Being a school principal can’t be an easy job. You are in charge of the safety and instruction of hundreds, if not thousands, of pupils, and you also carry the constant burden of parents’ expectations.
It’s clear that this is not a role for the weak-willed or weak-hearted. Strong leadership abilities and complete trust in one’s ability to make decisions are essential.
Nevertheless, Lisa Love raised a lot of eyebrows when she suspended more than 500 out of the school’s 1,100 kids after only a few short months as principal.
Both parents and teenagers questioned what the other half of the student body could have done to get suspension notices. Love quickly explained the reasoning for her choice, and it raised a good deal of criticism.
Lisa Love didn’t need much time to see a disturbing pattern among the Harrisburg High School kids. She had only been principal for a few months when she discovered that several of them had a pattern of unexcused absences from school.
Love took a decision that some could consider controversial since he wasn’t content to just steer a ship that was headed for the rocks.
According to PennLive, Love explained her decision, “The problem I’ve noticed here as principal is that students are coming to school but they are not going to classes when they get here, Many parents send their kids to school and they’re thinking they’re going to class. I needed to reach out because of the enormous number not going to class.”
The school, which has long battled with subpar test results and a low graduation rate, decided to suspend each and every kid who had an excessive number of unexcused absences. Principal Lisa Love made this decision if pupils don’t even bother to show up, Love said that she cannot increase academic progress at the school.
In a report by ABC27, Love said, “If you’re not in class, all you’re here to do then is to wreak havoc upon the school and disrupt the work that we are trying to do here…to focus on student achievement, and a lot of times doing transformational work means that you have to do some radical things to get the attention of parents and the community and students.”
The threshold for “extreme” absences, which resulted in a student’s suspension, was 35 missed classes within a 45-day marking period without giving any proof, assistant principal Keith Edmonds claimed. In a five-day workweek, that amount equates to seven missed classes every day or a week’s worth of missed classes.
“Right now, the process is just to weed out where our issues are so that we can properly address them,” Edmonds said.
The students hid the absences from their parents by hanging out in bathrooms and empty areas of the school to get out of going to class.
Saying that it should serve as a “wake-up call” for parents in a community where the graduation rate is more than 30 percent lower than the state average, Superintendent Sybil Knight-Burney backed up Principal Lisa Love’s decision to issue suspensions to half of the students at Harrisburg High School.
Knight-Burney said, “In order for us to get different results, we have to do something different,” Knight-Burney said. “We can’t do the same ol’ same ol’ and then complain about it when we’re getting the same ol’ results.”
“This was a hard decision for me to make, I had to get the attention of the community to let them know that we are here. And we’re about to do some wonderful things for students and the community, and we want this to be a school that everyone is proud of. And this was probably the eye-opener we needed to make that happen,” Principal Lisa Love said of the suspensions.
Love’s wake-up call could be audacious and even controversial, but if dire circumstances demand even greater measures, then perhaps it is exactly what is required. If nothing else, it ought to pique parents’ interest in what their kids are actually accomplishing in school, and that will be crucial in making things better.
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