Teens gone on snow day need absence excused
Nevada Union High School students who did not attend school March 3 due to the snowstorm will now have to file an excused absence.
On Wednesday, Principal Marty Mathiesen sent a voice message to students’ homes asking for a written reason for not coming to school that day.
Due to heavy snowfall that morning, Nevada Union declared an “emergency minimum day” around 10:30 a.m. and the school day ended. Such a declaration is made only when something unforeseen happens after school has commenced, Mathiesen said.
Students, however, have to be in school for at least three hours for an “emergency minimum day” to be declared. In this case, that criteria was fulfilled. An “emergency minimum day” is considered a full school day and the school does not have to make up for an unexpected holiday.
“The fact of the matter is, that was a school day because we called our employees to work,” said Terry McAteer, superintendent at the Nevada County Superintendent of Schools Office. “Therefore, they were paid for that day of service. So it can’t be a snow day at the point because you have your employees at the work place.”
The decision to declare an “emergency minimum day” is made by Maggie Deetz, superintendent of the Nevada Joint Union High School District. According to Deetz, the decision to send the children home at 10:30 a.m. was based on concern for their safety, not fulfillment of any criteria.
“When we reached a point in midday on Friday, when the buses were ready to go, and there was a break in the bad weather, I made the decision to let them go home,” Deetz said. “That’s when I made the phone calls to the parents to let them know.”
Deetz said it was a coincidence that children could be sent home around 10:30 a.m. when they’d spent three hours in school – the minimum time needed to declare an “emergency school day.”
“I am looking at safety,” Deetz said. “I am not looking at the clock.”
Mathiesen said Nevada Union High School loses around $40 per student per day if school is closed. With nearly 2,600 students on campus, that would equate to approximately $104,000.
“Since the students arrived and were sent home early, the school district could apply to me for an emergency attendance waiver, which allows them to collect money for full attendance,” McAteer said. “We started (the school day) in good faith, but the day went wild.”
To contact staff writer Soumitro Sen, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4229.
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