Unfair MCPS policy deems family emergencies inexcusable

Propped up in the window of the attendance office, there is a sign informing students; “Family emergencies are not excused absences”. This sign tells students one thing: that our school system doesn’t care about our personal lives.

After seeing this sign appear one day this year, I recalled a time in my freshman year of high school where my grandma was very sick. My mom, dad, sister (who was a sophomore at this time), and I traveled up to Washington State to visit her while we still could. Upon returning to school, my sister got the unsavory news that she was in danger of losing credit in her classes because of her absences. Do take into consideration that my parents had followed all of the protocol and had submitted absence notifications prior to our trip north.

Although our absences should have been excused, we were turned away by the same rationalization that decorates the attendance office window now; family emergencies don’t matter and you deserve punishment for not being in school because of them.

Later that year, my grandma did pass away. Then came the matter of being excused so that we could attend her memorial service. Fortunately, someone dying is what changes an “emergency” to a necessity. If they’re not dead yet, then good luck getting your credits, kids.

The idea that you will be at risk of losing credits because of visiting a family member who is close to death (but not dead yet) is appalling to me.

Let us create a hypothetical situation so that we can really gauge the MCPSs sheer stupidity with this policy. Say that your grandpa collapses one day-he’s not dead, barely alive- and your parent rushes to the school to take you out of school so that you can visit him in the hospital and say your goodbyes! But wait, no. You have to wait for him to die before you’re not at risk of losing the credit you need to graduate!

Also, what determines a “family emergency”? To what length will people go unexcused? Clearly, severe sickness qualifies. But what if a parent gets arrested and you have to go to a court hearing? What if your family member is giving birth? According to policy, none of these situations would be excused.

What MCPS is asking students and families to do is choose between graduation and taking time off for serious emergencies. MCPS has many flaws, but this might be one of their biggest and most overlooked.

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