PDS unveils new rules and punishments

Shana Levine, Staff Artist

Shana Levine, Staff Artist

Arya Jha, Contributing Writer

Saturday detention, and a 10-day cutoff deadline for handing in homework assignments. These are two of the revision of policies involving student behavior that have just been introduced at PDS.

“Saturday detention, we feel, a) won’t conflict with sports and after school activities, and b) it’s distasteful enough to get the message across that you need to sign in with your advisor everyday or don’t skip class,” said Upper School Dean of Students Elizabeth Monroe.

Many students, however, consider the switch from weekday to Saturday detention to be unfair, and believe that these mandatory punishments should take place during the week. According to Dr. Monroe, weekday detentions often resulted in students giving several excuses as to why they could not attend. Some would say that they could not miss a sports practice or that they had another afterschool conflict. This became frequent, and habitual offenders would get out of numerous detentions by giving the same excuses. Sometimes, days, weeks, or even months could elapse before a time could be set up for a weekday punishment for the offending student.

“It puts us in a quandary when we spend days and sometimes weeks trying to negotiate with that student to find the perfect time. The detention should be a consequence and a deterrence, so it doesn’t work if a student just says that they can’t miss practice or that they have an orthodontist appointment,” said Dr. Monroe. Therefore, Saturdays provide for much easier scheduling. There will be little to no tolerance for students saying that they cannot come, as many past excuses no longer apply.

Another significant change to come this school year is the new late work policy. This new policy states that late work will not be accepted past 10 days after its original due date, unless in a case of illness or other uncontrollable circumstance. In the past, there was little emphasis and consistency about due dates for assignments throughout the Upper School. Many classes had students sending in assignments well past their cutoff. Not only was this unfortunate, as the deadline is given in order to keep the class on track with material, but it was also extremely unfair to students who handed in work on time.

The revamped policy is intended to “protect [students] if teachers are creating inconsistent and unfair policies department to department,” explained Dr. Monroe, and it also helps keep all classes, students, and teachers under the same rules when it comes to turning in work. “We didn’t think it served students well that maybe in one class you can turn in work two weeks late without a penalty, whereas if you didn’t take a math test, for instance, the next day after you were sick, you would have points taken off. So we are trying to create a consistent, transparent system,” said Dr. Monroe, who added that the new policy is designed to make sure students stay on track with the challenging and fast-paced course work at PDS. “By 10 days, given the pace of this school, kids are already on new units or topics, so we also thought in terms of learning and retention, that to have students scurrying to make work up that’s two or three weeks late, doesn’t enhance the learning aspect of it all. So we are trying to help students stay on track.”