenced his decision somewhat, but that doesn't matter. The boy had a goal.

For thirteen years, he has been in class or at school-sponsored events every school day. Never absent, never tardy, and never leaving early for a doctor visit. And for thirteen years we have monitored his attendance records, understanding that sometimes people make mistakes. There were lots of mistakes once he reached junior high - not surprising, considering each teacher was keeping track of 3, 4 or 5 times as many students. At least once a year we contacted the school to report errors. The errors were always corrected... or so we thought.

Last week, we attended the senior awards presentation. James received several awards , but we were surprised that there was no mention of his attendance achievement. I may be a little biased here, but I think that lifetime perfect attendance is something that deserves recognition. Otherwise, why would anyone ever bother attending more than the minimum number of days required?

James followed up with the school this week, and learned that his record showed an absence in 8th grade, and that he would have to contact the junior high to correct it. I remembered reporting that absence to the school on the last week of classes and receiving assurances (as usual) that it would be corrected. Only this time, it wasn't. I guess I should have checked... verified that it was corrected... followed up every time to make sure that people were actually doing their jobs. Silly me - expecting people to keep their promises... to do their jobs.

Today I made phone calls, speaking with people who claimed to be unable to correct records that had already been submitted. (If that is true, we have a seriously flawed system.) I worked my way up to the district superintendent's office, where I finally spoke with someone who actually seemed to care. She took my information and promised to help resolve the problem.

It's amazing how quickly things happen when you get the right people involved. Within an hour, I received a call from the high school principal. She had talked to the junior high principal who agreed that the record was incorrect and James really did have perfect attendance. She apologized for the confusion and told me that they were ordering a plaque for James. It wouldn't be ready until after graduation, but at least his efforts would be recognized.

I'm sad that he wasn't able to share his achievement with his friends on awards night. So I'm sharing it here... with you.

Way to go, James!