The Discipline levels PPS uses to determine how severe a rule violation is. These levels are references in the 60 Day rule, stating that level 3 and up offenses could interfere with graduating seniors.
The little-known 60 day rule can be the deciding factor in whether a PPS senior can walk at their graduation ceremony. It requires that seniors be disbarred from commencement exercises, such as getting their name called and walking across the stage at graduation, if, in their last 60 days of high school, they are “found to be in violation of District Alcohol or Drug policy or any violation resulting in three or more days of suspension or more serious disciplinary action,” according to PPS policy.
Due to misconceptions around the rule, some students believe small steps out of line could lead to large consequences on their part, when in actuality, they have the same consequences that they typically would have any other day of the year. This rule applies to disciplinary levels three offenses and up— which refers to situations such as repetitive tardiness, physically harming someone, or serious abusive language. The consequences of a level three offense may include in or out of school suspension, reassignment, or referral. Once the sixty days begin, serious rule breaking is likely to result in commencement disqualification. Every situation is handled in a case by case basis, and all students receive due process.
The rule may seem harsh or unnecessary to those who are excited for their graduation ceremony, but in reality, it won’t hurt students unless they consistently break rules or commit a major offense. This punishment is not often used, according to Franklin High School principal Christopher Frazier, as he has only seen one student prohibited from walking at graduation in the past five years at Franklin. However, this rule was made before his arrival at Franklin, as it comes from the PPS rulebook of 1971 and has had many alterations since then. It has been around for a long time, and likely will not be taken away. This rule may be intimidating to seniors, but it’s meant to encourage good behavior and guarantee they don’t do anything irrational as a ‘last hurrah’ for high school. The rule may have been put into place following issues at end of the year events, such as bringing drugs to prom, participating in a senior skip day, or playing a negative prank on other students or teachers. “It doesn’t necessarily deter the behaviors, but it causes students to think about how they might spend their last two months of school,” said Frazier. The rule is meant to remind seniors that they are still at a school, even though little time is left.
On the first day back from spring break, April 1, the 60 day rule begins. The day before break begins, March 22, seniors are educated on the parameters of the rule and how they can follow it. “With any policy, it’s understanding the rationale for [it],” said Frazier. It can be difficult to follow a rule without knowing why it is in place. The official rules and handbook can be found on the PPS website, and all PPS students are encouraged by PPS to know their rights.
Frazier asks students to “be mindful that they could potentially disqualify themselves from participating in the commencement exercises should they find themselves under serious disciplinary actions.”