Tardy sweeps implemented to “prepare students for the world”

On the morning of November 2, La Quinta High School student Ethaniel Draper ‘24 had gone into the office to get a temporary tardy slip after forgetting his that morning. By the time he had left, a domino effect had begun, offsetting his entire morning.

After dropping his younger brother off at elementary school, Draper walked toward the office with his spinach feta wrap and caramel ribbon crunch frappuccino. 

By the time Draper arrived at the office, the line was out the door.

While waiting, he heard the bell ring inside the school. He continued to wait until he was given his pink temporary ID sticker. All students were then directed to the attendance office, where they received a blue slip that only had the signature filled out. This slip was meant for them to be excused to get to class late.

On the first two days of the tardy sweeps, a pre-signed blue slip was given to students if they were late to class. There were not any consequences during those first two days.

As he was walking to class, one of the security officers stopped Draper and instructed him to go to Dr. Rudy Wilson, the school principal. Dr. Wilson gave Draper a tardy slip and instructed him to go to class, as this was the second day that tardy sweeps were implemented—so there was no penalty. 

Draper walked back and knocked on the door of his classroom. After being about 15 minutes late to class, he was told to speed through his AP U.S. History test. Draper felt unsure of his score, even though he had studied. 

Draper felt if he only had to get his ID slip, he would have been, at most, five minutes late.

“Tardy sweeps are inefficient and unorganized,” Draper said.

This was the second day tardy sweeps were implemented with the intention of holding students accountable for arriving to class on time.

After the first two trial days—in which students were not penalized—tardy sweeps have been randomly implemented every week (with the exception of finals week). 

Once the second bell rings, an announcement is made over the speakers announcing the tardy sweep. Teachers are instructed to lock their doors and students who are not yet in class are asked to go to the fire lane, where their IDs are scanned by security personnel or an administrator. Students are then given a slip for after school detention. 

There were a few problems in the beginning.

During a trial day, a tardy sweep announcement was made after the warning bell had rung rather than the late bell.

Not too long ago, security was understaffed: a tardy sweep was implemented without there being enough security or administrators to efficiently get to every student. Students were upset that this would cause them to arrive even later to class. 

Many students feel as though tardy sweeps would be more effective if they were conducted during other periods rather than first period. 

“I don’t think it should be during first period. I think it should be the second period because not all the students can get here on time during first period,” Bryant Murrieta-Alvarez ‘23 said.

So while on the surface, it seems that tardy sweeps are reducing the amount of tardies, it is also causing students to be even more tardy to class if security and administrators take a long time to process students who are tardy.

While some may not be fond of the new tardy policy, it has proven effective elsewhere.

Schools throughout the country have implemented tardy sweeps for decades to reduce the amount of tardies and to ensure that instruction is not disrupted due to tardies.

An article from Northgate High School, published in June 2017, said the number of tardies from the three years before the article was published decreased significantly once the policy was implemented. 

The school’s policy makes it so students can be late to five classes total before they are given after school detention. After 10, students are given Saturday detention. 

At LQHS, however, students are assigned detention after one tardy. If students fail to attend their detention, there are consequences. They have to make up that detention on an assigned date and if they fail to do so, they are given Saturday School and placed on an exclusion list. The exclusion list prevents them from participating in school activities, clubs, athletics and performances.

Safe and Civil Schools, an organization aimed at improving school climate, noted that to implement “positive” tardy sweeps, “adults [have] to change the way they behave before they can change the way their students behave—and that requires professional development.”

In other words, that means that adults need to work together in a coordinated, highly choreographed team (to avoid causing students arriving later to class due to long processing times), communicate consequences earlier and apply them consistently, and provide consistent and positive supervision in the hallways, restrooms, stairwells (where students tend to go when avoiding class).

“It wasn’t about teachers,” said Dr. Oron Jackson, who is the assistant principal in charge of overall campus safety, including discipline and attendance. 

“For me, it was about the students,” he said when asked what inspired the administrative team and faculty to implement the tardy policy. 

Dr. Jackson wants to make sure students were getting to class on time so that they have more time to collaborate with other students. He also wants to prepare them for the world, where being late to their job will have consequences.

He believes they have reached their goal and that there have been fewer overall tardies since the new policy began. 

“If you just look outside, you’ll see fewer students walking around after the last bell,” Dr. Jackson said. 

Leonardo Flores
Students at after school detention for tardy sweeps.

He encourages students to attend Saturday School, even when not assigned it. He wants students to have a calm and quiet place to make up work.

At Saturday School, students will turn in their phones to prevent distractions. 

Three hours are given as a quiet place to work and help is provided when wanted or needed. Dr. Jackson encourages students to work on classes where they are failing and close to passing, or classes where they have a lot of missing assignments. He wishes more students would take advantage of the opportunity. 

“Once they had experienced it, students realized they had gotten way, way more done than they would’ve outside of Saturday school,” he said.

On November 30, an email was sent to all students: Starting tomorrow December 1 we will begin tardy sweeps everyday for the remainder of the semester.” 

Jackson wants students to know that tardy sweeps will not be a daily thing, but consistent. 

“We want students to do the right thing when no one is looking,” he said.