Interpretation's Date: February 25, 1991
by superintendent Henry Marockie
Section: IV. Students
February 25, 1991
Mr. Bjorn R. Larsen
Dear Mr. Larsen:
You have asked:
1. May a ". . . county board of education force students into detention when they have exceeded 10 days absence or have received a "Z" grade which results in no credit for the semester."
Not necessarily, because detention is disciplinary rather than regulatory. Please read my letter of January 18, 1991, where it answers your first question plus the last two paragraphs of the letter. Please also read Policies 4110-4.4 and 4373-6.1 enclosed with that letter. Your county board's "Z" grade policy requires after-school make up work; state board policy does not. Neither state nor county policy appears to require detention to make up work missed.
2. Does an administrator or county board of education have the authority to discipline a teacher who violated a county policy by giving a passing grade rather than a "Z" grade even though the student did not make up 10 days absence in detention?
Although a teacher has some discretion in grading, he or she must comply with county policy or else risk a charge of insubordination. Therefore, the answer appears to be yes (subject to the teacher's due process right to rebut the charge). In this particular situation, the teacher might be able to show that the student had actually made up the missed work or its equivalent even though not when classes were finished for the day.
The expression, "after school," in your county board's "Z" grade policy could be interpreted to mean "outside of class time" rather than after classes had finished for the day. Some of this make up work at least could be done in a library or at home. See, for example, item "d" on the last page or your county board's "Z" grade policy and the last (parenthetical) statement in my January 18, 1991, answer to your sixth question. State Board Policy 4110-4.4 and 4373-6.1 encourage flexibility in making up missed work.
Mr. Bjorn R. Larsen
If a student was absent for medical reasons verified by a medical doctor, yet the student has completed his or her school work and is passing the course, can the student be placed into detention or given a "Z" grade (which has no credit) if the teacher prefers that this not be done?
Not detention, but making up of missed classed time can be required. Please refer, again, to my letter written to you on January 18, 1991. Please also read the enclosed STATE SUPERINTENDENT'S INTERPRETATION "Pupil" , June 7, 1989 (29). State educational policy does not ordinarily require that students spend a certain amount of time on a subject.
Hoping that I have been of service, I am,
cc: Mr. Gerald Mathias