As the countdown to graduation begins, the 60 day rule, which allows administrators to prevent students from walking at graduation, has taken full effect. This policy is in place of regular suspension, meaning that a student has to have committed a violation which requires level 3 disciplinary action, also known as suspension (or higher), in order to be impacted by the rule.
The action level each possible violation merits is laid out in the Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook that is given out to students at the beginning of each school year. For every violation there is a range of consequences left up to the discretion of administrators. According to Oregon State Law HB 2192, administrators must take into consideration the context of the situation including, but not limited to: a student’s culture, academic placement, prior behavior, and the impact of the action.
The rule is said to be put in place by the district in order to keep seniors focused on modeling positive behavior, even as the end of their high school careers approach. “There is this idea that seniors may potentially do things that are out of character as they try to graduate, thinking that there may not be any consequences for their actions,” says Franklin Vice Principal Chris Frazier. Likewise, he added that due to the specific language in the district directive about drugs and alcohol, it may be more directly linked to students’ actions during prom.“[The school board is] trying to use it as maybe a scare tactic or maybe even more of an incentive than just suspension. I’m not saying that I fully agree with the rule in terms of students not being able to walk […], but it’s a district wide policy and so as administrators, we have to support the district wide policy.”
The perceived issues with the rule don’t end with its muddled objective. There are also a wealth of misconceptions about the rule regarding absenteeism. “I’ve heard some people that were concerned that participating in walking out would cause them to not walk at graduation,” recounts Cayla Curry (12). In reality, this is not the situation. “It really is viewed on a case by case basis, so we are looking for multiple ten day drops and then also with those patterns hoping that some type of intervention has been put in place to support that student,” explained Frazier.
“I think the problem is that our students don’t fully understand our attendance policies, and I don’t think that is one hundred percent on our students,” Frazier states. “I don’t find it beneficial to give this to students the first week of school in the hopes that students will remember it for the rest of the year.” This sentiment was only corroborated by students: “I think I may have an old climate guide somewhere in my house, but nothing that I can reference,” Curry says. “I have hardly even heard of the Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook.”
Because these misconceptions persist, Franklin’s administrative staff encourages students to look at the directives and handbooks on the Portland Public Schools website and go to them with any questions they have.