A Bayonne teacher said that students are routinely abusing the district’s excused absence policy by using religious excuses to continually take days off, a problem a couple of board of education trustees recognized at last night’s meeting.
High School teacher Stefanie Woods brought up the subject during the public portion of the meeting.
Woods explained that the excused absences have become so excessive that she has to routinely move around assessment weeks and tests, despite the fact excused absence sheets rarely have a signature from a parent and/or guardian – in violation of state guidelines, yet are still accepted by the district.
“Excessive absences have become an epidemic,” she concluded to some applause from the crowd.
Board President Joe Broderick acknowledged that the school district is aware of the issue, while Trustee Ava Finnerty went over the statistics to back up Webb’s claim.
Finnerty said that on March 24th, Holy Thursday, the Thursday before Easter on the Christian calendar, there were 23 pages worth of students (491 in total) who requested an excused absence for religious reasons on that day.
Another Bayonne teacher, Joe Wyatt, added that students need to be held accountable for the time they miss in school and that those who used religious excuses to stay home should not be given preferential treatment.